Perfecting 30+ Spanish Prepositions: Get the Full List

A preposition is a word or phrase that explains the relationship between a noun… A preposition is a word or phrase that explains the relationship between a noun or pronoun and another word in the sentence. Prepositions are an essential part of every language, including Spanish. They’re connectors that help us communicate more clearly. Take the following example:  The flowers are on their table. In the sentence above, “on” is a preposition that shows the relationship between “the flowers” and “their table.” In this blog post, we will explore prepositions in Spanish, their functions in Spanish grammar, and how to use them effectively. And if you want to master Spanish prepositions faster, without all the memorization, Rosetta Stone can help. Why do prepositions matter? Let’s take another look at the example from above. The flowers are on their table. In this example, the preposition “on” shows the relationship between the flowers and the table. Now take a look at the sentence below. The flowers are their table. It’s the same sentence, but the preposition is missing. Who knew a two-letter word could communicate so much? Now look at what happens if you change the preposition. The flowers are below their table. The flowers are above their table. The flowers are near their table. The flowers are next to their table. Each preposition gives the sentence a different meaning, and using the right preposition is essential for effective communication. >> Need a refresher before diving in? Brush up on basic Spanish vocab! What functions do Spanish prepositions serve? Spanish prepositions serve several functions, allowing us to express relationships and ideas. Here are some common functions of prepositions in Spanish: 1. Origin and Destination Prepositions like a (to), de (from), and hacia (towards) indicate movement or direction. Voy a la playa. = I’m going to the beach. 2. Movement Prepositions like por (through, along), sobre (over, on), and entre (between, among) describe movement.  Caminamos por el parque. = We walk through the park. 3. Geographical Location Prepositions such as en (in, at), sobre (on), and cerca de (near) are used to describe places and locations.  Vivo en Madrid. = I live in Madrid. 4. Time Prepositions such as en (in, on), durante (during), and desde (since, from) help us talk about time.  Estudio en la mañana. = I study in the morning. 5. Physical Location Prepositions like dentro de (inside), encima de (on top of), and al lado de (next to) indicate physical relationships.  El libro está encima de la mesa. = The book is on top of the table. 6. Relationships Prepositions such as con (with), sin (without), and entre (between) express relationships between people or things.  Voy al cine con mis amigos. = I’m going to the movies with my friends. How do Spanish prepositions differ from English prepositions? Spanish prepositions differ from English prepositions in a few important ways.  First, Spanish grammar has fewer prepositions than English does. As a result, Spanish prepositions often have several potential translations. The correct translation depends solely on context. For example, the Spanish preposition a can mean “to,” “at,” or “from” depending on the specific sentence. Understanding these differences will help you not only understand conversation better, but also communicate more clearly in Spanish. Second, prepositions in Spanish are more literal than English prepositions. In English, there are many times you might say you’re “at” a place, but in Spanish you should say you’re “in” that place. If there’s no movement involved, you’ll use en in Spanish. For example: Trabajo en el restaurante. = I work at the restaurant. Estoy en la puerta de mi casa. = I’m at the door of my house. Compras el pescado en el mercado. = You buy the fish at the market. Third, English speakers often end a sentence with “of”, “from” or “to,” but Spanish speakers never do. You’ll notice that quite a few prepositions in Spanish end with de, and de must be followed by a noun or pronoun. Las flores están a la derecha de la tele. = The flowers are to the right of the tv. If the meaning is obvious or understood based on context and you want to leave out the noun or pronoun, then you have to drop de, too. Las flores están a la derecha. = The flowers are to the right. Finally, sometimes in English we can leave out a preposition, and the sentence still makes sense. But Spanish grammar doesn’t allow you to leave out prepositions. Spanish prepositions are always required. For example, the English equivalent below omits “to,” but the Spanish version would be incorrect without a: [Yo] voy a casa. = I am going home. Complete list of common Spanish prepositions To help you become more familiar with prepositions in Spanish, here’s a table with 39 common Spanish prepositions in alphabetical order and their English translations: SpanishEnglishato, ata la derecha deto the right ofa la izquierda deto the left ofal este deto the east ofal lado denext to, next door toal norte deto the north ofal oeste deto the west ofa lo largo dealongalrededor dearoundal sur deto the south ofantes debeforehand, beforecerca denear, close (to)conwithcontraagainstdeof, from, by (indicating authorship)debajo deunder, belowdelante dein front ofdentro deinside ofdesdefrom, sincedespués deafterward, afterdetrás debehindduranteduringenin, on, atencima deon top ofenfrente deacross fromentrebetween, amongen vez deinstead offrente ain front offuera deoutside ofhaciatowardhacia adelanteforwardhacia atrásbackwardhastauntil, up to, to (destination)lejos defar fromparafor (purpose or destination), to (destination)porbecause of, for (reason), by, through, throughoutsegúnaccording tosinwithoutsobreon, about, above, on top of Common Spanish prepositions by function Now that you’re familiar with some common prepositions in Spanish, let’s explore them based on their functions. These categories will help you understand when and how to use each Spanish preposition correctly.  Here are 39 common Spanish prepositions categorized by function: Origin and destination You’ll use prepositions to tell the origin or destination of people or things. Voy para Panamá. = I’m going to Panama. La mujer viaja desde Chile hasta Uruguay. = The woman is traveling from Chile until (to) Uruguay. SpanishEnglishdeof, from, by (indicating authorship)desdefrom (indicating starting point)haciatowardhastauntil, up to, to (indicating destination)parafor (destination), toporby (indicating authorship) Movement Besides telling the origin or destination of someone or something, prepositions can tell you the direction something or someone is moving. La semana pasada, caminé por el parque. = Last week, I walked through the park. El gato está caminando hacia el río. = The cat is walking toward the river. SpanishEnglisha lo largo dealongalrededor dearoundhaciatowardhacia adelanteforwardhacia atrásbackwardporthrough, throughout Geographical location Similar to movement, geographical location is expressed with prepositional phrases. ¡Pero, OJO! (That’s slang for “but, watch out” in Spanish!)  In English, you probably say “north of” instead of “to the north of.” You will need to use the complete phrase in Spanish. El parque está al sur de los apartamentos. = The park is to the south of the apartments. Hay un supermercado al oeste de la biblioteca. = There’s a supermarket to the west of the library. SpanishEnglishal este deto the east ofal norte deto the north ofal oeste deto the west ofal sur deto the south of Time Some prepositions connect two or more nouns and show their relationship in time. For example: No me esperes hasta las cinco. = Don’t expect me until 5. No voy a llegar antes del almuerzo. = I’m not going to arrive before lunch. Tengo que hacer la compra antes. = I have to do the shopping beforehand. SpanishEnglishato, atantes debefore, beforehanddesdefrom, sincedespués deafter, afterwardduranteduringhastauntil, up toporfor (period of time) Physical location Often a preposition tells you where something or someone is physically in relation to someone or something else. For example: Kentucky está al norte de Tennessee. = Kentucky is to the north of Tennessee. Juanito está delante del carro. = Juanito is in front of the car. You might have noticed that the verb estar (to be) is often used with these prepositions, since they show the location of people or things. There’s one exception to estar and location, though. When you’re discussing where an event takes place, you’ll use ser. Los estudiantes están en el auditorio. = The students are in the auditorium. El concierto es en el auditorio. = The concert is in the auditorium. The first sentence tells you where the students are located, and it uses estar. The second tells you where the concert takes place, so it uses ser. The table below lists some common Spanish prepositions that show physical location. SpanishEnglishaata la derecha deto the right ofa la izquierda deto the left ofal lado denext to, next door tocerca declose (to), nearconwithdebajo deunder, belowdelante dein front ofdentro deinside ofdetrás debehinden in, on, atencima deon top ofenfrente deacross fromentrebetween, amongfrente ain front offuera deoutside oflejos defar fromsobreabove, on top of Relationships One of the main purposes of a preposition is to show the relationship or connection between two or more people or things. The relationship can be concrete, such as: El perro está debajo de la silla. = The dog is under the chair.  Or it can be an abstract, intangible relationship such as: No juzgues a la estudiante por su apariencia. = Don’t judge the student by her appearance. The following list includes prepositions that show a relationship, whether concrete or abstract. SpanishEnglishconwithcontraagainstsegúnaccording tosinwithoutsobreon, about, above Why do some Spanish prepositions change form? You might notice that prepositions in Spanish can change their form depending on the context. Del and al are the only contractions that exist in Spanish grammar, and you’ll encounter them when using Spanish prepositions. We usually choose to use contractions in English, such as “you’re” instead of “you are,” but both forms are grammatically correct and understood. Contractions are optional for English speakers.  However, Spanish grammar requires you to use del and al, and de el or a el would be incorrect. The contraction del is formed by combining the preposition de (of, from) with the article el (the.) For example,  El libro está encima de el sofá. = The book is on top of the sofa. must become  El libro está encima del sofá. = The book is on top of the sofa. The contraction al is formed in a similar way. The preposition a (to, at) combines with the article el (the.)  Voy a el parque. = I’m going to the park. must become Voy al parque. = I’m going to the park. These two contractions save time and make speech flow more easily in Spanish. Give it a try—you’ll see that they’re much easier to pronounce! >> Want to improve your pronunciation? Rosetta Stone can help you nail any accent. Perfecting Spanish prepositions starts with Rosetta Stone You’ve taken an important first step to understanding Spanish prepositions by reading this blog post. Remember that mastering a new language is a journey, and it takes continuous learning and practice. Don’t get discouraged by a few mistakes along the way. Spanish prepositions may seem complicated at first, but they’ll get easier with practice.  Let Rosetta Stone be your guide to mastering Spanish prepositions. With Dynamic Immersion, you’ll get maximum exposure to your new language, so you can build a deep understanding of Spanish grammar without memorization.  Dynamic Immersion is deeply intuitive. It taps into your innate ability to learn a new language the same way you learned as a child, with audio spoken by native speakers and pictures to help you connect words with their meaning.Rosetta Stone is available online or on mobile devices. Check out our app for iPhone, iPad, and Android, and start immersing yourself in Spanish today! Start learning today! Written by Laura Skidmore

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