Spanish Phrases: Spanish prepositions

Prepositions are the little function words such as with, of, from etc in English. In both English and Spanish, a fixed expression such as instead of, in the place of is used effectively as a preposition; for convenience, we list some common such expressions along with simple prepositions. Here are some common prepositions and prepositional expressions in Spanish:

a-to, at, in, into
al-to the, at the etc1
al lado de-next to; compared to
a partir de-starting from, upwards of
alrededor de-around
antes de-before
a través de-through, across
bajo-under
cerca de-near
como-as, like
con-with; of, containing (un vaso con įgua = a glass of water)
contra-against
de-of; made of; used to make compounds in Spanish
de-from (when expressing movement)
de-(in time expressions) by, in the (morning, day etc)
del-of the, in the etc1
desde-from, since (used instead of de when stressing notion of movement, or with times, prices, values)
después de-after
detrás de-behind
durante-during, for (a period of time)
en-in, on2, at
en lugar de-instead of
en medio de-in the middle of
entre-between, among
en vez de-instead of
fuera de-outside
hacia-towards3
hasta-until, up to
para-(in time phrases) around, by
para-for: expressing destination, direction, recipient ("brought it for me"), opinion ("for me, it seems...")
por-for: in most other senses ('because of', 'on behalf of', 'in exchange for/per', 'to the value of', 'instead of')
por-(indicating place) via, through; throughout; around
según-according to, depending on
sin-without, -less
sobre-on, on top of, above2
tras-behind, from behind; (with time phrases) after, subsequent to
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Notes:
1. al and del are special (mandatory) contracted forms for a + el and de + el used before masculine nouns.
2. en is often used rather sobre when 'on a flat surface' is intended, particularly a vertical surface. So both en la mesa and sobre la mesa are common for 'on the table', but en la pared is more usual for 'on the wall'.
3. Spanish hacia covers both the literal sense (hacia la iglesia = towards the church), similar to French vers, and the figurative sense (simpatía hacia... = sympathy towards...), similar to French envers.

Prepositions in Latin American usage

The following are common in Latin America but are either rarely used or have a more restricted meaning in Peninsular Spanish:

abajo de-underneath
adentro de-inside
afuera de-outside
atrás de-behind
luego de-after
hasta-(mainly Mexico) not until, not before
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Page written by Neil Coffey. Copyright (c) Javamex UK 2014. All rights reserved.