If you're learning Spanish then I'm sure you've come across Spanish prepositions many times already.
Spanish prepositions are words that don’t really mean anything by themselves, but that work as links between other words: nouns, verbs, pronouns…
In this article, you'll learn the 19 most important Spanish prepositions and see some practical examples of each of these prepositions in context. ¡Vamos a verlas!
The preposition a has many possible meanings. The first of them is to specify a destination:
- ¿A dónde vas? (Where are you going?)
- Me voy a mi casa (I’m going home).
The second use is to talk about an objective:
- Estoy dispuesto a hacerlo (I’m willing to do it).
You can also use a to talk about distances:
- ¿Dónde está el supermercado? (Where is the supermarket?)
- Está a cien metros (It’s a hundred meters away).
A is also used to point out the position of something or someone in relation to something else:
- A mi derecha, está Juan (Juan is to my right).
You can also use a to tell the time of the day:
- Te espero mañana a las cinco en punto (I’ll be waiting for you tomorrow at five o’clock).
If you want to learn more about using the preposition a, check out the video below.
Ante means “before”, and it is used as a synonym for frente a (in front of) or en presencia de (in the presence of):
- Rosa dio un gran discurso ante los inversores (Rosa gave a great speech before the investors).
- Fernando se paró ante él (Fernando stood up in front of him).
- Juan y Laura dijeron “sí” ante el cura (Juan and Laura said yes before the priest).
Another use of ante is in the phrase Ante todo, which means “First of all”:
- Ante todo, quiero agradecerles por acompañarme esta noche (First of all, I want to thank you for joining me tonight).
Bajo also has several meanings. The first one is “under”:
- El libro está bajo la cama (The book is under the bed).
Bajo is also used to mention something that hides something else:
- Ella publica sus libros bajo un seudónimo (She publishes her books under a pseudonym).
It is also used to talk about a value below a certain point:
- Se espera una temperatura de dos grados bajo cero (A temperature of two degrees below zero is expected).
- El tesoro está escondido a varios metros bajo tierra (The treasure is hidden several metres underground).
Finally, it can also be used to indicate subordination:
- Si vienes, será bajo tu propio riesgo (If you come, it will be at your own risk).
- Está bajo mis órdenes (He’s under my command).
The preposition con can be translated as “with”. It is used to express company:
- Estoy con mi hermano (I’m with my brother).
It is also used to indicate the means or instruments used to do something:
- Pablo limpia el suelo con una escoba (Pablo cleans the floor with a broom).
For more about how to use con (as well as sin), hit play on the video below.
Just like “against”, contra expresses opposition of one thing to another:
- El clásico del fútbol uruguayo es Peñarol contra Nacional (The Uruguayan football “classic” is Peñarol against Nacional).
You can also use contra to indicate the impact between two elements:
- Walter se golpeó contra un poste (Walter hit a pole).
De, as with “of” in English, indicates possession or belonging:
- ¿De quién es este teléfono? (Whose phone is this?)
- Es de Laura (It’s Laura’s)
It is also used to refer to a matter or a topic:
- Estoy leyendo un libro de filosofía (I am reading a Philosophy book).
It also denotes where someone or something is from:
- ¿De dónde eres? (Where are you from?)
- Soy de Colombia, pero mis padres son de Perú (I am from Colombia, but my parents are from Peru).
De is also used to talk about the material an object is made of and to talk about the content of something:
- Es una caja de cartón (It is a cardboard box).
- Un tazón de fideos (A bowl of noodles).
Finally, it is a synonym for desde (from). For example:
- Él viajó de España a Francia (He traveled from Spain to France).
Desde indicates the starting point where something originates, either of time or distance:
- Viajaré desde Bogotá hasta Barranquilla (I will travel from Bogotá to Barranquilla).
- El supermercado abre desde las nueve de la mañana (The supermarket opens from nine in the morning).
It can also be used as a synonym for después de (after).
- ¡No te he visto desde tu último cumpleaños! (I haven’t seen you since your last birthday!).
Finally, you can use desde to introduce a perspective or point of view:
- Desde mi punto de vista, eso no es como lo cuentas (From my point of view, that’s not how you are telling it).
Check out the video below for more tips on how to use de and desde right.
The word durante (during) is used to express simultaneity:
- Durante el año pasado, viví en esa casa (During the last year, I lived in that house).
- Durante su presidencia, hubo muchos problemas económicos (During his presidency, there were many economic problems).
En is one of the most used prepositions in Spanish. En is usually used to talk about places:
- Estoy en Chile (I’m in Chile).
It can also be used to talk about time or means.
- Estamos en noviembre (It’s November).
- Estaré allí en cinco minutos (I’ll be there in five minutes).
- Viajaré en avión (I will travel by plane).
It also means dentro de (within):
- Hay 20 pasajeros en ese tren (There are 20 passengers on that train).
As with “between”, entre indicates that something is in the middle of other things.
- Mi casa está entre la iglesia y el supermercado (My house is between the church and the supermarket).
You can also use entre to indicate cooperation:
- Hicimos el proyecto entre todos (We did the project together).
- Entre todos sus amigos, logramos ayudarlo (Between all his friends, we managed to help him).
Hacia means “towards” or “to”. It denotes a movement:
- Esta autopista nos está conduciendo hacia el pueblo (This highway is taking us towards the town).
Hacia also can be used as a synonym for “around” or “approximately”:
- Estaré allí hacia las cinco de la tarde (I will there around five in the afternoon).
- Planeo casarme hacia mayo (I plan to get married around May).
Unlike hacia, which expresses an approximate limit, hasta denotes a concrete term, whether of time, space, or things:
- Te espero hasta las seis, ¡ni un minuto más! (I’ll wait for you until six o’clock, not a minute more!).
- ¿Quieres que vaya hasta tu casa? (Do you want me to come to your house?).
- Solo se permiten comprar hasta cinco boletos por persona (Only up to five tickets per person are allowed to be purchased).
As with “through” or “by”, mediante indicates the means, channel, or procedure in which something is done or achieved:
- Nos comunicamos con él mediante un abogado (We communicated with him through a lawyer).
Para expresses a destination:
- Voy para el centro (I am going to the city center).
- ¡Vamos para la playa! (Let’s go to the beach!).
It also expresses the recipient of an action or thing:
- Este es un regalo para mi novia (This is a gift for my girlfriend).
Por is used to indicate who performed a specific action:
- El auto fue reparado por el mecánico (The car was repaired by the mechanic).
- El libro fue escrito por esa autora (The book was written by that author).
It also denotes cause. For example:
- Por un error serio, lo echaron de la empresa (Due to a serious mistake, he was fired from the company).
Por also indicates frequency:
- Voy a clases de español dos veces por semana (I go to Spanish classes twice a week).
It is also used to talk about duration:
- Bailamos por dos horas (We danced for two hours).
And it also can be used to talk about transit:
- En mi viaje a Chile, pasé por Bolivia (On my trip to Chile, I passed through Bolivia).
- Pasaré por la carnicería de camino a casa (I’ll stop by the butcher shop on the way home).
Por is also used to talk about prices in Spanish:
- Compré este vestido por solo 20 dólares (I bought this dress only for 20 dollars).
Finally, por is one of the words that form por qué, which means “why”:
- ¿Por qué no viniste? (Why didn't you come?).
Según means “according to”:
- Según el Instituto Cervantes, casi 600 millones de personas hablan español (According to the Cervantes Institute, almost 600 million people speak Spanish).
- Según el pronóstico, mañana nevará (According to the forecast, it will snow tomorrow).
As in English, sin (without) is the antonym of con (with), and it denotes that something is missed:
- Me quedé sin saldo en mi teléfono (I’m out of credit on my phone).
- Sin ti, todo es más difícil (Without you, everything is more difficult).
This is an easy one: sobre means “above” or “on”:
- La comida está sobre la mesa (The food is on the table).
It also means “about”:
- Este libro es sobre la Primera Guerra Mundial (This book is about the First World War).
Finally, like hacia, you can use sobre as “approximately”:
- Llegaré sobre las diez de la noche (I’ll arrive around ten at night).
Learn more about using sobre (as well as bajo) right in the video below.
Tras means “after”:
- Tras escuchar esa noticia, me quedé helado (After hearing that news, I froze).
It is also used to say “behind”:
- Tras ese edificio está la escuela a la que fui durante mi infancia (Behind that building is the school I went to during my childhood).
Finally, tras can be used as “searching for”, just as in English:
- Los científicos están tras la cura de esa enfermedad (Scientists are after the cure for that disease).
Spanish Prepositions Through StoryLearning
You've reached the end of this guide! I hope it will help you to learn the Spanish prepositions.
I know, there are lots of Spanish prepositions and they’re not always easy to use! That's why I created the StoryLearning method. Instead of learning rules, you learn through stories. So read short stories in Spanish.
Not only will you have fun, you'll also see the Spanish prepositions from this post over and over again in context.
As you read, you'll internalise the Spanish prepositions and how to use them, without having to think about it.
And, of course, you can always come back to this guide if you're in doubt!