Common Spanish Prepositions
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What are Prepositions?
Prepositions within the Spanish language are words which connect either a noun, adjective or verb to the object of the preposition, which is usually a noun or pronoun. More specifically, it describes a relationship between the two parts of a sentence and this relationship usually refers to things like movement, location, direction or time.
Within the study of language, prepositions are notoriously tricky, because there are no simple solutions. Instead, they must be learned, understood and memorised individually. With Spanish, this can be made somewhat less daunting by dividing them into two distinct groups: simple prepositions and compound prepositions.
List of Common Spanish Prepositions
In Spanish, the easiest way to group prepositions together is as simple prepositions and compound prepositions. Simple prepositions consist of a single word, while compound prepositions consist of two or three words. Some of the most common simple and compound prepositions are listed below, along with examples of usage.
|a||to, at||Ellos viajaron a francia||They travelled to France|
|con||with, to||Ven con nosotros||Come with us|
|de||of, from, about|| Capital de España
Ella es de Madrid
| Capital of Spain
She is from Madrid
|en||in, on, at, by|| En un minuto
Viajo en coche
| In a minute
I travel by car
|hacia||towards, to||Corrió hacia mí||He ran towards me|
|para||for||Tengo dinero para pagar la cena||I have money to pay for dinner|
|por||for||Intercambié el pan por la leche||I exchanged the bread for the milk|
|sin||without||Té sin azúcar||Tea without sugar|
|antes de||prior to, before||Antes de 1980||Before 1980|
|con respecto a||with respect to||Con respecto al anuncio de empleo||With respect to the job advert|
|debajo de||underneath||Debajo de la mesa||Underneath the table|
|delante de||in front of, before||Delante de la chimenea||In front of the fireplace|
|Fuera de||Outside of||Quiero viajar fuera de Europa||I want to travel outside of Europe|
|Lejos de||far from||Estaba lejos de casa||I was far from home)|
The Importance of Learning Spanish Prepositions
Taking the time to learn the different Spanish prepositions is incredibly important, because they allow Spanish speakers to construct sentences properly. Moreover, prepositions are utilised all the time; in fact, the prepositions “a” and “de” rank as two of the most frequently used Spanish words of all.
One of the keys to understanding Spanish prepositions is to come to terms with the fact that they do not work in the exact same way as English prepositions, so they cannot be substituted one-for-one. It is, therefore, impossible to become fluent in Spanish without truly getting to grips with these words and their functions.
Common Mistakes with Spanish Prepositions
Like with most other languages, Spanish prepositions do not correlate directly with English prepositions. Yet, one of the most common mistakes made by Spanish language students is to simply carry out a one-for-one translation, resulting in incorrect preposition usage or placement.
In terms of getting prepositions mixed up, a frequently encountered problem involves the Spanish words “para” and “por”, which both roughly translate to the English word “for”, but have different uses. The rule here is that “para” refers to destination or purpose, while “por” refers to cause or motion.
Furthermore, the Spanish language does not have postpositions, which function in a similar way to prepositions, but are placed after the object. As a result, when translating a postposition from English to Spanish, the word becomes a preposition, occasionally resulting in a word order that may seem unusual to an English speaker.