Spanish Prepositions - A, DE, EN, HACIA, and CON
In the section on Prepositional Pronouns, you learned that prepositions are connecting words that indicate location as well as placement in time. They include words like “about, above, across, after, against, along, around, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, between, beyond...” and so on.
You have already become used to using many prepositions in Spanish. The direction words that you learned in the section on The Spanish Verb estar (such as en, entre, detrás, adelante) were prepositions. Other Spanish prepositions that you have been using without realizing it are a and de.
Resources for further reading:
It is useful to go back to these prepositions and take a second look, as they can have multiple meanings depending on the context. In this lesson, we’ll look at a, de, en, hacia, and con. You will hear these words all the time in a variety of contexts. Unfortunately, there is no single meaning in English for any of them.
|a||to, at, from, by, on, for, upon|
|de||of, about, on, with, because of, by, at|
|en||in, on, at|
|hacia||towards, to, at about or around|
- Carlos iba a Lima.
Carlos was going to Lima.
- Él subió al tren.
He got on the train.
- Llegó a la ciudad.
He arrived in the city.
- Su hotel estaba a la derecha de la estación del tren.
His hotel was to the right of the train station.
- A la una almorzó.
At one o’clock he had lunch.
- Al terminar de comer, recorrió la ciudad a pie.
Upon finishing eating, he went round the city on foot.
- Compró un recuerdo a una señora en el mercado.
He bought a souvenir from a lady in the market.
- Mandó un postal a su novia.
He sent a postcard to his girlfriend.
- Fue a dormir.
He went to sleep.
Below are some more examples:
Por ejemplo (for example):
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Llegó a la ciudad
He arrived in the city
To the car!
Le di el regalo a mi sobrino.
I gave the gift to my nephew.
Examples of ‘de’
The preposition de is also widely used in Spanish for a variety of purposes. In general, it means “of” or “from,” although it can be used to indicate possession, origin, type, composition, and more. Let’s look at some uses:
|Uses of de||Examples||Translation|
|Possession||Los padres de Sara||Sarah’s parents|
|El negocio del Señor Goodwin||Mr. Goodwin’s business|
|Origin||Él es de argentina.||He is from Argentina.|
|El queso es de Gales.||The cheese is from Wales.|
|Subject||Un libro de español.||a Spanish book|
|Una compañía de computadoras.||a computer company|
|Ella sabe todo de las matemáticas.||She knows everything about math.|
|Position Phrases||encima de||on top of|
|al lado de||beside|
|From Here to There||de aquí a Miami||from here to Miami|
|de una cosa a otra||from one thing to another|
|Parts||un pedazo de manzana||a piece of apple|
|un poco de crema||a little cream|
|Time||de día||by day|
|de sábado a domingo||from Saturday to Sunday|
|Cause||morir de risas||to die of laughter|
|gritar de frustración||to shout from frustration|
|Composition||Está hecho de lana.||It’s made of wool.|
|una camisa de seda||a silk shirt|
|carne de res||beef|
Looking at ‘en’
En is another useful, all-purpose word that can be used to express “in,” “on,” “by.”
|Uses of en||Examples||Translation|
|Time||en el verano||in the summer|
|en un minuto||in a minute|
|en la mañana||in the morning|
|El queso es de Gales.||The cheese is from Wales.|
|Place||Estamos en casa.||We are at home.|
|Entramos en la casa.||We enter the house.|
|Hablamos en el bus.||We talk on the bus.|
|Caminamos en el bosque.||We walk in the forest.|
|Method of Travel||Voy en tren.||I go by train.|
|Viajo en avión.||I travel by plane.|
|Cruzo el océano en barco.||I cross the ocean by boat.|
|Mode||Hablas en español.||You speak in Spanish.|
|Estás en serio.||You are serious.|
|Subject||Eres bueno en las lenguas.||You are good at languages.|
|Eres experto en los negocios.||You are expert in business.|
First of all, don’t make the mistake of confusing hacía with hacia! Hacia is one of those words that will change its meaning completely depending on whether it has an accent mark or not.
- hacia is a preposition that means “towards” or “to”
- hacía is the third person singular form of the verb hacer in the imperfect.
The preposition hacia can be used:
- to express the direction of movement (in which it means towards or to), por ejemplo:
to express the roughness of a time estimate (where it can mean around or about)
Te llamo hacia las tres. - I’ll call you about three.
or in the following phrases:
hacia abajo - down, downwards
hacia adelante - forwards
hacia arriba - up, upwards
hacia atrás - back, backwards
Take a look at some examples below:
Tenemos que caminar hacia el parque para llegar a la casa de Juan.
We have to walk towards the park to go to John's house.
Vi a mi hermana caminando rápidamente hacia mí.
I saw my sister walking rapidly towards me.
El atleta corría hacia atrás para agarrar la pelota.
The athlete ran backwards to catch the ball.
¿Qué dices si te encuentro hacia las ocho?
What do you say if I meet you around eight o'clock?
More with ‘con’
Most of the time, con will mean “with.” As a result, you’ll find it quite easy to use.
But con has several other uses as well. You can also use con to express surprise at a known statement or simply to emphasize the importance of something or someone.
Con todo lo que trabajé,
With all the work I did,
todavía no podía ahorrar suficiente dinero
I still couldn't save enough money
para comprarme un auto.
to buy myself a car.
¡Con todo lo que he hecho por ti, igual no me quieres!
With all that I've done for you, you still don't love me!
Con tantas cosas que compré para el picnic, ¡está lloviendo!
With everything I bought for the picnic, it's raining!
The following usages of con are a bit more specialized. You’ll recognize them from their context.
Don’t forget that when con is followed by either mí or ti, the words merge together to form a contraction.
con + mí = conmigo
con + ti = contigo
Hopefully this cleared up some of your confusion. Feel free to take a look at lessons on other Spanish Prepositions:
- In Spanish, the prepositional pronouns are exactly the same as the subject pronouns with the exceptions of “mí” and “ti”. Check out this lesson for more!
- This lesson covers the Spanish prepositions desde, entre, sin, and hasta.
- The Spanish prepositions por and para are extraordinarily confusing in Spanish, learn how to use them here!
See you soon! ¡Hasta pronto!
Mauricio Evlampieff: Rocket Spanish
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