Prepositions in Spanish - Special Cases

There are many prepositions used in Spanish, but a, de, and en will come up again and again. It's especially important to understand how to use these three prepositions, because they have special uses that don't translate exactly to English.

This preposition is often translated as "at" or "to," but it also is sometimes used in situations where you wouldn't need a preposition in English. Here are some of its uses:

To indicate the time
La clase empieza a las ocho. [The class starts at eight.]

To connect a verb to an infinitive
¿Empezaste a estudiar? [Did you start to study?]

To show motion
Vamos a Washington. [We're going to Washington.]

To show manner, or how something is done
Los hacemos a mano. [We make them by hand.]

To introduce an indirect object
Regalaron el coche a Luisa. [They gave the car to Luisa as a gift.]

To introduce a direct object (if it is a person)
¿Conoces a Juanita? [Do you know Juanita?]

Typically, de is translated as "of" or "from." Here are some of its usual uses:

To show possession
¿Dónde está la casa de tus abuelos? [Where is your grandparents house?]

To use a noun to describe another noun.
Una casa de Madera [A house made of wood]

In comparisons
Hay más de cien personas aquí. [There are more than 100 people here]

To show a causal relationship
Estoy contento de verte. [I'm happy to see you.]

To show origin
La profesora es de España. [The professor is from Spain.]

This preposition can be translated as "in," "on," "at," or "about."
To show time
Tenemos que salir en una hora. [We have to leave in an house.]

To express location
El coche está en el garaje. [The car is in the garage.]

To express manner
Vamos al cine en bus. [We're going to the movie theater by bus.]

Related Links:
Spanish Preposition Basics
Spanish Worksheets
Spanish Quizzes
Spanish Games
Spanish FlashCards