Prepositions in Spanish can be tricky, especially when we try and use English rules with the Spanish language. But getting your prepositions right can make your Spanish much more natural and can actually sometimes change the meaning of the word.
It’s definitely worth taking some time to work on your Spanish prepositions. Using the incorrect Spanish prepositions not only makes your Spanish sound strange but can also change the meaning of the sentence you’re saying which can cause confusion for both you and the listener.
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The most common Spanish prepositions are:
- A – means ‘to’
- De – means ‘of’
- Con – means ‘with’
- Desde – means ‘from/since’
- Contra – means ‘against’
- Ante – means ‘before’
- Entre – means ‘between’
- Por – means ‘for’
- Para – means ‘for’ (Look at the differences between para and por here)
- Sin – means without
- Hasta – means until
Of course there are other prepositions, but these should be enough to start you off.
Different verbs, same meaning, different prepositions
Different verbs with the same meaning often require different prepositions to signify that meaning. Here are two examples:
To try to
The following verbs all mean to try to, but as you can see they all require different prepositions.
- Tratar de + infinitivo
- Intentar + infinitivo
- Procurar + infinitivo
- Probar a + infinitivo
To break up with someone
Both of these verbs mean to break up with someone when used with the corresponding prepositions.
- Romper con algiuen
- Dejar a algiuen
Ones that we get wrong because of English
Here are some prepositions that we get wrong because we would use a different preposition in English. But the most important thing to remember is when we learn a new language we don’t just translate literally from English into the new language. Each language has it’s own rules and structures and this is important to remember if you want to master Spanish.
Pienso en algo
With this one it’s easy to assume it’s pienso de algo because we think of something in English, but it’s ‘en’ algo.
Enamorarse de alguien
With English translations, it would be easy to think that this one was ‘con’ but it’s not, with enamorarse, we use ‘de’
Prepositions with ‘en’
- Confiar en – I confide in/or have faith in someone or something
- Dudar en – To hesitate (dudar without a preposition means to doubt)
- Insistir en – To insist on
- Entrar en – To enter
- Pensar en – To think of
- Fijarse en – To focus on something
- Consistir en – To consist in
- Implicarse en algo – To get involved in
Prepositions with ‘con’
- Soñar con – to dream about (in sleep and your hopes and dreams)
Sueño con viajar el mundo – I dream about travelling the world
- Contar con – to rely on
- Conformarse con – to settle for
- Casarse con – to marry
- Reencontrar con – to rekindle
- Tropezar con – to run across
- Amenazar con – to threaten with
- Cumplir con – to fulfil an obligation
- Pagar con – to pay with (cash or card)
Prepositions with ‘a’
- Obligar a – to force/ to oblige
- Negarse a – to refuse/to decline
- Estudiar a – to study
- Invitar a – to invite
- Someter a – to submit to
- Llegar a – to arrive
- Tender a – to tend to
Prepositions with ‘de’
- Acordarse de – to remember
- Quedarse de – to stay
- Despedirse de – to say goodbye to
- Hablar de – to speak of
- Padecer de – to suffer from
- Esperar de – to expect from
- Enamorarse de – to be in love with
- Sufrir de – to suffer from
Common Spanish verbs that have different meanings with different prepositions
Tratar and dejar are two common Spanish verbs that have different meaning depending on what prepositions you use them with.
- Dejar + noun – means to leave
- Dejar + de – means to stop
Dejé el libro encima de la mesa – I left the book on the table
Dejé de lavar los platos – I stopped washing the dishes
- Tratar + infinitive – to treat
- Tratar + de – to try to
As you can these two meanings are completely different so you should make sure you understand the difference and learn the preposition.
We hope this was useful. Be sure to let us know if there’s anything else we can help you with regarding your Spanish. Spanish prepositions are useful to learn because they can make your Spanish much more natural. If you mix up your Spanish prepositions most of the time you won’t be misunderstood, but sometimes a different prepositions can change the meaning of the word completely as you’ve seen above. Therefore it’s important to learn which prepositions matches the verb whenever you learn a new Spanish verb.
A great way to practise these prepositions would be to try and form your own sentences using the verbs and the prepositions and to leave them in the comments below.
Finally, everyone learns in different ways and if you are someone who learns better with audio input as well as visual input then you might want to try watching this video.