Spanish prepositions

in the Spanish language —like those in other languages— are a set of connecting words that serve to indicate a relationship between a content word and a following noun phrase, known as the object of the preposition. The relationship is typically spatial or temporal, but prepositions express other relationships as well. As implied by the name, Spanish "pre-positions" are positioned before their objects. Spanish does not place these function words after their objects; the language does not use postpositions.
Spanish prepositions can be classified as either "simple", consisting of a single word, or "compound", consisting of two or three words. The prepositions of Spanish form a closed class, meaning that they constitute a limited set to which new items are rarely added. Many Spanish school pupils memorize the following list: a,,,, con,, de,,,,,,,, para, por, según, sin,,, and. This list includes two archaic prepositions — so and cabe — and it excludes ' and ', two Latinisms recently adopted into the language.
Some common Spanish prepositions, simple and compound, are listed below, with their meanings.

Some frequent simple prepositions in Spanish


A is most often translated as "to" or "at"; its main uses are the following:
Prepositional contraction: al is the contraction formed with a and el, the masculine definite article, yet the contraction is waived when the article is part of a proper noun:
Con is usually translated by English "with", both in the sense of accompaniment and in the instrumental sense. Unlike other prepositions, con combines with the prepositional pronouns , ti, and in the forms conmigo, contigo, and consigo. These forms are derived historically from forms with the Latin preposition cum postposed to its object: mēcum, tēcum, etc. In an Ibero-Romance ancestor of Spanish, before the time of written records, an etymologically redundant con was prefixed to these forms. Compare the concept of inflected preposition.
De is the most frequent preposition in Spanish, and in fact it vies with que to be the most frequent word in the language. It is most often translated in English by "of" or "from", but also denotes several other relationships as well.
The English possessive with apostrophe-s is translated by a construction with de:
Prepositional contraction: When de is followed by the masculine singular definite article el, together they form the contraction del. However, de does not contract with the homophonous personal pronoun él, nor, in writing, with a proper noun; thus:
Typography: the uppercase form DE was configured as the siglum Đ — a typographic ligature adopted as a concise written and printed word-character, that originated as a lapidary scribal abbreviation.
The preposition
de is part of many compound prepositions, such as dentro de and en contra de'' ; see Section 2, below, for fuller description.

''por'' and ''para''

Both por and para are frequently translated into English as "for", and thus they pose a challenge for English-speaking learners of Spanish. In the broadest terms, por denotes cause or stimulus, while para denotes destination or purpose. The following are common uses of these prepositions:
; por
; para
In fast spoken language, the preposition para often is clipped to pa/pa’, as in the colloquial Amos pa’lante. —compare the standard Vamos para adelante.


Según translates as "according to". With some uses of según, part or all of the object of the preposition is omitted and merely implied. Often the missing words can be taken as lo que :
Popular speech uses it alone, as an equivalent of "It depends."
Regional colloquial usage of the preposition según, with que, expresses evidential mood, indicating hearsay or non-commitment.
Sin translates as "without":
When the object of the preposition sin is a clause introduced by que, verb in the clause must be in the subjunctive mood:
Some compound prepositions duplicate the meaning of a simple preposition, but often with a more formal tone or with greater specificity. For example, de acuerdo con is equivalent to según. En dirección a is more ponderous than hacia. The English counterpart of Spanish en may be either "on" or "in", while dentro de specifies "within". "Because of" is only one of several possible meanings of por, but por causa de conveys that meaning exclusively. In some cases the compound preposition denotes a literal spatial relationship, while the corresponding simple preposition expresses a figurative version of that relationship: thus, debajo de una mesa vs. bajo un régimen, or delante de un edificio vs. ante un tribunal.
The list of compound prepositions is much longer than that of the simple ones, and only some representative examples are listed here.
Spanish compound prepositions can be composed of:
Other Spanish compound prepositions include the following:
In certain cases, Spanish prepositions can be used serially, that is, two—or occasionally even three—in succession, as in the following examples:

''a por''

In Spain the sequence a por, used mainly with verbs of movement, such as ir and salir, can be used to mean "in search of", or "to go fetch ". Many speakers consider it to be incorrect and prefer to replace it with por alone, but according to the Real Academia Española, there is no normative reason to condemn the use of a por. In some contexts, a por expresses a clearer meaning than por:
This compound means "toward" in the context of an attitude or demeanor toward someone or something:
Other possible serial combinations of prepositions include the following:
The English language features three types of adpositions — prepositions, postpositions, and circumpositions — allowing constructions such as “in the box”, “on the airplane”, and “out of Africa”, as in Spanish. But the postposition “three years ago” is as impossible in Spanish usage as: “ago three years” is in English. Thus Spanish prepositions function exclusively as such; these examples express equivalent concepts using other mechanisms: