Posted by: sbilingual | March 5, 2012

Spanish Prepositions – and Why You Need to Get These Right!

Spanish is an amazing language to learn, and is probably one of the easiest languages to lean for English speakers. However, at times it can get tricky – and this is when you need to know your stuff, or else it will come to haunt you later on.

In English, prepositions are straightforward. We use “for” a lot, from, to, through, etc. These are all easy to use, and often each one can be used for several ideas. Take for example the following two phrases:

“I am giving the book to Ana.”
“We are going to Madrid.”

In Spanish, while prepositions are used for different ideas, they are a lot more precise and it is important you choose the correct one when building your sentences. It is easy to mix up some of the prepositions and use the wrong one.

I’ll introduce to you the basic – but most important – prepositions. Here we will look at “a”, “para” and “por”. These last two are ones that often cause trouble since both can sound, to one’s ear, good in the same sentence.

The preposition “a” always means there is movement; we are usually going somewhere. It will also be used for time, distance and verb complements. See the examples below:

Movement: “Viajamos a Madrid.” / We are travelling to Madrid.
Time: “Me acuesto a las siete.” / I go to sleep at 7.
Distance: “Está a veinte minutes en coche.” / It is 20 minutes away by car.
Complement: “Veo a Antonio.” / I saw Antonio.

The preposition “por” is used for:

  • A motive or cause – She is crying for nothing.
  • A place not properly defined – Over there.
  • Movement within a defined place – We are walking within the park.
  • Time during the day – I eat in the morning.
  • Time frame – We ski for 3 hours.
  • Frequency – I ski three times a month.
  • The way of doing something – by plane, by fax etc.

The preposition “para” is used for: IN ORDER TO =>

  • Final time, deadline – The paper is for Monday.
  • Use of something, role of something – Glasses are for reading.
  • Destination – I am going to your house.
  • For someone – This book is for you.
  • Opinion or point of view – For me, it means nothing.

Now try some examples:

  • Estudio POR / PARA aprender. (Answer: para – in order to).
  • Me encanta pasear POR / PARA la ciudad. (Answer : por – walk within the city).
  • Esta carta es POR / PARA Luisa. (Answer : para – for someone).
  • Voy a esquiar tres veces POR / PARA mes. (Answer : por – frequency).

For more Spanish learning tips and tricks, visit my website at


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