Updated: Jul 23, 2020
La mujer está bajo el muérdago. (The woman is under the mistletoe.). Betsie Van Der Meer/Getty Images
What Are Prepositions in Spanish?
Prepositions of place in Spanish, LAS PREPOSICIONES DE LUGAR, are words like “Sobre” (on) and “Debajo” (under) that are normally used to indicate the location of one object in relation to another. In English there are more prepositions than in Spanish, so it is important to know its meaning and thus be able to use the correct preposition for each case. The key is to practice these prepositions as much as possible to retain the meaning and proper use. In this lesson, you will find a list of prepositions of place in Spanish, and more importantly, how to use them with the verb ESTAR to make meaningful sentences. Let’s start…
Vocabulary introduction: A list of prepositions of place in Spanish
Prepositions are really important and often have many uses in the language. One of the common uses when learning Spanish is to use prepositions of place for giving directions as in the sentence “El banco está junto al hospital” (The bank is next to the hospital), Mi casa está cerca del parque. (My house is near the park). In these two sentences, both words “junto” and "cerca"are prepositions.
In English a preposition sometimes appears at the end of a sentence, however in Spanish it is NOT possible to end a sentence with a preposition.
Prepositions in Spanish are always followed by an object (a noun or pronoun).
preposition of place + object
See the examples that appear below.
Other Expressions showing the position of something
A la izquierda de – on the left / to the left A la derecha de – on the right / to the right En la parte superior – at the top En el centro – in the middle En la parte inferior – at the bottom
Asking about location in Spanish – ¿Dónde está…?
First, in order to ask about location in Spanish, we need the irregular verb ESTAR in its form ESTÁ for a single object as in “¿Dónde está el carro?” and ESTÁN for several as in “¿Dónde están los carros?”. Notice that you must use the right definite article before the noun, which in this case is CARRO. Basically, questions asking for the location of objects in Spanish will follow the structure:
¿Dónde + está/están + article + object(s)?
- ¿Dónde está el gato? Where is the cat?
- El libro está dentro de la caja. The cat is inside the box
Using ESTAR with prepositions of place in sentences
ESTAR does play a key role when making sentences with prepositions of place in Spanish. You will notice that we use the definite articles EL, LA, LOS, LAS and the indefinite articles UN and UNA before the name of the things, for example: EL HOSPITAL (the hospital) and UNA CAJA (a box). You can use ESTAR with prepositions of place following this structure:
Article + object + estar (to be) + prepositions of place + article + object
As mentioned above, some prepositions of place in Spanish are represented by two or three words, for example: ENCIMA + DE (encima de), EN + MEDIO + DE (en medio de) and so on. If we omit a part of the phrase, we may change the meaning of what we want to say. Interestingly, the word DE will change to DEL when used before a masculine noun like HOTEL. This means that we must say “del hotel” not “de el hotel”, joining DE plus EL in the word DEL.
Compare the following:
Delante de la mesa.
Delante del sillón
The same rule applies for the prepositions “A + EL”, which you might use in “Junto a el perro” (incorrect), but here we replace “A EL” for AL as in “Junto al perro”. Know that some prepositions are interchangeable and could mean the same thing depending on the context such as “FRENTE A” and “ENFRENTE DE”.
A + EL = AL
Compare the following:
Frente a la iglesia.
Frente al colegio
Listening Activity No. 1: Locating within space
In this video by BCNSunlight you will see how to locate within the space and which prepositions of a place we can use. Take notes of the information you consider important and listen carefully to identify the phrases presented above plus a few new ones. Press PLAY when you are ready.
Quiz Activity No. 2: Fill in the spaces.
Before starting with the activities, remember to contact your tutor with any question you have or to ask for more homework.
1. El banco está ____________ la Tercera Avenida.
2. La biblioteca está ____________ del restaurante.
3. El hospital está ____________ del cine.
4. El museo está ____________ el hotel.
5. El metro está ____________ la ciudad.
Video + Story +Activity No. 3: ¿Dónde está mi cámara?.
This resource includes a short story about a boy who lost his camera while his mother tries to help him find it. Great practice for prepositions of place and house vocabulary! We hope you find it very useful.
This resource includes a comprehension activity in Spanish for students to complete after reading and watching the story, as well as an activity to reinforce house vocabulary and writing with the verbs "estar and buscar". Available in our store. Please, leave a message if you want we prepare more activities about this topic. Thanks for helping us to improve.
The reading includes: ❁ Family vocabulary ❁ Prepositions of place ❁ Some house (rooms) vocabulary
❁ Negative sentences
❁ Genders (Nouns)
❁ Some furniture (rooms) vocabulary ❁ The verb Estar. The reading is mostly written in PRESENT TENSE
Please check out the preview for a closer look!
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¡Hasta la vista!, The Español Latino Team.