It sure feels like sometimes, “nada hay nuevo debajo del sol” (“there’s nothing new under the sun”).
Especially when you’re working on your language learning.
Every study session begins to feel the same.
Verbs and tenses start to blend together.
How do you move away from the tedium and get on top of your studies? With something that’s actually a part of the quote above: prepositions of place!
Debajo de (under the) is a preposition—and it’s probably the most important part of the quote.
Prepositions of place like debajo de show you where something exists or is happening and using them can add meaning and clarity to your Spanish conversations.
If the quote said “above the sun” or “inside the sun,” those would have completely different meanings, wouldn’t they?
So let’s show that sun something new after all and master prepositions of place in Spanish.
What Are Spanish Prepositions and How Do You Use Them?
So what exactly are prepositions?
As mentioned above, a preposition is a word that indicates information about location, place or movement. It also provides a link between different parts of sentences.
Prepositions commonly show a spatial (relating to place) relationship but can also indicate time relationships, too.
A Preposition generally goes before nouns or pronouns in sentences. It shows where an item is or when an event occurred, often in relation to another item or event (“I’m on top of the world!”).
I’m sure you’re familiar with prepositions like within, toward, on and under. Those prepositions are used all the time when we speak English. And they’re used when we speak Spanish, too!
Understanding de and del
Before we go on, here’s a special note about a very useful Spanish word: de (of, from) is a multi-purpose preposition. It may be the most commonly used preposition because it’s used both alone and in conjunction with other prepositions.
You might notice that some of the prepositions in our list below actually use del instead of de. Del is a contraction that means “of the, from the” and it’s formed by combining de and the definite article el (the). This is used to indicate something is of, from or in some cases even about or by something.
Let’s see what prepositions of place we’ve got available to us—and check out how they’re used!
19 Spanish Prepositions of Place to Take Your Language Skills Above and Beyond
Sometimes, the best way to understand a particular bit of a language is to see it used in context. These examples will explain various prepositions as well as give you a reference point.
Use the examples as starters for your own practice!
A (To, By, At)
A is a one-letter dynamo that can mean a few different things. The following examples show all three of its uses:
Ella fue a la tienda. (She went to the store.)
Está junto a la puerta. (It’s by the door.)
A las seis (At six o’clock)
Remember that when placed before a masculine word, a turns into al in the same way that de turns into del:
Ella fue al banco. (She went to the bank.)
A la derecha de (To the right of)
El gato está a la derecha del perro. (The cat is to the right of the dog.)
A la izquierda de (To the left of)
El león está a la izquierda del perro. (The lion is to the left of the dog.)
Alrededor de (About)
This phrase can be used both to express time and location:
Alrededor de un año a partir de ahora. (About a year from now.)
Mira hacia tu alrededor. (Look about/around you.)
Antes de (Before)
El zoológico abre antes del circo. (The zoo opens before the circus.)
Cerca de (Near to)
Mi auto está cerca del auto payaso. (My car is near the clown car.)
De (Of, From)
De indicates ownership or origin when used as a stand-alone preposition, as in the examples below.
La nariz del payaso es roja. (The clown’s nose is red. Literally: The nose of the clown is red.)
Él es de España. (He’s from Spain.)
Debajo de (Under)
Los sellos están debajo del agua. (The seals are under the water.)
Delante de (In front of)
¡Delante del acróbata! (In front of the acrobat!)
Dentro de (In, Inside, Within)
Dentro de la tienda hay helado. (Inside the tent, there’s ice cream.)
Detrás de (Behind)
El elefante está detrás del payaso. (The elephant is behind the clown.)
Hay seis payasos en el auto. (There are six clowns in the car.)
Encima de (On top of)
El sombrero encima de su cabeza es enorme. (The hat on top of his head is huge.)
En frente de (In front of)
Los tigres están en frente de los acróbatas. (The tigers are in front of the acrobats.)
¡Es demasiado ruidoso dentro de la carpa del circo! ¡Vamos afuera! (It’s too noisy inside the circus tent! Let’s go outside!)
¡Tenemos que ir hacia la multitud para ver los lugares de interés! (We need to go toward the crowd to see the sights!)
Lejos de (Far from)
¡Quiero sentarme lejos de los leones y tigres cuando vamos al circo! (I want to sit far from the lions and tigers when we go to the circus!)
Don’t confuse this use of the word por (by) with por (for)!
Esperaré por las concesiones. (I’ll wait by the concessions.)
Los boletos están sobre la mesa. (The tickets are on the table.)
Practice Your Spanish Prepositions of Place Skills
Now that you’ve got an assortment of prepositions available to pull into your Spanish program, you’ll want to get some practice time in.
There are great resources to help you get your prepositions in order. And the best part is that they’re fun to work with.
Let’s check them out!
- Wyzant quiz: This short Wyzant quiz has a list of some common prepositions and a brief explanation of how they’re used. The quiz itself is entirely in Spanish so you’ll get to practice reading and comprehension skills, too.
- Quizlet flashcards: Flashcards are a quick, uncomplicated tool that allows learners to squeeze practice time into busy schedules! These Quizlet flashcards are sure to help get all your prepositions in order.
- Downloadable worksheet: This worksheet on prepositions from Instant Worksheets covers all the basics. There are lots of other worksheets available at this resource, so if you’re having an issue with another topic, particularly grammar or vocabulary, check the sidebar to find what suits your needs!
Teachers Pay Teachers also has a useful preposition worksheet.
- YouTube video: If you’re still fuzzy on your prepositions, YouTube it! This video by FluencyProf is fun, fast and it’ll clear up any lingering questions you might have about these important parts of the Spanish language.
Once you master the fine art of using Spanish prepositions of place to show where things are, your language skills will take on a whole new layer of meaning.
Prepositions explain where we—and everything around us—are. And knowing how to do that skillfully is a talent that takes some time and practice but will certainly make you stand out from the crowd.
And okay, so maybe there’s really nothing new under the sun, like the old adage says. But we can always take something old and make it fresh and exciting!
¡Buena suerte! (Good luck!)