It Takes Two: 25 Juicy Spanish Verbs That Are Linked with Prepositions
With phrasal words like “depend on,” “believe in” and “feel like,” prepositions are absolutely necessary to discuss a range of topics in English—from the most serious to trivial.
They’re also super useful in Spanish.
And there are many Spanish verbs that take prepositions, so we’ve compiled the most common into a handy list for you. But before we get to the verbs themselves, let’s just make sure you’ve got the basics down.
- What Is a Preposition?
- 10 Common Verbs in Spanish Without Prepositions
- Top 5 Spanish Prepositions That You’ve Gotta Know
- 25 Common Spanish Verbs with Prepositions
- Verbs with en
- Verbs with con
- Verbs with a
- Verbs with por
- Verbs with de
- How to Learn Spanish Verbs with Prepositions
What Is a Preposition?
Prepositions are words that provide context to sentences to relay necessary information between speakers. In short, prepositions are connectors that describe three elements:
- Where events take place: en la fiesta (at the party)
- When events take place: tras la fiesta (after the party)
- General descriptions: celebramos la fiesta con amigos (we had the party with friends)
The English language contains approximately 70 common prepositions, whereas Spanish has 60. In most instances, prepositions are used exactly the same and are easily transferrable between English and Spanish, as you can see in examples #2 and #3 above.
However, there are several common Spanish verbs that take prepositions, when their English translations do not. Or sometimes the English translation still involves a preposition, but a different one from the Spanish! And other times, the English verbal phrase has a preposition, but the Spanish translation does not—so be careful!
In the meantime, let’s take a quick look at ten examples of Spanish verbs without prepositions.
10 Common Verbs in Spanish Without Prepositions
The reason why these can be confusing is that while they don’t have a preposition in Spanish, the English translation of these verbs does use a preposition.
One common mistake by new Spanish learners is to use “buscar para” when they want to say “to look for,” which is incorrect. In Spanish, buscar means “to look for,” so you should follow the verb directly with the object: busco trabajo (I’m looking for a job).
Here are 10 more common verbs that don’t have a preposition in Spanish. (Note: Verbs #6-10 don’t have a preposition in Spanish because they’re followed by an infinitive, which is “to + verb” in English.)
- mirar (to look at)
- pedir (to ask for)
- esperar (to wait for)
- buscar (to look for)
- impedir (to prevent from)
- decidir (to decide to)
- aconsejar (to advise/give advice to)
- soler (to be used to/tend to)
- olvidar (to forget to)
- intentar (to try to)
A more extensive list is available here, and you can keep practicing and testing yourself here.
Top 5 Spanish Prepositions That You’ve Gotta Know
There are many more prepositions in Spanish, but these top five connectors are the ones we’ll work with today. Review this shortlist and make sure you’ve got these down, as they’re used extensively in everyday Spanish conversations.
- en (in)
- con (with)
- a (to/at)
- por (for)
- de (of/from)
Got it? Good. For each of these prepositions, we’ll explore five common verbs that take that particular preposition. If you’re interested in learning more verbs than the 25 below, you can find verb lists for each category here.
25 Common Spanish Verbs with Prepositions
Verbs with en
The prepositional verbs in the en (in) group are can be followed by objects and/or infinitives. For our intents and purposes, keep in mind that an infinitive is simply a verb that has not been conjugated (i.e. comer, cantar), and an object is a noun.
1. confiar en (to trust to/rely on)
Structure: confiar en + [infinitive]/[object]
When followed by an infinitive, confiar en means “to be confident in” and with an object it means “to trust in/to rely on.”
Confío en hacer un buen trabajo. (I am confident I will do a good job.)
Infinitive: to do
Confío en el sistema educativo. (I trust in the education system.)
Object: the education system
2. dudar en (to hesitate to)
Structure: dudar en + [infinitive]
Dudo en decirte lo que pienso. (I hesitate to tell you what I think.)
Infinitive: to say (tell)
3. hacer bien en (to be right to/in doing something)
Structure: hacer bien en + [infinitive]/[object]
When linked with an infinitive, hacer bien en translates to “you’re doing the right thing.” When followed by an object, it means “you are doing good in/for.”
Haces bien en contarme la verdad. (You’re doing the right thing by telling me the truth.)
Infinitive: to tell (telling)
Haces bien en el mundo. (You are doing some good in/for the world.)
4. insistir en (to insist on)
Structure: insistir en + [infinitive]/[object]
With an infinitive insistir en means “to insist” (easy to remember), but with an object the meaning changes to “put emphasis on.”
Insistimos en ir a la fiesta. (We insist on going to the party.)
Infinitive: to go (going)
Debo insistir en mis creencias. (I must put emphasis on my beliefs.)
5. quedar en (to agree to)
Structure: quedar en + [infinitive]/[object]
Quedar en is special because its meaning changes significantly when used with an infinitive “to agree on” or an object “to fall in”/”to remain” (figurative – emotional state), as you’ll see below.
Quedamos en vernos este viernes. (We agree on seeing each this Friday.)
Infinitive: to see (seeing)
La casa quedó en ruinas. (The house remained in ruins.)
You’ll note that prepositional verbs followed by infinitives are the equivalent of our “-ing” verbs in English. So be careful not to make the mistake of saying “confío en viéndonos este viernes,” Rather, you’d use the infinitive ver following the preposition, as in the previous example.
Verbs with con
6. contar con (to rely on)
Structure: contar con + [object]
Cuento con ello. (I count on it.)
7. soñar con (to dream about)
Structure: soñar con + [infinitive]/[object]
With both infinitives and objects, soñar con translates to “dream of” or “dream about,” although it could also be translated as “to hope to” with the infinitive, as you can see in the first example below.
Sueño con cambiar el mundo. (I dream of/I hope to change the world.)
Infinitive: to change
Soñamos con hadas. (We dream about fairies.)
8. tener que ver con (to concern/to have to do with)
Structure: tener que ver con + [object]
Tiene que ver con la discusión. (It has to do with the argument.)
Object: the argument
9. comenzar con (to begin by/with)
Structure: comenzar con + [object]
With an object, comenzar con means initiating an action, or to begin by/with.
Comienzo con una pregunta. (I begin with a question.)
10. amenazar con (to threaten with)
Structure: amenazar con + [infinitive]/[object]
With both infinitives or objects, amenazar con keeps the same definition, to threaten someone with something, as in the examples below.
Amenazo con culparte. (I am threatening to blame you.)
Infinitive: to threaten (threatening)
Amenazan con tácticas ofensivas. (They threaten with offensive tactics.)
Object: offensive tactics
Verbs with a
The prepositional verbs in the a (to) group are special because in Spanish, unlike English, we have a grammar rule called the personal a. The personal a is placed before the object when the object is a person. This can be confusing because this rule doesn’t exist in English, so take a close look at the following examples:
11. acercarse a (to approach)
Structure: acercarse a + [object]
Se acerca a mí. (He/she approaches me.)
Object: me; requires personal a
12. ayudar a (to help)
Structure: ayudar a + [object]
Ayudamos a la gente. (We help people.)
Object: people; requires personal a
13. resistirse a (to resist)
Structure: resistirse a + [infinitive]/[object]
Resistir a with an infinitive is directly translates to “to resist in.” However, with an object it can also mean “to not be able to take her/his hands off something.”
Me resisto a creer en las mentiras de la sociedad. (I resist in believing societal myths/lies.)
Infinitive: to believe (believing)
Él no se puede resistir a ella. (He can’t take his hands off her./He can’t resist her allure.)
14. llamar a (to call)
Structure: llamar a + [object]
María llama a John. (Maria calls John.)
Object: John; requires personal a
15. cuidar a (to take care of)
Structure: cuidar a + [object]
Cuido a mis primos. (I take care of my cousins.)
Object: my cousins; requires personal a
Verbs with por
16. esforzarse por (to struggle to/to do your best)
Structure: esforzarse por + [infinitive]
Me esfuerzo por ser una persona mejor. (I do my best to be a better person.)
Infinitive: to be
17. comenzar por (to begin with)
Structure: comenzar por + [infinitive]/[object]
Comenzar por is similar to #9 above, where we initiate an action.
Comenzamos por rellenar el formulario. (We begin by filling out the sheet/form.)
Infinitive: to fill (filling)
Comienzo por la primera pregunta. (Let me begin with the first question.)
18. estar por (to be in favor of)
Structure: estar por + [infinitive]/[object]
With an inifinitive, estar por means “to consider doing something,” whereas with an object, it expresses preference or stance on a subject or cause.
Estamos por hacer una reserva en ese restaurante. (We’re considering making a reservation at that restaurant.)
Infinitive: to make (making)
Estoy por el derecho al voto. (I am for the right to vote.)
Object: right to vote
19. disculparse por (to apologize for)
Structure: disculparse por + [infinitive]/[object]
With both infinitives and objects, disculparse por means to apologize for or excuse oneself for .
Se disculpa por llegar tarde. (He apologizes for arriving late.)
Infinitive: to arrive (arriving)
Me disculpo por mi comportamiento. (I apologize/Excuse myself (for) my behavior.)
20. optar por (to opt for)
Structure: optar por + [infinitive]/[object]
The verb optar por means “to opt for” in both instances, making this one easy to remember!
Opto por ir al cine. (I opt for going to the movies.)
Infinitive: to go (going)
Optamos por otra forma de pago. (We opt for a different payment method.)
Object: payment method
Verbs with de
21. acordarse de (to remember to)
Structure: acordarse de + [infinitive]/[object]
Acordarse de is often used with the infinitive haber (to have) in order to recall past events, but you can also use it with objects. Both of the examples below have roughly the same translation, but are said in two different ways.
Me acuerdo de haberte visto una vez. (I remember having seen you once before.)
Infinitive: to have (having)
Me acuerdo de ti. (I remember you.)
22.preocuparse de (to be worried about)
Structure: preocuparse de + [infinitive]/[object]
This prepositional verb always implies worry with both infinitives and objects.
No me preocupo de llegar con retraso. (I am not worried about arriving late.)
Infinitive: to arrive (arriving)
Tú puedes viajar sin preocuparte de nada. (You can travel and worry about a thing.)
23. dejar de (to stop)
Structure: dejar de + [infinitive]
Deja de gritarme (Stop yelling at me)
Infinitive: to yell (yelling)
24. tratar de (to try/to attempt)
Structure: tratar de + [infinitive]
Trato de ser feliz (I try to be happy)
Infinitive: to be
25. alegrarse de (to be happy to/about)
Structure: alegrarse de + [infinitive]/[object]
When linked with infinitives, alegrarse means “to be happy about.” With an object it means “to appreciate something.”
Me alegro de recibir la buena noticia. (I am happy about getting the good news.)
Infinitive: to get (getting)
Te alegrarás de la nueva ley. (You’ll appreciate the new law.)
How to Learn Spanish Verbs with Prepositions
Our list will be more useful to you if you know some effective ways to learn these Spanish verbs.
If you’re a beginner or intermediate learner, pick a new verb from our list every day, and try to use it at least five times in your daily conversation and writing practice.
Listen and read. You also need to reinforce these verbs through receptive activities, such as listening to podcasts and reading the news to make them “normal” and “natural” to you.
A great method to practice this is to pick a prepositional verb from the list above and listen/watch closely for it. Keep a notepad with you to jot down the phrase or sentence in which you heard the prepositional verb.
Another option is to choose one Spanish preposition to listen or search for, and pause/stop to analyze at every instance. Ask yourself: Is this a preposition on its own, or is it linked to a verb?
Both methods work well for authentic audio and Spanish text. They’re also especially handy for subtitled videos. For instance, Spanish media clips from the language program FluentU have interactive subtitles you can tap to pause the video, and show the usage of prepositions and prepositional verbs in context.
Flashcards and exercises. Do your best to get these prepositions and verbs drilled into your memory using flashcards (pre-made decks can be found here and here), reviewing additional preposition verb lists and using online lessons. But don’t forget to get creative with your learning!
Spanish songs. Love music? Try singing along to these three songs, which have prepositional verbs.
You can also look up some of your favorite songs in Spanish to see if you can pick out any prepositional verbs from their lyrics.
Spanish expressions. There are many set Spanish expressions that use prepositional verbs, too; try employing the three below:
- no dude en ponerse en contacto conmigo (don’t hesitate to contact me)
- no te preocupes por mí (don’t worry about me)
- disculpa por el retraso (I apologize for being late)
You can look for other expressions that use verbs from the list below.
Google search. Another great technique is to do a Google search for short texts, blog posts or online articles that use prepositional verbs—because there are tons! Simply type in your prepositional verb into the search bar (in quotes), add a topic and you’ll get many written resources. Check these out to get started:
- Cómo acercarse a la persona que te gusta (How to Approach the Person You Like)
- Qué significa soñar con caballos (Meaning of Dreaming About Horses)
And now you have something new to be happy about: You’re a step closer to fluency by having learned these verbs! Keep practicing, and don’t forget to make it fun!