Lesson 10:
The Prepositions / Por & Para

The Prepositions / Por & Para

The preposition “a” (to, at)

1. Expresses direction or the ending of a movement.

Example:

Voy a la oficina.
I’m going to the office.

Llegué a la ciudad el domingo pasado.
I came to town last Sunday.

2. Expresses an order or demand.

Example:

¡A trabajar!
To work!
¡A dormir!
To sleep!

3. Determines the exact time when an action ends.

Example:

Nos vemos a las seis de la tarde.
See you at six o’clock.

La clase termina a las doce.
The class ends at noon.

4. Indicates the way to do or make things.

Example:

El cuadro está pintado a mano.
The picture is painted by hand.

La carta está escrita a máquina.
The letter is typed.

5. Used when the action of the verb is directed or refers to a person.

Example:

Yo conozco muy bien a Marìa.
I know Maria very well.

Ella visitó a su familia en Navidad.
She visited her family on Christmas.

Expressions with “a”:

A caballo on Horseback
A casa at home
A causa de because of
A eso de around
A la derecha to the right
A menudo often
A pesar de in spite of
A pie on foot
A tiempo on time
Al aire libre in the open air / outdoor
Al día siguiente on the following day, the next day
Al fin finally
Al lado de besides / next to
Al + infinitivo upon

The preposition “de” (of, from, about)

1. Expresses possession.

Example:

La casa es de Miguel.
It is Miguel’s house.

Vamos a ir en el carro de Jorge.
We are going to go in Jorge’s car

2. Expresses material.

Example:

La mesa es de madera.
The table is made of wood.

El anillo es de oro.
The ring is made of gold.

3. Expresses origin.

Example:

Mi mejor amiga es de Guatemala.
My best friend is from Guatemala.

Ella es de China.
She is from China.

4. Expresses condition or nature.

Example:

Juan es de buen corazón.
John is kind-hearted.

El vestido es de mala calidad.
The dress is of poor quality.

5. Expresses the content of things.

Example:

Quiero un vaso de agua pura.
I want a glass of pure water.

Ella compró una caja de uvas.
She bought a box of grapes.

6. Identifies a person or thing by a physical attribute.

Example:

Mi amiga habla con el hombre de barba larga.
My friend speaks with the long-bearded man.

Me gusta la chica de pelo largo.
I like the girl with long hair.

Expressions with “de”:

De buena gana willingly
De cuando en cuando from time to time
De día by day
De esta manera in this way
De este modo in this way
De mala gana unwillingly
De memoria by memory
De moda in style
De Nuevo again
De pronto suddenly
De repente suddenly

The preposition “en” (in, on, into, at)

1. Indicates a location.

Example:

Ella se quedó en casa.
She stayed at home.

Nos encontramos en el parque.
We met in the park.

2. Expresses a general idea of time.

Example:

Ella vendrá en enero.
She will come in January.

Estamos en invierno.
We are in winter.

3. Expresses a way or method of doing something.

Example:

Ella hizo el pollo en el horno.
She cooked the chicken in the oven.

Juan me habló en chino.
Juan spoke to me in Chinese.

Expressions with “en”:

En casa at home
En cuanto a as to
En cuanto as soon as
En lugar de in place of / instead of
En medio de in the middle of
En seguida at once
En vano in vain
En voz alta loud
En voz baja quietly
Enfrente de in front of

The preposition “con” (with)

1. Indicates company.

Example:

Ella está con su novio.
She is with her boyfriend.

Ellos van con sus padres.
They are going with their parents.

2. Indicates the way or instrument.

Example:

María golpeó a su hermano con la mano.
Maria hit her brother with her hand.

Ella escribió la carta con el lapicero.
She wrote the letter with the pen.

3. Describes the manner in which something is done (con + noun)

Example:

La madre le habló con cariño a su hijo.
The mother spoke fondly to her son.

Ella hizo su tarea con paciencia.
She did her task with patience.

4. Expresses accompaniment.

Example:

Hoy vamos a comer frijoles con queso.
Today we will eat beans with cheese.

Quiero tomar café con leche.
I want to drink coffee with milk.

The preposition “sin” (without)

1. Expresses the lack of something.

Example:

Estoy sin dinero.
I’m without money.

Mi casa está sin luz.
My house is without power.

2. Expresses incomplete actions that was not realized: sin + infinitive verb.

Example:

El salió sin decir adiós a nadie.
He left without saying goodbye to anyone.

Los paquetes se quedaron sin abrir.
The packages were left unopened.

3. Describes the manner in which something is done (sin + noun).

Example:

Él me habla sin respeto.
He speaks disrespectfully to me.

Ella trabaja sin ganas.
She works without desire.

The preposition “entre” (between)

1. Establishes a period of time and/or situations.

Example:

Ellas llegaron entre las seis y las siete.
They arrived between six and seven.

El hombre estuvo entre la vida y la muerte.
The man was between life and death.

2. Expresses cooperation between one or more people.

Example:

Hicieron el trabajo entre todos.
They worked together.

Dividieron el pastel entre los niños y los adultos.
They divided the cake between children and adults.

The preposition “hasta” (until)

1. Expresses the space or time limit or quantity.

Example:

Vamos a ir hasta el volcán.
We will go all the way to the volcano.

El niño pudo contar hasta cien.
The child could count until one hundred.

2. Synonymous with “incluso” or “también” (even, also, too).

Example:

Hasta los niños lloraron.
Even the children cried.

Hasta el perro tenía sed.
Even the dog was thirsty.

Expressions with “hasta”:

Hasta la tarde see you in the afternoon
Hasta la vista see you later
Hasta luego see you later
Hasta mañana see you tomorrow
Hasta pronto see you later

The preposition “sobre” (on, about, upon, above, in, on top of)

1. Synonymous with “encima de” (on top of).

Example:

Los libros están sobre la mesa.
The books are on the table.

El gato duerme sobre la cama.
The cat sleeps on the bed.

2. Also synonymous with “acerca de” (about), “de” (of), “respecto a” (about).

Example:

Nosotros hablamos sobre gramática.
We talk about grammar.

La conferencia es sobre la violencia.
The conference is about violence.

The preposition “desde” (from, since)

1. Indicates the starting point of an action.

Example:

Pedro viene desde Madrid.
Peter comes from Madrid.

He estado en esta ciudad desde el año pasado.
I have been in this city since last year.

The preposition “hacia” (towards)

1. Indicates direction.

Example:

El viento sopla hacia el sur.
The wind blows towards the south.

Ella miró hacia el volcán.
She looked towards the volcano.

The preposition “contra” (against, facing, difficulty)

1. Expresses opposition.

Example:

El carro se estrelló contra la pared.
The car crashed against the wall.

Estamos en contra de la guerra.
We are against war.

Prepositional Pronouns

The personal pronouns “yo” and “tú” change into “mí” and “ti” when they are after a preposition.

Example:

Él trajo un regalo para ti.
He brought a gift for you.

Todos estaban contra mí.
They all were against me.

The most common prepositions that use this rule are:

a, antes de, después de, debajo de, delante de, lejos de, por, para, hacía, sin, hasta, sobre, enfrente de, and en

Example:

Ellos están cerca de mí.
They are close to me.

Hicimos el trabajo sin ti.
We did the job without you.

Usted vive enfrente de mí.
You live in front of me.

Exceptions: entre and según.

Example:

Vamos a corregir el ejercicio entre tú y yo.
Between you and me, we will correct the exercise.

Según tú, ella es muy bonita.
According to you, she is very pretty.

No hay ningún problema entre tú y yo.
There is no problem between you and me.

Note: The preposition “con” followed of “mí”, “ti”, or “si” has special forms: conmigo – contigo – consigo.

Example:

Ella vive conmigo.
She lives with me.

Yo siempre voy contigo.
I always go with you.

Ella lleva su perro consigo.
She takes the dog with her.

Consigo: The subject of the verb is in the third person singular or plural and the action is reflexive. The pronoun “sí” is used after the preposition. Adding “mismo” describes the one who does the action, and the one that receives the action.

Example:

El muchacho prefiere no hablar de sí.
The boy prefers not to talk about himself.

Cuando viaja lleva el pasaporte consigo.
When he travels, he takes the passport with him.

Él habla consigo mismo.
He talks to himself.

POR and PARA

The difference between “por” and “para” after the difference between “ser” and “estar”, is one of the biggest problems that the students face when they study Spanish. Generally, “por” and “para” means for, however there are many differences between them and their use, which can cause issues for a beginner student.

Example:

Gracias por venir.
Thanks for coming.

Los chocolates son para los niños.
The chocolates are for the kids.

Note that the word for in English were present in both sentences, but we used “por” and “para” respectively in each. It is not arbitrary. In Spanish, the difference of the two words depends on the idea or the context of the sentence; they key is to think of the meaning of what you want to convey.

To fully grasp what the differences between “por” and “para” are, we will study them separately.

POR: (for, by, around)

1. Expresses interchange, value or substitution.

Example:

Compré esta blusa por $100.
I bought this blouse for $100.

Ella cambió su suéter por una chumpa.
She changed her sweater for a jacket.

2. Means: along, through, by, and around after a verb of motion.

Example:

Salieron por la puerta de atrás.
They left through the back door.

Caminé por el río.
I walked along the river.

Pasamos por allí ayer.
We passed through here yesterday.

3. Takes on the meaning of: “in search of”, when following the movement verbs: ir, venir, enviar, pasar, mandar.

Example:

La señora va por el pan.
The lady goes in search of the bread.

Mis amigas pasan por mí a las ocho de la noche.
My friends will pick me up at eight in the evening.

4. Expresses the duration of an action.

Example:

Estudiamos por una hora cada día.
We study for an hour each day.

Nosotros viajamos por un mes.
We travel for a month.

5. It’s used in the passive voice. In Spanish to form the passive voice we use the following formula: the verb ser + a past participle + por (by).

Example:

El edificio fue construido por ellos.
The building was built by them.

La casa fue diseñada por el arquitecto.
The house was designed by the architect.

6. It’s used to multiply numbers.

Example:

Tres por cuatro son doce
3 x 4 = 12.
Cinco por cinco son veinticinco
5 x 5 = 25.

7. Expresses the reason, or answers the question why? (because of)

Example:

¿Por qué castigó la maestra al niño?
Why did the teacher punish the child?

Por gritar en la clase. / Porque gritó en la clase.
For shouting in class. / Because he shouted in class.

8. Expresses replacement. When someone does something rather than the other person. (instead of)

Example:

Mañana yo iré al doctor y María trabajará por mí.
Tomorrow I will go to the doctor, and Mary will work instead of me.

Yo hare la comida por mi mamá.
I will cook instead of my mom.

Expressions with “por”:

Estar por to be in favor of
Por + infinitivo for, because of
Por allá over there
Por aquí around here
Por ciento percent
Por cierto by the way
Por cuanto since when
Por dentro inside
Por dónde by where
Por ejemplo for example
Por eso therefore
Por esta vez this time
Por favor please
Por fuera outside
Por lo general generally
Por lo menos at least
Por lo tanto therefore
Por lo visto apparently
Por si acaso just in case
Por supuesto of course
Por todas partes everywhere

PARA: (for, by, in order to)

1. Expresses destination, address or direction.

Example:

Ellos van a salir para España.
They will leave to Spain.

Ellos trajeron las flores para su mamá.
They brought flowers for their mom.

2. Expresses time limit in the future, indicating when an action begins or ends.

Example:

Quiero el vestido para mañana.
I want the dress for tomorrow.

Ellos vinieron para Navidad.
They came for Christmas.

3. Expresses the purpose or goal of doing something.

Example:

Viajamos para visitar países nuevos.
We travel to visit new countries.

Yo fui a Canadá para conocer a mi jefe.
I went to Canada to meet my boss.

Él estudia para abogado.
He studies to be a lawyer.

4. Expresses the comparison of two things or factors that are not equal. (for / considering that ).

Example:

Para ser un niño, se porta bien.
For a child, he behaves himself well.

Ella es alta para su edad.
She is tall considering her age.

5. Expresses the use of things and aptitude of people.

Example:

La cama es para dormir.
The bed is for sleeping.

Mi amiga es buena para matemáticas.
My friend is good at math.

6. Expresses opinion, synonym of “según”. (according to)

Example:

Para mí, esta escuela es muy buena.
For me, this school is very good.

Para usted, el español es muy difícil.
For you, Spanish is very difficult.

Expressions with “para”:

Estar para to be for
No ser para tanto not to be that important / not to be so much
Para + infinitive in order to
Para eso for that
Para nada not at all
Para siempre forever
¿Para qué? what for?
Sin qué ni para qué without reason