Learning how to combine prepositions such as a, ante, con, de, desde, en, para, por, and sin (among others) is key to being able to build complex ideas in Spanish. For example, you can use them to introduce a subordinate clause in a very simple sentence:
Voy al banco a cambiar un cheque (I go/I'm going to the bank to cash a check)
Voy al banco para cambiar un cheque (I go/I'm going to the bank to cash a check)
Voy al banco con María (I go/I'm going to the bank with Maria)
Voy al banco de la esquina (I go/I'm going to the bank on the corner of the street)
Voy al banco desde temprano (I go/I'm going to the bank early in the morning)
Voy al banco en carro (I go/I'm going to the bank by car)
Voy al banco por unos documentos (I go/I'm going to the bank to get some documents)
Voy al banco según me indicaste (I go/I'm going to the bank as you told me to)
Voy al banco sin mi paraguas (I go/I'm going to the bank without my umbrella)
You can also combine prepositions with other particles in Spanish. One interesting case is the combination of prepositions with the word que. Let's focus on the combination a que (entirely different from a qué), which is very useful! Here's an example:
Pues yo te invito a que lo pruebes.
Well, I invite you to try it.
Caption 87, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 6
Another way to express the same idea in Spanish is te invito a probarlo (I invite you to try it). Do you notice the difference? The preposition a introduces a verb in the infinitive (probarlo) while the combination a que introduces a clause with a conjugated verb (pruebes).
Another example/meaning of a que is:
Mi padre era muy reacio a que [yo] las tocara.
My father was very reluctant for me to touch them.
Caption 57, 75 minutos - Del campo a la mesa - Part 10
As you can see, English has a different, more convoluted way to express this idea of being reluctant about an action performed by a third person. But the Spanish a que construction can be combined with a conjugated verb in the subjunctive. If you were wondering, you can't express this precise idea in Spanish using the infinitive. But if the subjunctive is still hard for you, try something simple and depersonalized: Mi padre era muy reacio a tocarlas (My father was very reluctant to touch them).
The phrase a que can be used to answer someone who's asking an a qué question:
¿A qué viniste? -Vine a que me pagues.
What did you come for? - I came for you to pay me.
Finally, there's an expression using the combination a que that you will surely like. It's used to confirm that we are on the same page with somebody, that we agree about something:
¿Tú la cuidas bien a que sí?
You take good care of her, right?
Caption 23, 75 minutos - Gangas para ricos - Part 16
In Spanish this expression a que sí is equivalent and very similar to ¿verdad que sí? (literally "is it true that yes?"). It can also be used in the negative form:
¿A que no adivinas dónde estuvimos?
I bet you won't guess where we were?
Caption 9, Guillermina y Candelario - Carrera de Relevos - Part 1
You can think of this expression as a short version of the phrase apuesto a que no (I bet that you don't...), which is also used in positive terms: apuesto a que sí (I bet you do...), by the way. It's just much more common to use the negative form to stress the daring nature of this expression. But it's perfectly correct to say: ¡A que sí puedes. Inténtalo! (I bet you can. Try!).
That's all for now! We'll explore more of these combinations in future lessons. Don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.