Let’s talk about prepositions in Spanish! In this lesson, we will discuss the very often used and common preposition de. This preposition has lots of uses in Spanish and because of that, we can use it like the following English prepositions: from, of, in, and even than. Let’s have a look.
There are several ways we can use the preposition de in Spanish. For example, we use the preposition de when we want to indicate the nationality or origin of someone or something:
¿De dónde eres? -Soy de Alemania
Where are you from? -I am from Germany.
Captions 36-37, Curso de español - ¿De dónde eres?Play Caption
We also use the preposition de when we want to indicate the material that something is made of.
El lápiz está hecho de madera.
The pencil is made of wood.
Caption 40, Aprendiendo con Karen - Útiles escolaresPlay Caption
Similarly, we use the preposition de when we want to describe the features or characteristics of someone or something, in other words, when we want to describe a noun with another noun.
Se toma mucho el jugo de naranja que tiene mucha vitamina C.
Orange juice is consumed a lot as it has a lot of vitamin C.Play Caption
Eh, sobre todo aquí tenemos libros de historia de, eh…
Um, most of all, here we have history books about, um…
Caption 60, El Instituto Cervantes - Jefa de bibliotecaPlay Caption
Un profesor de español.
A Spanish teacher.Play Caption
One of the most common uses of the preposition de is when we use it to talk about possession. Let’s look at an example.
Es una empresa de tradición familiar, de mis abuelos.
It's a company with a family tradition from my grandparents.
Caption 50, Europa Abierta - Carne ecológica y seguraPlay Caption
In the example above, you can see that the first de is used to describe the company, while the second de is used to indicate possession (the company belongs to the grandparents). We can also use the preposition de in terms of “possession” when we want to indicate the relation that connects people.
El novio de Claudia es un tipo muy pinta.
Claudia's boyfriend is a very "pinta" [handsome] guy.Play Caption
The preposition de also helps us to indicate a cause when it is placed after an adjective and before a verb.
Estoy ya cansado de estar endeudado
I am tired of being in debt (I’m tired because I’m always in debt)
Caption 3, Bacilos - Mi Primer MillónPlay Caption
We can also use the preposition de when we want to express something using a comparison or a point of reference with the expressions más de (more than) or menos de (less than):
Sí, un poquito menos de quinientos mil habitantes.
Yes, a little less than five hundred thousand inhabitants.
Caption 47, Buenos Aires - Heladería CumelenPlay Caption
Besides the uses we mentioned above, we also use the preposition de when talking about expressions of time. Let’s see how:
Supongamos que son las cinco de la tarde
Let's suppose that it's five in the eveningPlay Caption
And finally, we use the preposition de along with the preposition a to indicate a particular range or period. Like in the following example:
El horario es de lunes a viernes
The schedule is from Monday to Friday
Caption 69, Negocios - La solicitud de empleoPlay Caption
To summarize, the following are the most common uses of the preposition de in Spanish:
- To indicate nationality or origin
- To indicate the material that something is made of
- To describe the features or characteristics of someone or something (to describe a noun with another noun)
- To indicate possession
- To indicate a cause (after an adjective and before a verb)
- To express a comparison or point of reference (with más de or menos de)
- To talk about expressions of time
- To indicate a particular range (with the preposition a)
When the preposition de goes before the definite article el, you need to combine the two words using the contraction del (de + el). Just as it happens with the contraction al (a + el), when you have the preposition de next to the article el, the contraction del is mandatory!
Estos son los números del uno al cien.
These are the numbers from one to a hundred.
Caption 44, El Aula Azul - Los Números del 1-100Play Caption
In this example, we can see both contractions (del and al) in action. Also, in this sentence, the speaker is using the preposition de and the preposition a together because she is indicating a range. Remember that it would be wrong to say that sentence in the following way: Estos son los números de el uno a el cien.
That's all for now. If you feel like it, try writing sentences with all the different uses we have mentioned for the preposition de. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.