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The preposition a

Today, we will discuss a very common and useful preposition. Just like most prepositions, the preposition a in Spanish can be used in various different ways. While we usually think of the preposition a as the English equivalent of to, this preposition can also work as in, on, from, by and at. Let’s take a look.

 

Uses of the preposition a in Spanish

To begin with, we use the preposition a to indicate motion to a particular place:

Por ejemplo, yo quiero viajar a Noruega la próxima semana…

For example, I want to travel to Norway next week…

Caption 10, Escuela Don Quijote - En el aula - Part 1

Llegué a Londres hace tres meses.

I arrived in London three months ago.

Caption 7, Lydia de Barcelona - Lydia y el festival de cine “Women Mujeres”

 

We also use the preposition a when we want to connect a main verb with a verb in the infinitive. For example, when we are referring to the moment a particular action started:

En poco tiempo, la gente comenzó a hacer el mal.

After a short period of time, people began to do evil.

Caption 32, Aprendiendo con Carlos - América precolombina - El mito de Bochica

In this context, however, one of the most common uses of the preposition a is when we want to express a future action using the following formula: ir (to go) + a (to) + infinitive verb:

Entonces el día de hoy, a petición de Chuy, vamos a hacer una carne asada.

So today, at Chuy's request, we're going to make grilled meat.

Caption 9, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Carne asada

 

We also use the preposition a in Spanish when we want to indicate the end of a particular period of time:

El horario es de lunes a viernes

The schedule is from Monday to Friday

Caption 69, Negocios - La solicitud de empleo - Part 2

 

Another very common use of this preposition is when we want to indicate a particular point in a scale (time, distance, speed, temperature, etc.):

Estamos situados a cuarenta kilómetros de Barcelona

We are located forty kilometers from Barcelona

Caption 3, Feria de Vinos Españoles en Londres - Bodegas Castell D’Age

Me levanto todas las mañanas a las siete

I get up every morning at seven o'clock

Caption 28, Club de las ideas - Pasión por el golf - Part 1

 

Finally, we use the preposition a before a direct object when that object is a person. Similarly, we also use this preposition when we want to introduce an indirect object:

A mi hermana le gusta el color rojo.

My sister likes the color red.

Caption 7, Español para principiantes - Los colores

Entonces, nosotros les compramos a las personas para que...

So, we buy from people so that...

Caption 7, Frutería “Los Mangos” - Vendiendo Frutas - Part 2

 

The contraction al  in Spanish

When the preposition a goes before the definite article el, you need to combine the two words using the contraction al (a + el):

No quiero viajar al mundo espacial

I don't want to travel to the space world

Caption 20, La Gusana Ciega - Invasión Estelar

pero sí os recomiendo que vengáis aquí al parque

but I do recommend that you come here to the park

Caption 80, Animales en familia - Un día en Bioparc: Lémures

 

Please keep in mind that when you have the preposition a next to the article el, the contraction al is mandatory! For this reason, and considering the examples we just mentioned, it would have been wrong to say the following:

No quiero viajar a el mundo

… que vengáis aquí a el parque

In both cases, you need to use the contraction al.

 

That's all for now. Try writing sentences with all the different uses we have mentioned for the preposition a. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions.

 

Explore more lessons:

The preposition sobre

A que sí / A que no

Ser vs Estar - Yo estoy

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The preposition sobre

Let's talk about prepositions! Today, we will discuss a very useful preposition that also has lots of meanings. Our guest today is the preposition sobre! We usually use sobre as the equivalent of the English preposition about (with regard to):

 

Os voy a contar a... cosas sobre uno de los lugares más típicos de Barcelona
I'm going to tell you about... things about one of the most typical places in Barcelona
Caption 24, Blanca - Sobre la ciudad de Barcelona

Te cité porque quiero escribir un libro sobre meditación,
I called you here because I want to write a book about meditation,
Caption 6, Escribiendo un libro - Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 1


The preposition sobre can also be used as the equivalent of the English adverb about (approximately) when we want to indicate an approximate time, quantity or number:

 

 Perfecto. Y, ¿sobre qué hora te vendría bien?
Perfect. And, about what time would be good for you?
Caption 14, Raquel y Marisa - Español Para Negocios - Nuestro perfil profesional en la red    


Very often, the preposition sobre indicates the position of a particular person or object. In this case, sobre acts as the English prepositions over and on:
 

No quieras caminar sobre el dolor... descalza
Don't wish to walk over the pain... barefoot
Caption 6, Camila - Aléjate de mí

Vamos a ponerlas sobre un papel aluminio.
We are going to put them on a piece of aluminum foil.
Caption 15, [Bears in the Kitchen] Osos en la cocina - Pollo Violado


While we usually use sobre as a preposition, this isn’t always the case. For instance, the preposition sobre is often used next to the word todo to form the adverbial phrase sobre todo, which means especially or particularly. You can see how the following sentence uses both sobre (about) and sobre todo (especially):
 

hay varios artículos sobre esto y sobre todo en dependencia a la edad del niño,
there are several articles about this and especially depending on the age of the child,
Caption 85, Cuentas claras - Sobreviviendo enero - Part 4


And finally, don’t forget that the word sobre can also be a noun, which means envelope:

 

de recoger todos esos sobres que repartió la Mojiganga…
of collecting all those envelopes that the Mojiganga gave out…
Caption 35, Estado Falcón - Locos de la Vela - Part 3 


That's all for now. Try to write some sentences with all the different uses that we mentioned for the word sobre. And don’t forget to send your feedback and suggestions to newsletter@yabla.com.

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