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Prepositions
  • Prepositions are words that head adjectival or adverbial phrases, such as the man in the red car, play baseball with my friends, etc.
  • Their function is similar to that seen in English, although Spanish prepositions do not have the flexibility of placement seen in English, most notably in that Spanish prepositions cannot be placed a the end of a phrase as in English put my shirt on, the man I spoke with, etc.
  • Two principal aspects of the study of Spanish prepositions are these:
    • Use of the very common prepositions a, con, de, en, with particular reference to their use (and non-use) in the middle of verb-infinitive and verb-noun combinations. These are summarized below.
    • The por/para distinction. Click on link for more on that.
USES OF A, CON, DE, EN
These four prepositions occur in the middle of a large number of phrases headed by a verb--generally in a personal (conjugated) form), and ending either with an infinitive or a noun or pronoun. These can sometimes be correctly predicted from their English counterparts (insist on→insistir en, for example), but often cannot be, as in English depend on vs. Spanish depender de. Too, in some cases one language uses a preposition where the other uses none. So some memorization is necessary. Below are lists of the most common combinations.
 
VERB-PREPOSITION COMBINATIONS BEFORE AN INFINITIVE
NO PREPOSITION
  Spanish English  
  aconsejar advise (someone) to  
  conseguir manage to  
  deber should, ought (to)  
  decidir decide to  
  dejar allow, permit (someone) to  
  desear want (to)  
  evitar avoid ____ing  
  gustar(le) be pleasing to  
  hacer cause to, force to  
  impedir prevent from ___ing  
  intentar attempt, try to  
  lograr manage to  
  mandar order to  
  necesitar need to  
  pensar intend to  
  poder can, be able to  
  preferir prefer to  
  prohibir prohibit from ___ing  
  prometer promise to  
  querer want to  
  resolver resolve to  
  saber know how to  
  sentir regret ___ing  
a
  aprender a learn to  
  atreverse a dare (be brave enough) to  
  ayudar a help (someone) to  
  comenzar a begin to  
  empezar a begin to  
  invitar a invite (someone) to  
  ir a be going (have the intention) to  
  negarse a refuse to  
  obligar a oblige to  
  ponerse a begin to  
  salir a go out to  
  volver a (verb) again (repeat action)  
con
  amenazar con threaten to  
  contar con count on; have at one's disposal  
  soñar con dream about  
de
  acabar de have just _____ed  
  alegrarse de be happy about  
  cansarse de get tired of  
  deber (de) must (supposition)  
  dejar de stop ___ing  
  jactarse de brag about ___ing  
  tratar de try to  
en
  consistir en consist of  
  dudar en hesitate to  
  influir en influence (something, someone)  
  insistir en insist on  
  ser el primero en be the first to _____  
  tardar (amount of time) en take (amount of time) to  
VERB-PREPOSITION COMBINATIONS BEFORE A NOUN OR PRONOUN
NO PREPOSITION
  buscar look for  
  escuchar listen to  
  mirar look at  
  pedir ask for, request  
a
  asistir a (una clase, etc.) attend (a class, etc.)  
  faltar a miss (a meeting, etc.)  
  holer a smell like  
  jugar a play (a sport)  
  parecerse a look like  
  saber a taste like  
  sonar a sound like  
con
  acabar con put an end to  
  casarse con marry  
  contar con count (rely) on  
  soñar con dream about  
  tratar con have dealings with  
de
  aprovecharse de take advantage of  
  burlarse de make fun of  
  cansarse de get tired of  
  depender de depend on  
  disfrutar de enjoy  
  enamorarse de fall in love with  
  enfadarse de get angry at  
  enojarse de get angry at  
  hacer de act as; play the role of  
  jactarse de brag about  
  pensar de have an opinion about  
  quejarse de complain about  
  preocuparse de worry about  
  reírse de laugh at  
  salir de leave from (place)  
  tratar de be about (subject)  
  tratarse de be a matter of; be the subject at hand  
en
  consistir en consist of  
  convertirse en convert to; change into  
  pensar en think about  
       
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