Spanish Directional Prepositions


Prepositions are used in almost every sentence. They can be a great tool to link words with each other. For example by simply knowing how to use "to", "with", "from", "after" you can expand your conversation scope. These prepositions show direction or location.

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Directional prepositions indicate the location of what is being talked about. If you want to know where something is, or how to get somewhere, or even at what location something is happening, you will be using directional prepositions. In Spanish there are several of these:

Encima de              On top off                              
Enfrente de              In front of / opposite
Debajo de                Underneath from                    
EntreIn between
Detrás de                  Behind  
Lejos de                    Far from  
Delante de              in front of / ahead of
Cerca de                    Near to
Al lado de                Next to                                  
A la izquierda  To the left                            
A la derecha              To the right

These are just a few of the prepositions used. The preposition “A” is use for directional instructions, as well as to indicate time:

The directional “A” or “Al” is translated as “to” not “at.” Voy a la cena. I am going to supper.

The directional “a” is used to indicate time, places, events.

a el cine –                              –   I am going to the movies

To a person:     Voy a ver a Ernesto.                   – I am going to see Ernesto

To an activity:   Voy a

To a place:       Voy a estudiar                             – I am going to study

To a time:         La película comienza a las ocho – The movie starts at eight.

Examples of uses of “Al”

Voy al teatro a ver una obra – I am going to the theater to see a play.

Gladys va al concierto para escuchar música. – Gladys goes to the concert to listen to     music.

To indicate when an event is going to happen, you use the directional “A” plus “ser.”

El desfile es a las 9 de la noche. The parade is at 9 pm.

Another preposition is “EN.” This is used to indicate where things or people are located. “EN” translates to “in,” “at,” “on.”

La ropa está en la mesa.   – The clothes are on the table

Mi bebida está en mi vaso – My drink is in my cup.

Notice how the same preposition “en” is used for both “in,” “on.”

Each sentence uses the verb “estar,” and there are other verbs which always need the preposition “A” to go with them.

Asistir a – Attend to               Jugar a   – Play ….

Invitar a   – Invite …                Llegar a – To arrive at

Ayudar a – Help …                 Hablar a – Speak to

All of these are directional prepositions and should not be confused with what we will call personal “a” which indicates something being done to someone else.

Voy a invitar a Diana a la fiesta.     I am going to invite Diana to the party.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking someone for something.
Spoken Production:
I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.
Spoken Interaction:
I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can’t usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.
I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters.
I can understand phrases and the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area, employment). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.