. 10
( 16)


h ¿Comprabas muchos libros en aquel entonces?
i ¿Me habr´as ayudado si yo hubiera pedido tu ayuda?
j ¿Ir´ s conmigo al partido de f´ tbol esta tarde?
a u

Unit 22 (Unidad 22)
Personal or distinctive a
(La preposicion “a” con
el complemento directo)

Level 1
1.1 Personal a when used for persons (La preposicion a con un complemento
1.2 Personal a when used with collective nouns (La a con nombres colectivos)
1.3 Personal a when used with animals (La a con animales)
1.4 Personal a when used with proper names (La a con nombres propios)
1.5 When personal a is not used (Cuando no se usa la a)

1.1 Personal a when used for persons
In English, the distinction between a noun as subject and a noun as object is shown by
its location in the sentence. In John reads the book, John is the subject and book is the object.
John comes before book. In Latin, this was shown by what we call case endings; that is to
say the endings of words changed according to their relationship with each other, and
word order was not so important. In Spanish, and much more than in French or English,
but similar to Italian, location has about as little effect on the meaning as in Latin. Many
Spanish speakers can ¬nd themselves therefore in considerable dif¬culty in distinguishing
between subject and object, and do not always succeed as clearly as we do in English or
The only device in Spanish for distinguishing a noun as direct object when refer-
ring to persons is by placing the preposition a before it. But, as the preposition a is
regularly used for the indirect object (Le doy el libro a Juan = I give the book to Juan),
most Spanish speakers end up not knowing whether the preposition a involves a direct
or indirect object. In other words, they often fail to see the difference between Veo a
Juan (I see Juan) and Le doy el libro a Juan. They think erroneously that Juan in Veo a
Juan is an indirect object. The situation is further complicated because they do not have
a suitable descriptive equivalent for what we call the “personal a.” French or Italian
speakers do not have an equivalent expression either. The expression “personal a” in
English therefore helps us over a very dif¬cult hurdle. Here are the main uses of the
“personal a.”

22 Personal or distinctive a

1.2 Personal a when used with persons and collective
i The personal or distinctive a applies primarily to nouns representing determinate,
known persons:

Veo a Pedro I see Pedro
Busco a la chica I am looking for the girl
Quiere visitar a mi hija He wants to visit my daughter
Lleva a sus hijos a la estaci´n
o She takes her children/sons to the station
ii If the personal noun is collective, the personal a is often, but not always, used.
However, it is safer always to use it in these circumstances:

Ana mima a su familia Ana spoils her family
Llaman a la polic´a ± They call the police
El pol´tico critica al gobierno
± The politician criticizes the government
iii The application of the personal a extends to authors, painters, etc., i.e. all those in
the public domain:

Leo a Cervantes con frecuencia I read Cervantes regularly
Imita a Diego Rivera He copies Diego Rivera
El p´ blico aplaude a la estrella
u The audience applauds the star
La empresa despide a cinco obreros The company dismisses ¬ve workers

1.3 Personal a when used with animals
When the direct object noun represents an animal, regarded as intelligent or rational,
and especially if it belongs to a family, the personal a is required:
Llaman al perrito They call the dog
Se pasa un rato acariciando al gato She spends some time stroking the cat

1.4 Personal a when used with proper names
The personal a is also needed before proper names of persons:
Env´o a Diego en su lugar
± I™ll send Diego in her place
Admira a Andr´s
e She admires Andr´ s/Andrew

1.5 When personal a is not used
(But see level 2.3.)
The personal a is not used when the object is an insigni¬cant animal, or an inanimate
El gato agarra (M) / coge (not in M) un rat´n
o The cat catches a mouse
El ni˜ o persigue una mariposa
n The child chases the butter¬‚y
Como la carne I eat the meat

Exercises Level 1
i Change as in the example
Esperamos a Jorge (Mar´a / el ni˜ o) > Esperamos a Mar´a / al ni˜ o
± n ± n
a Vemos a los muchachos (Luisa / los se˜ ores / Manuel / la maestra / las ni˜ as / los
n n
b Llevan a las chicas (sus amigos / la ni˜ a / Carlos / las muchachas)
c Necesitas a Juan (el doctor / mis amigas / el muchacho / los alumnos)
d Oigo a los ni˜ os (la muchacha / Jorge / mis cuates [M] / el beb´ / el gato)
n e
e Traemos a nuestros amigos (nuestros pap´ s [M] / mi abuela / tus primas / los

ii Paired activity
Objective “ To practice the use of the personal a
Method “ A gives B a verb and a noun as a direct object. B has to make a sentence with
the verb and the noun, using the personal a when necessary. If A is smart enough, (s)he
will provide some nouns where the a is not used. So B, be careful! (¡cuidado! )


Ver + mujer
B: Veo a la mujer
Admirar + pianista
B: Admiro al / a la pianista
Golpear + pared
B: Golpeo la pared

Here are some verbs and nouns A can use:
leer, contar, llevar, buscar, lavar, preparar, llamar, ayudar, contestar, preguntar, querer,
observar, preferir, conocer, tocar, limpiar, avisar hombre, m´ dico/doctor, enfermera,
profesor, peri´ dico, platos, gesto, ciudad, ¬‚ores, guitarra, rec´ mara (M) / habitaci´ n,
o a o
amigo/a, familia, t´o, maestro, vecinas, polic´a
± ±

Afterwards, you all gather together to discuss your sentences.
Level 2
2.1 Use and non-use of personal a (Uso y omision de a)
2.2 Use of personal a with personi¬cation (Uso de a con personi¬cacion)
2.3 Omission of personal a (Omision de la a)
2.4 Personal a used with direct and indirect objects (Uso de a con objetos directo e
2.5 Miscellaneous features (Varios detalles)
2.6 Personal a with nadie, alguien, quien (La a con nadie, alguien, quien)
´ ´
2.7 More possible confusion over the personal a (Posibilidad de mas confusion con
la a)

22 Personal or distinctive a

2.1 Use and non-use of personal a
In all cases, the employment of the personal a before a direct object denoting a person
depends largely on how the speaker views the person. In other words, if the speaker
knows the person referred to, (s)he will use the personal a, but if the person alluded to is
not known, the a is not often used. Compare these two sets of cases:

Busco al doctor I am looking for the physician/doctor
Busco un doctor I am looking for a physician/doctor
Estoy esperando al cliente I™m waiting for the client
Estoy esperando un cliente I™m waiting for a client
It is of course conceivable that in all these cases a is used, but the further away the object
is, ¬guratively speaking, the less likely it is that the personal a is used.

2.2 Use of personal a with personi¬cation
When the direct object is personi¬ed, the personal a is frequently, but not always, used.
Particularly common here is the use of patria, nacion and pueblo, especially the latter,
which contains a suggestion of human beings:
Estos soldados honran a la patria These soldiers honor the nation
Juraron defender a la naci´n
o They swore to defend the nation
Las nuevas medidas pretenden contentar al pueblo The new measures aim to satisfy the people
Las aves saludan a la Aurora The birds salute the Dawn
NB Once, towns and countries were included in this category, but this is
no longer the case.

2.3 Omission of personal a
i The personal a is omitted when it would con¬‚ict with another a which has a true
prepositional value:

El general convoc´ los o¬ciales a una conferencia
o The general called the of¬cers to a
Compare the two following sentences:
Abandonaron al hombre They abandoned the man
Abandonaron el hombre a sus remordimientos They abandoned the man to his remorse

ii When the verb has a direct and indirect object, the direct object does not take the
personal a, thus avoiding confusion or ambiguity:

Recomend´ al gobernador su hijo, Don Jos´
o e He recommended his son, Don Jos´ , to the


Presentar´ mi hermana a la se˜ ora de Vargas
e n I™ll introduce my sister to Sra Vargas
El soldado entreg´ su prisionero al capit´ n
o a The soldier handed over his prisoner to the

2.4 Personal a used with direct and indirect objects
When both subject and object denote things, the object takes the personal a. Otherwise,
confusion and ambiguity would arise. We are now in the realm of word order (see
unit 29). Compare the following four sentences:
El silencio (subject) sigue al ruido (object) Silence follows the noise
Al ruido (object) sigue el silencio (subject) Silence follows the noise
El ruido (subject) sigue al silencio (object) Noise follows the silence
Al silencio (object) sigue el ruido (subject) Noise follows the silence
Compare likewise the following four sentences. (From the ¬rst four sentences above, you
can work out the subject and object in each sentence below.)
El yate alcanzar´ al vapor
a The yacht will overtake the steamer
Al vapor alcanzar´ el yate
a The yacht will overtake the steamer
El vapor alcanzar´ al yate
a The steamer will overtake the yacht
Al yate alcanzar´ el vapor
a The steamer will overtake the yacht

2.5 Miscellaneous features
i When one of the terms is a person, which is usually the case, danger of ambiguity
does not arise, because the person as object is accompanied by a.
Compare the two following sentences:
Por ¬n venci´ el joven (subject) su pasi´n (object)
o o The young man ¬nally overcame his passion
por el juego for gambling
Por ¬n venci´ al joven (object) su pasi´n (subject)
o o The passion for gambling ¬nally overcame
por el juego the young man

ii Verbs of naming, calling, considering, etc., which may take two direct objects
differentiate one of these objects by the personal a in the following way:

¿Llaman m´ sica a este jaleo?
u Do they call this ruckus music?
Consideramos pura p´rdida de tiempo a la lectura de
e We consider the reading of these magazines
estas revistas a pure waste of time

The true object, or thing asserted, in the ¬rst case, jaleo, and in the second case, lectura,
is preceded by the personal a.

2.6 Personal a with nadie, alguien, quien
The personal a is always used before alguien, nadie and quien when these words
function as direct objects, even though they may suggest uncertainty over the person
referred to:

22 Personal or distinctive a

¿Vas a invitar a alguien? Are you going to invite someone?
No veo a nadie I can™t see anyone
¿A qui´n llamas?
e Whom are you calling?

2.7 More possible confusion over the personal a
To return to the confusion generated by the personal a, personal pronouns are a special
case in point. Again, it is dif¬cult for Spanish speakers who are not language conscious
to know whether the following examples include pronouns (le, les) as indirect objects or
direct objects, largely because, in order to stress the pronoun, a disjunctive form of it is
used before the verb:
A ´l le interesa el libro
e The book interests him
A ella le encanta la opera
´ She loves opera
A ellas les atrae la idea de . . . They are attracted by the idea of . . .
This issue is further complicated by the following two examples based on the re¬‚exive
se (see the use of re¬‚exives in unit 14, level 2).
Se vio el hombre en el espejo The man saw himself in the mirror
Se le vio al hombre en el espejo The man was seen in the mirror
Here, the re¬‚exive se dispels any ambiguity over who is seeing whom.

Exercises Level 2
i Sustituye un nombre por un pronombre como en el ejemplo. Puedes elegir cualquier
nombre (noun) a condicion de que sea una persona. Puede haber una gran variedad
de respuestas

Los/les oigo > Oigo a los alumnos
a Los necesito g ¿Los acoges?
b Las ven h Las traigo
c ¿La quieres? i ¿Las oyes?
d Los o´mos
± j No lo/le entiendo
e La est´ n esperando
a k Los llevo a todos en mi carro
f Lo recibo l Los admiramos
ii Pon las siguientes palabras en su orden correcto. Ten en cuenta que faltan la
preposicion a y los art´culos de¬nidos en la mayor´a de los casos, y que te toca
´ ± ±
insertarlos en su lugar correcto cuando sea necesario, y que puede haber mas de una

atac´ le´ n tigre > El tigre atac´ al le´ n / El le´ n atac´ al tigre / Al le´ n le atac´ el tigre /
oo o o o o o o
Al tigre le atac´ el le´ n
o o
ver familia quer´a hija > La hija quer´a ver a la familia / La familia quer´a ver a la hija
± ± ±
a verbo pronombre sigue
b doctor hallamos (M) sepa hijo nuestro un curar que no
c ver quer´a su esposa sus hijos y


d ganso pel´ cocinera
e tres mataron faisanes ciervos dos y
f caballo comprar quisiera yo un
g vender quer´a su caballo el
± ´
h director hija Mar´a presentaron su
i hijos colegio llevaba sus la madre
j carro carro (M) r´ pido lento rebas´ (M)
a o
k gato perro persigue
l juez no pol´tico sobornar pudo
m qui´ n saber llamaba quer´a
e ±
n nadie yo ve´a no
o le en si conoc´a pregunt´ colegio alguien
± e
iii Actividad en parejas
Objetivo “ Practicar el uso de “a” con nombres como objeto directo
M´ todo “ Se les elige a dos miembros de la clase. Escriben en el pizarr´ n (M) / la
e o
pizarra seis series de palabras mezcladas que contienen un verbo y un objeto directo que
es una persona. Omiten adrede (deliberately) la a. Intentar no crear frases largas (seis o siete
palabras como m´ ximo). La clase tiene que reconstruir la frase, poni´ ndo las palabras
a e
en su orden correcto y a˜ adiendo la a en su lugar apropiado.
Se escribe en el pizarron: consulta madre mi m´ dico el
Mi madre consulta al m´ dico
La clase reconstruye: e
Se escribe en el pizarron: amiga tu francesa conocemos
Conocemos a tu amiga francesa
La clase reconstruye:
Se escribe . . . carro hombre el el maneja
La clase . . . El hombre maneja el carro
(no a here)
Se le corresponde al profesor intervenir si quiere.

Unit 23 (Unidad 23)
Prepositions (Las preposiciones)

Level 1
1.1 The basic prepositions (Las preposiciones basicas)
1.2 Uses of a (Usos de a)
1.3 Uses of ante (Usos de ante)
1.4 Uses of bajo (Usos de bajo)
1.5 Uses of con (Usos de con)
1.6 Uses of contra (Usos de contra)
1.7 Uses of de (Usos de de)
1.8 Uses of desde (Usos de desde)
1.9 Uses of durante (Usos de durante)
1.10 Uses of en (Usos de en)
1.11 Uses of entre (Usos de entre)
1.12 Uses of excepto (Usos de excepto)
1.13 Uses of hacia (Usos de hacia)
1.14 Uses of hasta (Usos de hasta)
1.15 Uses of mediante (Usos de mediante)
1.16 Uses of salvo (Usos de salvo)
1.17 Uses of segun (Usos de segun)
´ ´
1.18 Uses of sin (Usos de sin)
1.19 Uses of sobre (Usos de sobre)
1.20 Uses of tras (Usos de tras)

1.1 The basic prepositions
The simplest use of prepositions is to express the relations of things to each other with
respect to time and place. Such prepositions in English are in, out, before, under, over.
They extend, however, to many other relations, and especially to the relations between
adjectives or verbs and the nouns or pronouns to which they apply.
There are two sorts of prepositions in Spanish: simple and compound. The simple
ones will be treated in level 1, while the compound ones will be dealt with in level 2,
together with more complex expressions.
The simple prepositions are:
a hacia
at, to, in towards, about, for
ante hasta
before until, to, up to


bajo mediante
under by means of, through
con para
with for (see separate unit 24)
contra por
against for, by (see separate unit 24)
de salvo
of, from except, save
desde seg´ n
from, since according to
durante sin
during without
en sobre
in, into, at, on on, about, over
entre tras
between, among after, behind
excepto except

1.2 Uses of a
i a = to, at, in:

Vamos a Nueva York We are going to New York
Llegamos a Los Angeles We arrive in Los Angeles
Se sienta a la mesa/puerta She sits at the table/door

ii a in time expressions:

a las tres de la tarde at three in the afternoon
al mediod´a± at midday
al d´a siguiente
± on the following day
a la noche/ma˜ ana/tarde
n tonight / tomorrow morning / this
a principios de a˜ o/mes
n at the beginning of the year/month
a mediados de semana/mes/a˜ o
n in the middle of the week/month/year
a ¬nales de mes/a˜ o
n at the end of the month/year
a los diecinueve a˜ os
n at nineteen years of age
a los cinco minutos ¬ve minutes later
al poco rato a little later
al mismo tiempo at the same time
a tiempo in time
a primera vista at ¬rst sight

iii a expressing rate:

d´a a d´a
± ± day by day
paso a paso step by step
a docenas/millares by the dozen/thousand
tres veces a la semana three times a week
a raz´n de dos por persona
o at the rate of two per person
¿A cu´ nto se vende el carro?
a How much is the car (being sold for)?
a cuarenta pesos el kilo at forty pesos the kilo
Lo vende al litro She sells it by the liter
vender al por menor/mayor to sell retail/wholesale
a cuarenta kil´metros por hora
o at forty kilometers / twenty-¬ve miles an

23 Prepositions

iv a expressing manner:

a mi manera/modo in my way
*a la manera de Goya in the style of Goya
a mi costa at my cost
**a mi juicio / entender / parecer / modo de ver in my opinion
a la larga in the long run
*Notice that manera/modo does not always take a, witness the following:
de una manera / de un modo elegante in an elegant way
** but en mi opini´n
o in my opinion
v a expressing position:

caer al agua/suelo to fall into the water / to the ground
al aire libre in the open air
a mitad de camino half-way (there)
a la derecha on the right
a la izquierda on the left
al otro lado on the other side
a lo lejos in the distance
a la mesa at the table
al raso in the open air
al sol in the sun
a la sombra in the shade
estar al tel´fono
e to be on the telephone

1.3 Uses of ante
Se arrodilla ante el altar She kneels before the altar
ante el tribunal before the court
Comparece ante el capit´ n
a He appears before the captain
ante las circunstancias in the circumstances

1.4 Uses of bajo
In its literal meaning, it is often replaced by debajo de (see compound prepositions,
level 2) but in its ¬gurative meaning it is very common:
dos grados bajo cero two degrees below zero
bajo la lluvia in the rain
bajo el puente under the bridge
bajo el mando de under the command of
bajo sus ordenes
´ at your command
bajo ning´ n pretexto
u on no account
bajo el rey Felipe Segundo under King Philip the Second


1.5 Uses of con
caf´ con leche
e coffee with milk
Paso las vacaciones con la familia I spend the vacation with my family
Abro la lata con un desarmador (M) I open the can with a screwdriver
Juego con el otro equipo I play with the other team
Est´ contenta con el resultado
a She is happy with the result
una mujer con muy mal humor a woman in a bad mood
una tarta con fresas a strawberry tart

1.6 Uses of contra
Dejo la escalera contra la pared I leave the ladder against the wall
una campa˜ a contra el c´ ncer
n a a campaign against cancer
Recibe un regalo contra entrega de He receives a present for handing in the
bono voucher
la lucha contra el enemigo the struggle against the enemy

1.7 Uses of de
i indicating possession, origin, composition, distance

el dinero de tu madre your mother™s money
Esta casa es de mis pap´ s (M)
a This house is my parents™
una calle de Oaxaca a street in Oaxaca
de C´rdoba a Sevilla
o from Cordoba to Seville
Vienen de Guanajuato They come from Guanajuato
Es de Chihuahua She™s from Chihuahua
una estatua de bronce/m´ rmol
a a bronze/marble statute
La casa est´ rodeada de arboles
a ´ The house is surrounded by trees
La mesa est´ cubierta de un mantel
a The table is covered with a tablecloth
Estamos a cien kil´metros de Puebla
o We are a hundred kilometers from Puebla
Tiembla de miedo She is trembling with fear
Llora de risa She is crying with laughter
Su mam´ muere de c´ ncer
a a Her mother is dying from cancer
ii De in expressions of time:

de antemano beforehand
de d´a
± by day
de inmediato immediately
de joven as a youth
de ni˜ o
n as a child
de noche by night
iii de in expressions of position:

estar de pie to be standing
estar de rodillas to be kneeling

23 Prepositions

iv de in expressions of price and measurement:

un timbre (M) de quince pesos a ¬fteen-peso stamp
El precio del carro es de veinte mil d´lares
o The price of the car is twenty thousand
El aumento es del diez por ciento The increase is ten per cent
El peso es de cinco kilos The weight is ¬ve kilos
Hab´a m´ s de diez chicos
±a There were more than ten boys

v de with professions:

Hace de mesero (M) / camarero He works as a waiter

vi de in expressions of manner:

de todas formas/maneras / de todos modos in any case
de cierto modo / de cierta manera in a certain way
vestido de luto/paisano/militar/marinero dressed in mourning / civilian clothes /
military/naval uniform
La conozco de vista/nombre I know her by sight/name
tirarse de cabeza/pie (al agua) to dive/jump (into the water)

vii de expressing direction to and from:

el camino del pueblo the way to the town
el tren — de Salamanca the train to Salamanca
el cami´n (M) / autocar procedente de Acapulco
o the bus from Acapulco

* The de in this example may be ambiguous. To make sure you don™t get on the wrong
train and go the wrong way, use procedente de for origin, as in the third example.
After all, de can indicate from. Desde is also more clear- cut than de (see desde below,
level 1.8, iii).

1.8 Uses of desde
i desde in expressions of position:

Desde la torre de la catedral se ve toda la ciudad From the cathedral tower/spire you can
see the whole city
Habla a los senadores desde la tribuna She speaks to the senators from the
desde la monta˜ a hasta el valle
n from the mountain to the valley
desde mi punto de vista from my point of view

ii desde in expressions of time:

Estudio desde las cinco hasta las diez I study from ¬ve to ten

iii desde as expression of origin:

Vienen desde Bolivia para asistir a la boda They come from Bolivia to attend the


1.9 Uses of durante
Durante la cena, platicamos (M) During the evening meal, we speak
Ha conducido este coche durante los ultimos diez
´ She has driven this car for the past ten years
a˜ os
La polic´a nos avisa durante la noche
± The police inform us during the night

1.10 Uses of en
en la mesa / el tejado on the table/roof
en la caja in the box
en coche / tren / autob´ s / cami´n (M) / moto /
u o in a car / on a train/bus/motorbike/boat/
barco / avi´n / bicicleta
o airplane/bicycle
en la c´ rcel / en prisi´n
a o in prison
en casa at home
en la estaci´n
o at the station
en Monterrey in Monterrey
en todas partes everywhere
El tren entra en el t´ nel
u The train goes into the tunnel
el gobierno en el poder the government in power

1.11 Uses of entre
La azucarera (M) / el azucarero est´ entre la sal y
a The sugar bowl is between the salt and the
el aceite oil
Se esconde entre la maleza She hides in the undergrowth
Me deslizo entre varios coches I slip between several cars
No hay diferencia de sueldo entre t´ y yo
u There™s no difference in salary between you
and me
Repartimos el premio entre los asistentes We share the prize between those present

1.12 Uses of excepto
Como de todo, excepto pescado I eat anything, except ¬sh
Invitan a todo el mundo excepto a su padre They invite everyone except his father

1.13 Uses of hacia
hacia Madrid towards Madrid
hacia la izquierda towards the left
Se lanza hacia la salida She races towards the exit
Miro hacia el otro lado I look towards the other side

23 Prepositions

Llegamos hacia las diez de la ma˜ ana
n We™ll arrive at about ten in the morning
su amor hacia su hija his love for his daughter

1.14 Uses of hasta
In´s pasea hasta la playa
e Ines goes for a walk as far as the beach
Llego hasta donde est´ s
a I™ll go to where you are
Esperamos hasta las diez We™ll wait until ten
S´lo puedo gastarme hasta cien euros
o I can only spend up to a hundred euros

1.15 Uses of mediante
Consigo la beca mediante la ayuda de su pap´ a I receive the grant with his father™s help
(M) / padre
los resultados obtenidos mediante este proceso the results obtained through this process

1.16 Uses of salvo
Salvo t´ , todos los dem´ s est´ n comiendo
u aa Excepting you, everyone is eating
´ es la cantidad, salvo error
Esta That™s the quantity, save error (if I™m not

1.17 Uses of segun
seg´ n las normas de la empresa
u according to the company™s rules
seg´ n la Secretar´a de Econom´a (M)
u ± ± according to the Treasury

1.18 Uses of sin
Estoy sin trabajo I am without work
Abren la puerta sin la llave They open the door without the key
Voy de vacaciones sin la familia I go on vacation without the family

1.19 Uses of sobre
Hay un libro sobre la mesa There™s a book on the table
las manos sobre las rodillas with hands on knees
posarse sobre la luna to land on the moon
El avi´n vuela sobre la ciudad
o The airplane ¬‚ies over the city
el puente sobre el r´o
± the bridge over the river
un libro sobre Carlos Fuentes a book on C. F.
sobre las cinco de la tarde about ¬ve in the afternoon
Saco ocho sobre diez I get eight out of ten (in marks)


1.20 Uses of tras
Veo una pel´cula tras otra
± I see one movie after another
Se esconden tras la puerta They hide behind the door
Se protegen de los disparos tras los camiones They seek protection from the shots behind
the trucks

Exercises Level 1
i Complete the sentences with the appropriate preposition, as in the example
Vamos ( ) Palenque > Vamos a Palenque
a Llegamos ( ) las dos ( ) la tarde
b Este libro no es m´o, es ( ) Armando
c Es una caba˜ a ( ) barro
d Acabo de ver a la Sra ( ) Jim´ nez
e No pensaba m´ s que ( ) s´
a ±
f ¿Qu´ piensas ( ) la pel´cula?
e ±
g El chico es menor ( ) edad
h Pas´ todo el d´a ( ) sol
o ±
i Tiene cari˜ o ( ) su gato
j Es un tesoro y lo guardo ( ) llave
k Salieron y ( ) poco rato regresaron
l Lee y ( ) mismo tiempo canta
m El camino tuerce ( ) la derecha
n ( ) la luz de la l´ mpara lee el peri´ dico
a o
o El culpable comparece ( ) el director del colegio
p Vamos al cine ( ) mi hermano
q Esta bicicleta es ( ) su hermana
r ¿Tienes un remedio ( ) la tos?
s La caja est´ cubierta ( ) una lona
t Son doce kil´ metros ( ) aqu´ ( ) la costa
o ±
u Me dirig´a ( ) el pueblo cuando se me descompuso el carro
(I was going . . .) (my car broke down)
ii Paired activity
Objective “ Practice the use of basic prepositions
Method “ A asks B, and vice versa, where (s)he comes from, what her/his clothes are
made of, where (s)he goes in the evening, where (s)he eats, where (s)he puts her/his
books, how long (s)he works for, whom s(he) goes to the theater with. Use the prepositions
A asks: ¿De d´ nde vienes ahora?
B replies: Vengo de la alberca (M) / piscina
A... ¿Ad´ nde vas a las doce?
B... Voy a la biblioteca

One member of the class then asks the rest, in Spanish, what their answers
are. These answers are put on the board.

23 Prepositions

Level 2
2.1 Some compound prepositions (Algunas preposiciones compuestas)
2.2 Uses of acerca de (Usos of acerca de)
2.3 Uses of antes de/que (Usos of antes de/que)
2.4 Uses of debajo de (Usos de debajo de)
2.5 Uses of delante de (Usos de delante de)
2.6 Uses of detras de (Usos de detras de)
´ ´
2.7 Uses of encima de (Usos de encima de)
2.8 Uses of enfrente de / frente a (Usos de enfrente de / frente a)
2.9 Uses of junto a (Usos de junto a)
2.10 Uses of lejos de (Usos de lejos de)
2.11 Uses of dentro de (Usos de dentro de)
2.12 Uses of fuera de (Usos de fuera de)
2.13 Uses of despues de (Usos de despues de)
´ ´
2.14 Uses of a traves de (Usos de a traves de)
´ ´
2.15 Other compound prepositions (Otras preposiciones compuestas)
2.16 Adverbial idioms with a (Locuciones adverbiales con a)
2.17 Adverbial idioms with con (Locuciones adverbiales con con)
2.18 Adverbial idioms with de (Locuciones adverbiales con de)
2.19 Adverbial idioms with en (Locuciones adverbiales con en)
2.20 A + following in¬nitive (A con in¬nitivo)
2.21 De + following in¬nitive (De con in¬nitivo)

2.1 Some compound prepositions
acerca de dentro de
about, concerning within
antes de/que encima de
before (in time) on top of, above
debajo de enfrente de
under, beneath opposite
delante de frente a
in front of opposite, off
detr´ s de
a fuera de
behind outside of
lejos de despu´s de
far from after
junto a a trav´s de
close to across, through

2.2 Uses of acerca de
Escribe libros acerca de los insectos She writes books on insects
Habl´ media hora acerca de este asunto
o He spoke half an hour on this topic

2.3 Uses of antes de/que
antes de las cuatro before four o™clock
Lo hizo antes que yo She did it before me


2.4 Uses of debajo de
debajo de la mesa under the table
¿Qu´ escondes debajo del abrigo?
e What are you hiding under your coat?

2.5 Uses of delante de
Estoy delante de Uds. en la cola I™m in front of you in the line/queue
Delante de la casa hay un jard´n
± In front of the house there is a yard/garden
Tienes el libro delante de ti You™ve got the book in front of you

2.6 Uses of detras de
Detr´ s del chal´ tienen un huerto peque˜ o
a e n They have a small vegetable garden behind
the chalet
Lleva el precio detr´ s de la etiqueta
a It™s got the price behind the tab

2.7 Uses of encima de
Coloca estos libros encima de la mesa Put these books on the table
Llevaba una americana encima de la camisa He wore a jacket over his shirt

2.8 Uses of enfrente de / frente a
El cine est´ enfrente del supermercado
a The movie theater is opposite the superstore
El carro par´ frente a la casa
o The car stopped opposite the house
Hubo un accidente frente a Veracruz There was an accident off Veracruz (out at

2.9 Uses of junto a
Se sent´ junto a la ventana
o She sat down near the window
Pas´ las vacaciones junto a la familia
o She spent her vacation with her family
Note. Try not to confuse junto a meaning next to and junto meaning together. Junto a
is an adverb and therefore does not agree with the noun while junto meaning together is
an adjective and does agree, e.g. Fuimos juntos = We went together.

2.10 Uses of lejos de
La casa estaba lejos del pueblo The house was far from the town
Col´quense lejos del edi¬cio incendiado
o Move away from the burning building

23 Prepositions

2.11 Uses of dentro de
El dinero est´ dentro de la caja
a The money is in(side) the box
Guarda mucho rencor dentro de s´ ± He keeps a real grudge within him

2.12 Uses of fuera de
Los leones est´ n fuera de las jaulas
a The lions are outside the cages
El preso estuvo fuera de control The prisoner was out of control
Un coche nuevo est´ fuera de mis posibilidades
a A new car is beyond my possibilities

2.13 Uses of despues de
Entrar´ s despu´s de m´
a e ± You™ll go in after me
Los corredores africanos llegaron dos segundos The African runners arrived two seconds
despu´s de los chinos
e after the Chinese

2.14 Uses of a traves de
La luz entraba a trav´s de una claraboya
e The light entered through a skylight
Me enter´ a trav´s de un amigo
e e I learnt about it through a friend

2.15 Other compound prepositions
adem´ s de = besides, in addition to respecto a = with respect to
alrededor de = around a causa de = on account of
conforme a = according to en vez de = instead of
contrario a = contrary to en cuanto a = as for
a pesar de = in spite of

2.16 Adverbial idioms with a
There are many adverbial idioms of manner in Spanish formed on the pattern a +
singular or plural noun, and a + feminine plural adjective or noun. Some of the most
common are:
estar a sus anchas tomar a pecho
to be at ease to take to heart

Lo/Le mataron a balazos a duras penas
They shot him with great dif¬culty
saber a punto ¬jo
dead to know for certain
a caballo a rega˜ adientes
on horseback reluctantly
Llueve a c´ ntaros
a a solas
It™s pouring with alone

Avanz´ a tientas
rain He groped his way
avanzar a ciegas a todo meter
to go forward forward with great
blindly intensity


a ciencia cierta a trechos
for sure occasionally
a la corta o a la larga a trompicones
sooner or later in ¬ts and starts

Se abri´ paso a empujones
o al otro lado de
He pushed his on the other side of
a ra´z de
way through immediately after
a escondidas covertly, stealthily

Entr´ a hurtadillas
o He crept in
a oscuras in the dark
estar a la altura de las to rise to the
circunstancias occasion
a favor de in favor of
al lado de at the side of
a partir de starting from
*Notice here that the English and the Spanish are quite different. We see an inversion
of the verb and the adverbial expression. The Spanish verb corresponds to the English
adverbial expression, while the Spanish adverbial expression corresponds to the English
verb. This difference marks a real difference in the two languages, so watch out for it.

2.17 Adverbial idioms with con
con arreglo a la ley in accordance with the law
con miras al futuro with a view to the future
con motivo de escaparse with the intention of escaping
con vistas a with a view to
El barco sali´ (con) rumbo a Londres
o The boat set out for London

2.18 Adverbial idioms with de
de costumbre usually
de buena/mala gana willingly/unwillingly
de buen grado willingly
de improviso unexpectedly
Es de lejos el mejor It™s by far the best
estar de moda to be in fashion
de nuevo again
de pronto suddenly
estar de viaje to be traveling
estar de visita to be visiting

2.19 Adverbial idioms with en
en ausencia de in the absence of
en presencia de in the presence of
en busca de in search of
en cambio on the other hand
en carretera on the (main) road

23 Prepositions

en todo caso in any case
en consecuencia consequently
en cuclillas squatting
estar en condiciones de to be in a position to
emisi´n en diferido
o recorded broadcast
emisi´n en directo
o live broadcast
en el radio (M) / la radio on the radio
en virtud de by virtue of
en lo que va de a˜ o
n as far as this year is concerned
en resumen in short
tomar en serio to take seriously

2.20 A + following in¬nitive
alcanzar a to succeed in
No alcanzo a comprender por qu´ no se ha casado
e I can™t understand why she didn™t marry
antes before
aprender a to learn to
Aprend´ a manejar el carro (M)
± I learnt to drive the car
apresurarse a to hurry to
Se apresur´ a entrar
o She hurried in
arriesgarse a to risk
Me arriesgu´ a nadar hasta el puente
e I risked swimming as far as the bridge
atreverse a to dare
Se atrevi´ a atravesar el foso
o He dared to cross the ditch
comenzar a to commence
Comenz´ a estudiar en Granada
o He began to study in Granada
decidirse a to decide to
Por ¬n se ha decidido a terminar la tesis She™s ¬nally decided to ¬nish the thesis
empezar a to begin to
Empez´ a hablar con los asistentes
o She began to talk with those present
llegar a to end up
Lleg´ a insultarnos
o He ended up insulting us
ponerse a to start to
Irene se puso a servir/estudiar Irene began to serve/study
romper a to burst out (doing something)
El ni˜ o rompi´ a llorar
n o The child burst out crying
Ir a to go to
Fui a verla I went to see her
Salir a to come/go out to
Salieron a acogernos They came out to greet us

2.21 De + following in¬nitive
*acabar de to have just
Acaba de llegar He has just arrived


Acababa de llegar He had just arrived
**dejar de to stop
Ha dejado de estudiar She™s stopped studying
terminar de to ¬nish
Hemos terminado de hacer el trabajo We have ¬nished doing the work

*Note the difference in the negative:
No acabo de entender su intenci´n
o I fail to understand her intention

**Note the difference in the negative:
No dejes de venir Don™t fail to come

Exercises Level 2
i Completa la frase con una preposicion compuesta como en el ejemplo:
Habl´ media hora ( ) este asunto > Habl´ media hora acerca de este
o o
a Las pruebas fueron largas ( ) dif´ciles
b El gato est´ dormido ( ) la silla
c La insult´ ( ) m´
o ±
d El chico se escondi´ ( ) los arboles
o ´
e Alaska est´ muy ( ) Tierra del Fuego
f Pon la mesa ( ) la puerta
g Busqu´ la carta ( ) el caj´ n
e o
h La nariz est´ ( ) la boca
i Hab´a un terreno de f´ tbol ( ) la casa nuestra
± u
j ¿Qui´ n dej´ el helado ( ) el congelador?
e o
k Vendr´ ( ) la clase
l Reembols´ el empr´ stito ( ) el banco
o e
m Lo miraba ( ) una celos´a ±
n ( ) lo que Mar´a hab´a argumentado, se aprob´ la propuesta
± ± o

ii Pon las palabras en su orden correcto. Al mismo tiempo inserta la preposicion que
conviene despues del verbo. Sigue el ejemplo:
nadar alberca aprendi´ en mi > Aprendi´ a nadar en mi alberca
o o
a deberes acabar apresur´ se sus
b cumbre sin atrever´a no la subir se ayuda hasta
c se se casa en aburr´a decidi´ que dado salir
± o
d tobillo se el en ni˜ a la hizo llorar rompi´ da˜ o y
n on
e paisaje pintar puso un se
f autob´ s ech´ del correr detr´ s
u o a
g trabajo acababa su regres´ cuando su terminar
h entramos dejado hab´a comer cuando
i convencerme razonamiento termina no su
j vecino par´ hablar el con se

23 Prepositions

iii Actividad en comun
Objetivo “ Practicar el uso de preposiciones compuestas
M´ todo “ Un miembro de la clase (mejor que sea extrovertido/a) se mueve en el
sal´ n, y despu´ s de cada desplazamiento, pregunta: ¿D´nde estoy? La clase contesta con
o e
preposiciones compuestas. El estudiante que puede hacer de payaso se desplaza diez
veces. Se encuentran numerosos ejemplos de preposiciones compuestas al principio de
este nivel.
Despu´ s de subirse a una silla o a
una mesa hace la siguiente
pregunta: ¿D´ nde estoy?
Respuesta: Est´ s encima de una/la silla/mesa
Se acerca a la ventana y pregunta: ¿D´ nde estoy?
Respuesta: Est´ s cerca de la ventana
It goes without saying that you must be very careful in the actions you perform. For
example, it would be unwise to climb on to a chair if the chair were in a poor condition.

Unit 24 (Unidad 24)
Prepositions por and para
(Las preposiciones por y para)

Level 1
1.1 Basic differences between para and por (Diferencias basicas entre para y por)
1.2 Basic uses of para (Usos basicos de para)
1.3 Basic uses of por (Usos basicos de por)

1.1 Basic differences between para and por
The two Spanish prepositions para and por cause a great deal of confusion, partly
because they can sometimes be translated by the same English preposition for. They are
treated apart from the other prepositions since, by comparing and contrasting them,
it is hoped that you will be able to distinguish between them more clearly. The ¬rst
most important feature that separates them is that para indicates direction or purpose
while por indicates cause or an act performed on behalf of or through someone. Three
contrastive examples will illustrate this point.

Mi hermana tiene un e-mail para m´
± My sister has an e-mail for me (and is
waiting to give it to me, for example)
Mi hermana escribe un e-mail por m´
± My sister writes an e-mail for me (i.e. on my
behalf or because I do not do it myself)
Vamos para las monta˜ as
n Let™s head towards the mountains
Vamos por las monta˜ as
n Let™s go through the mountains
Dale el dinero para el carro Give him the money for the car (i.e. so that
he can buy it)
Dale el dinero por el carro Give him the money for the car (i.e. in
exchange for)
ii A further example containing both prepositions in the same sentence will make the
difference even clearer:

Mi hermano hizo la tarea por m´ para la maestra
± My brother did my homework for me for
the teacher

In this sentence, por suggests on behalf of while para suggests destination.
We shall ¬rstly consider the uses of para and then those of por.

24 Prepositions por and para

1.2 Basic uses of para
i Purpose

Mi prima estudia para (ser) ingeniero My cousin is studying to be an engineer
Llamo para felicitarte I call to congratulate you
ii Destination

Tengo un mensaje para ti I™ve got a message for you
Saca un billete para Santander He™s buying a ticket for Santander
iii Going towards a place

La veo cuando voy para la facultad I see her on my way to the university
iv Changing direction

Tuerces para la derecha cuando . . . Go to the right when . . .
v Indicating a point in time (usually in the future)

Te dejo mi departamento (M) para las vacaciones I™ll leave my apartment for you for the
vi Indicating limit of date, month, etc.

Acaban las obras para Semana Santa The (road)works will be ¬nished by Holy
vii Expressing opinions

Para m´, todo el mundo se equivoca
± As far as I™m concerned, everyone™s wrong

1.3 Basic uses of por
i In passive statements when a person is the agent

El teatro fue construido por un buen arquitecto The theater was built by a good architect
ii Indicating passing through or across
Vamos a Madrid por Avila We go to Madrid via Avila
Miro por la ventana I look out of the window
Me paseo por la calle I walk down the street
iii Indicating a vague idea with respect to place

Los soldados se esconden por alg´ n pueblo de
u The soldiers hide in some village in (the
Zamora province of ) Zamora
¿Pasamos por aqu´, verdad?
± We go this way, don™t we?
¿Hay un banco por aqu´?± Is there a bank (around) here?
iv Indicating approximate time

Regreso (M) / Vuelvo por Semana Santa I™ll be back for Holy Week


v Indicating a speci¬c point of time in the day

Los jefes se re´ nen por la ma˜ ana/tarde/noche
u n The leaders meet in the morning/
afternoon / at night

vi Indicating frequency or speed with respect to time

Corre a ciento cincuenta kil´metros por hora
o She™s traveling/racing at a hundred miles an
Hace dieta dos veces por semana She diets twice a week

vii Indicating cause

¿Por qu´ lo haces?
e Why do you do it?

viii Indicating “on behalf of ,” “for the sake of ”

Voy al supermercado por ti I go to the superstore for you
Celebran una misa por su alma They say mass for his soul
Firma por su esposa He signs for his wife

ix Suggesting “by means of”

Me entero por la prensa I learn of it through the newspapers
Me llama por tel´fono
e She phones me
Lo pago por el banco I pay it through the bank

Exercises Level 1
i Insert para or por in the space. In some cases, both para and por are possible but the
meaning can be different. Indicate where the possibilities exist.
a Alquil´ una bicicleta ( ) ir de paseo
b Lo salud´ ( ) tu parte
c Mam´ prepara la ¬ambrera ( ) la comida
d Creo que los chicos perdidos est´ n ( ) all´
a ±
e El peque˜ o duerme un par de horas ( ) la tarde
f Es un bar ( ) estudiantes
g Hay que pagar cinco euros ( ) persona
h ¿Tiene dos boletos ( ) Tijuana?


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