ESTAR + prepositions of place in Spanish

May 14, 2013 Alex

Prepositions of place, LAS PREPOSICIONES DE LUGAR, are a very useful type of words we use to indicate the location of one object in relation to another. In this lesson, you will learn a basic list of prepositions of place in Spanish and how to use them with the irregular verb ESTAR to make meaningful sentences.

Vocabulary: A list of prepositions of place in Spanish

“Las preposiciones de lugar” have many possible uses including simple things like saying where classroom objects are located as in”El escritorio está frente a la pizarra” (the desk is in front of the board) or as a way to give  directions as in the sentence “El banco está junto al hospital” (The bank is next to the hospital). The words “FRENTE A” and “JUNTO A” are both prepositions. The picture below shows a list of common prepositions of place and their meaning.

Prepositions of place in Spanish lesson - preposiciones en español

Prepositions of place in Spanish – Las preposiciones de lugar

Making sentences using ESTAR + Spanish prepositions of place

First, let’s learn how to ask about location in Spanish. We need to use the verb ESTAR in its form ESTÁ for a single object as in “¿Dónde está el carro?” and ESTÁN for several as in “¿Dónde están los carros?” Make sure to use the right definite article before the noun. Basically, the questions to ask for location, “localización”, will follow the structure:

¿Dónde + está/están + article + object(s)?

Asking for location using ESTAR
¿Dónde está el libro? – El libro está dentro de la caja.
Where is the book? – The book is inside the box
¿Dónde están los libros? – Los libros están dentro de la caja
Where are the books? – The books are inside the box

ESTAR plays a key role when making sentences with prepositions of place. You will notice that we use EL, LA, LOS, LAS and the indefinite articles UN and UNA before the name of the things, for example: EL HOSPITAL (the hospital) and UNA CAJA (a box). For most sentences we will use the structure:

Article + object + estar (to be) + prepositions of place + article + object

Most “preposiciones de luegar” are represented by two words or more, for example: ENCIMA + DE (encima de), EN + MEDIO + DE (en medio de) and so on. If we omit a part of the phrase it would not make sense. Something to point out is that the word DE will change to DEL if the place it precedes is as masculine noun like HOTEL, which means we should say “del hotel” not “de el hotel”. The same rule applies when we have the preposition A + EL, but in this case we replace them for AL as in AL HOTEL. Know that some prepositions are interchangeable and could mean the same thing depending on the context. Press PLAY to listen to the examples.

Sentences with ESTAR + prepositions of place
EN- Los libros están en la canasta
The books are in the basket
DENTRO DE – El gato está dentro de la casa
The cat is inside the house
JUNTO A – Los libros están junto a la computadora
The books are next to the computer
SOBRE/ENCIMA DE – El libro está sobre/encima de la caja
The book is on the box
DEBAJO DE – El juguete está debajo de la silla
The toy is under the chair
AFUERA DE/FUERA DE – Las cartas están fuera de la papelera.
The letters are outside the trash can
FRENTE A/ EN FRENTE DE – El restaurante está frente al /enfrente del hotel
There is a restaurant in front of the hotel
DETRÁS DE – Ella está detrás del chico alto
She is behind the tall guy
ARRIBA DE – La pintura está arriba del librero
The painting is over the bookcase

Vocabulary quiz: Prepositions of place in Spanish

This vocabulary quiz will test if you understand the basic rules to use ESTAR plust prepositions of place in Spanish. You will also find a few more interesting notes about them in the quiz. Let’s start!

2 thoughts on “ESTAR + prepositions of place in Spanish

    1. Alex Post author

      Hi Cherise! I learned something new today. Thanks! To be honest most native speakers write EN FRENTE but I was reading that the official rule says we should say ENFRENTE. Thanks for your comment 🙂


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