Prepositions of place in Spanish, LAS PREPOSICIONES DE LUGAR, are words like “Sobre” (on) and “Debajo” (under) that are normally used to indicate the location of one object in relation to another. In this lesson, you will find a list of prepositions of place in Spanish, and more importantly, how to use them with the verb ESTAR to make meaningful sentences. Let’s start…
Vocabulary introduction: A list of prepositions of place in Spanish
Prepositions are really important and often have many uses in the language. One of the common uses when learning Spanish is to use prepositions of place to say where classroom objects are located as in “El escritorio está frente a la pizarra” (the desk is in front of the board). In addition, Spanish prepositions of place can also be used for other purposes such as giving directions as in the sentence “El banco está junto al hospital” (The bank is next to the hospital). In these two sentences, both words “FRENTE A” and “JUNTO A” are prepositions.
Sometimes these words can be used without adding an object, e.g. “Está encima”, but the best way is to use them along with the preposition “DE” plus another object as a reference, e.g. “Está encima de la caja”. The picture below shows some objects and a list of prepositions of place in Spanish that we could use to indicate an object’s location, for instance: “El pingüino pequeño está junto al pingüino grande “.
Asking about location in Spanish – ¿Dónde está…?
First, in order to ask about location in Spanish, we need the irregular 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?”. Notice that you must use the right definite article before the noun, which in this case is CARRO. Basically, questions asking for the location of objects in Spanish will follow the structure:
¿Dónde + está/están + article + object(s)?
Listen to two examples below using this structure:
¿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
Using ESTAR with prepositions of place in sentences
ESTAR does play a key role when making sentences with prepositions of place in Spanish. You will notice that we use the definite articles 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). You can use ESTAR with prepositions of place following this structure:
Article + object + estar (to be) + prepositions of place + article + object
“La regla está dentro de la caja” / “El gato está en el jarrón”
As mentioned above, some prepositions of place in Spanish are represented by two or three words, for example: ENCIMA + DE (encima de), EN + MEDIO + DE (en medio de) and so on. If we omit a part of the phrase, we may change the meaning of what we want to say. Interestingly, the word DE will change to DEL when used before a masculine noun like HOTEL. This means that we must say “del hotel” not “de el hotel”, joining DE plus EL in the word DEL .
The same rule applies for the prepositions “A + EL”, which you might use in “Junto a el perro” (incorrect), but here we replace “A EL” for AL as in “Junto al perro”. Know that some prepositions are interchangeable and could mean the same thing depending on the context such as “FRENTE A” and “ENFRENTE DE”. Here is the last group of examples using a list of prepositions of place in Spanish in real sentences.
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
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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!
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- Question 1 of 4
Which of these prepositions of place mean IN or INSIDE?CorrectIncorrect
- Question 2 of 4
Which of these questions is the right one to ask about location in Spanish?Correct
Remember we use the question word DÓNDE to ask about location in Spanish.Incorrect
- Question 3 of 4
Complete these sentences with the right preposition of place
- Ella está (junto a, al lado de) Marcos. (next to)
- Tú estás (frente a, en frente de) la computadora. (in front of)
- Ellos están (debajo de) la mesa. (under)
- Question 4 of 4
Complete these sentences with the right preposition of place.
- El libro está (detrás del) televisor. (behind)
- Los pinguinos están (encima del, sobre el) trozo de hielo (on)
- El hospital está (en medio del, entre el) supermercado y el hotel. (between)
Take a look at the images below and then do some research about the names of these objects. After that, test yourself and see if you can actually use Spanish prepositions of place in new situations. Compare your sentences with the examples provided in the lesson and if possible, leave us a comment below with your favorite sentence.