Master List of Compound Prepositions in Spanish [Plus How to Use Them]
Being able to use prepositions in Spanish is like finding the light switch in a dark room. Everything starts to make sense and all elements seem to be in the right place.
Compound prepositions give a boost to your language skills. They will let you say things you couldn’t before.
Do you want to learn Spanish compound prepositions today? In this article, I will give you useful lists of compound prepositions and prepositional phrases in Spanish and show you how to use them. I also explain the difference between compound and double prepositions. Be sure to check your knowledge with the pop quiz at the end.
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Compound Prepositions in Spanish
Before we jump into compound prepositions, let’s take a quick look at simple prepositions.
Prepositions are parts of speech that connect two elements in a sentence—nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and verbs. They give you information about the place, time, manner, or reason. (Learn about other functions of prepositions here.)
There are 23 prepositions in Spanish. The most common are:
- a – to
- con – with
- de – of, from
- en – in, at, on
- para – for
- por – for
Now, let’s have a look at compound prepositions in Spanish.
A compound preposition is a combination of a simple preposition with another word that is not a preposition. Sometimes they’re also called prepositional phrases. They also connect the noun or pronoun in a sentence with another word.
Vivo cerca de Madrid.
I live close to Madrid.
Cerca de is the compound preposition here that connects the verb vivo with the noun Madrid.
Sometimes, it’s difficult to guess the meaning of the compound preposition if you only know the separate meanings of its parts. The two or three words that comprise the compound preposition often have a new, idiomatic meaning, such as por lo visto:
Por lo visto, le van a hacer una fiesta sorpresa.
Apparently, they’re throwing him a surprise party.
How to Use Spanish Compound Prepositions
If you know how to use simple prepositions, you won’t have any problem using compound prepositions once you know their meaning.
Many compound prepositions have similar forms that work together as one single preposition.
1. Preposition + Noun + Preposition
- por razón de – because of
- en vez de – instead of
- en forma de – in the shape of
2. Adverb + Preposition
- después de – after
- detrás de – behind
3. Preposition + Noun
- de corazón – sincerely
- en avión – by plane
4. Noun + Preposition
- gracias a – thanks to
- frente a – face to
- rumbo a – toward
5. Adjective + Preposition
- debido a – due to
- relacionado con – related to
- conforme a – in accordance with
6. Preposition + Infinitive + Preposition
- a juzgar por – judging by
- a partir de – as of
Examples Sentences in Spanish
Hizo la tarea en vez de Juan.
He did his homework instead of Juan.
Después de la tormenta, salió el sol.
After the storm, the sun came out.
Te lo digo de corazón.
I tell you this from my heart.
Debido a mis deudas, tuve que vender mi casa.
Because of my debts, I had to sell my house.
A juzgar por tu apariencia, no has dormido toda la noche.
Judging by your appearance, you haven’t slept all night.
Lo conseguí gracias a mis esfuerzos.
I got it thanks to my efforts.
You can use compound prepositions to give information about time, place, or reason.
Siéntate enfrente de ella.
Sit in front of her.
Antes de correr, hay que estirar.
Before running, you have to stretch.
Tuve que mudarme a raíz de mis problemas con mis papás.
I had to move as a result of the problems I had with my parents.
Spanish Compound Prepositions List
Let me show you some most common compound prepositions. I divided them into sections according to the pattern they follow to make the list easier to access.
Compound prepositions (preposition + noun + preposition)
|a base de||on the basis of|
|a causa de||because of, due to|
|a consecuencia de||as a result of|
|a costa de, a expensas de||at the expense of|
|a falta de||in the absence of|
|a pesar de||in spite of|
|a través de||through|
|al lado de||next to|
|al respecto de||with respect to|
|bajo pena de||under penalty of|
|bajo pretexto de||under the pretext of|
|con arreglo a||on the basis of|
|con base en||based on|
|con motivo de||on the grounds of|
|con respecto a/de||with respect to|
|de cara a||in the face of|
|de conformidad con||in accordance with|
|de parte de||of part of|
|de regreso a||back to|
|en aras de, en atención a, en bien de||for the sake of|
|en compañía de||in the company of|
|en lugar de||instead of|
|en medio de||in the midst of|
|en orden a||in order to|
|en virtud de, por efecto de||by virtue of|
|por causa de||on account of|
|por conducto de||through|
|por culpa de||by reason of|
Compound Prepositions (preposition + noun)
|a caballo||on horseback|
|con cariño||with affection|
|con cuidado||with care|
|con énfasis||with emphasis|
|con gusto||with pleasure|
|con permiso||with permission|
|con razón||with reason|
|de acuerdo||in agreement|
|de pié||on foot|
|en avión||by plane|
|en cambio||on the other hand|
|en efecto, en realidad||in fact|
|por ejemplo||for example|
Compound Prepositions (noun + preposition)
|camino de||way to|
|cara a||face to|
|frente a||face to, in front of|
|gracias a, merced a||thanks to|
|respecto a/de||with respect to|
|rumbo a||way to|
Compound Prepositions (adjective + preposition)
|conforme a||in accordance with|
|debido a||because of, due to|
|junto a, junto con||together with, along with|
|referente a||relating to|
|relacionado a, relacionado con, tocante a||related to|
Compound prepositions (adverb + preposition)
|delante de, enfrente de||in front of|
Compound prepositions (preposition + infinitive + preposition)
|a juzgar por||judging by|
|a partir de||as of|
Double Prepositions in Spanish: Examples
I promised I would explain the difference between compound prepositions and double prepositions.
Now you know that a compound preposition is a combination of two words and one of them is not a preposition. Double prepositions, on the other hand, have two prepositions next to each other, working as one preposition.
The use of double prepositions is more common in Spain than in Latin America, where it’s considered redundant. You usually see it in older texts from the 15th or 16th century or in a Bible, but some of them are still quite common.
1. Tras de – in addition, moreover
Tras de venir tarde, nos regaña.
In addition to coming late, he scolds us.
2. De entre – from among
Elijo cinco panes de entre los que tengo en la cesta.
I choose five loaves of bread from the basket.
3. Para con – with respect to, towards
Su actitud para con nosotros tiene que ser la misma.
Their attitude towards us has to be the same.
4. A por
together with a verb, usually ir (to go), indicates movement towards something and the objective of getting it.
¡Ve a por ellos!
Go get them!
Compound Prepositions – Multiple Choice Quiz
Look at the picture and choose the correct option:
1. Which statement is correct?
2. Which statement is correct?
3. Which statement is correct?
4. Which statement is correct?
5. Which statement is correct?
6. Which statement is correct?
7. Which statement is correct?
8. Which statement is correct?
9. Which statement is correct?
10. Which statement is correct?
Practice Compound Prepositions in a 1-to-1 Class
As you can see, compound prepositions are not the hardest-to-master Spanish grammar, and you nailed them in less than 15 minutes. You’ve taken a huge step on the road to fluency.
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