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Spanish Prepositional Pronouns

Instructor: Elena Sacramento

Elena teaches Spanish as a foreign language and has a PhD in linguistics.

In this lesson we explain how pronouns are used after prepositions in Spanish, providing common examples from daily life situations. Improve your Spanish and feel more confident with the adequate use of prepositions and pronouns.

What Is a Pronoun?

Before talking about prepositional pronouns, we have to answer our first and basic question: What's a pronoun again?

  • A pronoun is a word that replaces or substitutes a noun.

When writing or speaking, we sometimes mention the name of the person. But, other times, if our audience knows the person we are referring to, we can just use a pronoun. For example, these are the pronouns that replace these people's names:

Pablo - él (he)
Laura - ella (she)
Pablo and Laura - ellos (they)
Pablo and I - nosotros (we)

You probably know the subject pronouns. These are the pronouns we use before a verb, normally to indicate who carries out the action.

  • Yo como chocolate. ('I eat chocolate.')

In this sentence, yo is the subject pronoun. In Spanish, we skip subject pronouns very often, because the ending of the verb already tells us which person we are referring to. So, we could also say:

  • Como chocolate. ('I eat chocolate.')

However, if there is a preposition in front of them, they can't be omitted. This leads us to our second question - What is a preposition?

What Is a Preposition?

Prepositions are words that give us information about verbs, nouns or other words in the sentence. They express relations such as time, place or destination.

The following table provides the most basic Spanish prepositions:

Preposition Translation Example
a to Vamos a Tenerife.
('Let's go to Tenerife.')
con with café con leche
('coffee with milk')
de of el perro de mi amiga
(literally: 'the dog of my friend')
en in/at/on en la mesa ('on the table')
para for (beneficiary) un regalo para mi hermano
('a present for my brother')
por for (unspecified time) /
because of
por la mañana
('in the morning')

Prepositional Pronouns

Now we are ready to study the prepositional pronouns. These are pronouns that appear AFTER a preposition. They are very similar to the subject pronouns you saw above. The good news is that only two of them change!

Take a look at the following table to compare them:

Subject
Pronouns
Translation Prepositional
Pronouns
Translation
yo I me
you (informal) ti you (informal)
usted you (formal) usted you (formal)
él he él him
ella she ella her
nosotros
nosotras
we nosotros
nosotras
us
vosotros
vosotras

ustedes
you (plural) vosotros
vosotras

ustedes
you (plural)
ellos/
ellas
they ellos/ellas them

Note: When addressing a group of people, only Spaniards use the pronoun vosotros/as. Elsewhere, everyone says ustedes. So, if you are traveling to South America, use ustedes in all situations.

The prepositional pronouns on the right are used after the prepositions a, de, en, para, por, etc. The following conversation is an example of the use of these pronouns.

Example Conversation

Who doesn't love getting a present? Laura's brother, Pablo, has just came back from Denmark and got presents for everyone.

Pablo: Toma, Laura. Este regalo es para ti. ('Here you are, Laura. This present is for you.')

Laura: ¿Es para mí? ('Is it for me?) ¡Me encanta! ('I love it!')

Mira, Mamá, Pablo trajo regalos para nosotros. ('Look, Mom, Pablo got presents for us.')

Pablo: Estos chocolates son para ustedes. ('These chocolates are for you (all).')

Laura: ¿Y para la abuela? ('And for Granny?')

Pablo: Para ella compré esta bufanda. ('For her I bought this scarf.')

Translation: This present is for you.
present

Using the Preposition Con

We analyze con separately, because this preposition is a bit different.

You might have heard Enrique Iglesias singing ''Bailando''. The chorus goes: I wanna be contigo, and live contigo, and dance contigo… Does it ring a bell?

Well, contigo is a special word we use with the meaning of 'with you'. We write it together, as a single word. So con tigo is incorrect. The same applies to the first person singular. Can you guess how to say 'with me'? The answer is conmigo.

Good news! The rest of the pronouns don't change. Take a look at the table below to see all of them:

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