Indicating Closeness or Proximity

Using 'Cerca' and Related Words

earth from moon's orbit
El fin del mundo está cerca. (The end of the world is near.). NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

The words and phrase cerca, cercano and cerca de are very commonly used in Spanish to indicate proximity or closeness in location, time, number or degree.

Most common is cerca de, which is used as a preposition. Common translations include "by," "near," "about" and "close to":

  • Cerca de 12 millones de personas serán vacunadas contra la fiebre amarilla. About 12 million people will be vaccinated against yellow fever.
  • Hay muchos hoteles cerca de Disney World. There are many hotels by Disney World.
  • Quiero estar cerca de ti siempre. I want to always be close to you.
  • Los activistas dicen que Cataluña está cerca de la abolición de la tauromaquia. The activists say Catalonia is close to bringing an end to bullfighting.
  • Despliega Colombia 22 batallones cerca del límite con Venezuela. Colombia is deploying 22 battalions near the border with Venezuela.
  • Hay una buena probabilidad de que veamos una estabilización de los precios cerca de febrero o marzo, dijo el presidente. There's a good chance we'll see a stabilization of prices around February or March, the president said.

Cerca by itself functions as an adverb:

  • El fin del mundo está cerca. The end of the world is near.
  • Hay cuatro tranvías que pasan cerca. There are four streetcars that pass nearby.
  • Tan cerca y a la misma vez tan lejos. So close, and yet so far away.
  • El asteroide pasará tan cerca que podremos verlo. The asteroid will pass so close we'll be able to see it.
  • El triunfo está cerca. Victory is near.

The adjective form is cercano:

  • Tenemos una casa cercana al aeropuerto. We have a house near the airport.
  • Descubre tus cinco amigos más cercanos en Facebook. Find your five closest friends on Facebook.
  • El futuro (aún no cercano) está en la computación molecular. The future (but not the near future) is in molecular computing.

A few related words have other meanings:

  • The verb cercar typically means "to surround" or "to enclose": Los estudiantes cercaron las oficinas. The students surrounded the offices.
  • The noun la cerca typically refers to a fence or wall. El concepto de la cerca electrificada fue descrita por primera vez por Mark Twain. The concept of an electric fence was described for the first time by Mark Twain.
  • The phrase acerca de usually means "about" in the sense of "concerning": Hablaban acerca de nosotros. They were talking about us.