Languages › Spanish How To Use Compound Prepositions in Spanish Such prepositions provide nuances of meaning that simple prepositions can’t Share Flipboard Email Print Estamos a bordo del bus. (We are aboard the bus.). John Barrie / Creative Commons. Spanish Grammar History & Culture Pronunciation Vocabulary Writing Skills By Gerald Erichsen Spanish Language Expert B.A., Seattle Pacific University Gerald Erichsen is a Spanish language expert who has created Spanish lessons for ThoughtCo since 1998. our editorial process Gerald Erichsen Updated April 14, 2019 Prepositions are handy words for showing the relationship among the various words in a sentence. But with something like only two dozen prepositions available, you're limited if you stick to simple prepositions to indicate the connection that a noun or pronoun might have with another word. Fortunately, both Spanish and English have a wide range of prepositional phrases, also known as compound prepositions, that function in much the same way as simple prepositions Using Compound Prepositions An example of compound preposition can be seen in a sentence such as Roberto fue al mercado en lugar de Pablo ("Robert went to the market instead of Paul"). Although en lugar de is made up of three words, it functions much the same as one word and has a distinct prepositional meaning as a phrase. In other words, like single-word prepositions, prepositional phrases show the connection between the noun (or pronoun) that follows and other words in the sentence. (Although you could probably figure out what en lugar de means by translating the individual words, that isn't true of all prepositional phrases.) The list below shows some of the most common phrases that function as prepositions. Prepositions can also be used in phrases that are used as adverbs, as explained in our lesson on adverbial phrases. As you can see in the examples following this section, not all Spanish prepositional phrases are best translated as prepositional phrases in English. abajo de — underneatha bordo de — aboarda cambio de — in exchange or trade fora cargo de — in charge ofa causa de — because ofacerca de — about, concerningademás de — besides, in addition to, as well asadentro de — insidea disposición de — at the disposal ofa excepción de — with the exception of, except fora falta de — due to the lack of, in the absence ofa fin de — with the goal or intent of, in order toafuera de — outsidea fuerza de — by means ofal contrario de — contrary toal estilo de — in the style of, in the manner ofal frente de — at the forefront ofal lado de — next toalrededor de — aroundantes de — before (in time, not location)a pesar de — in spite ofa prueba de — roughly equivalent to the English suffix "-proof"a punto de — on the verge ofa través de — through, acrossbajo condición de que — on the condition thatcerca de — nearcon rumbo a — in the direction ofde acuerdo con — in agreement withdebajo de — underneath, underdelante de — in front ofdentro de — withindespués de — afterdetrás de — behind, afteren caso de — in case ofencima de — on top ofen contra de — againsten forma de — in the shape ofenfrente de — oppositeen lugar de — instead of, in the place ofen medio de — in the middle ofen vez de — instead ofen vías de — on the way tofuera de — except forfrente a — opposite, towardslejos de — far frompor causa de — because ofpor razón de — because of Samples Sentences Using Compound Prepositions Las complicaciones después de la cirugía de cataratas pueden incluir visión opaca o borrosa. (Complications after cataract surgery can include dull or blurry vision.) A pesar de todo, digo sí a la vida. (Despite everything, I am saying yes to life.) Vea nuestra colección de cámaras compactas a prueba de agua. (See our collection of compact waterproof cameras.) La ciudad grande está a punto de un desastre ambiental. (The large city is on the verge of an environmental disaster.) No busques más hoteles cerca de este. (Don't look for more hotels near this one.) ¿Por qué los gatos duermen encima de sus humanos? (Why do cats sleep on top of their humans?) Muchas cosas cambiaron por causa de mi error. (Many things changed because of my mistake.) Key Takeaways Compound prepositions in both English and Spanish are phrases that function in the same way as single-word prepositions.Meanings of compound prepositions can't always be determined by the meanings of the individual words.