Many Uses of the Word 'Con' in Spanish

Its Use Is More Versatile Than English Word "With"

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Me espanto con las hormigas. (I am frightened of ants.). Sancho McCann/Flickr

The Spanish word con, pronounced much like the English word "cone," not like "con," is one of the most commonly used prepositions. In most uses, it is the equivalent of the English word "with." 

The word con is somewhat more versatile than the English "with," and it may be used in places where "with" might not be used in English.

Ways That Spanish Uses Con That English Does Not

Con can sometimes be used in different ways that we use "with" in English.

Con can be paired with certain verbs, can be used to form phrases that function like adverbs, indicate conditions and form contractions.

Con Used With Certain Verbs

Con can be used with various verbs where a different preposition or none at all would be used in English. Such usages are unpredictable and need to be learned along with the verbs.

Spanish SentenceEnglish TranslationVerb Combination
Es necesario acabar con el escándalo.It is necessary to put an end to the scandal.acabar con/"put an end to"
Para comer, basta con cinco dolares. In order to eat, five dollars is enough.basta con/"is enough"
El coche chocó con el tren.The car crashed into the train.chocó con/"crashed into"
Puedo contar con mis amigos.I can count on my friends.contar con/"count on"
Tengo que enfrentarme con el problema.I have to face up to the problem.enfrentarme con/"face up to"
Me espanto con las hormigas.I am frightened of ants.Me espanto con/"am frightened of"
Muchas veces sueño con la guerra.I often dream about the war.sueño con/"dream about"
Quiero encontrarme con mi madre.I want to run into my mother.encontrarme con/to run into

When used with the verbs above, con could be understood to mean "with," but it would be awkward to translate it literally that way.

Con Used to Form Phrases That Function Like Adverbs

In English, "with" can be used to form adverbial phrases, but it more common in Spanish. In some cases, such adverbial phrases are used in preference to or instead of synonymous adverbs.

Spanish SentenceEnglish TranslationAdverbial Phrase
Habla con intensidad.He speaks intensely.con intensidad/"with intensity"
Me preguntó con cortesía.He asked me courteously.con cortesía/"with courtesy"
Vive con felicidad.She lives happily.con felicidad/"with happiness"
Anda con prisa.She walks fast.con prisa/"with speed"

Con Used to Indicate a Condition

Sometimes when followed by an infinitive or a noun, con can have a variety of translations to indicate a condition being met or not. Translations for con in this case can include "if," "despite" and "by."

Spanish SentenceEnglish TranslationConditional
Con decirle que no tengo dinero, todo estará bien. By telling him that I don't have money, everything will be fine.con decirle/"by telling him"
Con todo, no está enferma.Despite everything, she's not sick.con todo/"despite everything"
Con correr puedes verla.If you run you can see her.con correr/"if you run"

Con Used as a Contraction

When con is followed by the pronoun or ti to say "with me" or "with you," the phrase is changed to conmigo or contigo, respectively.

Spanish SentenceEnglish TranslationContraction
Ven conmigo.Come with me.conmigo/"with me"
Vendré contigo.I will come with you.contigo/"with you"
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Many Uses of the Word 'Con' in Spanish." ThoughtCo, Sep. 6, 2017, thoughtco.com/using-the-preposition-con-3079169. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, September 6). Many Uses of the Word 'Con' in Spanish. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/using-the-preposition-con-3079169 Erichsen, Gerald. "Many Uses of the Word 'Con' in Spanish." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/using-the-preposition-con-3079169 (accessed November 22, 2017).