Languages › Spanish Using the Spanish Preposition 'En' Most common meanings are 'in' and 'on' Share Flipboard Email Print Llegamos por tren en una hora. (We arrive by train in one hour.). Eldelinux/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 September 24, 2018 If you were told that en is a Spanish preposition and were asked what it means, you most likely would guess "in" or "on." And you'd be right in both cases. But en can also be translated as "at," "about," "by," "on top of," "upon," "inside of," and other ways, so its use isn't as straightforward as it may appear. The Spanish Preposition "en" The Spanish preposition en frequently means "in" or "on" when referring to physical locations.En can also be used to mean "in" in certain time expressions.En is so used in phrases and following certain verbs with translations that aren't always predictable. These idioms and verb phrases must be learned individually. Fortunately, when en doesn't mean "on" or "in," you can usually tell by the context what is meant. Like some other prepositions, en can seem quite versatile to the foreigner. Here are the most common uses: Using En for Locations and Meaning 'In' When it is used in describing locations, en can mean "in" or "inside of." As in the third and fourth examples here, en can also be used this way figuratively. El dinero está en la caja. (The money is in the box.)Vivo en España. (I live in Spain.)La crisis sólo está en la mente de las personas. (The crisis is only in the minds of people.)Hay cien cantavos en un dólar. (There are 100 cents in a dollar.) Using En in Time Expressions En can be used in time expressions much as it is in English with periods of time other than days of the week. Llegamos por tren en una hora. (We arrive by train in one hour.)Trabajaré en el verano. (I will work in the summer.)Esperan aprobar la ley en dos semanas. (They hope to pass the law in two weeks.) With days of the week, a preposition isn't needed: Llegamos el lunes. (We arrive on Tuesday.) Using En for Locations and Meaning 'On' En is frequently used to meet "on" in the sense of meaning "on top of" or "placed on." El dinero está en la mesa. (The money is on the table.)Fijó los carteles en la pared. (He put the posters on the wall. Note that the preposition a also could have been used here: Fijó los carteles a la pared.)Las manchas en la cara pueden aparecer por diversos motivos. (Blemishes on the face can appear for various reasons.) Using En in Expressing Values Although not particularly common, en is sometimes used instead of por when referring to costs or similar values: Vendió el carro en $2.000. (He sold the car for $2,000.)Compró el móvil en un buen precio. (She bought the cellphone for a good price.)Tenemos el cojín ideal para ti en sólo $349.00 pesos. (We have the ideal cushion for you for only 349 pesos.) En in Miscellaneous Expressions Numerous phrases or idioms use en. Most of these need to be learned as phrases rather than simply translating word for word: en broma, as a jokeen busca de, in search ofen cambio, on the other handen casa, at homeen español, in Spanishen honor de, in honor ofen la actualidad, presentlyen la radio, on (the) radio; en la televisión, on (the) televisionen lugar de, instead of, in place ofen secreto, in secreten seguida, immediatelyen serio, seriouslyen todas partes, everywhereen vez de, instead ofen vilo, anxiously awaitingen vista de, in view ofen vivo, live (as in live TV)en voz alta, in a loud voice; en voz baja, in a soft voice. Using En With Certain Verbs When used with many verbs, en is translated as "in" or "on": ayudar en algo, to help in doing somethingcompeter en, to compete inconcentrarse en, to concentrate onconcurrir en, to concur inconfiar en, to trust in; creer en, to believe in; esperar en, to trust inempeñarse en, to persist in;insistir en, to insist onintervenir en, to participate inpersistir en, to persist inreflejar en, to reflect onresultar en, to result in. But it can have other translations as well: actuar en consecuencia, to act accordinglyadentrarse en, to get intoadvertir en, to noticeaplicarse en, to devote oneself tocaerle en suerte, to get luckycoincidir en que, to agree thatcomprometerse en, to get involved withconcurrir en, to meet atconsentir en, to agree toconsistir en, to be composed ofconvenir en, to agree toconvertir(se) en, to change intoequivocarse en, to be mistaken aboutextenderse en, to spread overfijarse en, to noticeingresar en, to be admitted toinscribirse en, to register forjuntarse en, to meet atmolestarse en, to bother bypensar en, to think aboutquedar en que, to agree thatreparar en, to noticevacilar en, to hesitate to.