The 3 Meanings of 'Tras'

Porters Hiking on Inca Trail, Peru
Anduvieron uno tras otro. (They walked one after the other.). Paul Souders/Getty Images

The Spanish preposition tras, usually meaning "behind" or "after," isn't a particularly common preposition. In fact, you could probably get by without even using it at all, as the prepositional phrases detrás de ("behind" in location) and después de ("after" in time) can usually be used instead. Tras is more common in writing than in speech.

Even so, tras has significant use in journalese (it's a shorter word to use in headlines) and in a few phrases such as uno tras otro (one after the other) and día tras día (day after day).

Here are the most common meanings of tras, along with examples of its use.

'Tras' Meaning 'After' (In Time)

"Tras" is sometimes used to mean "after" (in time), as in the following examples:

  • "Se degradó la libertad de prensa tras la elección." (Freedom of the press was diminished after the election.)
  • El restaurante abre de nuevo tras ser cerrado. (The restaurant is opening again after being closed.)

'Tras' Meaning 'In Pursuit Of'

"Tras" can also mean "after" (in the sense of advancing toward or being in pursuit of), as in these cases:

  • Iba tras las riquezas. (He was after riches.) 
  • El perro salió tras ella. (The dog went after her.)

'Tras' Meaning 'Behind'

It can also be used to say "behind" (in location), as in these examples:

  • Tras las puertas cerradas puede haber violencia. (Behind closed doors there can be violence.)
  • Necesita contraseña para participar en las conversaciones tras la pared de protección corporativa. (You need a password in order to participate in conversations behind the corporate firewall.)

'Tras-' as a Prefix

Tras- also is commonly used as a prefix, where it is a shortened form of trans- and often the equivalent of the English prefix "trans-," as in trascendental (transcendental), trascribir (to transcribe), trascontinental (transcontinental).

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Erichsen, Gerald. "The 3 Meanings of 'Tras'." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 27). The 3 Meanings of 'Tras'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "The 3 Meanings of 'Tras'." ThoughtCo. (accessed June 3, 2023).