Prepositions: “De” In Spanish. How to Use it?

It’s So Good It can’t Have Just One Use.

“De” is one of the prepositions that has the most uses in Spanish. It’s meaning in English can be: of, from, by, during, and out of. If you look at it this way it is already a mess. Since it is better to not translate directly, it might be a better idea to learn the uses of this preposition. The most common uses are the ones you can see in the graphic below:

Prepositions: "De" In Spanish. How to Use it?

One of the Prepositions with the Most Uses.

We also use this preposition to talk about:

The use of things: ¿Me prestas tu máquina de coser? (Can I borrow your sewing machine?) See? Machine is too general, we have to be more specific. It is not the same with martillo (hammer). We use a martillo typically for the same function, but there are a lot of machines with different uses.

The way of doing something: En la escuela, aprendí de memoria las tablas de multiplicar. (In school I learned the multiplication tables by heart.) How did she learn the multiplication tables?: De memoria (by heart).

The cause of something: Lloró de risa (He cried out of laughter), Murió de viejo (He died of old age).

Time: Estudio en la universidad de 8 a 10. (I study in college from 8 to 10). Use it to talk about when something begins or with the words: día or noche (to say: during the day, during the night (at night).

Try figuring out what is the function of the preposition “de” in the following sentences:

  1. Viene de Panamá.
  2. De rabia, pateó la puerta.
  3. Generalmente trabajo de día, pero a veces trabajo de noche.
  4. El último libro de Neruda está en la biblioteca.
  5. Hola, te presento al primo de mi amiga.
  6. ¡Qué linda silla de madera!
  7. Por favor, dame la botella de agua.

Answers:

  1. Origin. (Since it is talking about where a person comes from)
  2. The cause of something (since the cause of kicking the door was out of anger)
  3. Time (It uses the words día and noche to talk about the periods of time when they work)
  4. Origin. The author is Neruda, and his last book is at the library.
  5. Possession. When you have that apostrophe + s in English, you’ll use that “de”.
  6. Material. The chair is made out of wood.
  7. Content. The bottle contains water in it.
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