Spanish prepositive phrases: gracias a…, con base en…

spanish prepositional locutions

No matter what language you are learning, propositions always play a key role in sentences.

In Spanish, we have not only prepositions but also prepositive phrases, or “locuciones propositivas” as we actually call them.

Just like prepositions, they help us to show direction, time, place, location, and many other things in a sentence.

Yet, they might provide more specific information. Learning how to use prepositive phrases will help you become a well-spoken individual.

Hence, if you seek to become better at Spanish and you don’t want this topic to be a challenge for you, you must keep reading this short explanation.

What are prepositive phrases?

 In Spanish, prepositive phrases are also known as “locuciones preposicionales”. These phrases are a sequence of words that work as prepositions.

In some situations, you can exchange prepositions for these phrases and the sentence will keep its meaning. Some examples of las locuciones prepositivas are: gracias a”, “con esperanza”, and a punto de”.

Let’s see a sentence using one of these phrases:

Gracias a ti, hoy soy una persona diferente.

Thanks to you, today I am a different person.

How to use prepositive phrases

Prepositive phrases, just like prepositions, are grammatical structures that do not change. We use these structures to connect two or more terms in a sentence. Generally, they go before a noun, pronoun, or noun phrase.

Their main purpose is to show time, place, direction, location, spatial relationships, opposition, and to introduce objects.

As you already know, these phrases are quite similar to prepositions. However, their main differences are that they are built by 2 words or more and that they have more specific meanings.

There are many types of these phrases. Hence, in the following section, we will teach you how to use them.

Practice with some activities, click here!

Types of prepositive phrases

In Spanish, there are countless numbers of prepositive phrases. But, in a general way, we can classify them into two main groups:

  • Prepositive phrases with two prepositions
  • Prepositive phrases with one preposition

These phrases are all used differently because of their meanings. It’s obvious that learning each prepositive phrase is impossible in just one day.

For that reason, we will teach you how to use the main structures. After you learn how to build propositive phrases, it’s all up to you how fast you learn and improve your skills.

Preposition + noun + preposition

The first structure you must learn is “preposition + noun + preposition”, or “preposición + sustantivo + preposición” as it’s called in Spanish.

This structure is in the group of prepositive phrases with two propositions. Some of these prepositive phrases are: “a causa de”, “por culpa de”, “en pos de”, “con base en”, and a base de”.

Please, look at the examples below so you can get a better idea of how to use them:

La electricidad de la casa es a base de paneles solares.

The house’s electrical power is based on solar panels.

El medicamento fue aprobado con base en los resultados del laboratorio.

The drug was approved based on the laboratory results.

Por culpa del mal clima, no pudieron ir a navegar en velero.

Because of the bad weather, they couldn’t go sailing.

As you may notice, you can place prepositive phrases at the beginning of the sentence, or in the middle. But, in all cases, they go before a noun, subject, or noun phrase.

Preposition + infinitive + preposition

The second structure you must learn is “preposition + infinitive + preposition”, or “preposición + infinitivo + preposición” as it’s called in Spanish.

This structure uses a verb in its infinitive form and is also in the group of prepositive phrases with two propositions.

Some of these prepositive phrases are: a juzgar por” and a partir de”. Identifying this structure is easy as you only need to find the verb in the infinitive form.

Now, let’s see some examples to learn how to use this structure:

A partir del jueves todos podrán inscribirse en la universidad.

Starting Thursday everyone will be able to enroll in college.

A juzgar por su gran experiencia, creemos que hizo un buen trabajo.

Judging from his wealth of experience, we think he did a good job.

These kinds of prepositive phrases are very common in everyday conversations. Often, Spanish speakers use the phrase “a partir de” to set times and schedules.

Also, please notice that in the first example, we have “del” instead of “de”. It’s because, in Spanish, if you the article “el” after the preposition “de” you must combine them and build the word “del”.

Adjective + preposition

The third structure you will learn today is the “adjective + preposition” (Adjetivo + preposition). Among these phrases, we have expressions like: “debido a”, “conforme a”, and “relacionado con”.

Of course, there are many other phrases. But, to avoid making this explanation a lifetime long, we are going to provide some examples using the expressions mentioned before.

Ellos todavía no llegaron al hotel debido a que su vuelo se retrasó.

They still haven’t arrived at the hotel because their flight was delayed.

Conforme a lo que indicaban los planos, el arquitecto construyó la casa.

According to what the plans indicated, the architect built the house.

Tu desempeño está relacionado con tus calificaciones.

Your performance is related to your grades.

 Adverbial + preposition

This is the last structure you need to learn. But, in this section, there are two sub-types of prepositive phrases. The first sub-type is the structure “adverbial of place + preposition”. The second sub-type is the structure adverb of time + preposition “de”.

In the first sub-type, we have phrases like dentro de”, “junto con”, and encima de”. On the other hand, the second sub-type contains phrases like “antes de” and “después de”.

Now, let’s see some examples for both cases:

Aquel beso quedó dentro de lo más profundo de mi corazón.

That kiss stayed inside the depths of my heart.

Es muy extraño, pero los gatos están junto con los perros.

It is very strange, but cats are together with dogs.

Tu celular está encima de la cama.

Your cell phone is on the bed.

Antes de que le digas algo, escucha lo que tenga que decir.

Before you say anything to him, listen to what he has to say.

Esteban jamás regresó, después de nuestra discusión.

Esteban never came back after our discussion.

These prepositive phrases are also typically used by native speakers. After all, they provide better information about location or time.

For example, in Spanish, if you say “tu billetera está en el carro” you have no clear information if la billetera” = (the wallet) is inside the car, above the car, under the car, or any other location.

Nonetheless, if you say “tu billetera está dentro del carro” = (your wallet is inside the car) you’re being more specific and there’s no doubt about the wallet’s location.

Spanish prepositive phrases

In summary, prepositive phrases are very easy to use. Deciding where to place them in a sentence is very simple.

After all, no matter if you put them at the beginning of a sentence, or in the middle. The only thing you must be aware of is that, usually, they go before nouns.

Using the structure “adverbial + preposition” to indicate objects’ location is one of the best things you can do. You will leave no space for doubts and you’ll always keep clear communication.

If you feel a bit overwhelmed because there’s a lot to learn, don’t panic. Take your time and learn at your own pace.

Keep in mind that hard efforts always pay off. ¡Nos vemos dentro de poco!

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