How to Use the Spanish Preposition De

The Spanish preposition de (deh) has several meanings: of, from, or about, depending on your context. De’s multiple personalities make using the word correctly a bit tough — unless you know the specific roles it can play in a sentence. Use the following list to help you remember what you can use de to show.

1

Possession

To express possession in Spanish, be sure to use the preposition de. For example, to say It’s Julio’s car in Spanish, you’d say Es el coche de Julio.

2

Origin

De can also be used to express one’s origin — where that person comes from. If you want to tell someone that you’re from Panama, you’d say Soy de Panamá (I’m from Panama).

3

Time

Like its fellow Spanish preposition a, de can be used to express a general time: No duerme de noche (He doesn’t sleep at night).

4

Cause

Use de to show the reason why something has happened. For example, to express that He is failing from not studying, you’d say Fracasa de no estudiar.

5

Material

De can also illustrate what something is made of. To describe a gold wedding band, you’d say Es un anillo de oro. (It’s a gold ring [literally, a “ring of gold”].)

6

Characteristics

Use de to describe the characteristics of an object or person: Es de buena calidad. (It’s of a good quality.)

7

Contents

To express the contents of an object, use de. For example, if you want to tell your coworker that you’re drinking a cup of coffee, simply say Bebo una taza de café. (I’m drinking a cup of coffee.)

8

Relationship

You can also use de to indicate a relationship: Madrid es la capital de España. (Madrid is the capital of Spain.)

9

Part of a whole

If you want to express that one object is part of another, larger object, use de. So to state that She’s taking a piece of bread in Spanish, you’d say Toma un trozo de pan.

10

A subject

De can also express the subject of something. For example, you’d say No encuentro mi libro de arte if you want to tell a friend I can’t find my art book.

To express a superlative comparison, use de: Es el más alto de todos. (He’s the tallest of them all.)

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