Expressing Spatial Directions in Spanish

Certain Spanish words allow you to describe where people or things are in relation to other people and things. Expressing these spatial directions in Spanish — and thus creating more accurate and engaging sentences — is pretty easy if you can memorize these words:

  • al lado (ahl lah-doh) (beside, next to, at the side of)

  • al frente (ahl frehn-teh) (in front of)

  • dentro (dehn-troh) (inside)

  • adentro (ah-dehn-troh) (inside; because dentro also means “inside,” adentro may express movement, as when someone or something moves toward an interior)

  • fuera (fooeh-rah) (outside)

  • afuera (ah-fooeh-rah) (outside; like adentro, the Spanish word afuera can be used to express movement — in this case, the movement of someone or something toward an exterior)

  • bajo (bvah-Hoh) (under; below)

  • debajo (deh-bvah-Hoh) (underneath)

  • arriba (ah-ree-bvah) (above)

Practicing these directions comes in handy. The sentences that follow show you how you can use spatial-direction terms in your day-to-day conversation:

  • La pastelería está al lado del banco. (lah pahs-teh-leh-reeah ehs-tah ahl lah-doh dehl bvahn-koh) (The pastry shop is next to the bank.)

  • Al frente del banco hay una zapatería. (ahl frehn-teh dehl bvahn-koh ahy oo-nah sah-pah-teh-reeah) (In front of the bank there is a shoe store.)

  • Las mesas del café están afuera. (lahs meh-sahs dehl kah-feh ehs-tahn ah-fooeh-rah) (The tables of the cafe are outside.)

  • Cuando llueve ponen las mesas adentro. (kooahn-doh yooeh-bveh poh-nehn lahs meh-sahs ah-dehn-troh) (When it rains, they put the tables inside.)

  • Arriba hay cielo despejado. (ah-ree-bvah ahy see-eh-loh dehs-peh-Hah-doh) (Above, the sky is clear.)

  • Hay agua bajo los pies de Carlos. (ahy ah-gooah bvah-Hoh lohs peeehs de kahr-lohs) (There’s water under Carlos’s feet.)

  • Debajo de la calle corre el tren subterráneo. (deh-bvah-Hoh deh lah kah-yeh koh-rreh ehl trehn soobv-teh-rrah-neh-oh) (The subway runs under the street.)

  • Este ascensor va arriba. (ehs-teh ah-sehn-sohr bvah ah-rree-bvah) (This elevator goes up.)

  • Hay un gato dentro de la caja. (ahy oon gah-toh dehn-troh deh lah kah-Hah) (There’s a cat inside the box.)