How to Use the Spanish Preposition En - dummies

How to Use the Spanish Preposition En

By Gail Stein

Using the Spanish preposition en (ehn) correctly in a sentence can be tricky because en can mean in, by, or on. So how do you know how to translate a sentence that contains the preposition en? Take a look at this list to see examples of what en can show. You’ll be using it the right way in no time!

  • Time

    Like its fellow Spanish prepositions a and de, the preposition en can indicate time: Estamos en el otoño. (It’s [We’re in the] autumn.)

  • Location

    If you need to explain the location of an object, you may want to consider using the Spanish preposition en. For example, to say It’s on that street in Spanish, you’d say Está en esa calle. (Note that the Spanish preposition a isn’t appropriate in this case, although it can also indicate location.)

  • Means/manner

    Use en to express the means or manner in which something should be done: Hable en voz baja. (Speak in a low voice.)

  • Movement

    En can also indicate movement, so you may need to debate when a or en is more appropriate to indicate this condition. To translate a sentence such as They enter the bank into Spanish, you’d use en: Entran en el banco.

  • Means of transport

    To express how an object or person is transported, use en. So if you want to tell your mother that your brother and his wife are coming into town by plane, you’d say Viajan en avión (They are traveling by plane).