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En in Spanish

en in Spanish

How Do You Use En in Spanish?

en in Spanish

When to Use En in Spanish?

If you were told that en is a Spanish preposition and were asked what it means, you most likely would guess “in” or “on.” And you’d be right in both cases. But en can also be translated as “at,” “about,” “by,” “on top of,” “upon,” “inside of,” and other ways, so its use isn’t as straightforward as it may appear.

The Spanish Preposition “en”

           The Spanish preposition en frequently means “in” or “on” when referring to physical locations

           En can also be used to mean “in” in certain time expressions.

           En is so used in phrases and following certain verbs with translations that aren’t always predictable. These idioms and verb phrases must be learned individually.


Fortunately, when en doesn’t mean “on” or “in,” you can usually tell by the context what is meant. Like some other prepositions, en can seem quite versatile to the foreigner. Here are the most common uses:

Using En for Locations and Meaning ‘In’

When it is used in describing locations, en can mean “in” or “inside of.” As in the third and fourth examples here, en can also be used this way figuratively.

El dinero está en la caja. (The money is in the box.) Vivo en España. (I live in Spain.)

La crisis sólo está en la mente de las personas. (The crisis is only in the minds of people.)

Hay cien cantavos en un dólar. (There are 100 cents in a dollar.)

En in Time Expressions

En can be used in time expressions much as it is in English with periods of time other than days of the week.

Llegamos por tren en una hora. (We arrive by train in one hour.)

Trabajaré en el verano. (I will work in the summer.)

Esperan aprobar la ley en dos semanas. (They hope to pass the law in two weeks.)

– With days of the week, a preposition isn’t needed: 

Llegamos el lunes. (We arrive on Tuesday.)

Using En for Locations and Meaning ‘On’

En is frequently used to meet “on” in the sense of meaning “on top of” or “placed on.”

El dinero está en la mesa. (The money is on the table.)

Fijó los carteles en la pared. (He put the posters on the wall. Note that the preposition a also could have been used here: Fijó los carteles a la pared.)

Las manchas en la cara pueden aparecer por diversos motivos. (Blemishes on the face can appear for various reasons.)

Using En in Expressing Values

Although not particularly common, en is sometimes used instead of por when referring to costs or similar values:

Vendió el carro en $2.000. (He sold the car for $2,000.)

Compró el móvil en un buen precio. (She bought the cellphone for a good price.)

Tenemos el cojín ideal para ti en sólo $349.00 pesos. (We have the ideal cushion for you for only 349 pesos.)

En in Miscellaneous Expressions

Numerous phrases or idioms use en. Most of these need to be learned as phrases rather than simply translating word for word:

·en broma, as a joke

en busca de, in search of

en cambio, on the other hand

en casa, at home

en español, in Spanish

en honor de, in honor of

en la actualidad, presently

en la radio, on (the) radio; en la televisión, on (the) television

en lugar de, instead of, in place of

en secreto, in secret

en seguida, immediately

en serio, seriously

en todas partes, everywhere

en vez de, instead of

en vilo, anxiously awaiting

en vista de, in view of

en vivo, live (as in live TV)

en voz alta, in a loud voice; en voz baja, in a soft voice.

Using En With Certain Verbs

When used with many verbs, en is translated as “in” or “on”:

ayudar en algo, to help in doing something

competer en, to compete in

concentrarse en, to concentrate on

concurrir en, to concur in

confiar en, to trust in; creer en, to believe in; esperar en, to trust in

empeñarse en, to persist in; insistir en, to insist on

intervenir en, to participate in

persistir en, to persist in

reflejar en, to reflect on

resultar en, to result in.

But it can have other translations as well:

actuar en consecuencia, to act accordingly

adentrarse en, to get into

advertir en, to notice

aplicarse en, to devote oneself to

caerle en suerte, to get lucky

coincidir en que, to agree that

comprometerse en, to get involved with

concurrir en, to meet at

consentir en, to agree to

consistir en, to be composed of

convenir en, to agree to

convertir(se) en, to change into

equivocarse en, to be mistaken about

extenderse en, to spread over

fijarse en, to notice

ingresar en, to be admitted to

inscribirse en, to register for

juntarse en, to meet at

molestarse en, to bother by

pensar en, to think about

quedar en que, to agree that

reparar en, to notice

vacilar en, to hesitate to.


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