In general, preposition DE indicates a starting point or origin while A indicates a point of arrival or destination:
Ese chico es de Salamanca (This boy is from Salamanca).
¿De dónde eres Roberto? (Where are you from Roberto?)
¿Hoy no vas a la escuela? (Don’t you go to the school today?)
¿Adónde te han enviado? (Where have you been sent to?)
1. The preposition de introduces information that characterizes, recognizes, specifies or identifies another thing. With de we indicate:
– Material, substance or contents of something
Compré una camiseta de algodón (I bought a cotton shirt).
Vamos a comer un bocadillo de jamón (Let’s eat a ham sándwich).
– Family relationship, possession
El marido de Ana es bombero en Madrid (Ana’s husband is a firefighter in Madrid).
El abrigo de Enrique es marrón (Enrique coat is Brown).
– Type of object
Dame los vasos de vino (Give me the wine glasses).
El cuarto de baño es muy grande (The bathroom is very large).
The preposition a indicates a point of reference towards which one is going, is positioned or is associated with. With a indicate:
– Positioning towards a part or a side of something
Oviedo está al norte de Madrid (Oviedo is North of Madrid).
Llegamos a las diez de la mañana (We arrived at 10.00 in the morning).
– Point of reference
Mi casa está a la izquierda de la estación (My house is on the left of the station).
Le vi junto a la escuela (I saw him near the school).
– The direct object of a person and an indirect object
¿Has llamado al médico? (Have you called the doctor?)
Compra un regalo a tu madre (Buy a gift to your mother).
– The manner in which some things are done or made to work
Este traje esta hecho a mano (This costume is handmade).
¿Vas a trabajar a pie? (Are you going to work on foot?)
3. De and a are the only two prepositions that always form a single word with the article el:
de + el = del a + el = al
Vengo del trabajo (I come from work).
Voy al trabajo (I go to work).
Now you can practice everything that you have learned with our quizzes and learn more about Spanish preposition “a“. Remeber you can contact your tutor with any question you have about this topic. Don’t you have a Spanish personal tutor yet?