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What is the exact difference between these words? If I were to translate, for instance, “I am near the bank”, which one of the following would be the best way to go and why:

  1. Estoy cerca del banco.

  2. Estoy acerca del banco.

  3. Estoy cercano al banco.

I just read this line on some website discussing cerca vs. cercano:

Tenemos una casa cercana al aeropuerto.

Why would one be advised to use cercana a instead of cerca de in this construct?

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Acerca is not correct there. Well, I've looked it up and it seems that it used to be the same as cerca, but it is not used with that meaning anymore. At least so it says the RAE dictionary. Also, I've never heard it here in Spain. –  MikMik Oct 22 '13 at 6:27
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3 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

The current use in Spain is:

  • acerca de is never used with this meaning; its only use is meaning about
  • in an informal context, whenever you can choose between the adverb cerca and the adjective cercano/a, use the first
  • in a more formal context or in writing, you can use either cerca or cercano/a

So I wouldn't say Tenemos una casa cercana al aeropuerto, but Tenemos una casa cerca del aeropuerto, though you might read the first variation in a newspaper, for instance.

Be aware that sometimes you can only use the adjective. Some additional examples:

  • Hay un bar cerca rather than Hay un bar cercano
  • Paco estaba en un bar cercano, but not Paco estaba en un bar cerca
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  1. It's correct, "Cerca" is an adverb which modifies the verb "Estar".
  2. It is not wrong, but that word usage is declining.
  3. It's correct, "Cercano" is an adjective which define the subject "Yo".
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Concerning the use of cerca vs cercano I just wanted to add this to the discussion.

Some of my friends say, 'Somos muy cercanos', regardless of weather or not this be grammatically correct it is the point I use from which to differentiate between the two words.

Cerca > Being close to something in distance

Cercano > The quality of being close to something, used in a more emotional or non literal sense.

'Aunque somos dieciséis hermanos en mi familia, siempre hemos sido muy cercanos'

'Mi casa queda cerca al metro, sin embargo hago una hora a la oficina'

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