With the infinitive form of a verb in English, (e.g. to speak), the word 'to' seems to convey a specific meaning where, in Spanish, an additional preposition is used in some cases.


I can use running shoes to run faster

The direct English translation is:

Puedo usar zapatillas correr más rápido

Seemingly, the more correct Spanish expression is:

Puedo usar zapatillas para correr más rápido

If we take the correct expression to include the preposition 'para' , which signals a reason or means 'in order to', in the English, the word 'to' here covers that meaning as well as forms the infinitive.

I was wondering if there are some common rules for when to place prepositions before infinitive verbs, and which to use. (Such as ir+a+infinitive).

  • I'm sorry, but I don't understand your question. Could you please try to clarify a little bit?
    – drakorg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 4:07
  • @Eduardo I think these pages are a good indication of what I am looking for. spanish.about.com/lr/spanish_prepositions/172034/3 spanish.about.com/od/prepositions/a/prepositions.htm . So, I am thinking that my question should be more general, around the use of prepositions. Jan 3, 2012 at 4:26
  • The only valid sentence there is the first one (the one with para). There might be a use for the third one, if zapatillas de correr mas rapido actually referred to some specific make named correr mas rápido (as nike for instance). The others, just don't make sense at all. I 've read the links that you posted above, but still can't figure out your question. I think that you are trying to know if there is a general rule for the use of prepositions, but the use of prepositions has like so many cases; and I don't personally know any rules, sorry. It will depend on what you are trying to say.
    – drakorg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 4:47
  • Thanks Eduardo. The more I read, the more I see that prepositions and their applications form a large list of possibilities. I guess I am trying to better understand what preposition, if any, to put before an infinitive verb in different cases. It seems that it can depend on various factors, including if another verb precedes the preposition, expressing direction/intent/reason... Jan 3, 2012 at 5:06
  • spanish.stackexchange.com/a/15849/10864 may assist
    – user10864
    Jan 23, 2016 at 5:27

1 Answer 1


I start to get a grasp on what you were trying to ask. In Spanish the preposition that goes before any given verb will always depend on the verb, the intention, etc. It does not depend on the fact that it is an infinitive by itself. I will show you how an infinitive can be preceded by at least half the prepositions in Spanish:

  • a: Vamos a caminar.
  • antes de: Desayuno antes de salir.
  • bajo: [n/a]
  • cerca de: El perro estuvo cerca de morir.
  • con: Con desayunar me alcanza.
  • contra: [n/a]
  • de: Vengo de jugar al futbol.
  • delante de: [n/a]
  • dentro de: [n/a]
  • desde: Odio todos los habitos alimenticios, desde desayunar hasta merendar.
  • despues de: Nos vemos despues de comer.
  • detras de: [n/a]
  • durante: [n/a]
  • encima de: Encima de ser malo, es feo.
  • enfrente de: [n/a]
  • entre: El testigo se debate entre atestiguar o no.
  • fuera de: Fuera de efectuar actividad fisica, puede realizar cualquier otra tarea.
  • hacia: [n/a]
  • hasta: Hasta terminar no paro.
  • para: Para hacer dinero hace falta trabajar duro.
  • por: Por correr, se lastimo la pierna.
  • segun: [n/a]
  • sin: Sin nadar será imposible llegar.
  • sobre: [n/a]
  • tras: Tras llegar, dormiremos.

What I'm trying to say is that the fact that there is an infinitive does not imply any correspondence with any specific preposition. The preposition will be given by the verb and what you are actually trying to say.

NOTE: The preposition list was taken from one of the articles in the OP question comment, from the about.com website. I knew a list of prepositions by hard, which included some more, but they are rarely used.

  • 1
    The actual list is: a, ante, bajo, con, contra, de, desde, durante, en, entre, hacia, hasta, mediante, para, por, pro, según, sin, sobre, tras, vía.
    – Rellikiox
    Jan 3, 2012 at 12:02
  • Name the source please.
    – drakorg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 16:41
  • Of course: buscon.rae.es/dpdI/html/glosario.htm (scroll to preposición)
    – Rellikiox
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:03
  • Thanks. Apparently About.com just made up some prepositions themselves. However they seem just to be extensions of the originals in order to make them more similar to English ones.
    – drakorg
    Jan 3, 2012 at 19:34
  • antes de, cerca de, delante de, etc are locuciones preposicionales, they are used like prepositions.
    – Rellikiox
    Jan 3, 2012 at 20:10

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