What's the correct way to express that something "serves as a container for something else"?


¿Quieres un vaso de/con agua?

Should we use de or con? Are both correct? Why?

If we use "de" it could be interpreted as the material of the thing.


El reloj de oro.

Which means the clock made of gold.


¿Cuál es la manera más correcta para expresar que algo "sirve par contener otra cosa"?

Por ejemplo:

¿Quieres un vaso de/con agua?

En este caso, ¿cuál palabra debemos usar?: ¿de? o ¿con? ¿Es posible que las dos sean correctas? ¿Por qué?

También se debe notar que si usamos "de", se puede interpretar como si estas hablando de la materia de la cosa.

Por ejemplo:

El reloj de oro.

...lo cual se puede entender como si el "reloj esta hecho de oro."

  • The answers here didn't help me to understand if "vaso con agua" was right or wrong. Nobody included references, and the answers contradict each other. – Quidam Dec 7 '19 at 12:55

Ambas expresiones son correctas, aunque a Un vaso de agua a menudo se la critica (erróneamente) por pensarse que implica que el vaso está hecho de agua. Cuando decimos una taza de leche o un plato de sopa a nadie se le ocurre que las tazas están hechas de leche o que los platos están hechos de sopa. Como vemos, en estos casos el significado de la preposición de es el de medida o cantidad.

Al decir Un vaso con agua nos referimos a un vaso que contiene agua, pero sin especificar la cantidad.

Al decir Un vaso de agua se está utilizando vaso como unidad de medida, así como se dice un litro de leche. Es decir, con Un vaso de agua nos referimos a que queremos agua en la cantidad de un vaso.

La RAE en la quinta acepción para de muestra que es correcto su uso para señalar el contenido:

de. (Del lat. de)

5) prep. U. para señalar lo contenido en algo. Un vaso de agua. Un plato de asado.


"A glass of water" = "Un vaso de agua".

However, there can be rare circumstances, when you might actually want to say "a glass with water (in it)", then you'd say "un vaso con agua".

  • I don't understand if the expression is right or wrong, if it means a glass with water in it, the expression is not correct, because it means something else. I cannot find any references proving this or that in the answers. – Quidam Dec 7 '19 at 12:53

It doesn't let me add comments probably because I'm new here but "vartec"'s answer is the best one. I am a native Spanish speaker and if you want to say glass of water then is "vaso de agua". In special cases, as if you are in a lab and you need a glass with water for some experiment you'd possibly say "vaso con agua" to especify that the glass must contain H2O and not something else. "vaso con agua" is only technically correct.

  • Hello Jubbat and welcome to Spanish SE, about your question see this: meta.spanish.stackexchange.com/questions/68/… BTW, I'm also a native speaker but this question is something than even native speakers don't really know and even some people try to correct you telling you that is "con" instead of "de", so that's why I asked. – Alfredo Osorio Nov 25 '11 at 0:04
  • Well, I see a basic problem at the core of this community. Spanish from different countries is just too different. In some other question they suggest calling a waiter "mesero". I don't know in which country is that, but not Spain for sure. In Spain nobody would have doubts about "vaso de agua", but maybe they do in some other countries, I don't know. – DPM Nov 25 '11 at 0:18
  • That's why there is a regionalism tag. And when the term is used in a specific region then the person that answers must clarify. – Joze Nov 25 '11 at 14:50
  • "to put it more clearly, it's not correct." Sorry, this is wrong. "un vaso con agua" might be a pedantic phrase, but it is correct. – Adriano Varoli Piazza Apr 4 '14 at 14:32
  • Isn't it dialectal? – Quidam Dec 7 '19 at 12:54

Con is used when something is added up to the liquid content . Like in "Un vaso con pescaditos", 'Un vaso de leche con impurezas".

"Un vaso con leche" is not incorrect, but you'll hardly hear it. Just sounds funny.

  • Yes but it makes sense in some context. For example: "Una caja con juguetes" which means that the box has toys. – Alfredo Osorio Nov 24 '11 at 22:03
  • @Alfredo Yes,but I had a hard time thinking about an example where the content is a liquid. Perhaps "un balde con agua", but usually "de" sounds better. – Dr. belisarius Nov 25 '11 at 1:14

You'd say "cafe con leche", and consider it to mean 'with' - added to the content. However, in the 'glass of milk' you'd certainly use 'de'.


You could also say "un vaso de whisky con agua", meaning "a whisky glass (a glass designed to drink whisky), filled with water", but that's a rather rare use.

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