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How to use prepositions of time in Spanish?

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Prepositions are special. They are little words, like “in” or “of,” that are packed with meaning! Have you ever wondered why we say “in the evening” and “at night”? Students often worry at the thought of learning prepositions, but these words are very important. They are the “glue” that connects nouns, pronouns, or phrases to other words in a sentence. 

In this post, we’ll show you how to use Spanish prepositions of time (a, de, por, para, en, desde, hasta, durante, tras, and entre) to talk about dates, months, the hour, and much more! Are you ready? Let’s do this!

Table of Contents

Spanish prepositions of time

The Spanish prepositions of time are: a, de, por, para, en, desde, hasta, durante, tras, and entre. Let’s go over them one by one.

  • ‘A’​

  • The preposition a can mean “at” and is used when talking about the hour:

    Usualmente llego a casa a las 5.  I usually get home at 5.

When telling the time in Spanish, we always need the combination a + las + time. When the hour is “one,” we use: a + la + time:

Salgo de casa a las ocho y vuelvo a la una.  I leave home at eight and I get back at one.

  • A can also mean “after” to indicate the period of time after something happened:

    Se casaron a los seis meses.
    They got married after six months.

⤷ TIP Use the preposition a + article el to make the contraction al when using a masculine singular noun.

Cancelaron el programa al mes de estrenar.
The show was canceled after a month of release.

  • ‘De’​

  • One of the uses of the preposition de is to introduce a part of the day corresponding to an hour:

    Termino de estudiar a las 8 de la noche. I finish studying at 8 in the evening.

  • Use the preposition de for the following periods of the day: de día (at daytime), de noche (at night time), or de madrugada (at dawn).

    Prefiero estudiar de noche. I prefer to study at night time.


With mediodía [noon] and medianoche [midnight], use the preposition a.

Prefiero comer al mediodía. I prefer to eat at noon.

  • You can also use de (combined with a) to indicate the starting and ending points of an action or situation:

    Anoche estudié de 8 a 10.
    Last night I studied from 8 to 10.

    With the combo dea… we don’t need the definite article (la, las) we typically use to tell the time!

There’s another combo we can use to express starting and ending points of an action. To find out, let’s keep reading!

  • ‘Por’​

  • Por can mean “for” when we want to express the duration of an activity or event:

    Comimos por dos horas. We ate for two hours.

  • Use por + the definite article la to indicate a part of the day:

    Por la mañana me gusta hacer ejercicio. In the morning, I like to work out.

    We use the article la because the parts of the day in Spanish are feminine: la mañana (the morning), la tarde (the afternoon), la noche (the evening).

In some countries in Latin America, it’s also possible to hear the preposition en to introduce a part of the day:

Me gusta comer fruta en la mañana. I like to eat fruit in the morning.

  • ‘Para’​

    To talk about deadlines or a specific destination in time, use para [for, by]:

    Este reporte es para mañana. 
    This report is due by tomorrow.

    When the deadline is a day of the week, use the definite article el; and when it’s an hour, use the definite article la/las.

    Necesito el documento para el viernes / las 10.
    I need the document by Friday / by 10.

    If you’re ready to learn more uses of the prepositions por and para, don’t miss the post we’ve written on it!

  • ‘En’​

    This one is easy. Whenever we want to talk about months, seasons, and years, we introduce them with the preposition en [in]:

    Mi cumpleaños es en noviembre. 
    My birthday is in November.

    Siempre viajo a la costa en verano. 
    I always travel to the coast in the summer.

    Conocí a mi mejor amigo en 2001.
    I met my best friend in 2001.

    Simple, right?

⤷ TIP In Spanish, unlike English, we don’t capitalize months.


For dates, use the possessive preposition de to indicate the month and the year:

Hoy es 5 de junio de 2021. Today is June 5, 2021.

Adding the definite masculine article el in the contraction del (de + el) is also possible:

Hoy es 5 de junio del 2021. Today is June 5, 2021.

  • We can also use en to introduce a period of time in the future in which something is going to happen or is expected to happen:

    En una hora termino el examen.
    I’ll finish the test in an hour.

  • Finally, we can use en in phrases such as en este momento (in this moment), en ese momento (in that moment), en cualquier momento (in any moment), en algún momento (sometime, at some point), or en ningún momento (never, at no moment):

    En este momento estoy muy ocupada.
    At the moment, I’m very busy.

As you can see, en is a pretty versatile preposition!

  • ‘Desde’​

    If you want to indicate when an action started, desde [since] is your go-to preposition:

    Vivo en Chile desde 2012. 
    I have lived in Chile since 2012.

    You can add years, months, days, hours, or time phrases, such as el año pasado [last year] after desde.

  • ‘Hasta’​

    Just as with desde, we can use hasta [until] to indicate when an action or situation ended:

    Viví en Buenos Aires hasta octubre del año pasado. 
    I lived in Buenos Aires until October of last year.

You can use the combo desde… hasta… to indicate a period of time when an action or situation took place; when it started and when it ended:

Viví con mi amiga Carolina desde enero hasta marzo. I lived with my friend Carolina from January until March.

As we saw previously, there’s an alternative combo we can use in this exact situation. If you were thinking about de… a…, you’re correct!

Viví con mi amiga Carolina de enero a marzo. I lived with my friend Carolina from January to March.

Here’s an important thing we need to remember: when we use these combos with the hour, there’s a slight difference:

Trabajo desde las 9 hasta las 5. I work from 9 until 5. Trabajo de 9 a 5. I work from 9 to 5.

Notice that with desde and hasta we use the definite article (las) before the hour, but with de and a we don’t.
  • You can also use hasta to mean “see you (on)” in expressions like ¡Hasta mañana! (see you tomorrow, literal: until tomorrow) or with days of the week: ¡Hasta el miércoles! (see you on Wednesday, literal: until Wednesday).
  • ‘Durante’​

    If you want to emphasize the duration of an action or event, then the preposition you need is durante [during]:

    María habló de trabajo durante toda la fiesta. 
    María spoke about work during the whole party.

  • ‘Tras’​

    You can use the preposition tras [after] as a synonym of después de [after]. Use it to indicate that one event happened after another:

    Tras la fiesta, los invitados se fueron. After the party, the guests left.

  • ‘Entre’​

    Finally, we have the preposition entre [between] that can be used to indicate an intermediate situation, or a period of time between two different hours, days, weeks, years, etc.:

    Llegué a casa entre las 3 y las 4 de la tarde.  I arrived home between 3 and 4 in the afternoon.

    What are other types of prepositions in Spanish? I’m glad you asked, we also have prepositions of place and movement in Spanish, for which we also have a post! And while you’re at it, check out how to use prepositions with Spanish interrogative words and a post on the most common prepositions in Spanish!

To sum up

Today we’ve learned all about the prepositions of time in Spanish — the “glue” that will connect your nouns, pronouns, or phrases together! It’s OK to fret a bit (especially since there are quite a few to remember), but with practice, I’m sure you’ll get used to them naturally. Here’s a little table we’ve created to help you remember when to use each. Print it and keep it handy! You can also check out this short post and video that summarizes the prepositions of time.

And since you’ve shown so much enthusiasm about prepositions of time, how about checking what you’ve learned with our Spanish prepositions of time activities? ¡Hasta pronto! (See you soon!)

Are you interested in learning more about Spanish Grammar? Check out our Spanish Grammar Homepage.
Meet The Author:
Natalia Molina
Natalia Molina Ceballos
Spanish Coach
Natalia is a Spanish coach at Mango Languages.

To embark on your next language adventure, join the Mango fam!

Extra Resources:

Prepositions of time table


Prepositions of time activity


Prepositions of time activity

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