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Use of Estar to Express the Location and the Related Spanish Prepositions

One important application of to be verb “estar” is to express the physical position of people and/or objects. For example;

  • El teléfono está allí, al lado de la televisión.

This sentence means “the telephone is here, next to the television”.

Note that both “teléfono” and “television” are used together with the definite articles. This is the first important point you need to learn in order to use the estar for localization correctly.

The question you should get used is ¿dónde está? (where is it?). For instance

  • ¿Dónde está el ordenador? Where is the computer?

In this lesson, we will look for possible answers to similar questions.

Note that you need to construct the sentences to agree with the number of the nouns. For example

If you would like to ask where the toilettes are, you would need to say

  • ¿Dónde están los servicios? Where are the toilettes?

So, you may need to use the plural definite articles.

Another point which is required is to know the Spanish prepositions for positions so that you can describe where someone or something is correctly.

Below we will review the most important prepositions in this respect. And see how you can use estar to define the position.

If you are not comfortable with the conjugation of estar in present tense, please first repeat the lesson to be verb in Spanish

Prepositions for localization

a la izquierda (de)

This preposition means “on the left hand side (of)”. It is used together with “de”.

  • la fotocopiadora está a la izquierda del ordenador the copy machine is on the left hand side of the computer.

Note that in Spanish, if “de” is followed by the definite article “el”; “del” contraction is used.

a la derecha (de)

It means “on the right hand side (of)”. It is used together with “de”.

  • la fotocopiadora está a la derecha del ordenador the copy machine is on the right hand side of the computer.

 “a la izquierda” and “a la derecha” are used with possessive adjectives as follows

  • El armario está a mi izquierda The cupboard is on my left hand side
  • El armario está a mi derecha The cupboard is on my right hand side


It means between

  • El armario está entre el ordenador y la ventana. The cupboard is between the computer  and the window

delante (de)

It means “in front of”

  • La fotocopiadora está delante de la ventana. The copy machine is in front of the window

en, sobre, encima (de)

All of these prepositions mean “on”. There are slight differences in the usage.

For example, “sobre” is used without “de”

  • El teléfono está sobre la mesa. The telephone is on the table

while encima is used always with “de”                             

  • El teléfono está encima de la mesa. The telephone is on the table

The preposition “en” does not only mean “on” but also “inside”.

  • El teléfono está en la mesa. The computer is on the table

debajo (de)

It means “under”.

  • El gato está debajo de la mesa. The cat is under the table

dentro (de), en 

As mentioned above, “en” means inside as well. You can also use dentro for inside.

  • El gato está dentro de la caja. The cat is in the box

fuera (de)

It means outside.

  • El gato está fuera de la caja. The cat is outside the box

en el centro (de), en el medio (de)

These mean “in the middle (of)”.

  • la mesa está en el medio de la habitación. The table is in the middle of the room
  • la mesa está en el centro de la habitación. The table is in the middle of the room

detrás (de)

It means behind.

  • la ventana está detrás de la masa. (The window is behind the table)


As you see, to construct sentences to define the localization, it is useful to possess furniture vocabulary.

Below common ones are summarized

(la) masa table

(el) ordenador computer

(la) ventana window

(la) habitación room

(el) armario cupboard

(la) silla chair

(el) sillón armchair

(la) estantería shelves

(el) cajón drawer

(la) cortina curtain

(la) cama bed

(la) puerta door

(la) pared wall

(la) lámpara lamp

(el) suelo ground

(la) papelera wastepaper bin

(la) alfombra carpet

Let's Practice

está or están?

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