While the Spanish “a” is the most commonly used translation of the English “to,” other Spanish words are equally correct. By learning the methods to say ‘to’ in Spanish, you can make contextual use of the word effortlessly.

In this guide, we will explore five different contextual uses of ‘to’ in Spanish. The best way to learn Spanish is to understand the concept through easy and relatable examples. We have included examples along with each method to make you understand the contextual use of ‘to’ in Spanish.

So, let’s get started!

Method 1: Using a

1.    Using A for movement and destinations

When the English word “to” is synonymous with “towards,” the Spanish word “a” is the best translation. It is also the best option when traveling to a specific location. For example:

– English: to go to Spain (Spanish translation: ir a” España)

– English: to go to the library (Spanish translation: ir a la biblioteca)

2.    Continue using ‘a’ when expressing indirect objects

When an action is performed on another person or something is given to another person, the “to” used to refer to the other person or indirect object of the sentence is usually translated as “a.” For example:

– English: Maria gave the book to her brother. (Spanish translation: Maria dio el libro a su hermano).

3.    Expressing a ratio with ‘to’

When the word “to” is used in a numerical proportion, it should be translated as “a”. For example:

English: He won with a vote of three to one. (Spanish translation: Ganó con un voto de tres a uno).

4.    Define relationships with ‘a’

When one object is described in relation to or in comparison to another, change “to” to “a.” For example:

English: the book to the left of the lamp (Spanish translation: el libro a la izquierda de la lámpara)

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5.    Explain intention with “a.”

In expressions using “to” to describe someone’s intentions, translate the word to “a.” For example:

– English: He went to study. (Spanish translation: Se fue a estudiar).

Method 2: Using “Hasta”

1.    Use “hasta” when meaning “until”

In expressions where “to” means “until,” “hasta” is the most accurate translation. For example:

– English: to the end of the week (Spanish translation hasta el final de la semana)

2.    Translate “up to” as “hasta

Use hasta if a condition is true up to a certain point. For example:

– English: to study up to the next exam (Spanish translation: estudiar hasta el siguiente examen)

You need to study Spanish by looking at the contextual use of words. It will give you more clarity in developing your grip on the language at the same time.

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Method 3: Using “Hacia”

1.    Hacia to express a movement

“Hacia” is used to express movement. Hacia is also used in expressions where “to” means “towards.” For example:

– English: to the left (Spanish translation: hacia la izquierda)

2.    Define a recipient of action with “hacia”

When referring to someone or something, the word “hacia” can be used. For example:

– English: She is hostile to her sister. (Spanish translation: Es hostil hacia su hermana).

Method 4: Using less common translations

1.    Opt for “sobre” for “to” conditions meaning “upon”

“sobre” is an appropriate translation when something is applied to or upon something. For example:

– English: to put ink to paper (Spanish translation: poner tinta sobre papel)

2.    Use “de” when “to” stands for “of” or “from”

This is especially true when indicating possession or defining relationships. For example:

– English: the secret to success (Spanish translation: el secreto del éxito)

– English: husband to the queen (Spanish translation: esposo de la reina)

3.    Define ratios with “contra”

Contra can be used to express numerical ratios instead of a. For example:    

– Enlgish: He won with a vote of three to one. (Spanish translation: Ganó con un voto de tres contra uno).

This was all about the contextual use of ‘to’ in Spanish. Once you start learning Spanish, you will find it challenging to know the difference between different words, for instance, many Spanish learners find it challenging to know the differences between ser and estar. You need to understand the words by keeping in mind their contextual use.

Frequently asked questions

Q. How to use ‘to’ in Spanish?

A. In Spanish, “to” or “at” is “a”. It is used when the verb’s direct object is an animal, a person, or something personified. We also use “a” to introduce an indirect object, express time, give an order, and indicate motion.

Q. What is ‘a’, ‘para’ and ‘en’ in Spanish?

A. “A” can mean “to, at, of, into, by, upon” in general. “Para” can be translated as “for, to, of, by, at, towards.” “En” can also mean “n, on, at, into, for.” However, there are other ways to say “to,” such as hasta, por, hacia, segn, and contra.


While learning the contextual use of ‘to’, look for different examples. Using examples is one of the most effective strategies that a learner can use while learning Spanish. Through examples, learners can retain the information for a long period of time.

If you want to seek professional guidance, enroll yourself with one of italki’s Spanish tutors (based on your choice). These tutors are highly professional and can make you a fluent Spanish speaker within a few months.

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