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Does anyone know an easy way to remember when to use "de" before "la" or "el"?


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I get so confused over this. I understand that, in the case of de + el, it becomes del. However, why do I need to say, "El mono camina cerca del caballo"?

It's hard for me to remember, use  "de" because in English that translates to, "The monkey walks near of the horse". You wouldn't use the "of" in English, so, why us it needed here?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Try remembering it like this: "cerca de" means "around", rather than remembering that "de" means "of". That would be a better translation. So, then, it translates to "The monkey walks near the horse" :)

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  • 3 weeks later...

Gosh! That word gets me every time! It's because is means of or from, but it can be used in situations in Spanish when you wouldn't need them in English. So like the person before me mentioned; 'cerca de' translated to English - you probably wouldn't add an 'of' or a 'from', though it is still optional.

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  • 1 month later...
Scribendi: World-Class Editing and Proofreading

It is tricky, but also in English. You wouldn't add the "of" when using around, but you could add it to several similar English constructions like "in front of", "in back of", "at the side of", for example...

Even "around" or "close to" could be rephrased to "in the vicinity of".

Languages are ridiculous, basically ;)

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  • 4 months later...

It's hard for me to remember, use  "de" because in English that translates to, "The monkey walks near of the horse". You wouldn't use the "of" in English, so, why us it needed here?

Because it's Spanish!  But seriously, I know how confusing it can be.  The use of ''de'', ''del'' and ''de la''.  Well, I have good news, most of the times it's right to just say ''del'', most of the times it is correct to say it that way.  Most Spanish speakers rarely use ''de el...'' unless they are referring to a person in particular. Like for example: ''Ese dinero es de él'' (That's his money).

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  • 2 months later...

Prepositions are crazy, and they vary tremendously between languages. Actually, is one of the hardest things to master and even native speakers make mistakes.

That being said, what I always tell my students is to learn words with their prepositions included, as English students do with phrasal verbs. For example, if you remember that "near" is always "cerca de" when placed before a noun, everything should turn out to be a bit easier. The same goes for verbs (such as soñar con, depender de, consistir en, and so on.

Good luck!

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  • 1 year later...
  • 6 months later...

The hint for using "de el" only when "el" is a pronoun - thank you! I am always messing this one up. Thus far I have only used Duolingo, which involves no explanation for the grammatical rules...you just jump right in. I really appreciate this insight. 

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