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What Do You Use for "Around" in Spanish

written by: Eric W. Vogt • edited by: Rebecca Scudder • updated: 2/14/2012

English speakers use "around" in many senses. Consider just a few examples: "it's around here somewhere," "around the block," and "tied around the tree." This article explores how to express these meanings in Spanish.

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    Don't go Around in Circles ...

    When an English speaker says "around the mulberry bush" or speaks of going around town, he is saying using the word in different ways. By looking at the most common ways in which this word is expressed in Spanish, you'll get an idea of the various ways we actually use the word around in English. The most common translation is alrededor, a word some English-speakers have trouble saying (try ahl-dreh-deh-DOR)

    First, we may mean round about, as in the idea of surrounding on all sides or all around, in an adverbial sense:

    Alrededor se ven muchos árboles (All around many trees can be seen).

    Next, it can be used prepositionally, meaning around (with motion) or in a circle around (interior or exterior) or even spread about all around:

    Hay una cola alrededor del edificio (There is a line of people going around the building). -- on the outside, admittedly moving, but not usually visualized as such.

    El niño corría alrededor de la alberca cuando se cayó (The boy was running around the pool when he fell). -- moving around the outside.

    Alrededor de la casa hay varios tipos de flores (Around the house, there are various types of flowers). Either outside or in various locations inside the whole house and static.

    Another common, and often confusing preposition is por. One of its uses is to express the idea of around -- around in, along, within, parallel to, around -- in an immediate area, and even through:

    Vamos a correr por el parque (Let's go run in/through/along/around in the park).

    Mi billetera estará por aquí (My wallet must be around here somewhere).

    The English word around can also be a synonym of about. In such cases it is used with numbers or ideas of quantity and translates as as a eso de, sobre, unos, unas and más o menos.

References

  • Author's more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish.

Spanish Usage

The articles in this series deal with various questions about the right choice of word or phrase when English may have one or two structures but Spanish has more. They often deal with prepositional issues.
  1. Spanish Usage Questions: "Above"
  2. Using "Actual" and "Actually" in Spanish
  3. A Problem Preposition: The Ways "About" is Expressed in Spanish
  4. The Many Spanish Faces of the English Verb "to Agree"
  5. Spanish Usage Questions: Ways to say "Again"
  6. Expressing the Many Meanings of After
  7. Spanish Usage Questions: How to Say "Ahead"
  8. Spanish Usage Questions: "Anyone" and "Anybody"
  9. Using "Anyway..." in Spanish
  10. Let's Learn About How to Talk About Appointments & Dating
  11. What Do You Use for "Around" in Spanish
  12. The Spanish Verbs Meaning "to Ask" are Many!
  13. Beware of False Cognates! How to Express "Attend," "Assist," and "Help"
  14. Are You "Cool" or "Cold"? Explore the Nuances in Spanish
  15. The Difference Between "Why" and "Because" in Spanish
  16. The Temporal and Spacial Meanings of "Before": How to Get it Right in Spanish
  17. Don't Be Left in the Dust! Learn to Express the Meanings of "Behind" in Spanish
  18. Get the Low Down on the Preposition "Below" and Say it Right in Spanish!
  19. Understand Saying "Help" in Spanish
  20. Translating "Beside" & "Besides" into Spanish: Interesting Solutions!
  21. Not all Meanings of "But" Are Equal!
  22. Expressing the Various Meanings of the Preposition "By" in Spanish
  23. What Can the English Word "Can" Mean and How to Get it Right in Spanish
  24. Spanish Usage Questions: "Corner"
  25. The Word "Country" in Spanish
  26. The Various Meanings of "Outweigh" in English and How to Express Them in Spanish
  27. Expressing the Idea of "Ownership" in Spanish
  28. How to Express "Time & Distance" in Spanish
  29. Treat, Try, Attempt, Deal with... In Spanish, You Probably Need "Tratar"
  30. Spanish Usage Questions: "Having Fun"
  31. Even a Word Like "Even" Has Many Counterparts in Spanish
  32. Don't Go Wrong When You Look for Ways to Express "to fail"
  33. Do You Mean "Fair" Weather, a "Fair" Game or a "Fair" Complexion? Learn How to Say Them in Spanish!
  34. Love, Desire and Wanting -- Spanish Style!
  35. Discover the Right Spanish Verbs for Taking, Holding, Grabbing... and More
  36. You Have Nothing to Fear Except Not Knowing How to Say "Fear" in Spanish!
  37. Spanish Equivalents of the Common English Word "Find"
  38. Discover the Various Meanings of "Middle" and How to Say Them in Spanish
  39. Not All Spanish Words Meaning "Worker" Are Created Equal