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.
- Author’s more than 20 years experience teaching and translating Spanish.
This post is part of the series: 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.
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Above”
- Using “Actual” and “Actually” in Spanish
- A Problem Preposition: The Ways “About” is Expressed in Spanish
- The Many Spanish Faces of the English Verb “to Agree”
- Spanish Usage Questions: Ways to say “Again”
- Expressing the Many Meanings of After
- Spanish Usage Questions: How to Say “Ahead”
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Anyone” and “Anybody”
- Using “Anyway…” in Spanish
- Let’s Learn About How to Talk About Appointments & Dating
- What Do You Use for “Around” in Spanish
- The Spanish Verbs Meaning “to Ask” are Many!
- Beware of False Cognates! How to Express “Attend,” “Assist,” and “Help”
- Are You “Cool” or “Cold”? Explore the Nuances in Spanish
- The Difference Between “Why” and “Because” in Spanish
- The Temporal and Spacial Meanings of “Before”: How to Get it Right in Spanish
- Don’t Be Left in the Dust! Learn to Express the Meanings of “Behind” in Spanish
- Get the Low Down on the Preposition “Below” and Say it Right in Spanish!
- Understand Saying “Help” in Spanish
- Translating “Beside” & “Besides” into Spanish: Interesting Solutions!
- Not all Meanings of “But” Are Equal!
- Expressing the Various Meanings of the Preposition “By” in Spanish
- What Can the English Word “Can” Mean and How to Get it Right in Spanish
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Corner”
- The Word “Country” in Spanish
- The Various Meanings of “Outweigh” in English and How to Express Them in Spanish
- Expressing the Idea of “Ownership” in Spanish
- How to Express “Time & Distance” in Spanish
- Treat, Try, Attempt, Deal with… In Spanish, You Probably Need “Tratar”
- Spanish Usage Questions: “Having Fun”
- Even a Word Like “Even” Has Many Counterparts in Spanish
- Don’t Go Wrong When You Look for Ways to Express “to fail”
- Do You Mean “Fair” Weather, a “Fair” Game or a “Fair” Complexion? Learn How to Say Them in Spanish!
- Love, Desire and Wanting – Spanish Style!
- Discover the Right Spanish Verbs for Taking, Holding, Grabbing… and More
- You Have Nothing to Fear Except Not Knowing How to Say “Fear” in Spanish!
- Spanish Equivalents of the Common English Word “Find”
- Discover the Various Meanings of “Middle” and How to Say Them in Spanish
- Not All Spanish Words Meaning “Worker” Are Created Equal