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Phrases and Idioms Using 'De'

They Often Function as Adverbs

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Spanish has numerous adverbial phrases beginning with the preposition de, which by itself usually means "of" or "from."

Often, these phrases are used instead of an adverb ending in -mente or in situations where we'd use an "-ly" adverb in English. For example, the phrases de repente and de pronto are typically used to mean "suddenly," and are use more often than using the equivalent adverb, repentinamente.

Following are some of the more common adverbial phrases beginning with de. The list isn't meant to be complete — there are hundreds of such phrases — but is meant to give you an understanding of how de phrases are used. Note that some of these can also be used as adjectival phrases.

de actualidad — currently, now — Es una maravilla que sigue de actualidad. It's a miracle that continues today.

de acuerdo a, de acuerdo con — according to, in accordance with — Es importante aplicar el análisis de sistemas de acuerdo a las requerimientos de los usuarios. It's important to apply systems analysis in accordance with the users' needs.

de alguna manera — in some way — Y la verdad es que de alguna manera u otra, esta historia nos toca a todos. And the truth is that in some way or another, this story doesn't move everyone.

de continuo — continuously, constantly, always — Nuestras puertas están de continuo abiertas. Our doors are always open.

de corrido — without stopping, continuously — Los empleados del mall trabajan de corrido desde las diez de la mañana hasta las nueve de la tarde. The mall employees work nonstop from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

de costumbre — usually, habitually — De costumbre salió de su casa a las siete y diez. He usually left his home at 7:10.

de dos en dos — two at a time, in pairs — De dos en dos los animales entraron con Noé en el arca. Two by two, the animals entered with Noah into the ark.

de memoria — by memory — ¿Sabes si el pianista toca de memoria? Do you know if the pianist plays by memory?

de momento — at the moment, momentarily — La modelo francesa afirmó que de momento no hay boda a la vista. The French model said that at the moment there's no wedding on the horizon. (Literal translation: no wedding in view.)

de noche — at night — Los alumnos que nunca estudiaban de noche tenían un promedio de calificaciones de 3.2 Students who never studied at night had a grade point average of 3.2.

de pronto — suddenly, at once — De pronto me encontré viajando a gran velocidad. Suddenly I found myself traveling at a high rate of speed.

de puntillas — on tiptoe — Mi bebé lleva un par de meses que ha empezado a andar, y anda de puntillas. My baby has been walking a couple of months ago, and she walks on tiptoe.

de repente — suddenly, at once — ¿Es mejor dejar de fumar de repente o poco a poco? Is it better to stop smoking at once or bit by bit?

de seguro — certainly, surely — De seguro compraron a algunos jueces corruptos. Certainly they bought off some corrupt judges.

de todas partes — from everywhere — Surfistas vienen de todas partes del mundo para remontar estas olas. Surfers come from everywhere in the world to ride these waves.

de un tirón — in a single event, in one stretch — A partir de ese momento, mi bebita ya no durmió sus noches de un tirón. From that time forward, my baby still hasn't slept through the nights in a single stretch.

de veras, de verdad — really — De veras creo que el ladrón merece la pena. I really believe the thief deserves the punishment.

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