Prepositions can be handy words for showing the relationship among the various words in a sentence. But with only something like two dozen prepositions available for use, you can find yourself quite limited if you have to limit yourself to simple prepositions to indicate the connection that a noun or pronoun might have with another word.
Fortunately, both Spanish and English have a wide range of prepositional phrases that function in much the same way as simple prepositions. (Although the term "prepositional phrase" is used here, some grammarians prefer the term "compound preposition.") An example can be seen in a sentence such as Roberto fue al mercado en lugar de Pablo ("Robert went to the market instead of Paul"). Although en lugar de is made up of three words, it functions much the same as one word and has a distinct prepositional meaning as a phrase. In other words, like single-word prepositions, prepositional phrases show the connection between the noun (or pronoun) that follows and other words in the sentence. (Although you could probably figure out what en lugar de means by translating the individual words, that isn't true of all prepositional phrases.)
The list below shows some of the most common phrases that function as prepositions. Prepositions can also be used in phrases that are used as adverbs, as explained in our lesson on adverbial phrases. You can see many of these prepositions phrases in use on our lesson of sample sentences using prepositional phrases.
abajo de underneath abordo de aboard a cambio de in exchange or trade for a cargo de in charge of a causa de because of acerca de about, concerning además de besides, in addition to, as well as adentro de inside a disposición de at the disposal of a excepción de with the exception of, except for a falta de due to the lack of, in the absence of a fin de with the goal or intent of, in order to afuera de outside a fuerza de by means of al contrario de contrary to al estilo de in the style of, in the manner of al frente de at the forefront of al lado de next to alrededor de around antes de before (in time, not location) a pesar de in spite of a prueba de roughly equivalent to the English suffix "-proof" a punto de on the verge of a través de through, across bajo condición de que on the condition that cerca de near con rumbo a in the direction of de acuerdo con in agreement with debajo de underneath, under delante de in front of dentro de within después de after detrás de behind, after en caso de in case of encima de on top of en contra de against en forma de in the shape of enfrente de opposite en lugar de instead of, in the place of en medio de in the middle of en vez de instead of en vías de on the way to fuera de except for frente a opposite, towards lejos de far from por causa de because of por razón de because of