Por Nick Potter

English Tips for Spanish Lawyers. In  this series we look at real-life examples of the most common mistakes in English by native Spanish lawyers. These and lots more invaluable tips are available in a new e-book/paperback, here: 50 English Tips for Spanish Professionals.

the No Preposition Verbs

In a perfect world, all Spanish verbs followed by the preposition “a”, for example, would translate as English verbs followed by “to”. But of course…

Question: Which ONE of A – G below is correct?

A We would ask to the client why multi-currency loans are Excluded Assets, because there  are no regulatory reasons for this
B On delivery of the unit, Tenant will pay to Landlord the amount of €75,000 plus VAT
C The defendants oppose to the claim on the basis of the following arguments
D Although the fine imposed on the bank was not for a significant amount, it may have reputational impact
E Can the Borrower incur in any additional financial indebtedness without the Lenders’ prior consent?
F The Issuer shall inform to the Agent of the Bondholders of this situation
G The Ruling does not apply retrospectively and will not affect to payments already made by consumers

Before you read the answer, remember:

Remembering the right preposition is difficult because these words don’t neatly map across from one language to another – the Spanish “a” is not always “to”.

Some prepositions you may use regularly enough to learn – conforme a la ley / los estatutos means in accordance with the law / articles of association. Not to (though you can say “according to”, which means según).

However, certain Spanish verb-preposition combos we can group together because they all have the same thing in common – the English verb is usually followed by an object and no preposition at all.

Here are just a few Spanish verbs followed by “a” which translate without a preposition:

oponer a = to oppose

preguntar a = to ask

llamar a = to call

contestar a = to answer

pagar a  = to pay

pedir a = to ask, order

afectar a = to affect

asistir a = to attend

informar a = to inform

Obviously this applies to the verbs when followed by an object (“They called me”; “I attended the class”).

In other forms, they can be followed by prepositions:  (He was informed by the authorities (passive): I forgot to call to tell them it was cancelled – to call followed by to + infinitive)

Tip: try to remember as many of these “No Preposition Verbs” as you can.

So:

A-C are all wrong because although the Spanish verb is followed by “a”, the English verb takes no preposition before the object:

A We would ask to the client why multi-currency loans are Excluded Assets, because there are no regulatory reasons for this
B On delivery of the unit, Tenant will pay to Landlord the amount of €75,000 plus VAT
C The defendants oppose to the claim on the basis of the following arguments

D is the correct sentence. Imponer a translates as the verb to impose followed by a preposition – but the preposition is on, not to.

D Although the fine imposed on the bank was not for a significant amount, it may have reputational impact [CORRECT]

E is wrong. Incurrir en is yet another “No Preposition Verb” in English. Never write “incur in”!

E Can the Borrower incur in any additional financial indebtedness without the Lenders’ prior consent?

Finally, F and G are two further examples of Spanish verbs followed by “a” which in English are not followed by “to” – or any preposition.

F The Issuer shall inform to the Agent of the Bondholders of this situation
G The Ruling does not apply retrospectively and will not affect to payments already made by consumers
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