Por and Para are, without a doubt, two Spanish prepositions that cause the most headaches for students. 😥
And if you speak English, the issue is a bit more complicated as both words are translated as “for”. 😒
So, if you’ve been struggling to study these propositions, you’ve come to the right place. 😏
In Spanish Express, we explain the uses and differences of these words. Additionally, we will give you several examples so that you can apply them correctly in speaking and writing. 😁
Ready to take your learning to the next level? Improve your Spanish with this information. 💪
Por and Para
If we delve a little deeper into the origin of these words, we find that the preposition “por” was the first to be recorded.
It originates from the Latin “pro” and, according to language studies, “para” derived from the combination of “pro” + “a“.
In short, and skipping many aspects of language evolution, this is how these prepositions came about.
So, how do we differentiate “Por and Para” nowadays?
- “Por” indicates a cause. It is used to explain the reason for an action.
Mónica se mudó a Inglaterra por trabajo.
- “Para” indicates a purpose. It is used to explain the purpose of an action.
Compré entradas para ir al concierto
We can compare the two propositions using this example:
Mónica se ha ido a Inglaterra por trabajo.
In this case, “por” indicates the cause of travel, which is work for some work responsibility, such as a meeting or event.
Mónica ha ido a Inglaterra para trabajar.
On the other hand, “para” indicates the purpose of the journey, which in this case is also working, but for different reasons, such as starting a new job or looking for a new job.
As mentioned above, “Por” = cause, “Para” = purpose.
However, they also have other uses, which are summarised below.
Uses of Por and Para
“Por” is used in the following situations:
|Cause||Suspendió el examen de español por no estudiar.|
|Motivation||¡Brindemos por tu nuevo trabajo en Mallorca!|
|Reason||Por tu culpa he perdido el tren a Valencia.|
|Place||Creo que por esa calle hay un monumento de Miguel de Cervantes.|
|Indeterminate time||Te llamo mañana por la tarde y hablamos con tranquilidad, ¿vale?|
|Means by which we do something||Normalmente hablamos por Zoom.|
|Exchange||He comprado la entrada del concierto del sábado por cuatro duros, ¿te lo puedes creer?|
|Distribution||Solo tenemos 4 libros y somos 8 estudiantes, así que toca un libro por cada dos estudiantes.|
“Para” applies in the following cases:
|Goal||Esta plataforma es para todos los interesados en aprender español para negocios.|
|Purpose||Este nuevo material didáctico es para el curso preparatorio de SIELE.|
|Address||Este tren va para Barcelona con parada en Zaragoza.|
|Time||Estos deberes son para el próximo lunes, ¡no os olvidéis!|
|Addressee||Para todos los interesados en el programa de inmersión “Vive y estudia en casa de tu profesor”, las inscripciones están abiertas.|
Questions with Por and Para
It is also essential to keep in mind the use of Por and Para in formulating questions.
The first thing to do is to identify whether the question is motivated by a purpose (para qué) or a cause (por qué).
Generally, when you ask “por qué“, you answer by explaining the cause using “porque” or “para“. However, it is also valid to say the purpose (para). This can happen with both prepositions.
Let’s look at this example:
¿Para qué vas a estudiar español con Spanish Express?
Porque debo prepararme correctamente para el DELE.
Para sacar la mejor nota en el SIELE.
Do you see it now? It’s a lot less complicated when you put into practice the equation we provided above:
“Por” = cause
“Para” = purpose
We will discuss this question topic in more detail on another occasion.
We can’t leave without giving you a grammar fact that will help you on your way to learning Spanish.
One thing to remember about por and para is that in Spanish, we do not use prepositions to express the duration of an event.
✅ Estuve asistiendo a clases de cocina seis semanas.
❌Estuve asistiendo a clases de cocina por seis semanas.
Although this is a mistake many natives make, it is essential to note it in your notebook to avoid making these errors yourself.
That’s enough grammar for today! But… We leave you with some homework to practice what you have learnt.
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Ginnette Di Damaso
Spanish Express blogger