One of the common challenges that Spanish learners face is distinguishing between the prepositions "por" and "para." Both words translate to "for" in English, but they have different uses. Let's delve into the differences between "por" and "para" and explore their various contexts. Don’t worry, Spanish speakers will most likely understand you if you confuse these two. In time it will come naturally to you which one to use in a sentence.

 

"Por" - General Uses:

 

1. Duration:

  • Example: Viajé por un año. (I traveled for one year.)

2. Movement Through or Along:

  • Example: Pasamos por el parque. (We passed through the park.)

3. Reason or Cause:

  • Example: Lo hice por ti. (I did it for you.)

4. Exchange or Substitution:

  • Example: Pagué diez dólares por el pantalón. (I paid ten dollars for the pants.)

5. Means of Communication:

  • Example: Te llamo por teléfono. (I call you on the phone.)

6. Multiplication and Division:

  • Example: Dos por dos son cuatro. (Two times two equals four.)

 

We also use "por" for some common expressions in Spanish. 

 

Por favor - please

Gracias por - Thank you for 

Por supuesto - of course

Por fin - finally

Por la mañana/tarde/noche - in the morning/afternoon/evening

Por lo general - usually

Por ahora - for now

Por si acaso - just in case

Por allí - over there

Por que - because

¿Por qué? - why


 

"Para” General uses:

 

1. Purpose or Goal:

  • Example: Estudiamos para aprender. (We study to learn.)

2. Destination:

  • Example: Salimos para Madrid mañana. (We leave for Madrid tomorrow.)

3. Recipient:

  • Example: Este regalo es para ti. (This gift is for you.)

4. Deadline or Time Limit:

  • Example: Necesito el informe para el viernes. (I need the report by Friday.)

5. Employment or Occupation:

  • Example: Trabajo para una empresa de tecnología. (I work for a technology company.)

6. Comparison:

  • Example: Para un principiante, hablas bien. (For a beginner, you speak well.)

 

We also use "para" for some common expressions in Spanish. 

 

Para siempre - forever

Para nada - not at all

Para qué - what for?

Para colmo - to top it all off

Para variar - for a change

Para mí que - for me (used like: I think that...)

Para bien o para mal - for better or worse

Para que - so that

 

Let’s look at some more examples of “por” and “para” in a similar context. 

 

 

1. Destination or Recipient:

 

Para: Used to indicate the recipient or destination of an action or thing.

  • Example: Este regalo es para ti. (This gift is for you.)

Por: Used to express the one who benefits from an action.

  • Example: Hice la tarea por ti. (I did the homework for you.)

 

2. Time:

 

Para: Used to indicate deadlines or specific points in the future.

  • Example: Necesito el informe para el lunes. (I need the report by Monday.)

Por: Used to indicate the duration of an action or an approximate period in time.

  • Example: Estudié por dos horas. (I studied for two hours.)

 

3. Substitution and comparisons:

 

Para: Used to express a comparison.

  • Example: Para un niño, lee muy bien. (For a child, he reads very well.)

Por: Used to express substitution or equivalence.

  • Example: Cambié la cerveza por agua. (I changed the beer for water.)

 

Practice:

 

This exercise is designed to help you practice using "por" and "para" in context. By understanding the nuanced differences between these two prepositions, you can enhance your ability to express purpose, direction, and other relationships in Spanish.

 

Practice Exercise: Fill in the Blanks with "Por" or "Para":

 

  1. Salimos __________ Madrid mañana.

  2. Estudié química __________ dos años en la universidad.

  3. Este regalo es __________ mi madre.

  4. Trabajo __________ una empresa de diseño gráfico.

  5. Caminamos __________ el parque durante dos horas.

  6. Necesito este informe __________ el lunes.

  7. Lo hice __________ ayudarte.

  8. Compré estas flores __________ mi abuela.

  9. Este regalo es __________ ti, ¡felicidades!

  10. Viajamos __________ avión a Nueva York.

 

 

Answers:

  1. Salimos para Madrid mañana.

  2. Estudié química por dos años en la universidad.

  3. Este regalo es para mi madre.

  4. Trabajo para una empresa de diseño gráfico.

  5. Caminamos por el parque durante dos horas.

  6. Necesito este informe para el lunes.

  7. Lo hice para ayudarte.

  8. Compré estas flores para mi abuela.

  9. Este regalo es para ti, ¡felicidades!

  10. Viajamos por avión a Nueva York

 

This can be a tricky part of Spanish grammar for most learners. Read lots of examples and over time it will become natural to you. Keep up the good work! ¡Vas muy bien!

 

About the author

Julia Steffen

Hi! I’m Julia. I am fascinated and passionate about anything that has to do with languages, especially Spanish! I have loved the process of learning Spanish and all the experiences that it has brought to my life, especially raising bilingual children! My desire in this blog is to share my experience and knowledge about learning Spanish as a second language with you. I hope to inspire people to plant the seeds of bilingualism, and over time see those seeds grow!