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.)