Por vs. Para: When and Methods to Use Every Preposition



Dig deeper into a brand new language like Spanish, and also you’ll enhance your understanding of the final fundamentals very quickly. Nonetheless, there are small however important phrases that even intermediate learners can discover complicated. 


Take por and para. They share an analogous definition—each phrases can imply “for”—however the context through which we use them is vastly totally different. Fortunately, there are numerous ideas and methods that will help you differentiate the 2. 

Give the following tips a pair months to sink in, and also you’ll be in your option to utilizing por and para with confidence. However if you wish to retain Spanish grammar guidelines sooner, Rosetta Stone’s distinctive Dynamic Immersion method is right here to speed up your studying. Our bite-sized classes, studying instruments, and extra can be found in Latin American Spanish and Peninsular (Spain) Spanish, so you’ll be able to select the dialect that matches your studying objectives! 


What do por and para imply in Spanish? 

Many sources will inform you merely that each por and para each imply “for,” which is usually true, however the meanings rely upon the context of the sentence. You’ll by no means hear a local Spanish speaker use them interchangeably, as they comply with distinct patterns of utilization. That’s why it may be useful to give attention to evaluating and contrasting the methods they’re utilized in actual life contexts.

Digging deeper into the that means conveyed by every preposition, we see that por can imply: 

  • Due to
  • By means of
  • Via
  • Per
  • As a substitute of
  • On somebody’s behalf
  • Throughout
  • To
  • Within the

…and naturally, “for.” 

In contrast, para can imply: 

  • For
  • In an effort to
  • By (a deadline)
  • Based on
  • Towards

That’s fairly an inventory. Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at every definition. 

Methods to get por and para proper most of the time

Study para first

When you’re hoping to hack por vs para, a method could be to give attention to para, which has fewer makes use of. Then, by strategy of elimination, you’ll be able to assume something that isn’t para makes use of por. There are about 3 times as many entries within the dictionary of the Actual Academia Española for por, in addition to a plethora of set phrases and expressions. 

Para is much less complicated.  

This gained’t assist in each case, as there are nonetheless a number of difficult exceptions, particularly after we try to translate from English. Nonetheless, it may be a helpful first step. Let’s take a more in-depth take a look at para alone.  

Consider para as the long run

We will usually place por as previous or current in relation to the motion of the sentence. In distinction, para is targeted on the long run. 

Issues that occur sooner or later embrace: 

  • a function
  • a recipient
  • a deadline
  • a vacation spot

Use para while you imply, “with a view to” (a function), “for somebody” (a recipient), “by a deadline,” or “towards a vacation spot.” 

  • Objective: Estudio para hablar mejor.  = I research with a view to converse higher.  
  • Recipient: Este regalo es para mi vecina. = This reward is for my neighbor.  
  • Deadline: Complétalo para el lunes.  = Full it by Monday.  
  • Vacation spot: Voy para Chicago mañana.  = I’m going to Chicago tomorrow.  

Additionally use para for opinions

Many makes use of of para might be translated as “in keeping with,” or “within the opinion of.”  

  • Para mí, no es tan importante. = In my view, it’s not that vital.  
  • Para nosotros, vale la pena.= For us (in our opinion), it’s price it.  

The remainder of the time, attempt por!  It will likely be widespread to make errors at first, however little by little, you’ll begin to separate por and para into two totally different classes. 

Methods to get por and para proper each time 

It takes time to totally perceive the distinction between por and para, since situational meanings abound. Now that you’ve a reasonably good understanding of para, let’s check out the various makes use of of por

Purpose vs. function

Generally you’ll use por with a view to clarify the trigger or purpose behind an motion. 

  • Compré el ordenador por mis estudios. = I purchased the pc due to my research. 

Within the instance above, the speaker is stating the rationale they purchased the pc, because it was obligatory for his or her research. 

Examine this to an analogous sentence—this one, nevertheless, makes use of para

  • Compré el ordenador para tomar apuntes. = I purchased the pc to take notes.

On this instance, the speaker is describing the aim of the pc (to take notes), not the rationale behind the pc buy (due to my research). 

Let’s take a look at two new examples facet by facet. 

Instance Rationalization
Regresé a casa por necesidad. 
I returned dwelling out of necessity.  
The need was the rationale for returning. 
Regresé a casa para ahorrar dinero.
I returned dwelling with a view to lower your expenses.
The aim for returning was to generate income. 

The previous/current vs. future trick works right here as properly. Por is used as a result of the need got here earlier than or similtaneously the return dwelling. Para is used as a result of saving cash will occur after returning dwelling, someday sooner or later.  

You possibly can even see this nuance within the distinction between the next questions: 

Instance Rationalization 
¿Por qué viajaste el año pasado? 
Why did you journey final 12 months? 
The speaker desires to know the rationale you traveled. You might inform the rationale, akin to “for work,” or “for college.” The explanation would have preceded the journey. 
¿Para qué viajas este año?Why are you touring this 12 months? The speaker desires to know for what function you might be touring. You might inform the function, akin to “to check,” or “to go to my household.” The aim will happen when you get to the vacation spot.

Touring vs. the ultimate vacation spot 

Por will point out movement by way of or alongside, whereas para will point out motion towards a vacation spot. Take a look at the distinction in these examples: 

  • Pasamos por el parque. = We go by way of the park. 
  • Caminamos para el parque. = We’re strolling towards the park.  

Listed below are different examples the place por expresses motion by way of or alongside an area: 

  • Tiró la pelota por la ventana. = He threw the ball by way of the window.  
  • Entramos por la puerta abierta. = We entered by way of the open door. 
  • El autobús va por el centro. = The bus goes by way of/round town heart. 
  • Vamos a pasear por el río. = We’re going to stroll alongside the river. 

We’ll usually see this use of por with verbs of movement, akin to strolling, leaving, or getting into. We see the motion occurring on location at that second. After we entered, we have been within the open door. After we stroll, we can be alongside the river at the moment. 

Para, then again, will suggest a remaining vacation spot or path.  

  • Tienes que ir para allá. = You’ll want to go over there.  
  • Mañana, me voy para casa. = Tomorrow, I’m leaving for dwelling. 
  • Los estudiantes van para Costa Rica. = The scholars are headed towards Costa Rica. 

The motion will take the topic to the vacation spot at a future second. You may be over there after you rise up and go. I’ll make it dwelling after I go away. The scholars will find yourself in Costa Rica after they depart. 

The vacation spot will be summary, as properly!

  • Te quiero para siempre. = I’ll love you eternally!  (The love continues into the long run.) 

By whom vs. for what/who

If you learn a ebook in Spanish or hearken to music, you’ll discover out who wrote, illustrated, or produced the work, utilizing por.

  • Escrito por Sonia Sotomayor. = Written by Sonia Sotomayor. 
  • La obra fue traducido por mi profesora. = The work was translated by my instructor.   

You’ll additionally see this utilized in passive-voice constructions. 

  • El proyecto fue completado por el presidente. = The challenge was accomplished by the President.  

When you do a job on somebody’s behalf,” or “as an alternative of” somebody, use por. 

  • La profesora está enferma. Trabajo por ella. = The instructor is sick. I’m working in her place.  
  • Hablo por mi niño. = I converse on behalf of my baby. 

In distinction, when one thing is completed in service to or for somebody, para is used. 

  • Lo diseñó para la Reina. = He designed it for the Queen.  
  • Es una canción para mi mamá. = It’s a track for my mother.  
  • Trabajo para mi tío. = I work for my uncle. 

In a approach, the above examples will be defined by the “purpose” vs. “functions” trick. The explanation the challenge is accomplished is due to the President’s work. The explanation you might be working is as a result of the instructor is sick. The explanation you converse is to assist the kid. All of those use por.  

The aim for the design was to please the Queen. The aim for the track was to honor my mother. The aim for working is to finish duties for my uncle. These are para examples. 

Due to vs. with a view to 

Por can imply “due to,” or “as a result of” (a purpose) and para can imply “with a view to” (a function).    On this case we see that por refers to a previous trigger, and para is a future impact.   

  • Llego tarde por el tráfico. = I’m late due to the site visitors. 
  • Salgo temprano para evitar el tráfico. = I’m leaving early with a view to keep away from the site visitors. 
  • Juego fútbol por mis amigos. = I play soccer due to my associates.
  • Juego fútbol para estar sano. = I play soccer with a view to be wholesome.  
  • Cancelaron el partido por la tormenta. = They canceled the match as a result of the storm. 
  • Cancelaron el partido para descansar. = They canceled the match with a view to relaxation. 
  • Estudio francés por mi trabajo.  = I’m finding out French due to my job.  
  • Estudio francés para trabajar en Francia. = I’m finding out French with a view to work in France.

Different makes use of of por

There are a number of different conditions the place you’ll want to make use of por. 

Scenario Spanish English
A transaction  Tres billetes por dos euros Three tickets for two euros
Él compró el libro por diez dólares.  He purchased the ebook for ten {dollars}. 
Ella la cambió por una más grande.  She exchanged it for a bigger one. 
By/by way of a medium  ¿Por qué no hablamos por teléfono?   Why don’t we discuss on the cellphone? 
Te enviaré la información por correo electrónico.  I’ll ship you the knowledge by e-mail. 
Cuidado con la venta por web.  Watch out with on-line gross sales (gross sales by way of the web). 
Per Cincuenta millas por hora Fifty miles per hour
Una porción por persona One piece per individual
Se celebra dos veces por año.  It’s celebrated twice per 12 months. 
Length Corrí por una hora.  I ran for an hour. (throughout) 
Viajé por cinco días.  I traveled for 5 days. (throughout) 
Time of Day Por la mañana In the morning
Por la tarde In the afternoon
Approximations La estación está por aquí.  The station is round right here. 
Multiplication Tres por dos, seis.  Three instances two is six. 

Widespread expressions that use por and para

As useful because the checklist of methods will be, there are at all times set expressions and idioms that can use one preposition or the opposite. It may be very difficult to translate these phrase for phrase, so it’s best to note these expressions in context, study them as a set phrase, and never fear an excessive amount of in regards to the purpose why! 

It’s useful to notice that almost all of the set expressions will use por.

Spanish English
por ejemplo for instance
por eso due to this fact, that’s why
por favor please
por fin lastly
por cierto by the best way
por supuesto in fact
por todos lados everywhere
por un lado, por otro lado on one hand, then again
por casualidad by probability, by coincidence
por ahora for the second, for now
por completo, por entero utterly, completely
¡Por Dios! For God’s sake! / For Heaven’s sake!
por error by mistake
por hacer pending, to-do
por lo visto apparently, it could appear/seem that
por tanto, por lo tanto due to this fact, so 
por lo menos no less than
por poco practically, nearly
por respeto out of respect for
por suerte fortunately
por si acaso simply in case
por último lastly, lastly

Por would possibly seem mid-phrase or after sure verbs. It’s doable to suppose by way of a number of of those examples and perceive the rationale why, nevertheless it can be helpful to study verb infinitives (unconjugated verbs) with the prepositions that can at all times comply with them.  

Spanish English
dar por bueno to approve, to provide the go-ahead
¡A por ello! Go for it! (Peninsular Spanish) 
por los pelos by the pores and skin of 1’s enamel (actually “by the hairs”) 
ir a por algo to go and get one thing
gracias por thanks for
votar por to vote for
pagar por to pay for
preocuparse por to fret about
preguntar por to ask about/after
estar por to be in favor of, to assist
optar por to go for, to decide on

A number of set phrases and expressions will use para as an alternative.  

Spanish English
para siempre eternally
estar para to be about to do one thing 
para que so that, in order that
para entonces by that point
así como para sufficient to
para ayer by yesterday (urgently) 
para nada under no circumstances
dispuesto / a para prepared / ready to 
dar para más have extra to provide
para llevar take-out (meals) 
dar para mucho go a good distance 
el uno para el otro to be made for one another 
para colmo to high all of it off
para empezar to start out, to start

>>Be sure to’re nailing the pronunciation of those expressions with TruAccent!

Grasp each Spanish preposition with Rosetta Stone

Prepositions glue our sentences collectively! Although they are often brief phrases, prepositions akin to por and para might help you categorical your self precisely and utterly. It may be totally complicated to determine between related phrases once they appear to have the identical English translation, however understanding the variations results in far more confidence. 

Utilizing prepositions properly results in extra subtle sentence constructions. Figuring out many expressions that use por and para can enhance your communicative energy! Rosetta Stone supplies significant and impactful alternatives for learners to amass right grammar and syntax by studying examples and listening to native audio system mannequin right utilization. Rosetta Stone’s Tales provide you with a enjoyable option to follow your studying and listening comprehension as you hear, learn, and converse with the prepositions of their correct locations.  

Written by Jamie Edwards

Jamie is a learner and instructor of Spanish and French. When she’s not studying new phrases, you’ll discover her on the soccer sidelines, ski slopes, and monitor and discipline bleachers having fun with the 4 seasons of Western New York.


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