The difference between ‘por’ and ‘para’.

'Por' and 'para' both mean 'for' in Spanish. Knowing when to use the two prepositions can seem quite complicated but in reality just requires you to learn the simple rules.

A tip to help understand when to use the two is:

    • 'Para' generally indicates an objective or direction.


    • 'Por' generally indicates an exchange or motive.

Uses for 'Para'

1. To indicate destination.

La mujer salió para Londres. (The woman left for London).

2. To indicate a recipient.

Los juguetes son para ti. (The toys are for you).

3. To indicate the purpose or use of a thing.

Los pulmones son para respirar. (Lungs are for breathing).

4. To indicate why someone/something does an action. In English it usually means 'in order to' or 'for the purpose of' (simply 'to' or 'for').

Él come vegetales para  estar más saludable. (He eats vegetables to be more healthy).

5. To indicate a time limit or a deadline. In English it is usually translated as 'for,' 'by,' 'on' or 'before.'

Necesito la tarea parael lunes. (I need the homework by Monday).

6. To indicate a comparison with a certain standard. In this context 'para' translates as 'for' or 'considering.'

Él es alto parasu edad. (He is tall for his age).

7. To indicate an opinion.

Para Louis la carne es rica. (For Louis meat is tasty).

Uses for 'Por'

1. To indicate a period of time. In this context 'por' translates as 'for,' 'at,' 'during,' 'in,' or 'throughout.'

Sandy lee por dos horas. (Sandy reads for two hours).

2. To indicate the frequency of something.

Voy a gimnasio tres veces por semana. (I go to the gym three times a week).

3. To indicate an exchange or substitution.

Pago diez libras por la camisa. (I paid ten pounds for the shirt).
Yo cambié la chaqueta negra por la chaqueta azul. (I changed the black jacket for the blue jacket).

4. To indicate gratitude.

Gracias por el regalo. (Thank you for the gift).

5. To indicate a motivation or reason for doing something. In English this is usually 'because of' or 'due to.'

Porla explosión muchas personas tienen que mudarse. (Due to the explosion many people have to move).

6. To indicate a means of transport and communication.

Voy a Guatemala por avión. (I am going to Guatemala by plane).
Estoy hablando por teléfono. (I am speaking on the telephone).

7.  To indicate emotions and other intangibles for someone or something.

Tengo respeto por el alcalde. (I have respect for the mayor).

8. Use it for multiplication.

Cinco por cinco son vienticinco. (Five times five equals twenty five).

Some uses of 'por' in idiomatic expressions:

Por ahora- For now
Por ciento - Percent
Por dentro - Inside
Por ejemplo - For example
Por favor - Please
Por fin / Por ultimo - Finally
Por supuesto - Of course

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