Spanish Lesson – Por and Para

Por and Para

See also Spanish Grammar

In this Spanish grammar lesson you will learn how to use the two Spanish words that mean “for”. They are por and para.

Por and para are not used interchangeably. There are certain rules that dictate when to use por and when to use para. In fact, the meaning of the sentence can change if you use one instead of the other.

When to use por

To express the reason for thanks or an apology.

Gracias por el dinero.
Thank you for the money.

Perdóname por llegar tarde.
Sorry for arriving late.

To express movement along, through, around, by or about.

Caminé por las calles de tu vecindario.
I walked through the streets of your neighborhood.

To express length of time.

He trabajado aquí por tres meses.
I have worked here for 3 months.

To express frequency.

Hago ejercicio tres veces por semana.
I exercise three times per week.

To indicate a purchase price.

Me vendió el coche por mil dólares.
He sold me the car for a thousand dollars.

To express cause.

No pude ver nada por la nieve.
I couldn’t see anything because of the snow.

To mean “on someone’s behalf”.

Hice el trabajo por Emilio.
I did the work for Emilio (on his behalf).

For means of transportation and communication.

Llámame por teléfono.
Call me by phone.

Vamos a viajar por tren.
We’re going to travel by train.

To mean “per”.

El limite es 50 kilómetros por hora.
The limit is 50 kilometers per hour.

In passive constructions.

El libro fue escrito por mi cuñada.
The book was written by my sister-in-law.

“Estar por” means to be in the mood for something.

Estoy por emborracharme.
I feel like getting drunk.

Phrases that use por

Por is also used in many phrases. There is no specific rule why por is used in these expressions. They simply have to be memorized.

por adelantado – in advance (for example, you can buy concert tickets por adelentado)
por ahora – for now
por allí – over there, that way
por aquí – around here, this way
por casualidad – by chance
por ciento – percent (cien por ciento means 100 percent)
por cierto – certainly
por dentro – inside
por desgracia – unfortunately
por ejemplo – for example
por eso – therefore
por favor – please
por fin – finally
por lo general – generally
por lo que veo – from what i can see
por medio de – by means of
por lo menos – at least
por lo tanto – consequently
por mi parte – as for me
por ningún lado – nowhere
por otra parte – on the other hand
por otro lado – on the other hand
por primera vez – for the first time
por separado – separately
por supuesto – of course
por suerte – fortunately
por todas partes – everywhere
por todos lados – everywhere, on all sides
por último – lastly

When to use para

Cultural note: In some countries, para is sometimes shortened to “pa” when spoken. For example, someone might say “pa’ que” instead of “para que”.

To indicate a destination.

Se fue para San Diego.
He left for San Diego.

To indicate who something is for.

El regalo es para usted.
The gift is for you.

To indicate a deadline or specific time.

Necesito el dinero para mañana.
I need the money by tomorrow.

To indicate the purpose of something.

El vaso es para agua.
The glass is for water.

To mean “in order to”.

Para llegar a tiempo, tenemos que ir ahora mismo.
In order to arrive on time, we have to go right now.

To express an opinion.

Para mí, no es tan linda.
In my opinion she isn’t that pretty.

When qualifying an observation.

Para un canadiense, hablas bien el español.
You speak Spanish well, for a Canadian.

“Estar para” indicates that something is about to happen.

Estamos para salir.
We’re about to leave.

Por que and para que

When asking a question, ¿por qué? and ¿para qué? both mean “why”. However, ¿por qué? means why, for what reason and ¿para qué? means why, for what purpose.

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Author: Cacho

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