“Por” and “para” are two Spanish prepositions.
It is important to learn when to use “por” and when to use “para”.
As a first approach, if you are an English speaker, it is a good idea to associate several English words with “por” and several words with “para”.
- English words to associate with “por”:
“because of”, “through”, “in exchange for”
- English words to associate with “para”:
“in order to”, “according to”, “directed to”
Now we will see the main uses of “por” and “para” with example sentences:
Uses of “Por”
Cause (“because of”)
Hoy no salgo por la lluvia = I don’t go out today because of the rain.
Estoy aquí por ti = I’m here because of you.
Path, Itinerary – but not direction!! (“through”)
Voy a pasear por la playa = I’m going to walk along the beach.
Tienes que entrar por la puerta = You have to enter through the door
Exchanges (“in exchange for”)
Te cambio la pelota por el muñeco = I give you the ball in exchange for the doll.
Additional phrases with “Por”:
- por favor = please
- por supuesto = of course
- por ciento = percent
- por hora = per hour
- gracias por = thanks for…
- perdona por = sorry for…
- lo siento por = sorry for…
- por qué = why
- por la mañana / tarde / noche = in the morning / afternoon / night
Uses of “Para”
Goal (“in order to”)
Aprendo español para viajar a Sudamérica = I learn Spanish in order to travel to South America
Para estar en forma, la clave es hacer ejercicio = In order to stay fit, the key is to exercise
Opinion (“according to”)
Para mí, la amistad es lo más importante = To me (“according to me”), friendship is the most important thing.
Para los españoles, el jamón ibérico es sagrado = To the spaniards (“according to them”), Iberian ham is sacred.
Recipient (“directed to”)
Esta carta es para ti = This letter is for you (directed to you).
Los caramelos son para los niños = The candies are for the children (are “directed to” them).
Destination (“directed to”)
Vamos para Francia = We are going “direction” France.
Additional phrases with “Para”:
- para siempre = forever
- para que = so that
- para qué = for what