Spanish “Por” Vs. “Para”: Learn the Difference

“Por” and “para” are two Spanish prepositions. They always represent a challenge for Spanish learners, because of two reasons:

  • They look and sound rather similar.
  • Each one is used in different cases that must be learnt.

The purpose of this lesson is to present the most frequent uses of “por” and “para”. After learning them, you can take a short Quiz to test your knowledge.

In any case, remember that the key to learning a language is practice. You will make mistakes and sometimes use “por” when you should “para” and viceversa, but it’s not the end of the world: everybody will understand what you meant.

In this post we will go through the following points:

1. Uses of “Por”


Cause
(meaning “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
(meaning “through, along”)

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.


Exchange
(meaning “in exchange for”)

Te cambio la pelota por el muñeco.
I give you the ball in exchange for the doll.


Other Phrases that include “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


2. Uses of “Para”


Goal, intention
(meaning “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
(meaning “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 Spaniards (“according to them”), Iberian ham is sacred.


Recipient
(meaning “directed to”)

Esta carta es para ti.
This letter is for you (directed to you, you are the recipient).

Los caramelos son para los niños.
The candies are for the children (directed to them, they are the recipient).


Destination
(meaning “towards”)

Vamos para Francia.
We are going “towards” France (France is the destination)


Other Phrases that include “Para”:

  • para siempre = forever
  • para que = so that
  • para qué = for what


3. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge!: