Spanish “por” vs “para” – Learn to choose and practice!

Por vs Para in Spanish - Learn and Practice

Welcome to our grammar lesson about por vs. para, where we will learn how to choose between these Spanish prepositions.

In this lesson we will explain the most frequent uses of each preposition, with example sentences.

At the you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

por vs. para

Uses of por

We mainly use por to express…:

  • Causality (“because of”)

Hoy no salgo por la lluvia.
Today I don’t go out because of the rain.

Estoy aquí por ti.
I’m here because of you.


  • Path (“through, along”)

Yo paseo por la playa.
I walk along the beach.

Tienes que entrar por la puerta.
You have to enter through the door.


  • Exchange (“in exchange for”)

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


Uses of para

We mainly use para to express…:

  • Purpose (“in order to”)

Aprendo español para viajar a Sudamérica.
I learn Spanish in order to travel to South America.

Para estar en forma, es importante hacer ejercicio.
In order stay in shape, it’s important to exercise.


  • Opinions (“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 Spaniards”), Iberian ham is sacred.

Learn more about expressing opinions in Spanish!


  • Receiver

Esta carta es para ti.
This letter is for you (you are the receiver).

Los caramelos son para los niños.
The candies are for the children (they are the receiver).


  • Destination (“to, towards”)

Vamos para Francia.
We are going/driving towards France.


So how do we translate the English word “for”?

It depends. Both “por” and “para” can mean “for”, depending on the sentence.

When we have a sentence in English with “for”, we can see if its logic matches one of the cases in this lesson.

For example, the sentence “I’m doing this for you”.

If we mean “I’m doing this because of you”, then it is “por”:

Estoy haciendo esto por ti.

However, if we mean “I’m doing something, you’ll be the receiver of that something”, then it is “para”:

Estoy haciendo esto para ti.

Other phrases with “por” and “para”

Apart from the main uses that we have learned, there are some common phrases that include “por” or “para”.

The Spanish student should learn these phrases by heart, without thinking too much about why we use one preposition or the other:

Phrases with “por”:

  • por favor = please
  • por supuesto = of course
  • por ciento = percent
  • por hora / minuto / segundo = per hour / minute / second
  • gracias por = thanks for…
  • perdón por = sorry for…
  • lo siento por = sorry for…
  • por qué = why
  • por la mañana / tarde / noche = in the morning / afternoon / night
  • por último = lastly, finally
  • por teléfono = by phone
  • por una parte / por un lado = on one hand
  • por otra parte / por otro lado = on the other hand
  • por todas partes = everywhere
  • por si acaso = just in case
  • por tanto / por lo tanto = therefore
  • por lo visto = apparently
  • por lo menos = at least
  • por ahora = for now
  • por casualidad = by chance
  • por suerte = luckily
  • por desgracia = unfortunately
  • por fin = finally, at last
  • por lo demás = otherwise, apart from that

Phrases with “para”:

  • para siempre = forever
  • para que = so that
  • para qué = for what
  • para variar = just for a change

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about “por” vs “para”:


Exercise 1

Now we are going to practice with sentences.

Complete the following sentences choosing between “por” and “para”:

1) ___ ti, ¿quién es el mejor jugador?
To you, who’s the best player?

2) Ella me gusta ___ su simpatía.
I like her because of her friendliness.

3) Voy ___ Roma.
I’m driving towards Rome.

4) ___ hacer una tortilla, necesitamos huevos.
In order to make an omelette, we need eggs.

5) Cambio el cromo de Messi ___ el de Cristiano.
I trade Messi’s sticker for Cristiano’s.

6) Conducimos ___ el pueblo.
We drive through the town.

7) El dinero recaudado es ___ una ONG.
The money raised is for an NGO.

Solutions:
1) Para
2) por
3) para
4) Para
5) por
6) por
7) para


Exercise 2

More sentences! Choose between “por” and “para”:

8) Hemos comprado este sofá ___ su calidad.
We’ve bought this sofa because of its quality.

9) Ellos conducen a cien kilómetros ___ hora.
They drive at a hundred kilometers per hour.

10) ___ mí, la democracia es el mejor sistema político.
To me, democracy is the best political system.

11) Este vaso es ___ ella.
This glass if for her.

12) ___ saber, hay que estudiar.
In order to know, one has to study.

13) Caminamos ___ el bosque.
We walk though the forest.

14) Caminamos ___ el parque.
We walk towards the park.

Solutions:
8) por
9) por
10) Para
11) para
12) Para
13) por
14) para