Por vs Para: The 4 Key Variations Defined

Whereas each por and para each loosely imply “for” and hyperlink two components of (or occasions occurring in) a sentence, there’s one important distinction:

With por, each occasions (or components of a sentence) occur on the similar time. The 2 occasions occuring in the identical sentence are inseparable. Subsequently, por often describes the means or trigger for one thing. It seems to be backwards, opening a window again in time.

With para, one occasion – or a part of the sentence – occurs after the opposite. It often conveys some kind of goal, intention or vacation spot. That’s why it’s often future-facing, because it acts as a gateway to approaching occasions. 

Struggling to comply with? Nicely, it’s no shock! In all honesty, there’s much more to it than that. The distinction between the 2 is a slightly difficult enterprise, for anybody studying Spanish

Dip into the extra thorough clarification for por and para by way of the video clarification beneath:

Why are por and para so difficult?

Understanding the distinction might really feel difficult. However like with any ingredient of a language, mastering the distinction between por and para takes a little bit of observe. 

However first, let’s dispel a delusion. One of many causes you might discover it complicated is as a result of Spanish learners are sometimes instructed that por and para each imply for.

Whereas this isn’t fallacious, it’s not completely true.  

There are various different translations for por and para in English – and all of it relies on the context. 

Por can imply:

  • for
  • due to
  • via
  • by
  • over
  • per
  • as an alternative of
  • to

Para can imply:

  • for
  • so as to
  • by
  • to
  • based on

The important thing to understanding whether or not to make use of por or para is to consider the that means you wish to convey, slightly than the precise translation.

You see, prepositions – phrases like for, by, to and so forth. – don’t essentially have a precise match in different languages. 

Which suggests you’ll must immerse your self in Spanish so as to get a really feel for which Spanish prepositions to make use of by which contexts.  

Nonetheless confused with por and para?

Don’t fear, Busuu’s acquired your again! With a devoted on-line course on the variations between por and para, you’ll be mastering the usage of each Spanish phrases and use them in your day by day conversations seamlessly!

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Por vs. para: The shortcut technique 

Since we all know it will possibly take some time to get a way for this stuff, we’ve acquired a easy method for you that can assist you resolve when to make use of por, and when to make use of para

After all, this super-simple rule received’t essentially apply to each por or para in Spanish you come throughout (studying Spanish could be a stroll within the park, in any other case!). So take into account this tip a unfastened rule, which excludes just a few sneaky exceptions. 

First issues first: each por and para hyperlink two components of a sentence. However the primary distinction is that this:

With para, there may be often a sequence of occasions: one little bit of the sentence occurs after the opposite.

For instance:

Salgo para Barcelona mañana.
I’m leaving for Barcelona tomorrow. 

Test this out: the primary a part of the sentence says, “I’m leaving”, after which the second half strikes on to say that I’ll arrive in Barcelona tomorrow

One factor occurs after the opposite. 

With por, nevertheless, every little thing often occurs on the similar time. In essence, the 2 occasions occurring in the identical sentence are inseparable.

El ladrón entró por la ventana.
The thief acquired inside via the window.

See it right here? 

The thief getting inside and the way the thief did it – aka via the window – occurred on the similar time.

What this implies is para often conveys some kind of goal, intention or vacation spot. That’s why it’s often future-facing, because it acts as a gateway to approaching occasions. 

Por, alternatively, often describes the trigger for one thing. That’s why it seems to be backward going through: it opens a window again in time.

Por and para: The whole technique (4 key variations)

Por vs para – the difference explained in plain English by Busuu's Spanish expert


Let’s transfer on to the longer, extra thorough technique. There are 4 important variations between por and para.

4 Most important variations between por and para

1. Por is for cause, para is for goal

Use por to speak in regards to the cause for doing one thing. On this state of affairs, you’d translate it as “due to”.

For instance:

Estudio español por mi trabajo.
I’m learning Spanish due to my job.

Use para to explain the goal behind doing one thing. Contemplate its English translation to be “so as to”.

For instance:

Estudio español para trabajar en Argentina.
I’m learning Spanish so as to work in Argentina.

2. Por is for travelling, para is for the ultimate vacation spot

Por describes travelling via or round a spot. 

For instance:

Este autobús pasa por el centro de la ciudad.
This bus goes via the town centre.
El año pasado viajamos por España.
Final yr we travelled round Spain.

Para describes travelling to a spot. It refers back to the closing vacation spot of the journey.

For instance:

Este autobús va para el centro de la ciudad.
This bus goes to the town centre. 

3. Por is for length, para is for deadlines

Use por to explain length – in different phrases, how lengthy one thing lasts. The trick for recognizing this state of affairs? It is best to all the time give you the option change por for durante (“throughout”) within the sentence.

For instance:

Estudié por (durante) dos horas. 
I studied for (throughout) 2 hours.

We all the time use para to consult with a date sooner or later –usually, when there’s a deadline looming.

For instance:

Necesito terminar el informe para mañana.
I want to complete the report by tomorrow.

4. Por is “by” somebody, para is “for” somebody

Por refers to an individual who did one thing – in plain English, one thing was finished by somebody. 

For instance:

Este puente fue construido por los romanos.
This bridge was constructed by the Romans.

Para refers back to the individual one thing was finished for – in different phrases, one thing was finished for somebody.

For instance:

Compré este libro para mi hermana.
I purchased this guide for my sister.

Bonus spherical: 3 frequent expressions that use por or para

Hanging in there thus far?

Good job!

Now to complete off, let’s take a look at 3 por or para phrases that you just’ll hear again and again in Spanish dialog. They’re positively ones price memorizing, in case you can!

1. Para mí (“in my view”)

You possibly can say creo que to begin providing your opinion in Spanish. However if you wish to sound a bit extra genuine, introduce your opinion by saying para mí.

For instance:

Para mí, tienes toda la razón. 
In my view, you’re completely proper.

2. Por aquí (“round right here”)

If in case you have a imprecise inkling of the place one thing is however can’t present a precise location, you should use por to explain your approximate whereabouts.

For instance:

No hay ningún cine por aquí, creo que hay uno por el centro.
There isn’t any cinema round right here. I feel there may be one someplace within the metropolis centre. 

3. Por teléfono (“on the cellphone”)

It’s not simply por teléfono, but additionally por web, or por correo electrónico. Mainly, all these phrases are used for a kind of transmission.

For instance:

Anoche hablé con Ana por teléfono.
Final evening I spoke to Ana on the cellphone.

Bear in mind…

Don’t deal with memorising all the foundations. 

Whereas they’re vital, learning a listing of guidelines can be a waste of time – particularly in case you’re attempting to grasp the distinction between por and para in a brief house of time. 

So as an alternative of referring to a protracted, unending checklist of makes use of, search for patterns. 

And the extra you expose your self to Spanish conversations, the extra you’ll notice there are specific expressions that can all the time use por and para

And after some time, you received’t even have to consider it. You’ll simply know.

Need to maintain the momentum going?

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