Por Versus Para: Your Ultimate Guide to Knowing the Difference
Knowing the difference between por and para can be a tricky issue for most Spanish learners.
Read on to learn all about when to use each word plus 20 expressions that contain one or the other.
- Por Versus Para
- Spanish Expressions with Por
- Spanish Expressions with Para
- Where to Practice of Por vs Para
Por Versus Para
Por and para both mean “for,” but are used in different situations.
Por is used for reasons, communication, travel, how long something goes on, transactions, substitutes and favors.
Para is used when talking about recipients, destinations, goals, opinions and deadlines.
Here is more about these differences:
Use por when:
- Indicating the reason for doing something. You can translate it to “because of:”
No ha venido por el mal tiempo. (He has not come because of the bad weather.)
- You want to talk about communication and travel:
Me contestó por email. (He answered me via/by email.)
Nunca he viajado por Polonia. (I have never traveled through Poland.)
- You need to state how long something goes on:
Estuve escribiendo por 3 horas. (I was writing for 3 hours.)
- You want to refer to an exchange or transaction:
¿De verdad has pagado tanto por ese teléfono? (Have you really paid that much for that phone?)
Me dio su camiseta por mi camisa. (She gave me her T-shirt for my shirt.)
- One person substitutes or takes the place of another during a task:
Fui a ayudar por mi padre. (I went to help instead of my father.)
- You do something for someone out of love:
Todo esto es por ti. (All this is for you.)
Use para when:
- You need to talk about the recipient of something:
Esto es para ti. (This is for you.)
- You are referring to a destination or final point:
El tren para Lisboa sale en 3 minutos. (The train to Lisbon leaves in 3 minutes.)
- You want to talk about goals and purpose:
Hemos venido para almorzar contigo. (We have come to have lunch with you.)
- You want to give your opinion or talk about someone else’s opinion:
Para mí, esta casa es muy pequeña. (For me, this house is very small.)
Para mi madre, eso es muy peligroso. (According to my mother, that is very dangerous.)
- You have to talk about or discuss a deadline:
Lo necesito para el lunes. (I need it for Monday.)
Spanish Expressions with Por
- Por ahora (for now) — Por ahora, todo está controlado. (Everything is under control for the time being.)
- Por completo (completely, absolutely) — Se le olvidó por completo. (He completely forgot about it.)
- Por ejemplo (for example) — Juan y Pedro, por ejemplo. (Juan and Pedro, for example.)
- Por favor (please) — Ayúdame, por favor. (Help me, please.)
- Por fin (finally, at last) — ¡Has vuelto! ¡Por fin! (You are back! At last!)
- Por lo menos (at least) — Necesito tres por lo menos. (I need three at least.)
- Por lo visto (apparently) — Por lo visto, él le ha sido infiel. (Apparently, he has cheated on her.)
- Por si acaso (just in case) — Vamos a volver por si acaso. (Let’s go back, just in case.)
- Por supuesto (sure, of course) — ¡Por supuesto que no lo haré! (Of course I will not do it!)
- ¿Por qué? porque… (why? because…) — ¿Por qué lloras? Porque estoy triste. (Why are you crying? Because I am sad.)
- Gracias por (thanks for) — Gracias por todo, mamá. (Thanks for everything, mum.)
Spanish Expressions with Para
- Para colmo (to top it all) — Llegó tarde y, para colmo, no pidió disculpas. (He arrived late and, to top it all, he did not apologize.)
- Para empezar (for starters) — Para empezar, vamos a llamar a papá. (For starters, let’s call dad.)
- Para entonces (by then) — Ya había muerto para entonces. (He was dead by then.)
- Para nada (not…at all) — No me gusta para nada. (I do not like it at all.)
- Para otra vez (for another time, for another day) — Dejémoslo para otra vez. (Let’s leave it for another time.)
- Para que / para qué (so that, in order to / what for) — Lo hice para que vinieras. (I did it so that you would come.)
- Para siempre (forever) — Quiero estar contigo para siempre. (I want to be with you forever.)
- Para variar (as usual, just for a change) — Has vuelto a mentir, para variar. (You have lied again, just for a change.)
- Estar para (to be about to) — Estaba para salir cuando llamaste. (I was about to go out when you called.)
Where to Practice of Por vs Para
These resources can help you practice knowing the difference between por and para.
This 40-question por vs para quiz will help you assess your knowledge in no time.
Every time you answer a question, you get instant feedback and a grammar explanation.
FluentU allows you to see how natives actually use por and para with video clips of movies, TV shows, news, etc.
You can even use interactive subtitles, flashcards and quizzes to test your retention.
FluentU is available on iOS and Android.
A Green Mouse
This site gives you a wide range of exercises, grammar explanations, videos and quizzes on por versus para.
And here are some additional tips for practicing por versus para:
- Do exercises and take quizzes. This will help you apply the words and remember them better.
- Write down lots of por and para sentences. This will help you start seeing patterns and expressions that repeat themselves so you learn faster.
- Create your own flashcards. This way, your por and para sentences will be with you all the time.
- Read a lot. Context is everything, and reading will give you plenty of real Spanish to gorge on.
- Listen to Spanish podcasts. Listening to podcasts will allow you to hear these prepositions used in natural speech.
- Watch Spanish movies, series and YouTube videos. Watching any kind of video material with native Spanish in it will have a similar effect as listening to podcasts.
- Try to use por and para whenever you can. Write in Spanish online chats, talk to friends in Spanish, talk to yourself in the mirror, etc.
Now you know a little more about how to tell the difference between por and para.
Keep practicing and soon it will be all the easier to use them correctly!