8 Vote

I know there are many good articles on the differences between por and para and when to use each of them, but I was wondering if anyone had their own little 'tricks' to remember when to use one or the other when speaking? repetition and practice I know will help me with this eventually, as well as memorizing the 'rules' of usage for each word, but does anyone have any personal tricks they find helpful when trying to decide when to use por or when to use para in a sentence?

  • Posted Aug 26, 2009
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10 Answers

5 Vote

I think that if there existed any simple shortcuts they would have been shared by now and the use of por/para wouldn't be up there with ser/estar in beginner's nightmares.

Use acronyms such as PRODD or PERFECT for Para served no purpose for me. The short rules for their application of each letter were too confusing, requiring an example to explain them. When you don't have the example, the rule is too hard to apply as many of them seem contradictory. Use para for in order to or purpose, but por for because of or reason why. They seem to overlap.

I don't think there are any shortcuts for memorizing the contexts in which each is used.

4 Vote

I still haven't found a por y para trick, but I do know that I had the most awesome teacher ever in one of my beginners classes and she had some amazing tricks... one was for ser and estar. It is two acronyms:

cop and help

ser = cop c: characteristics o: origins p: profession

estar = help h: health e: emotions l: location p: past participle

This was a major help for beginners spanish and is something, Lord willing, I will never forget! I hope it helps with that issue

3 Vote

When they mean 'for' I tend to think of por and para with direction smile

For example -

if I'm heading towards something that's ahead of me, ie. a recipient, a destination, or something I want to achieve etc then it's para

Este regalo es para mi hermano. (recipient)

This present is 'for' my brother.

Voy para Europa. (destination)

I'm heading 'for' Europe.

Estoy leyendo para aprender. (purpose)

I'm reading 'for' learning. (although we'd probably say in order to learn, same difference je je)

Necesito el vestido para el lunes.

I need the dress for Monday. (future date)


if I already have it or it's behind me, ie. a reason, something I can exchange then it's por

Lucho por derechos humanos. (reason)

I fight for human rights.

Te daré un dólar por su sombrero.

I'll give you a dollar for your hat. (exchange)

There are some things that won't fit the above but those are usually pretty easy to remember like por meaning through or along when expressing movement, por for per and por for time duration, por un mes etc

  • Best shortcut I've found yet! Thanks, Kiwi!! - territurtle Oct 20, 2011 flag
  • You're welcome Terri glad you found it helpful :) - Kiwi-Girl Oct 22, 2011 flag
  • Omg, this has changed my life, Kiwi! No joke! I never ever get por vs. para right, but this has really changed the way I think about them! Thank you! - SonrisaDelSo Oct 22, 2011 flag
  • ja ja kewl bananas :) - Kiwi-Girl Oct 22, 2011 flag
2 Vote

The one that helps me is that usually it is para if the infinitive comes next like in para cocinar.

2 Vote


It's not a short cut - but it's really good.

  • I went through all of them 3 times before I started to catch on. - territurtle Oct 20, 2011 flag
2 Vote

Not a trick but a reference overview that you might find helpful. smile Por and Para

2 Vote

Kiwi Girl's examples between "por"and "para" are very useful and for the most part will save you 99.9% of the time. I just would like to add that "por" and "para" can both be used in reference to time. Note that "para" is utilized in those expressions in which "by" refers to a future time (once again a kind of "time destination") It can also be translated as "for" in future time expressions or in a sequence of related events.

Estarán listos para la semana que viene.= They will be ready by next week. ¿Para cuándo necesitas?= By when do you need it? La fiesta se ha señalado para el sábado= The party is set for Saturday. He gave us all the home work for next week= Nos dio todas las tareas para la semana que viene.

If you can remember these couple of crazy rules then mostly everything else with time uses "por" and in some cases "por" is equivalent to "during" indicating the duration of the action. Lo hice por la primera vez= I did it for the first time. Habló por dos horas= He spoke for two hours. Eso es todo por ahora= That's all for now.

  • Always something new to learn! Thanks Dr. Vicente!! - territurtle Oct 22, 2011 flag
  • Thanx drv - as you say those para examples fit in with things ahead/future, I'll add one to the para description on my post too, gracias :) - Kiwi-Girl Oct 22, 2011 flag
1 Vote

I have to agree with Qfreed. There really aren't any easy ways, and often one's give are not the best. You just have to know the differences really well. Sorry!

1 Vote

If you want to practice, I think that this site has some of the best exercises available because they give such good feedback as you go. smile

Por vs Para

0 Vote

Darn :( Thanks though!

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