Por vs. Para

Learning the differences between por  and para  is often quite challenging, and with good reason. In Spanish, both por and para take on the responsibilities of not only for, but also by, on, through, because of, in exchange for, in order to, and several other prepositions and phrases. Por suerte  (luckily), we've got a whole series on this tricky pair, so get ready to master the differences between por and para!

Por

Por is used to talk about movement, modes and means of travel and communication, exchanges, duration, and motivation, among other things. Let's take a closer look at some examples of these common uses of por.

1. Travel and Communication

Por can be used to talk about the way you travel or communicate. This can refer to mode of travel (car, train, etc.) or communication (email, phone, etc.) or even the route you take.

La contacté por correo.
I contacted her by mail.
 
Viajé por Francia y España.
I traveled through France and Spain.
 
¿Quieres pasar por el parque?
Do you want to go through the park?
 

2. Exchanges

Por is used to talk about exchanges and trades.

Te cambio mi manzana por tu sandwich.
I'll trade you my apple for your sandwich.
 
Te doy sesenta pesos por la mochila.
I'll give you sixty pesos for that backpack.
 

3. Duration

Por is used to talk about the length of time an activity went on for.

Tengo que trabajar por ocho horas hoy.
I need to work for eight hours today.
 
¿Dormiste por 12 horas? ¡Qué vida la tuya!
You slept for 12 hours? Lucky dog!
 

4. Motivation

Por is used to talk motivations or reasons for doing something.

Por su amor a los niños, quiere ser pediatra.
Because of her love for children, she wants to be a pediatrician.
 
Trabajo por ti, porque te quiero cuidar.
I work for you, because I want to take care of you.
 

Para

Para is used to talk about destinations, recipients, deadlines, and goals. Check out the following examples of these common uses of para.

1. Destinations

Para is used to talk about physical destinations, especially the endpoint of a trip.

Salgo para Chile mañana.
I leave for Chile tomorrow.
 
¿ Para dónde vas con tanta prisa?
Where are you going in such a hurry?
 

2. Recipients

Para is used to indicate the intended recipient of something, such as a gift.

Este regalo es para Adela.
This gift is for Adela.
 
No, Bruno. Estos chocolates no son para los perros.
No, Bruno. These chocolates aren't for dogs.
 

3. Deadlines

Para is used to talk about deadlines, including dates and times.

Necesito la presentación para el viernes.
I need the presentation by Friday.
 
Tengo que terminar esto para las ocho.
I need to finish this by eight o'clock.
 

4. Goals

Para is used to talk about goals and purposes. It's especially common to see para used with an infinitive to talk about why something is done.

Trabaja mucho para ganar más dinero.
He works a lot in order to earn more money.
 
Corro para mantenerme en forma.
I run to stay in shape.
 

There are also many expressions that are used with por and para. Some very common examples are shown in the table below.

Por PhraseEnglish TranslationPara PhraseEnglish Translation
por ejemplo
 
for example
para siempre
 
forever
por favor
 
please
para variar
 
just for a change
por supuesto
 
of course
para que
 
so that/in order that
por ciento
 
percent
para qué
 
for what reason
por qué
 
why
para dónde
 
where to
por fin
 
finally
para ti
 
for you

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