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Quick answer
"Estar a punto de" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "to be about to", and "estar por" is a transitive verb phrase which is often translated as "to be near". Learn more about the difference between "estar a punto de" and "estar por" below.
estar a punto de(
ehs
-
tahr
 
ah
 
poon
-
toh
 
deh
)
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (to be very close to)
a. to be about to
Estábamos a punto de pedir unas pizzas. ¿Tú quieres?We were about to order some pizza. Would you like some?
b. to be on the point of
Natalia estaba a punto de decir algo importante cuando sonó el teléfono.Natalia was on the point of saying something important when the telephone rang.
c. to be nearly
Unos cuantos bancos están a punto de quebrar.Quite a few banks are nearly bankrupt.
d. to be almost
La madre no paraba de gritar al niño, que estaba a punto de echarse a llorar.The mother wouldn't stop shouting at the kid, who was almost crying.
e. to be on the verge of
El plan de la empresa no puede fracasar; cientos de personas están a punto de perder sus empleos.The company's plan just cannot fall through; hundreds of people are on the verge of losing their jobs.
f. to be on the brink of
La economía del país andino estaba a punto de caer en una fuerte recesión.The economy of the Andean country was on the brink of falling into a deep recession.
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estar por(
ehs
-
tahr
 
pohr
)
A transitive verb phrase is a phrase that combines a verb with a preposition or other particle and requires a direct object (e.g. Take out the trash.).
transitive verb phrase
1. (used to indicate location)
a. to be near
Esa calle está por la estación, ¿no?That street is near the station, isn't it?
2. (used to indicate direction)
a. to be over
¿Dónde está la estación? - Está por allí.Where's the station? - It's over there.
3. (to support)
a. to be for
Yo estoy por que cenemos antes de ir al cine.I'm for having dinner before going to the movies.
b. to be in favor of
Regionalism used in the United States
(United States)
Yo siempre estoy por el cambio. "Transformarse o morir" es mi lema.I'm always in favor of change. "Change or die" is my motto.
c. to be in favour of (United Kingdom)
Nuestro partido está por la reforma de la ley electoral.Our party is in favour of the electoral law reform.
4. (to be considering)
a. to be thinking of
Están tardando mucho. Estoy por llamarlos.They're very late. I was thinking of calling them.
b. to be on the verge of
Es un maleducado. He estado por colgarle el teléfono.He's so rude. I was on the verge of hanging up on him.
5. (to be still to be)
a. to remain to be
Está por ver si cumplen o no sus promesas electorales.It remains to be seen whether they'll keep or not their electoral promises.
b. to have yet to be
Cuando eres joven, te parece que todo está por por inventar.When you're young, it seems to you everything has yet to be invented.
6. (to be considerate towards)
a. to be attentive to
Ramón estuvo toda la tarde muy por su esposa. Yo creo que está enamoradísimo de ella.Ramon was the whole afternoon very attentive to his wife. I think he's really in love with her.
7. (to be in love with)
a. to be crazy about
Juan está por Carmen. ¿Viste cómo la mira?Juan is crazy about Carmen. Did you notice the way he looks at her?
8. (used to indicate imminence)
Regionalism used in Latin America: all the countries in South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. Does not include Spain.
(Latin America)
a. to be about to
Todo parece indicar que la guerra está por estallar en el país.Everything seems to point to the fact that war is about to break out in the country.
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