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"Por" and "Para"

One of the things that still confuses me is when to use por and when to use para.

I think the rule I pretty much understand is when it comes to location or destination. Where para would indicate a final destination, while por is used to indicate a sort of path or a more general direction within an area (Correct me if I'm wrong anywhere in this post please!)

And that when speaking in terms of time, you'll use "por".

But what is the difference between say...something like, "Por ti" and "Para ti"?

I'm sure there were other instances when I wondered why it was "por" and not "para" too, but I can't recall at the moment.

Could anyone give any tips on remembering when to use and which? Any help would be appreciated. :)

November 25, 2013



"Para" is always the destination/goal/objective/the planned action. (If there are exceptions, they are few).

Por is the complicated one. It can be:


  • Foi por isso que eu voltei = It was because of it that I came back
  • Fiz por amor = I did it for love (because of love)

A mix between cause and thing you want to "promote/benefit"

  • Ele luta pela comunidade = He fights for the community (to help it, to keep it alive, to benefit it)
  • Tudo por você = All for you / All because of you (it's not an accusation, but the subject wants to see "you" well - see further explanation below).

Means through which things are done:

  • Ela me falou por telefone = She told me by the phone
  • Por meio de ... = by means of...

On behalf of

  • Eu falo por ele = I speak on behalf of him

Ask for / wait for

  • Ela pede por água = She asks for water

This "ask for" case is tricky. One could think that "water" is the goal/objective. But then I remember that the motion is not from her to the water, but from the water towards her.

  • To say "ela pede para água" is nonsense.
  • But you can say "pede para sair" (asks to get out). Here, sair is the objective, the planned action.

The same would apply to "esperar".

  • Ele espera por um milagre (he waits for a miracle - to come to him)
  • Ele espera para fazer de novo (he waits to do it again)


Foi por isso que eu voltei = I came back because of it.
Foi para isso que eu voltei = I came back for that (as the planned acion, came back to do that)

Tudo pela comunidade = All for/because of the community
Tudo para a comunidade = All for/to the community (the community is receiving the things being given. Motion towards the community)

Eu falo por ela = I speak on behalf of her
Eu falo para ela = I speak to her/I tell her

Further explanation about "the cause/accusation".

There is the expression "por causa de", which means because of. In that sentence I commented above, the difference would be:

  • Tudo por você = All for you (In this, "você" inspires the subject and he wants to do everything for "you").
  • Tudo por causa de você = All because of you (this one can be more like an accusation, all that happened was because of "you")


I don't always have the time to look at these comments. But when I do, they have bee SO helpful. Your efforts from a whole year ago are still bearing fruit - MANY thanks!


This page may help you (it made me think although I still have several doubts): http://www.learn-portuguese-with-rafa.com/por-and-para-in-portuguese.html.


So...reading the explanation, is it actually wrong to say "Por que faz dieta?" If not, what's the difference between that and "Para quê"? That link helped, but por ti and para ti are still kind of vague to me. Maybe my logical reasoning is just confused and messed up. But when I think of an example like. "I called the dentist for you" I think that the person did something for the other, and I could also see the one who called as calling on the other person's behalf. :x


Maybe if you compare real world usage of "para ti" and "por ti" something will click:


This guy tries hard to address the general por/para differences: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ax7xD8okGg4.


Por que / por quê = why. Para que = what for?


Probably you will need to find out which one you need to use based on the context. I believe most of the people use them interchangeably, at least regarding the spoken language, in Brazil. However, I think the main difference is as follows.

Por ti: You are basically putting yourself in someone's place. Not the usual meaning of "to imagine how someone else feels in a difficult situation (Cambridge dictionary)", it is like, you are taking someone's task.

Para ti: You are doing something to someone.

For instance: I am buying a necklace for you. - Eu estou comprando um colar por ti/você. ( You were supposed to buy the necklace, but I am buying it for you.) (I am choosing the necklace for you) You have asked me to buy or I am doing it because I want. - Eu estou comprando um colar para ti/você. ( I am buying you a present)

Well, hopefully that helps you, at least a little bit :) Sorry, probably that is the best I can do at the moment, 3 am haha'


Thanks for the explanation. :) With time I'm sure it will stick to my memory and stay there. It's interesting because speaking English, your mind never thinks about these little details and different situations since to me, English is so much more generalized than Portuguese.


This was a clear explanation. @vinetz Thank you!


Por ti = in your behalf, because of you / para ti =for you


Paulo, there are plenty of good online resources which compare "por" and "para" in Spanish. Are there any big differences in usage between the two languages that mean those resources are useless for Portuguese?


Yes, you can use these resources too!! They fit =)


On your behalf? There's a very vague line between that and "for you". For instance, I could be doing something that you're supposed to do, for you, like, taking over someone's shift. Wouldn't that be the same as doing something on your behalf?


Vou fazer isso para você = I'll do that for you (like a favor, a reward, no matter, but you'll receive my action). Vou fazer isso por você = I'll do that because you're asking me for, butnif it was another one I wouldn't! (But....it will depend on the context :S)


I believe the easiest way to understand they differences is comparing them with "for" and "to".

POR/FOR The word "por" in Portuguese is mostly used in the same situations that "for" is used in English, e.g. EN: I was looking for you PT: Eu estava procurando por você

EN: I did it for you, my love PT: Eu fiz isso por você, meu amor

PARA/TO On the other hand "para" is often used as "to" is. There are exceptions, though.

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