https://www.duolingo.com/swiftredfoxes

Simple "por" and "para" explanation! :)

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Hope it helps! Don't get discouraged by the length, it's not complicated! :) Please read my disclaimer before commenting.

The best way to learn how to use them is by naturally getting used to them. You'll see they're way easier than it seems so. Some possible translations might help, though.

Por: By, Per, Through, During, Because of, (french) À cause de...

Para: To, For, In order to, For the purpose of...

*"Para" helps to set a deadline: This is for (+date) = Esto es para (+fecha).

Common uses:

1. Letters, art...

  • De: From.
  • Para: To.
  • (Hecho) por... = (Made) by...

2. Para as in English "to".

  • Para empezar, para comenzar = To get started, to begin with..
  • Ella es muy alta para ser menor de edad = She is very tall to be under-age / a minor.

3. Preposition + Pronoun. Detailed example here.

PARA.
  • Para ti / ella / mi... = For you / her / me... What's (made/done/being given) is for someone. For instance:

  • Cociné ésto para ti (I cooked this for you).

  • Este regalo es para mí (This gift is for me).

It can be used as in "it's (adjective) to (pronoun)" as well (according to). For instance:

  • Eso es grosero para mí = That's rude to me.
  • Para él, ella es genial. She's great to him. (Ella es genial para él)
POR.

Por ti / él / mi... = Because of you / him / me... An action is done for or because of someone/ something. For instance:

  • Lo hice por un chico (I did it because of a boy, je l'ai fait à cause d'un garçon).

It can also mean "when it comes to" (En lo que respecta a). For instance:

  • Por mí, puedes irte. (When it comes to me, you can leave).

4. Preposition + dónde

“¿Por dónde?” = Where by? (You can use it while driving as a short equivalence of “which way?”). For instance:

  • ¿Por dónde irás? (Where are you going by?)
  • Por donde no haya demasiada luz del sol. (By whatever direction in which there isn't too much sunlight).
  • Vale, ve por donde quieras pero con cuidado. (Okay, go by whatever way you want but be careful)

“¿Para dónde?” = Where to? You can say “¿a dónde?” instead. For instance:

  • ¿Para dónde nos vamos este verano? (Where do we go to this summer?)
  • ¿Les gustaría Italia? Would y'all like Italy?

5. Prepostion + Adverb

"POR" EXAMPLES.
  • Por aquí, por acá = by here, over here.
  • Por allí, por allá, por ahí = by there, over there.
  • Por detrás = From behind. Por adelante = From the front side
  • Por arriba = From above. Por abajo = From below, by the underneath side.
"PARA" EXAMPLES (Meaning "to").

(You can use "hacia" instead, which means "towards").

  • Para abajo = Downwards. Para arriba = Upwards.
  • Para la izquierda = To the left. Para la derecha = To the right.
  • Para atrás = Backwards = Para adelante = Forwards.

6. Preposition + -qué

  • ¿Por qué? = Why? i.e.: ¿Por qué lo hiciste? (Why did you do it?)

  • Porque = Because. i.e.: Porque quise. (Because I wanted to).

  • Porqué = The reason why. i.e.: No conozco el porqué. (I don't know the reason why).

  • Por que: It depends but it's uncommon and easy to understand. For instance: Ésa es la calle por la que me fui. (That's the street I went by).

  • ¿Para qué?= Why for? i.e.: ¿Para qué lo hiciste? (Why did you do it for?)

  • Para que = so that. i.e.: Para que supiera que la amaba (So she'd know I loved her).

7. Adverbs with prepostions.

  • Therefore: Por lo tanto, por lo mismo.
  • Hence: Por eso mismo, por esa razón.
  • Por ende (Y por lo mismo) = thus (and because of that).

8. Por = "Times" in math.

You can use whether "por" or "veces (times)". "Por" is really common, meaning "per / multiplied by" as in "x" number of things per "y" number of times.

3 por 5 / 3 veces 5 = 3 times 5.

9. "Por un momento / Por un tiempo / Durante un momento"...

Idiomatic. They mean: For a while / During a moment...

Disclaimer:

Any suggestion will be more than welcome but please keep in mind that I know that I only mentioned common uses in this post. I don't want to make this difficult to read. Nonetheless, I will be editing this in order to make it the most concise yet accurate I can. I did this to help my friends but anyone can contribute with a comment / question.

2 years ago

12 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/scruffy
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I've always liked the analogy/shortcut that "por" is movement while "para" is destination.

"Por" is the means by which something occurs, the intermediate step, while "para" is used to bring a point, but not necessarily a full statement, to its conclusion.

It's not 100% reliable but I find it highly effective regardless.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swiftredfoxes
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That's certainly a good analogy! Sometimes the simplest things are hard to be explained with words.

I really like the arrows in the attached picture, I hope that readers notice them. Thank you for contributing :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Ikochamelmonde

This is excellent. Although I still would struggle with numbers one and two for "por", I would say that there is no confusion for me regarding the four uses of "para". Therefore, if I just try to apply the four rules for "para" and I can see that "para" won't work, then by deduction, I would just use "por", regardless if I get the first two uses for "por". Thanks for sharing! This is a keeper!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swiftredfoxes
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If it helps, I can simplify that "por la noche/tarde..." sentence from the pic. "Por (by, per)" can be a short alternative for "during" and "through", while "para" can't.

  • Yo usualmente me baño por la mañana = I usually bathe during the morning. (You can always just say "Me baño en la mañana / durante la mañana" instead).

Honestly, the 2nd example of "por" is just as weird and poorly defined for us as it is for you. So don't worry, most try to avoid being ambiguous, since that looks more like "by the fog / through the fog" than like "because of the fog" (and can obviously mean either), here are 2 actually useful sentences (that you're luckily more likely to hear):

  • El avión no voló porque había niebla. (The plane didn't fly because there was fog).
  • El avion no atravesó la niebla. (The plane didn't go through the fog).

Thank you for contribuiting! :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Russ_Eaton
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2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RabbitsRabbits

I used to find it hard and then I watched a video that I can't find now and after I watched that one video I never made a mistake with it again.. I can sum it up with two arrows

Por ->

-> Para

I don't know if that makes any sense to anyone but me though

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Russ_Eaton
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I find por easy to remember as the Bs: by; by way of; because; on behalf; barter. This test is good, too http://www.spanishnewyork.com/automatic/porpara.php

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/LissyB1
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Gracias por tu ayuda! :) Yo entiendo...finalmente. :)

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swiftredfoxes
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No hay problema, me alegra saberlo (:

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/JuanjoGuer
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Buen trabajo!!! unos lingotes para ti!

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/swiftredfoxes
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¡Gracias! Usted es muy amable (:

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Peter2210
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¡Muy Bien!

2 years ago
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