What's the difference between para and por?
I thought they both meant "for" but now I'm not sure.
"Por" vs. "Para" Learning the differences between por
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- Motivation Por is used to talk about 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Phrase English Translation
por ejemplo for example
por favor please
por supuesto of course
por ciento percent
por qué why
por fin finally
Para Phrase English Translation
para siempre forever
para variar just for a change
para que so that/in order that
para qué for what reason
para dónde where to
para ti for you