Por and para

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For those who are beginning to learn Spanish, the differences between the prepositions por and para can be subtle and disconcerting because both are often translated for. Here is a list comparing the usage of por and para.

Uses of por

Length of time

Lo hice por dos semanas. - I did it for two weeks.

To send for someone, to go for someone

Envié por el encargado. - I sent for the person in charge.
Fui por el médico. - I went for the doctor, I went to get the doctor.

Exchanging or buying something

Te daré dos dólares por tu bicicleta. - I'll give you two dollars for your bike.

¿Por qué - Why?

¿Por qué compraste tanta madera?. - Why did you buy so much wood?


Este libro fue escrito por Juan. - This book was written by Juan.

Means, method

Envía esta carta por avión. - Send this letter by airmail.

On behalf of, for someone's sake

Lo hice por tí. - I did it for you, I did it on your behalf, I did it for your sake.

By, Along, Along the edge of

Caminamos por la orilla del río. - We walked along the edge of the river.


Caminamos por el bosque. - We walked through the forest.

Because of

Huyeron por miedo a las autoridades. - They fled because they were afraid of the authorities.

Per, A

Come una manzana por día. - Ean an apple a day, Eat one apple per day.

To fight for

Ella luchaba por su derecho de hablar. - She fought for her right to speak.

To ask for someone, To ask about someone

Si vas a Puebla, preguntas por mi tía. - If you go to Puebla, as for my aunt.

Uses of para

Para con + alguien - toward, to

El es muy bueno para con nosotros. - He is very nice to us.

Estar para + infinitive - to be about to

El autobús está para salir. - The bus is about to leave.

Para mí - in my opinion, for my part

Para mí que está roto. - I'd say it's broken.

Para que - so, so that, in order that

Hay que conectar el refri para que se enfríe. - You have to plug in the fridge so it will cool down.

¿Para qué? - What for?

¿Para qué compraste la madera. - What did you buy the wood for?.

Para ser - in spite of being, for being, for a

Habla bien el español para ser americano. - He speaks Spanish well for an American.

Para siempre - forever

Te amaré para siempre. - I will love you forever.


En la noche salgo para Guadalajara. - I'm leaving for Guadalajara tonight.


Hago ejercicio para hacerme más fuerte. - I exercise to get stronger.

Intended for, purpose

Este libro es para Leonardo. - This book is for Leonard.
Una taza para café. - A coffee cup.

Reference a future time

Esto es para la semana que entra. - This is for next week.

To work for

Yo trabajo para Microsoft. - I work for Microsoft.
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