After explaining the usage of the verb to be in Spanish (ser and estar) and the usage of the subjunctive present tense in the previous articles, in the blog of 2DayLanguages we want you to learn how and when you should use the prepositions por and para. If you are learning Spanish we invite you to visit our Spanish school in Valencia. In any case, in this article you will find a summary of the rules with most of the usages of por y para. This topic is one of the toughest for Spanish learners, so pay attention.

“PARA”

With the preposition para we express:

-Purpose or intention: when we talk about an objective that we want to obtain and for that we take an action.

Yo estudio para aprender español.

(I study to learn Spanish).

-Addressee: when we talk about a person, animal or a thing to which an action is destined.

He comprado flores para mi madre.

(I’ve bought flowers for my mother.)

He comprado una alfombra para el salón.

(I’ve bought a carpet for my living room.)

-Direction to a destination: referring to a place that we are going to. We can substitute the preposition para for “hacia” or “a”.

Voy para Valencia a ver a mis amigos.

(I am going to Valencia to see my friends.)

-Temporary period: in this case we use para when we want to mark the due date for the fulfillment of an action.

Los deberes son para mañana.

(The homework is for tomorrow.)

-Opinion: with this preposition we introduce a thought of one’s own or of the other person.

Para mí, las mejores playas están en España.

(As for me, the best beaches are in Spain.)

“POR”

Nevertheless, with the preposition por we express:

An indefinite location in space: we don’t know where the place exactly is; it’s an approximate location.

2DayLanguages está por el centro de Valencia.

(2DayLanguages is somewhere in the center of Valencia.)

-An indefinite location in the time. We do not know exactly when does the fact happen; it’s an approximate time.

Vendremos a Valencia por marzo, que es cuando se suelen celebrar las Fallas.

(We will come to Valencia around March, that’s the time when the festival “Las Fallas” is usually being celebrated.)

-The cause: the reason why something happens.

Has aprobado el examen por tu esfuerzo.

(You have passed the exam because of your effort)

-Distribution: it’s related to distributing a quantity or an element into more pieces.

Por favor, reparte un trozo de tarta por persona.

(Divide a piece of cake for each person, please.)

-Means: the thing through which we know or do something.

He visto por internet vuestra escuela de español y es muy bonita.

(I have seen your Spanish school through internet and it’s very beautiful.)

Ahora sé por Hiro cómo es la cultura japonesa.

(Because of Hiro, now I know what the Japanese culture is like.)

-Exchange: when talking about exchange. It is also used when one person is replacing another.

Te cambio tu móvil por mi ordenador.

(I’d exchange my computer for your phone.)

Hoy Biel dará la clase por Fran.

(Biel will be teaching the class instead of Fran today.)

 

In many languages these prepositions do not exist, most of the time by just using one of them it is possible to express both meanings, that’s way it is difficult for some of the students to know which one should be used.  It is important to use them correctly because when using a different proposition the meaning might change a lot. For instance, it is not the same thing to say: He comprado este coche por ti (I have bought the car because of you, “you are the cause”) as saying he comprado este coche para ti (I have bought this car for you, “I am going to give it to you”). We will leave you some exercises so that you could practice:

  • Me llamó anoche ………… invitarme a su cumpleaños.
  • Quiero daros las gracias ………… este bonito homenaje.
  • Esta noche hablamos ………… teléfono.
  • Necesito a un nuevo trabajador………… el 9 de octubre.
  • Me han cobrado 6 euros ………… este libro.
  • ………… mí, el mejor pintor español es Velázquez.
  • Necesitamos otra cama ………… esta habitación.

 

Answers: a) para, b) por, c) por, d) para, e) por, f) para, g) para.

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