Spanish "Por" vs "Para"

Overview

Although both Spanish prepositions por and para can often be translated as "for," they have separate meanings and can seldom be used as synonyms.
-Por is often used to indicate who performs an action or the reason for it being performed.
-Para is often used to indicate the result of an action being performed.
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In Spanish the words POR and PARA both mean “for” but also serve many other uses depending on the context in which they are used. Tricky! Today we’re going to give you some easy tips and tricks for remembering the meanings of POR and PARA and the rules for using each one.

Let’s start with when to use POR:

  1. Means of travel or communication Hablamos por teléfono. We talk on the phone. Caminamos por el parque cuando vamos a la oficina. We walk through the park when we go to the office. El Verano pasado viajamos por Barcelona. Last summer we traveled through Barcelona.
  2. Detail an exchange of goods or services Te doy cinco dólares por esa camisa. I’ll give you $5 for that shirt.
  3. Duration of an activity or period of time Hicimos ejercicio por una hora. We worked out for an hour.
  4. Reason

Cocino por ti porque te quiero. I cook for you because I love you.

When to use PARA:

  1. Destination ¿Para dónde vas de vacaciones? Where are you going on vacation?
  2. Intended recipient El dinero es para Antonio. The money is not for Antonio. Mi ayuda no es para los perezososo. My help is not for lazy people.
  3. Deadline Ustedes tienen que terminar el proyecto para el viernes. You all have to finish your project by Friday.
  4. Purpose (“in order to”) *this case is usually seen with an infinitive form of the verb used

Necesito hacer ejercicio para ser saludable. I need to exercise to be healthy.

Estudio para tener éxito en la escuela. I study to be successful in school.

Summary of POR and PARA uses:

PORPARA
Means of travelDestination
ExchangeIntended recipient
TimeDeadline
ReasonPurpose

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

Writing:
I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
Reading:
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
Listening:
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.