Differences between Por and Para

Differences between Por and Para

Learn when to use Por and Para in Spanish, both two are Spanish prepositions. Sometimes it’s difficult to differentiate them for Spanish students, because in other languages ​it’s used ​the same word for ‘Por’ and ‘Para’

Educational resources to learn Spanish grammar


Video whit the theory of uses of  ‘por’ vs ‘para’

Diference between Por and Para

The main difference between these prepositions is its function:

POR express cause
PARA express purpose

In an sentence is always expressed an action



The reason for that action,
Why does the action happen

Estoy de viaje por trabajo

(I’m traveling for work)



For what or for whom
the action is intended

He venido a España para aprender español

(I have come to Spain to learn Spanish)

Sometimes in a sentence it could be used both Por and Para, but the meaning would be different depending on which one we used

He comprado el libro para Lola
‘Para’ indicates that the purpose of buying the book is to give it to Lola.

He comprado el libro por Lola
‘Por’ indicates the reason why I bought the book, because Lola recommended it to me

Cause and purpose is the main difference, but we can also find other uses of prepositions

Other uses of Por

POR > to indicate a place

Use POR to indicate an approximate place:
Vive por el centro (He lives in the center)
Voy a hacer un viaje por Argentina ( I’m going to make a trip through Argentina)

Also to indicate a place where you pass or a space you go across
¿Este autobús va por Madrid? (This bus go through Madrid)
Pasaremos por Valencia para ir a Barcelona (We will pass through Valencia to go to Barcelona)

POR > to indicate time

Use POR to indicate an approximate time:
Vendrá a visitarnos por Navidad. (He will come to visit us for Christmas)

Or we use it to indicate periodicity
Una vez por semana voy al cine. (Once a week I go to the cinema)

It is also used to indicate parts of the day:
Voy a clases por la tarde. (I go to classes in the afternoon)
Hemos quedado el sábado por la noche (We stayed on Saturday night)

POR > use in the passive voice

In passive sentences we use POR before the agent.

Passive phrases are in which the subject receives the action instead of doing the action.
An active phrase would be: Picasso pintó el cuadro del ‘Guernica’ (Picasso painted the picture of ‘Guernica’)

That passive phrase would be: El Guernica fue pintado por Picasso (Guernica was painted by Picasso)

POR > Indicate the means

It is used by to indicate the medias, transports …
Manda el informe por email (Send the report by email)
Le he llamado por teléfono (I called him by phone)
Los barcos van por el agua (Boats go by the water)

POR > Talking about distribution

Hay un libro por alumno. (There is one book per student.)
Reparte una tarta por mesa (Distribute a cake per table)

POR > To indicate the price

We use Por to indicate the price with buy or sell
Compré un ordenador por 130 euros. (I bought a computer for 130 euros.)
Ha vendido su casa por mucho dinero (He has sold his house for a lot of money)

POR > In the exchanges

POR is used to indicate the thing you give in exchange for something:
Te cambio mi camiseta por la tuya. (I change my shirt for yours.)
Intercambio clases de español por clases de inglés. (Exchange Spanish classes for English classes.)

POR > Multiplications

The multiplication sign is called Por, and is used to read the multiplications
Dos por cuatro son ocho (Two times four is eight)
Dos por cinco, diez (Two times five is ten)

POR > to indicate the speed

The maximum speed in the city is 50 kilometers per hour.


Otther uses of Para

PARA > Indicates a deadline

El trabajo es para mañana. (The work is for tomorrow. It has to be finished tomorrow)

PARA > Indicates the recipient

Para indicate the recipient when it is followed by a name or pronoun
El paquete es para la tienda. (The package is for the store.)
¿Esto es para mi? (This is for me?)

PARA > Indicates direction or movement

Salimos ahora para tu casa – (We leave now for your house)
Voy para allí. (I`m going there)

PARA > to express an opinion

Para mí, lo mejor es esta opción (For me, the best thing is this option)
Para los empleados no era una buena solución (For employees it was not a good solution)

PARA > To express something unexpected 

Para ser invierno hace mucho calor (To be winter it’s very hot)

Por y para exercise

Practice using Por and Para to see if you have learned their differences

More educational resources to learn basic Spanish. Educational materials for Spanish students and teachers


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