Por vs Para

Here are some examples you can print off: Por vs Para

First, let’s review prepositions. When speaking in English if you want to add information to a primary clause you can use a preposition followed by the added information. For example, I could say, “I buy apples,” however, the sentence does not provided much description. I could add information and make the sentence more descriptive in the following way: “I buy apples for my mother at the farmer’s market on Sunday of each week. The following table provides the prepositions followed by the information they add to the sentence.

Preposition Added Information
for my mother
at the farmer’s market
on Sunday
of each week

In the above example, I added on four (4) prepositional phrases or rather, four (4) pieces of new information. You can add as little or as much information as you want so long as the sentence maintains valid grammar.

In Spanish all the same is true, however there are two prepositions that English natives often confuse–por and para. Both por and para are often translated as the English preposition for, but they are not synonyms and they cannot be used interchangeably. There are situations that use por and there are other situations that use para. There are not any situations where you could use either and the sentence mean the same both times. For this reason, we must define and differentiate the two from one another.

Situation Example Translation
When the following information is the reason or cause of the verb. Mi abuelo murió por diabetes. My grandfather died from diabetes.
When the following information describes a method or means of how the verb is completed. No se puede hablar por teléfono mientras se viaja por avión. You cannot talk on the phone while traveling via plane.
When you complete the verb on behalf of someone. Trabajé por Anna porque ella estaba enferma. I worked for Anna because she was sick.
When you are describing an exchange of items or ideas. Ella me dio su yogur por mi galleta. She gave me her yogurt for my cookie.
When describing multiplication. Dos por tres son seis. Two times three is six.
When expressing thanks for something. Gracias por venir. Thanks for coming.


Situation Example Translation
To describe a recipient of an item or idea. Lo compré para tí. I bought it for you.
To describe a destination. Me voy para Granada. I am headed toward Granada.
To describe assignments and deadlines. Hagan la tarea para el viernes. Do the homework for Friday.
If the prepositioncan be replaced with in order to. Debes hacer la tarea para sacar buenas notas. You should do the homework in order to get good grades.


If you think you understand the difference between the two, click on the quiz.