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How to use the Spanish prepositions "POR" and "PARA"

Updated: Sep 9

By: Carla Bongiovanni.

The difference between these two prepositions is difficult to understand for Spanish students. Today we are going to study each use extensively.

1. Reason or cause: POR.

It translates as “because of” or “for”.

  • Cerraron las escuelas por la nieve - The schools closed because of the snow.

  • Te felicito por el trabajo que hiciste - I congratulate you for the work you did.

2. Purpose: PARA.

It translates as “to” or “in order to”

  • Uso lentes para ver mejor. - I wear glasses to see better.

  • Prendí el fuego para calentar la casa. - I lit the fire to heat the house.

3. When talking about location

“Through” or “across”: POR

  • El ladrón entró por la ventana. - The thief entered through the window.

  • Siempre camino a mi trabajo por esta calle. - I always walk to work on this street.

Approximate location: POR

It translates as ...

  • La librería está por el centro. - The bookstore is in the center.

Destination: PARA

It translates as “to”

  • Este tren va para Madrid. - This train goes to Madrid.

4. When talking about time

Duration/ Length: POR

  • Estudié español por cinco años. - I studied Spanish for five years.

Term/ deadline: PARA

  • Tengo que terminar el trabajo para mañana. - I have to finish work for tomorrow.

5. When talking about people

Agent in a passive voice structure: POR

It translates as “by”

  • El libro fue escrito por Gabriel García Márquez. - The book was writen by Gabriel García Márquez.

Addressee /beneficiary: PARA

It translates as “for”

  • Este es el regalo para mi madre. - This is a gift for my mother.

Opinion: PARA

It translates as “to me” or “in my opinion”

  • Para mi ese vestido te queda muy bien. - To me that dress fits you very well.

6. Communication method: POR

  • Hablamos por skype. - We talk on Skype.

  • Me llamó por telefono. - He called me on the phone.

Now that you know the differences and uses of this important prepositions. I'd recommend writing down one sentence for each of the uses.

Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.

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