Available on the App Store
Get it on Google Play

Transcript 1
Transcript 2
Lesson
Quiz 1
Quiz 2
Quiz 3

General use of prepositions Por and Para - Overview



Mouse-over Spanish text fragments in red to see English translation
The prepositions por and para are apparently, along with the verbs ser and estar, one of the most confusing aspects of the grammar for Spanish students. There are different ways to differentiate when to use one and when to use the other. In this lesson, we will learn the general idea of the use of these prepositions.

Let's begin with taking a look at the following sentences:

La carretera está cortada por la nieve.
The road is cut off by snow.

La carretera está cortada para el paso del desfile. The road is cut off for the passing of the parade.

In the first sentence, we use por because there's a cause of why the road is cut off. In the second sentence, we use para because there's a goal or an aim of why the road is cut, which is the passing of the parade.

That's the general idea of the use of por or para in a sentence.

POR


Expresses the cause or the reason why we do something. We can represent this idea as:

CAUSE or REASON -----> ACTION

The cause precedes what we do.

Pablo y Marta se han casado por amor.
-------------------- --------
ACTION CAUSE
Pablo and Marta got married because they are in love.


Regalamos una prenda por la compra de tres.
------------------------------- ------------------------
ACTION CAUSE
We give away one piece of clothing by the purchasing of three.

PARA


Expresses the purpose or the objective of what we do. We can represent this idea as:

ACTION -----> PURPOSE OR OBJECTIVE

The target is ahead of what we do.

Pablo y Marta se han casado para pagar menos
impuestos.
-------------------- -----------------
ACTION OBJECTIVE
Pablo and Marta got married in order to pay less taxes.


Viajaré en tren para ir a Nueva York.
-------------------- --------------------
ACTION OBJECTIVE
I will travel by train in order to go to New York.


In the next examples, try to identify the cause and the action for por and/or the action and the objective for para.

Un microondas sirve para calentar comida.

Me han regalado una camisa por la compra de un pantalón.

Yo hago yoga y pilates cada tarde para ponerme en forma.

Voy a la biblioteca por un libro que necesito para mi clase de matemáticas.

Para llegar a mi casa, tienes que tomar el autobús 58.

El contable fue despedido por robar dinero de la empresa.

Remember this general idea of the uses of por (CAUSE ---> ACTION) and para (ACTION ---> OBJECTIVE), because it can be very useful for you to use the correct preposition in each case. In the next episodes, we will see the individualized uses of por and para.