Por & Para

I’m often asked if there’s an easy way to learn how to use “por” and “para”. It’s a big area of Spanish because they both can be translated into English as ‘For’. My answer is: “Por” is used to express the reason for something and “para” is used to express the purpose of something. In fact, when we ask “why”, we say ¿Por qué? (two words) in Spanish, meaning ‘for what reason?’ For example:

¿Por qué quieres aprender español? Why (for what reason) do you want to learn Spanish?
Porque voy a viajar a México.Because I’m going to travel to Mexico.

On the other hand, you can also formulate the question ¿Para qué?, but in this case it will mean ‘for what purpose’. For example:

¿Para qué quieres aprender español? For what purpose do you want to learn Spanish?
Para ser maestro de español. In order to become a Spanish teacher.

The examples above show the “general” essence of each word, and I emphasize “general” because there are specific uses that may or may not have anything to do with my brief answer. Below you will find several examples with the corresponding explanation of the use of each word in other cases.

To indicate destination:
Salgo para el aeropuerto mañana. I leave for the airport tomorrow.

To indicate a recipient:
Este regalo es para Elena.This gift is for Elena.

To express gratitude:
Gracias por tu ayuda. Thanks for your help.

To express a period of time:
Voy a estar en Cabo por tres meses.I will be in Cabo for three months.

Por & Para Short Quiz

The questions are based on the mini lesson above. So, go over it, then take the quiz below. You can re- take it as many times as you need. There's a comment box at the bottom in case you want to make a comment or ask a question. Have fun!

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