Por and Para

Many students struggle to grasp the difference between the prepositions por and para because they are both often translated as for in English. They also have other meanings. The following charts show you when to use por and when to use para.

Meanings of Por

for (duration) Estuve en Madrid por seis meses. I was in Madrid for six months.
for (substitution) Trabajé por Juan porque él estaba enfermo. I worked for (in place of) Juan because he was sick.
for (in exchange for) Pagué diez dólares por la comida. I paid ten dollars for the food.
for (on behalf of) Lo hice por mis amigos. I did it for my friends.
for (in search of) Volví al hotel por mis llaves. I went back to the hotel for my keys.
because of; due to El partido comenzó tarde por la lluvia. The game began late because of the rain.
by (by means of) Siempre prefiero viajar por avión. I always prefer to travel by plane.
by ¿Puedes pasar por mi oficina? Can you come by my office?
through Es necesario pasar por el centro. It’s necessary to pass through downtown.
along Mi esposa y yo siempre caminamos por la playa. My wife and I always walk along the beach.

Common Expressions with Por

There are many commonly used expressions in Spanish that include por. Here are three that you should memorize and be able to use immediately.

por aquí (allí) around here (there)
por ejemplo for example
por favor please
por fin finally

Meanings of Para

for (destination) Mañana salgo para Honduras. Tomorrow I’m leaving for Honduras.
for (intended for) Este regalo es para mi mamá. This gift is for my mom.
for (in comparison to others in the same category/group) Para un principiante, hablas español muy bien. For a beginner, you speak Spanish very well.
for (purpose; used for) Esta computadora es para revisar correo electrónico. This computer is for checking email.
for (employment) Trabajo para el banco. I work for the bank.
by (deadline) La tarea es para el jueves. The homework is due by Thursday.
in order to Es necesario estudiar para sacar buenas notas. It’s necessary to study in order to make good grades.

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