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¿Por qué, por qué… ? Porque… Posted by on Apr 29, 2011 in Spanish Grammar

There are some words and expressions that can be quite confusing, but not only for those of you who are learning the language, but even for native speakers themselves. That’s the case of porqué, porque, por qué and por que. Let’s remember how to use them.

Por qué has the meaning of “why”, so we’ll use it always in interrogative sentences. We will always have the accent in the interrogative pronoun “qué”:

-¿Por qué estamos aquí? (Why are we here?)

-¿Por qué cierran tan pronto? (Why do they close so soon?)

But not only will we find it in sentences with question marks. There are also examples of exclamative sentences, and obviously indirect questions where we will use “por qué” too:

Quiero saber por qué has llegado tarde. (I want to know why you are so late.)

No comprendo por qué te enfadas. (I don’t understand why you get angry.)

¡Por qué calles más bonitas pasamos! (What beautiful streets we walk by!)

Porqué is a masculine noun, meaning “reason”, and there will be a determiner preceding it in most cases:

Todo tiene su porqué. (Everything has its reason.)

Me gustaría saber los porqués de su cambio. (I’d like to know the reasons for his change.)

Porque usually introduces a cause related clause, meaning “because”. In this case we can use puesto que or ya que instead of porque:

No fui porque (ya que, puesto que) me levanté tarde. (I didn’t go because I got up late.)

No me gusta porque es muy cabezona. (I don’t like her because she’s so stubborn.)

We can find it too introducing final clauses:

Hice cuanto pude porque no terminara así. (I did all I could so that it didn’t end this way.)

And it is used in to answer questions beginning with ¿Por qué…?

– ¿Por qué no viniste? Porque no quise. (Why didn’t you come? Because I didn’t want to.)

Por que can be used in different combinations:

Que as a relative pronoun and por being a preposition. We usually have an article (el, la)  preceding the pronoun,  and it can be translated as  “for which”, and most commonly “that” or “why”

El motivo por el que llegué tarde es que perdí mis llaves. (The reason why I was late was that I lost my keys.)

No sabemos la razón por (la) que dijo eso. (We don´t know the reason why he said so.)

Por que also occurs when using verbs, nouns or adjectives which need a complement or a subordinate clause introduced by the preposition “por”:

Tu madre se preocupa por que comas sano. (Your mum is worried about your eating healthily.)

And that’s all for today!

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About the Author: Magda

Hi all! I’m Magda, a Spanish native speaker writing the culture posts in the Transparent Language Spanish blog. I have a Bachelor’s in English Philology and a Master’s in Linguistics and Literature from the University of Granada, in Spain. I have also completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and then worked as an English teacher in several schools and academies for several years. Last year was my first at university level. In addition, I work as a private tutor, teaching English and Spanish as a foreign language to students and adults. In my free time, I’m an avid reader and writer, editing and collaborating in several literary blogs. I have published my first poetry book recently. And last but not least, I love photography!