Spanish Language Blog

Spanish Lesson Intermediate 15 Differences between “Por” and ”Para” Posted by on Apr 20, 2011 in Spanish Grammar, Spanish Vocabulary, Videos

¡Hola a todos!

Hoy vamos a ver las diferencias entre “por” y “para”. The differences between these two Spanish prepositions are subtle and a little confusing at first for Spanish students. It is often this way with prepositions when learning any foreign language. Prepositions may be short, apparently simple, words, but they are vital to sentence construction and usually tricky to use correctly. In this lesson we will see in which situations we use “por” and in which situation we use “para” with some examples to help you remember better.


Cause and motive:
• No hace más deporte por pereza: He doesn´t play sport because of laziness
• Se han casado por amor: They have got married for love

Approximate period of time:
• Vamos a ir de vacaciones por noviembre: We are going on holiday sometime around November
• Mis padres vendrán a visitarme por primavera: My parents will come to visit me sometime around Easter

Approximate location:
• Mi casa está por allí: My house is around there
• El restaurante chino está por la zona de la playa: The Chinese restaurant is around the beach area

Swap or substitution:
• He cambiado mis dólares por euros: I have changed my dollars for Euros
• Quiero cambiar esta chaqueta por otra de otro color: I want to change this jacket for another one in a different colour

• Puedes enviar el certificado por fax: You can send the certificate by fax
• Llámame por teléfono cuando puedas: Call me by phone when you can

• He comprado estos zapatos por 50 euros: I bought these shoes for 50 Euros
• Vamos de vacaciones a Buenos Aires por 500 dólares: We are going on holiday to Buenos Aires for 500 dollars


• Estas gafas son para ver de cerca: These glasses are to see close up
• Estudio español para encontrar un trabajo en España: I study Spanish to find a job in Spain

• He comprado esta camiseta para Carmen: I bought this T-shirt for Carmen
• Este regalo es para ti: This present is for you

• Voy para Barcelona: I am heading for Barcelona
• Mi hermano viene para Madrid el sábado: My brother is coming to Madrid on Saturday

• Tengo que terminar este trabajo para el martes: I have to finish this work by Tuesday
• Para las cinco todo tiene que estar limpio que vienen mis padres: For five o´clock everything has to be tidy, as my parents are coming

• Para mí, este libro es muy interesante: For me, this book is very interesting
• ¿Para ti estudiar español es difícil?: Is it difficult to study Spanish for you?

So these are the uses of “por” and “para”. I know it is difficult to remember them all at once, but the best way to do it is by practicing with them. Start with writing some examples of each use. Then read some Spanish texts and, when you find a “por” or “para” example, analyse why in that instance one is used over the other. Do your best to find listening exercises on the radio, TV or internet and listen out for “por” and “para”.

Genuine conversation with a native speaker is the best practice as you will be sure to hear the prepositions used correctly and this will help to guide you in the right direction. Don’t be afraid to ask them to correct your mistakes and, even more important, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. As with everything, the only way to properly understand and use the prepositions is to try and try until eventually it becomes second nature. There is no magic solution to this; it takes time, patience and practice. The best plan is to get practicing right away.

Espero que tengáis una buena semana y nos vemos pronto.


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About the Author: Laura & Adam

Laura & Adam have been blogging and creating online Spanish courses for Transparent Language since 2010. Laura is from Bilbao in northern Spain and Adam is from Devon in the south of England. They lived together in Spain for over 10 years, where their 2 daughters were born, and now they live in Scotland. Both Laura & Adam qualified as foreign language teachers in 2004 and since have been teaching Spanish in Spain, the UK, and online.


  1. Valerie Lipow:

    Thank you! This is the clearest explanation I’ve ever seen for understanding the differences between “por” and “para” in Spanish. I tried to create the distinction for myself by thinking that “por” = “via” or “by way of” (e.g., through, because of) and “para” = “in order to” or “belonging to”. But your discussion makes it so much easier to understand. Thanks!