How To Use Por And Para In Spanish

Don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of these prepositions in no time.
Por vs para represented by someone in Barcelona, Spain, making massive bubbles outdoors.

Prepositions are a notoriously difficult part of learning a new language. They often don’t translate easily from one language to another, and so each preposition has its own set of rules. If you’re learning Spanish, nowhere is this more obvious than with por and para. If you put them both into a translation tool, you’ll probably get the same result for both of them: “for.” But it’s a little more complicated than that.

Here, we’ll break down the differences between these two words, with plenty of examples to guide you through. We won’t lie, it’ll take some time for you to get used to putting these two terms into practice, but with some studying you’ll get it!

Por — The Path Through

While it can be difficult to distill the usage of either of these prepositions down, it can be helpful to know that por often denotes a sense of motion, exchange, duration or reason. When you’re using por, it really is about the journey, not the destination.

Motion and Location

Por suggests movement through a place or an area.
Example: Voy a caminar por el parque. (I’m going to walk through the park.)


When talking about duration, por is your go-to preposition.
Example: Estudié español por dos horas. (I studied Spanish for two hours.)


“Por” is used when there’s an exchange of some sort.
Example: Te doy veinte euros por tu viejo móvil. (I’ll give you twenty euros for your old mobile phone.)

Reason or Cause

When explaining the reason or cause for an action, por is used.
Example: Lo hice por ti. (I did it for you.)

Gratitude or Apology

Por is used to express gratitude or to apologize.
Example: Gracias por la ayuda. (Thank you for the help.)

Para — The Purpose Ahead

On the flip side, para is the preposition of purpose, destination, recipients, deadlines and standards. It’s forward-looking, pointing towards objectives and goals.

Purpose or Goal

“Para” indicates the purpose of an action or object.
Example: Estudio para ser ingeniero. (I study to become an engineer.)


When referring to the destination of a journey, para is used.
Example: Salimos para Madrid mañana. (We leave for Madrid tomorrow.)


Para identifies the beneficiary of an action or object.
Example: Este regalo es para ti. (This gift is for you.)


When you’re talking about time, para is used for deadlines.
Example: Necesito terminar este trabajo para el viernes. (I need to finish this work by Friday.)

Standard or Comparison

When comparing against a standard or expectation, para is used.
Example: Para un niño de cinco años, lee muy bien. (For a five-year-old, he reads very well.)

Common Phrases With Por And Para

Por and para also appear in a number of Spanish phrases that you’ll likely be using all the time. Here are a few that you need to know.

Por in Practice

  • Por favor — Please
  • Por ejemplo — For example
  • Por fin — Finally
  • Por supuesto — Of course

Para in Practice

  • Para siempre — Forever
  • Para que sepas — Just so you know
  • Para nada — Not at all
  • Está para llover — It looks like it’s going to rain

Once you’ve mastered these two words, the rest of Spanish should be a breeze! Of course, you still might want to explore Spanish lessons that will help you along your way.

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