Spanish Grammar: Por vs. Para

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  • 0:06 Por & Para
  • 0:52 When Is Por Used?
  • 2:18 When Is Para Used?
  • 4:01 Change of Meaning
  • 4:30 Which One?
  • 6:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Danielle Geary

Danielle teaches at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She holds a Doctor of Education with research concentration in Study Abroad and Foreign Language Acquisition.

Por and para... For and for. But why are there two in Spanish? And do they both really mean 'for?' In this lesson, we'll look at the difference between por and para along with some of their hidden meanings.

Por and Para

Por and para. Por means 'for,' and para means 'for,' but they can't be used interchangeably. And they can mean other things. Complicated? Not really! Not if we use arrows and dots as a way to remember!

Let's break it down. Por is used in the following ways:

  1. Motion
  2. Cause, reason or motive for an action
  3. Means by which something is achieved
  4. Price, rate or exchange
  5. Duration of time

Para is used in the following ways:

  1. Destination
  2. Deadline in the future
  3. Purpose or function
  4. A recipient of something
  5. Comparison or opinion


So, what about the arrows and dots? Well, we can't use them all the time, but here's how they can help us.

1. Motion - around, through, by

Camino por el centro comercial. (I'm walking around the mall.)

Los niños corren por el parque. (The kids run through the park.)

2. Cause, reason or motive - because of, on behalf of

Hago todo por mi familia. (I do everything for my family.)

Hoy llegué tarde al trabajo por el tráfico. (Today I got to work late because of traffic.)

3. Means by which something is achieved - by means of, by way of

Marta y yo hablamos por teléfono. (Martha and I talked by telephone.)

Nosotros fuimos a Canadá por avión. (We went to Canada by plane.)

4. Price, rate or exchange

Enrique compró la camisa por $22. (Eric bought the shirt for $22.)

Te cambio mi helado por tu chocolate. (I'll trade my ice cream for your chocolate.)

5. Duration of time - for, during, in

Marco va a estar en Francia por una semana. (Marc is going to be in France for one week.)

Marco estudió francés por 3 años. (Marc studied French for 3 years.)


Moving on to para.

1. Destination - to, toward or in the direction of

El perro camina para la casa. (The dog walks toward the house.)

Este autobús sale para Atlanta a las 4 de la tarde. (This bus leaves for Atlanta at 4 p.m.)

2. Deadline - by or for

Esta tarea es para el lunes. (This homework is for Monday.)

Mi jefe necesita el documento firmado para el jueves. (My boss needs the document signed by Thursday.)

3. Purpose or function - for, used for or in order to

Mateo estudia para sacar buenas notas. (Matthew studies in order to get good grades.)

Las piernas son para andar. (Legs are used for walking.)

4. Recipient - for

Esta comida es para Coco, el conejo. (This food is for Coco, the rabbit.)

Este regalo es para mi abuelo. (This gift is for my grandpa.)

5. Comparison or opinion - for

Para una niña, ella es muy fuerte! (For a little girl, she's really strong!)

Leer es fácil para mí. (Reading is easy for me.)

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