Por & Para

Por & Para have a variety of meanings, and they are often confused because they can each be translated as “for”. The main difference is that para refers to destinations: places, times, people or goals. Por, on the other hand, refers to movement: through time or space. Por is also used in a lot of idioms. This makes para is a bit simpler to learn, so let’s start there! Let’s study the difference between Por & Para.


Like we said, para indicates the destination of something or someone, whether that destination is real/physical or figurative.  Para tells us where something is going, could go, or perhaps should go. Para signifies a target. Para often translates as “for,” and can also translate as “to” or “by.” Let’s take a look at some examples.

Destination: Real/Physical

This fan is for the office.                 Este ventilador es para la oficina.
I’m going to the store.                      Yo voy para la tienda.

Destination: Figurative

You are perfect for me.                     Tú eres perfecto para mí.

Recipient of an Object or Action

This gift is for Grethel.                     Este regalo es para Grethel.


Those glasses are to drink whisky.         Esos vasos son para tomar whisky.


I study a lot to get an A.                   Yo estudio mucho para sacar una A.

Deadline/Time Limit

I want it for tomorrow.                     Yo lo quiero para mañana.
She will have it for tomorrow.        Ella lo va a tener para mañana.

Personal Opinion/Standard

For Renzo, poker is the best.         Para Renzo, poker es lo mejor.


So we’ve seen that para signifies the end-zone. Para doesn’t really concern itself with movement, just the destination. Por is the flip side of this. If para is a deadline, por is a length of time. If para is a place you’re going to, por is walking through that place. Por is a word that signifies movement or exchange. Let’s take a look at some examples:


Carla lived in Spain for 4 years.                Carla vivió en España por 4 años.

General Time Period

I have classes in the mornings.                Yo tengo clases por las mañanas.


He goes to the gym 3 times per week.      El va al gimnasio 3 veces por semana.


I paid 20 dollars for those pants.             Pagué 20 dólares por esos pantalones.


She is going to work instead of Juan.     Ella va a trabajar por Juan.


Thanks for the gift.                                       Gracias por el regalo.


That happened to you for lying.                 Por mentir, te paso eso.

Means of Transportation

We’re traveling to Mexico by plane.          Viajamos a México por avión.
I sent you a message by email.                    Te envié un mensaje por correo electrónico.


Unlike para, there are plenty of idioms that use por. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones:

por aqui/alli  this way/that way
por ejemplo  for example
por cierto  definitely
por ahora  for now
por eso  that’s why
por fin/último  finally
por lo general  generally
por lo menos  at least
por desgracia  unfortunately
por suerte  fortunately
por primera (segunda) vez  for the first (second, etc.) time
por casualidad  by chance
por supuesto  of course
por todos lados/todas partes  everywhere/all over


Want some practice for what you learned? Try our exercise for por vs para!

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