Prepositions in Spanish are difficult to use. Indeed, in Spanish and in any language! You can consider yourself a native speaker if you master prepositions to perfection. Por and para are no exception.
Prepositions are invariable words that indicate a dependent relationship between an action and a complement. There are twenty-three in total, but in this post, we will teach you not only one difference between por and para but four easy tricks in total to master them like a native.
1. Motive or Purpose?
Use por to express a motive or reason and para for a purpose or intention. Here are some examples to make it clearer:
- Te felicito por tu cumpleaños. (I congratulate you on your birthday.)
The motive of the greeting is the birthday.
- Estudio español para aprender una segunda lengua. (I study Spanish to learn a second language.)
The purpose of studying Spanish is to learn a second language.
2. Undetermined Location or Address?
Use por to express an undetermined location and para for a specific destination address. Look at it with these examples:
- El parque tiene que estar por allí. (The park has to be that way.)
I don’t quite know which way the park is….
- Voy para tu casa en un momentito. (I’m going to your house in a moment.)
Your house is the exact address I’m going to.
3. Medium or Deadline?
Use por to express how you are going to perform the action and para to say when.
- Voy a echar la solicitud por Internet. (I am going to apply online.)
Internet is one option among many.
- Las patatas que he comprado son para el viernes. (These crisps I bought are to be served on Friday.)
Friday is the exact time they must serve the crisps.
4. Agent Complement or Opinion?
Maybe this is the easiest one, that’s why we have left it for the end and finish with a good vibe. When the sentence is in passive voice, always use por, however, use para to give your opinion.
- La obra fue escrita por Cervantes. (The novel was written by Cervantes.)
Cervantes wrote the novel.
- Para mí que Marcos no va a venir. (I don’t think Marcos is coming.)
I think that Marcos won’t come.
Read, Listen and Practise
It’s also about learning as you go. Prepositions in Spanish can be learned by watching movies, reading, or talking to native speakers. You can also copy what you hear and repeat it until the message sinks in.
As you get more proficient in Spanish grammar, you will realise that many Spanish prepositions have synonyms and that actions can be expressed in many ways. If you look closely, this is what we have done in the examples.
If you want to practise and see how you are doing with por and para, or other prepositions, go to iScribo and write some sentences. Practice makes perfect!