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Por and Para in Spanish

Although por and para in Spanish may both be translated as for in English, they cannot be used interchangeably in Spanish.  The differences are outlined below.

 

Por in Spanish: Use the acronym DREEMS to help you remember when you use por

D
duration – how long something takes or the general time in which an action occursVamos por la manana. We’re going in the moring.Hicimos ejercicios por 2 horas. We worked out for 2 hours.
R
 reason – goal of an action or reason something happens ¿Lo hiciste por mí? Did you do it for me?Cancelaron el partido por la lluvia.  They canceled the game because of the rain.
E
 emotion – express emotion that you feel toward someone or something Tengo mucho amor por mi familia.  I have a lot of love for my familiy.Ellos se sienten enojo por el examen.  They are mad at the test.
E
 exchange – idea that something is given or done for something else Quieren $50 por el vestido. They want $50 for the dress.Le di un regalo por su trabajo.  I gave him a gift for his work.
M
 mode – means by which an action is completed (by) No me gusta viajar por avion.  I don’t like to travel by plane.Paola habla mucho por telefono.  Paola talks on the phone a lot.  (by phone)
S
 substitution – in place of something else (instead of)Félix trabajó por mí hoy.  Felix worked for me today (in my place).¿Vas al mercado por mí?  Will you go to the store for me?

Other useful expressions with por

  por ahora  for now
  por aquí  around here
  por Dios   for God’s sake
  por eso that’s why / for this reason
   por ejemplo  for example
  por favor  please
  por fin   finally
  por lo general  generally
  por supuesto  of course
  por último  finally

Para in Spanish: Use the acronym PERFECT to help you remember when to use para

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P
purpose – paired with an infinitive verb to purpose of an action or object (in order to) Trabajo mucho para ganar dinero. I work a lot to earn money.Esta llave es para la casa. This key is for the house.
E
 effect – intended result of an action (so) Estudio para ser médico.  I’m stuydying to be a doctor.Vamos a ir temprano para no perder el avión. We’re going early tomorrow so we don’t miss the plane.
R
 recipient – recipient of an object or action Compré el regalo para mi novia. I bought the gift for my girlfriend.Dieron la fiesta para Alicia .  They threw the party for Alicia.
F
 future – express deadline or when something will take place in the future Hay que hacer la tarea para lunes. The homework needs to be done by Monday.¿Vas para el fin de semana?  Are you going for the weekend?
E
 employment – states who the speaker works for Mi amigo trabaja para la universidad.  My friend works for the university. 
C
comparison – compares with others Para diciembre, hace mucho calor. It’s really hot for December.Para mí, no es muy importante. It’s not that important to me.
T
 toward – destination or movement toward something Fuimos de caminata para las montañas.  We went on a walk toward the mountains. Sale para Colombia hoy. He leaves for Colombia today.

Other useful expression with para
 estar para  to be about to
  para entonces  by that time
  para otra vez  for another time
  para que  so that
   para siempre forever
  para variar  for a change

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