Por and Para

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We’ve discussed the uses of por and para several times, but since it’s a constant struggle for many students, here’s one more article with some examples:

USES OF PARA

Destino (destination) – person:

Esto es para Javier. This is for Javier.

Destino (destination) – thing:

Necesito una nueva funda para mi teléfono. I need a new case for my phone.

Dirección (direction):

Vamos para el supermercado. We are going to the supermarket.

NOTE: In this example we could use a instead of para with the same meaning:
Vamos al supermercado.

Propósito (purpose) / Objetivo (goal) (meaning in order to):

Fui al supermercado para comprar comida. I went to the supermarket in order to buy food.
Practico cada día para ser mejor pianista. I practice every day in order to be/to become a better pianist.

NOTE: When using para as in order to, we usually use it with the infinitive form of a verb:
Fui al cine para ver una película. (I went to the cinema [in order] to watch a movie.)
Leo varios periódicos cada día para estar bien informado. (I read several newspapers every day [in order] to be well-informed.)

Deadline:

Necesito terminar esto para el jueves. I need to finish this by Thursday.

USES OF POR

Periodo de tiempo (time period):

Estoy aquí por dos días. I’m here for two days.

Razón / Causa (reason / cause) (meaning because of):

La camisa está amarilla por la lejía. The shirt is yellow because of the bleach.
Los vuelos están cancelados por la ola de calor. Flights are cancelled because of the heat wave.

Note: When using por as because of, we usually use it with a noun:
El metro está cerrado por la nieve. (The subway is closed because of the storm.)

Intercambio (exchange):

Pagué dos millones por mi casa. I paid two million for my house.
Juan cambió su moto por una bicicleta. Juan exchanged his motorcycle for a bike.

As the word per:

La aerolínea solo permite una maleta por persona. The airline only allows one suitcase per person.

 

1200px-The_Manor,_Holmby_Hills,_Los_Angeles,_in_2008
«Petra Stunt pagó mucho dinero por su casa». / Atwater Village Newbie, CC BY 2.0

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