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When should you use 'por' and 'para'?

When learning Spanish it’s very easy to get confused over when to use ‘por’ and ‘para’ in a sentence since both mean ‘for’ in English. There are a variety of contexts in which both words can be used, but one key difference is that ‘por’ is more often used and ‘para’ less.

There are many examples of when ‘por’ can be used, and here are just a few of them:

To state the time: Son las diez por la mañana

To express gratitude: Muchas gracias por todo lo que has hecho

To indicate a mode of transportation: Viajaremos por coche el 3 de Agosto

To suggest a cause: Ella no podía ir a la oficina por la huelga

Within idiomatic expressions: Por favor/por cierto/por fin/por lo tanto

Some examples of when ‘para’ is to be used are as follows:

To refer to a particular time: Quiere el libro para el miércoles

To signify a destination: Saldrás para Berlin luego

To note the recipient of something: El lo compro  para ella 

There are numerous other examples of when both words ought to be used and a good source of information on the topic can be found here: http://www.studyspanish.com/lessons/porpara.htm

With regular memorization and practice, it will become very easy to master the uses of ‘por’ and ‘para’.

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