Spanish Grammar Guide

Spanish prepositions: por and para

Por and para can be confusing, as they can both be translated as for in certain sentences. Here's how to use them correctly:


We use para for:

-Destination (person)

Compré un regalo para Ana. I bought a present for Ana.

-Destination (thing)

Compré una mesa para mi apartamento. I bought a table for my apartment.

-Direction [1]

Iré para Boston el viernes. I’m going to Boston on Friday.

-Purpose/goal (meaning in order to) [2]

Trabajo para ganar dinero. (I work in order to earn money.)

Nosotros vamos a la escuela para aprender español. (We go to school in order to learn Spanish.)


Necesito el informe para el martes. I need the report for/by Tuesday.


We use por for:

-Periods of time

Trabajo por ocho horas cada día.[3] I work for eight hours every day. 

Estoy en Nueva York por tres días. (I am in New York for three days.)

-Reason/cause (meaning because of) [4]

Berges Institute está cerrado por Thanksgiving. Berges Institute is closed “because of” Thanksgiving.

Llegué tarde por el tráfico. I got there late because of the traffic.


Compré un par de zapatos por 100 euros. I bought a pair of shoes for 100 euros.

Cambié mi guitarra acústica por una eléctrica. I exchanged my acoustic guitar for an electric one.

-As the word per

Voy al gimnasio tres veces por semana. I go to the gym three times per week.

Leo tres libros por semana. (I read three books per week.)


[1] In this example, we could use instead of para with the same meaning: Iré a Boston el viernes.

[2] When using para as in order to, we usually use it with the infinitive form of a verb: Fui a New Jersey para visitar a mi amiga. (I went to New Jersey [in order] to visit my friend.) Voy al gimnasio para estar fuerte. (I go to the gym in order to be/to stay strong.)

[3] For periods of time, por is frequently omitted: Trabajo ocho horas cada día.

[4] When using por as because of, we usually use it with a noun: El metro no funciona por un incidente. (The subway does not work because of an incident.)

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