Por and para in Spanish are one of the nightmare for our students on Spanishviaskype.com. This is not surprising, because they start studying these differences at the basic levels and they continue until the end of times.
The most common meaning of these prepositions are the cause and the purpose. Por introduces the reason, the cause for the main verb (Estudié Medicina por mi padre. So, my father was the reason for me to study Medicine). On the other hand, para introduces a goal, a purpose (Estudié Medicina para mi padre. Maybe my father is ill and I studied in order to heal him). However, today we’re going to focus on two other uses of por and para in Spanish: the space and time.
“Por” and “Para” in Spanish: expressing space
Although both preposition can express a circumstance in the space, they do it in different ways. Let’s start with por.
“Por” in the space
Firstly, por can express the movement through a place or inside a place.
For example: Iba por el bosque y encontré una cabaña abandonada.
It can be also used to show an approximate location, not specific.
For example: Por aquí no hay ninguna farmacia.
Now, let’s see how para can express a movement, too.
“Para” in the space
Although para cannot be used as a location, it can really express a movement, or rather, the final destination of that movement.
For example: ¿Dónde vas con tanta prisa? Yo voy para mi casa, pero si quieres nos tomamos algo.
Nevertheless, you migth say that we already have the preposition a to express the destination (Voy a mi casa). You are right, but with para that destination can be changed during the movement.
Now, it’s time to travel through time.
Expressing time with “Por” and “Para” in Spanish
The time is introduced by many prepositions in our language, but por and para in Spanish can mean time, too. They work like this:
“Por” in the time
If we need to introduce one of the parts of the day, the most frequent way is using por.
For example: Tengo el examen DELE el sábado por la mañana.
The repetition of an action through the time is also expressed with por.
For example: Normalmente, hago dos clases de conversación por semana en Spanishviaskype.com.
In order to express an approximate date or moment, we can use this preposition.
For example: Iré a visitarte por Navidad.
Finally, por can show duration, too.
For example: Llevo estudiando español por un año.
“Para” in the time
Deadlines are introduced by the preposition para.
For example: Quiero que termines el trabajo para mañana.
Unlike por, the preposition para can express an exact date or moment.
For example: ¿Tenéis algún plan para mañana? No quiero quedarme en casa.
As you can see, por and para in Spanish can be difficult, but if you reserve lessons on Spanishviaskype.com, you will be able to put all those uses in practice. Do it por ti, and we’ll do it para ti.