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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Rosa here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Spanish questions.
The question for this lesson is, When are the prepositions por and para used?
The prepositions por and para are a little difficult for Spanish learners because both are used in similar contexts and have similar meanings. In English, the prepositions por and para are frequently translated as "for," "by," and "to."
Let’s go over por and para so you can learn how to use them correctly.
Por comes from the Latin word, pro, meaning “for” while para is formed from the combination of the Latin prepositions pro and ad, which mean "for" and "to,” respectively.
Por is frequently used to express--
a cause-- such as Viajo por placer. meaning "I travel for pleasure."
a place-- such as Camino por la calle. meaning "I walk down the street."
a period of time-- Por las mañanas voy a la universidad. "In the morning, I go to college."
a medium-- Te enviaré el paquete por mensajero. "I'll send the package by courier."
a substitution or equivalence-- Haré los deberes por ti. “I will do the tasks for you.”
and passive voice-- El almuerzo fue preparado por mi madre. "Lunch was prepared by my mother."
Para is used for--
utility-- Estas zapatillas son para correr. meaning "These shoes are for running."
direction-- Voy para Europa en vacaciones. "I'm going to Europe on vacation." Here, it can be replaced by con destino a which means “bound for.”
time limitation-- Son diez para las cinco. “It’s ten minutes to five.” Here the difference is that we use para when time is fixed or when there’s a deadline.
opinion-- Para mi que perderán el juego. “I think that they will lose the game.” (Literally, “For me that they will lose the game.”)
and goal or destination – to where or to whom it goes, as in Saldré a caminar para respirar aire fresco. meaning “I will go for a walk to get some fresh air.” Here, the goal is to get fresh air.
The most challenging point may be to identify when to use por instead of para. Just keep in mind that por is used more frequently to talk about a medium to do something. As in Te llamaré por teléfono. - “I will call you by phone.” Another common usage is to refer to something unspecific, either time or place. For example, Estoy por tu casa. meaning “I’m around/close to your house.” or Llegaré por la tarde. meaning “I will arrive around the afternoon.” Para, on the other hand, is more often used to talk about the purpose or destination of something. As in Este libro es para la clase. meaning “This book is for the class.” or Voy para tu casa. meaning “I’m going to/in direction to your house.”
How was this lesson? Pretty interesting right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
¡Hasta luego! “See you later!”