Overcome the Spanish POR PARA dilemma!

Understanding Por and Para

In Spanish por para are two words that can give the learner loads of grief.

POR and PARA - People Learning Spanish will Conquer these two tricky little words

In Spanish...do you speed along the road in kilómetros POR hora . . . .
or in
kilómetros PARA hora??

Do you know the difference between these two sentences which differ only in their use of the words POR or PARA?

Or are you hit with the Spanish Por Para dilemma??!

Eduardo compró el regalo POR María.
Eduardo bought the present FOR María.

Eduardo compró el regalo PARA María.
Eduardo bought the present FOR María.

Well, in one case Eduardo is buying the present FOR María - to give to her. . .
. . .but in the other case he is buying it FOR María in the sense of buying it on her behalf, because she cannot get to town to the stores or some similar reason.

If you are not sure of which case applies, you need to read on about Exceltra’s Spanish Course - UNDERSTANDING POR and PARA.

Por and para are two of those tricky, little words that give Spanish learners, and non-native speakers, no end of trouble.

But - help is at hand. Easy to learn, user-friendly help.

Both POR and PARA are broad translations of the English word 'for'. .... but there are literally hundreds of examples of each.

We trawled through the literature to research a little e-Book on the topic, but it soon grew into a full-blown course on its own - ideal for intermediate to advanced students of Español. . . .

I pored over dozens of texts, grammar books, dictionaries and other resources, so that it soon grew into a full interactive software CD-Rom course for PC looking at the uses of PARA and POR.

But of course anyone that has done one of the 200 Words a Day courses, realise that much of the power lies in the MEMORY TRIGGERS and the illustration of key concepts in CARTOON and ZANY PICTURE format.

Cartoons make remembering the difference between para and por so much easier!

In this course we have stayed true to this format, and use a cartoon character to make RECALL so much easier.

For the POR/PARA concepts and pictures we have incorporated a simple, unforgettable tool . . . and this is it . . .

- - each POR concept features a POR-ky pig character

por barco - by boat
© Exceltra Learn Spanish

- each PARA concept features a PARA-Keet or PARR-ot

para Madrid - toward Madrid/heading for Madrid
© Exceltra Learn Spanish Por Para

In this case the parrot is flying PARA Madrid, to act as a simple Memory Trigger, to help you remember the concept of ‘heading for Madrid’ is an instance when PARA is used.

We have a porky pig to show you the difference between this and the situation of travelling ‘POR Madrid’.

In the POR case, it means travelling through, or throughout or around Madrid. Again a pic of our POR-ky pig is used to implant this concept in your brain. . . . and remember your brain never forgets a picture.

10 main uses of para

We start the course looking at the 10 Main times when PARA is used. For example PARA is used:

  • to express for me, for you …
  • the concept - in my opinion
  • to compare things
  • to express ‘for’ as ‘in the direction of’
  • to mean - as in ‘by a certain time’.
  • to describe something’s purpose
  • in the phrase ‘para con to express feelings towards someone
etc, etc but of course it is much easier to learn this with examples, pictures and MEMORY TRIGGERS, and our PARROTS helping to illustrate the different cases.

And all the concepts have sentences putting them in to context.

27 Main uses of POR

We document in easy-to-learn format the 27 main reasons when POR is used, rather than PARA.

We explain the difference in common sentences which might use one or the other.

Some of the situations where POR is used are:

  • expressing the feeling of doing something ‘for someone’ but you can also do something for someone using PARA. There is a subtle difference. But easily remembered with a MEMORY TRIGGER picture.
  • for a reason
  • through
  • for the benefit of
  • in order to get something, for a purpose
  • by means of transport
  • used with the passive tenses of SER
  • to show an action is still to be completed
  • and numerous other situations.

Traps to avoid when using POR and PARA in Spanish

We also look at some of the traps to avoid.

  • loads of little rules of thumb so that you know when to use which little word
  • We also look at the word PARAR to make sure you don't confuse the Spanish word para with the Spanish word parar. We look at numerous conjugations of PARAR.

We then look at hundreds of common Spanish phrases using PARA and POR

You will also learn hundreds of common phrases and expressions using the SPANISH POR and PARA words.

Some examples are:

  • por consecuencia - as a consequence
  • al por mayor - al por menor - wholesale - retail
  • por casualidad - by coincidence [be careful of this one]
  • charlar por los codos - to talk one’s head off [literally to talk through one’s elbows]
  • por Dios! - My goodness!
  • estar por - to be ready for, to be in favor of
  • para mañana - by tomorrow
  • para entonces - by then
  • para siempre - for ever.
We cover hundreds of sentences using the common por/para phrases so that you reinforce the learning.

Each phrase using para or por is voiced by native Spanish speakers so you can hear perfect pronunciation.

Learn examples of when not to use POR or PARA

There are also numerous examples of words that DO NOT use por or para, when in English they might - e.g. buscar - to look for, there is NO POR or PARA added, and we give you numerous similar examples and sample sentences.


We've also ensured the sentences incorporate examples of all the main VERB TENSES used in conversation, so you'll practise your Spanish present tense, past tense, conditional tenses, subjunctives, futures etc etc in the course of learning the POR and PARA concepts . . .

- and of course each concept has a Memory Trigger cartoon or pic to help remind you . . .

Test your knowledge of Spanish POR PARA differences

Not only that the hundreds of sample sentences, have native Spanish speakers voicing them, and you can practise your written Spanish as you can be tested on them all.

All the words and sentences taught are available as tests.

The test results are stored in your own database on your computer.

So to answer the first question - is it POR HORA or PARA??

So IF you don't know whether speed is expressed in kilómetros POR hora or kilómetros PARA hora we make it simple by giving you a pic of the relevant animal riding a motorbike. Check it out here . . .


© Exceltra Learn Spanish

The picture will always remind you that it is POR HORA.

This is an easy and very effective course that will give you a very thorough grounding in understanding the Spanish POR and PARA differences.

Look for "Understanding Por and Para" + "Understanding Ser and Estar"
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200 Words a Day! Spanish Courses

Thank you.

Understanding Spanish POR PARA

200 Words a Day! and Exceltra 
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