Shall I use "por" or "para"?... No more suffering.

Oh, yes... this is one of the most common doubts that Spanish students have... and we can understand you, dear pupils, if we think about the several rules that seem to control the use of these prepositions. However, I think there is an easier way to understand the difference between them:



Yes, graphics!... maybe too simple, maybe quite useful. When I studied latin, the best way to understand prepositions were not words, but movements and gestures. Let me explain my nice little drawings:




The important thing here is not the arrow, but the orange circle: destination, purpose, end use, orientation, addressee... all real or figurative; both in time and space. Look at these examples:


  • Voy para la escuela. (I am going to school)
  • ¡Para estar cansado, eres demasiado joven! (You are too young to be tired!)
  • La camisa está sucia, ya está para lavarse. (The shirt is dirty, it is in conditions to be washed)
  • Nevará para navidad. (It will snow by Christmas)
  • Salí para tomar aire fresco. (I came out to get some fresh air)
  • Esos son libros para niños. (Those are books for kids)
  • Estudia para doctor. (He studies to become a doctor)
  • El regalo es para nosotros. (The gift is for us)



We don´t even have a clear destination in the next graphics, do we? But we do have route, lenght, nearness, cause / agent, means/ way, substitution.

Manejé por el puente. (I drove across the bridge)
Caminamos por toda la ciudad. (We walked all over the city)

Viví en Turín por 6 meses. (I lived in Turin for 6 months)
La iglesia está por el hospital. (The church is near the hospital)
Regresará por el 15 de agosto. (He will return around august 15th)
Estoy por salir. (I am about to go out).

Cerrado por vacaciones. (Closed for vacations)
El pastel fue hecho por mí. (The cake was baked by me)

Lo mandaron por correo. (They send it by mail)
Tomaron sus derechos por la fuerza. (They took their rights by force)

Compramos los chocolates por $500. (We bought the chocolates for $500)
Cambia el coche por uno más grande. (Change the car for a bigger one)
¡No hables por mí! (Do not speak for me!)


So, think about the movement you need to express and choose between these prepositions. I hope this is clearer now! Leave your comments! 🙂



3 de abril de 2019
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Alejandra Piña

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Hello! I´m Alejandra! :) I was born in Mexico City. I have a bachelor´s and a master´s degree in Classics; however Italian was the language that made me fell in love with the possibility of embracing a whole new world while studying a new language. I worked as a research fellow for the Diccionario del Español de México. Since 2009 I´ve been teaching in universities, high schools, and as a freelance subjects such as Latin, Italian, English, literature, upper Spanish for Mexican students, Spanish writing, Spanish as a foreign language, etc. I have also been an online teacher for 3 years. I had my first Spanish as a foreign language students in 2007: they were two Swedish young women who came to live to Mexico with their husbands: we used to drink coffee or have walks while having lessons; nowadays, I teach Spanish as a foreign language in the city where I live, I meet my students at coffee shops, restaurants, beaches or in a Mexican cuisine class! No matter what your Spanish level is, I´m able to help you! I base my teaching in the Common European Framework, I follow Instituto Cervantes guidelines and advices, and I contrast several sources in order to offer you solid instructional materials. I like to use attractive and engaging teaching aid for my lessons: songs, articles, recipes, series, books, movies... it all depends on my students´ level, likes and interests. I´ll be so glad to meet you, to be your Verbling teacher and to make your learning a joyful and significative experience. ¡Cuenta conmigo! (Count on me!) :) Alejandra
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Hello! I´m Alejandra! :) I was born in Mexico City. I have a bachelor´s and a master´s degree in Classics; however Italian was the language that made me fell in love with the possibility of embracing a whole new world while studying a new language. I worked as a research fellow for the Diccionario del Español de México. Since 2009 I´ve been teaching in universities, high schools, and as a freelance subjects such as Latin, Italian, English, literature, upper Spanish for Mexican students, Spanish writing, Spanish as a foreign language, etc. I have also been an online teacher for 3 years. I had my first Spanish as a foreign language students in 2007: they were two Swedish young women who came to live to Mexico with their husbands: we used to drink coffee or have walks while having lessons; nowadays, I teach Spanish as a foreign language in the city where I live, I meet my students at coffee shops, restaurants, beaches or in a Mexican cuisine class! No matter what your Spanish level is, I´m able to help you! I base my teaching in the Common European Framework, I follow Instituto Cervantes guidelines and advices, and I contrast several sources in order to offer you solid instructional materials. I like to use attractive and engaging teaching aid for my lessons: songs, articles, recipes, series, books, movies... it all depends on my students´ level, likes and interests. I´ll be so glad to meet you, to be your Verbling teacher and to make your learning a joyful and significative experience. ¡Cuenta conmigo! (Count on me!) :) Alejandra
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