Por and Para – Why I started this site?

As a Spanish instructor who noticed that there are limited resources on the Net covering the Spanish grammar topic of por and para, I decided to build a web site entirely devoted to the topic of por and para.

Whether you are a new student to the Spanish language or if you have been studying the language for several years, you have probably already discovered (or you soon will) that the topic of por and para is one of the most challenging and brain-wrenching areas of Spanish grammar that you will ever have to face. That’s is why I have built this web site. To help students that are struggling with the topic of por vs.  para.

One thing that my private students have told me is that this topic is really confusing for them because in English there is only one way to say the English word “for.”  But when learning Spanish, you are taught by your Spanish instructor, your home study course and your Spanish grammar books that there are two words in the Spanish language that mean the English word “for”:

Por and Para.

But as you become more advanced in your studies, you soon discover that both por and para can mean other words besides “for.” Such as the English words and phrases “in order to,” “by,” “to,” “on,” before,” “via,” etc.

And it gets more complicated . . .

Some of these definitions are shared by both para and por and while others are only used by one or the other.  This topic also drives students crazy because in many instances the two words are grammatically interchangeable. In other words, using either word you can form a sentence that is structurally correct from a grammatical perspective. But depending on your choice of por or para, you can completely change the listener’s understanding of your sentence. And unless you are speaking to a native Spanish speaker who also happens to be a psychic, he or she will have no idea what you really want to express. Here’s an example of what I mean.

  • Carolina cocinó para Miguel.
  • Carolina cocinó por Miguel.

In the first example “Carolina cocinó para Miguel,” imagine that Carolina has cooked, and has placed a plate of food on the table “for” Miguel to eat.

In the second phrase “Carolina cocinó por Miguel,” imagine that Miguel normally cooks, but Carolina has cooked, because Miguel is away from home, busy, sick, etc. or otherwise unable to cook. So Carolina has cooked “for” him or “instead of” him or that she has cooked “in his place.”


por and para rules


Here’s a post I wrote about a basic rule for the use of por and para.  I called the post:


“Disentangling the uses of POR and PARA”


You can click on it to read the post on this “por and para” rule.

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