Notes from ¿Qué tal? – ¿Por or Para?

Just as there are two Spanish verbs that mean to be (ser and estar), there are two Spanish words that often express English for: por and para. These prepositions (words that express the relationship between other words) have other English equivalents as well.

In the following questions, you will use por in one of its most important meanings: in, during.

  • Estudio por la mañana y trabajo por la tarde. Por la noche, estoy en casa con la familia. – I study in the morning and I work in the afternoon. During the evening (At night), I’m at home with my family

Remember that the phrases de la mañana (tarde, noche) are used when a specific hour of the day is mentioned.(e.g., Hay una clase a las diez de la mañana.)

Para introduces the recipient of an object or tells what something will be used for.
¿Romeo y Julieta? Es para la clase de inglés. – Romeo and Juliet? It’s for English class.
¿Para quién son todos los regalos? – Who are all the presents for?
Para mis amigos. – For my friends.

Another important use of para is to express in order to, followed by an infinitive.
Para llegar al centro, tomo el autobus número 16 – (In order) To get downtown, I take the number 16 bus.

Use para, along with salir, to indicate someone’s destination.
Salimos para la sierra pasado mañana. – We’re leaving for the mountains the day after tomorrow.
Salgo para la oficina a las siete de la mañana. – I leave for the office at 7.00 AM.

The preposition por is used in a number of fixed expressions. So far you have used two of them frequently: por lo general (generally, in general) and por eso (that’s why).

Note the use of por to thank someone for something.
gracias por + noun
Gracias por el regalo.
Gracias por la invitación.

gracias por + infinitive
Gracias por llamarme.
Gracias par invitarnos.

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