This article will discuss two of the most hated Spanish words by students: Por and para. I am sure that you have heard or read more than once that por is to express reason or cause-razón o causa, and para is purpose-finalidad o próposito, but sometimes it's so hard to determine whether something is a reason or purpose. If you are having these doubts, read this article and hopefully by the end, you'll be able to distinguish between por and para and use them with confidence.


¿ Por qué estudias español?: Why are you studying Spanish?


Your answer might be –porque me gusta “because I like it”-simple! But what about when you want to give a more complex answer like:


Por trabajo, por diversión, por amor…à

Because of work, for fun, for love…


Para hablar con mis amigos españoles à

To speak with my Spanish friends…


Para viajar a Latino América à

To travel to South America


Why, as an answer to the same question, do we sometimes use por and sometimes para?


POR + noun Expresses a reason, a cause.
PARA + verb infinitive

Expresses a purpose or a goal.



Sometimes if you keep in mind the time and the chronological order that the actions in the sentences follow, it might help as well…


When we use PARA and we talk about a purpose, normally the purpose goes after the main action


For example:


Voy a clase para aprender español. 

I go to class to learn Spanish.


First you need to go to the lessons and then you will learn Spanish.


First: I go to class

After: I learn Spanish


Estudio español para viajar. 

I study Spanish to travel.


First you study and then you travel.


While using POR, we talk about a reason, and the main thing happens after something.


For example


No va a la excursión por sus malas notas.

He is not going on the trip because of his bad marks.


First: He got bad marks

After: He doesn't go on the trip


Does it make sense?


Here's a hack: For the most part, if you can use the English expression in order to, that is a purpose and you would need to use para in Spanish. If you can use because of, that is a reason so you would need to use por. Sometimes you might need to tweak the sentences a bit but it works 95% of the time.

And that is all my friends, this is the first big thing you need to tackle in order to master por and para, the rest of the meanings are quite straight forward and we take a look at them another time. For now, just try to focus on understanding the difference between purpose and reason. How? With this amazing quiz I have created so you can check if you finally got the difference


HOMEWORK leave a comment below with a sentences where you use por or para depending if you are expressing a reason or purpose, and take this quiz to see if you got it right.


Have fun with your Spanish learning!


Hero image by Dan Gold on Unsplash