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Chapter 12: Prepositions

  12.3 por

12.3.  
         I
        II
      III
       IV

         V
       VI
      VII
    VIII
 

por
Expression of reason, motif, attitude or intent: por
Expression of reason, motif, attitude or intent: para
Stating facts: para
Stating facts or expression of attitude?
Tool, means, local definition
Timely definition
Stating prices
Substitution, changes, mixing things

  12.3 por

Quite often por can be translated as by. Sometimes it's not that easy therefore it's useful to remember that por indicates a motive, an attitude, a reason, a time frame, a not defined place, a tool or the intend. Furthermore keep in mind that por indicates the originator of the action.

  I. expression of reason, motif, attitude or intend: por

One could say that in the majority of the cases a motif or a reason is given with the preposition for. In some cases the Spanish construct their sentences completely different and there is no direct translation.

  motif = for (mostly)
Lo hace por mí.
= He does it for me.
Por mí puede terminar ahora mismo.
= I do not mind if you stop right now.
Si fuera por tí, el mundo entero estuviera como tu papá, bien educado y aburrido.
= If it was for you the world would be like your Dad, well educated and boring.
No le regalaron nada. Siempre tenía que luchar por lo que quería.
= They didn't give him anything for free. Always he had to fight for what he wanted.
¿Es ingenuo luchar por la paz?
= Is it naive to fight for peace?
Nosotros luchamos por la democracia.
= Wir kämpfen für die Demokratie.
La prensa sigue insistiendo en que sólo se casó por el dinero.
= The press insists that he only married for the money.
El trabaja por el dinero.
= He works for the money.

   reason = because of

La gente no entiende que es por la inflación que se están volviendo más pobres.
= People do not understand that they become poorer because of the inflation.

Por el accidente no pudo venir.
= Because of the accident he couldn't come.
Por la marea mucha gente ha perdido su casa.
= Because of the flood many people lost their home.

  II. expression of reason, motif, attitude or intend: para

If the reason, the motif, the attitude or the intend described by an infinitive verb the preposition is para. The translation then is to.

La gente viene solo para comer.
= People only come to eat.
Lo hace para no gastar tanto dinero.
= He does it, not to spend so much money.
Si fuera solo para comer una paella no tenemos que ir a España.
= If it was only to eat Paella we do not have to go to Spain.
Vivir para ser libres y luchar para dejar de ser esclavas.
= Live to be free and fight to stop being slaves.
La juventud está dispuesta a luchar para defender su sexualidad.
= Youth is willing to fight for the defence of their sexuality.
¿Cuánto paga para obtener un buen servicio?
= How much do you pay to receive a good service?
¿Cuánto paga para almacenar los datos?
= How much do you pay to save the data?
El trabaja para ganar dinero.
= We works to earn money.

   Comparison por and para (por + noun = for / because of; para + infinitive = to)
Lo hace por el dinero. = He does it for (because of) the money.
Lo hace para comer. = He does it to eat.
Trabaja por su familia. = He works for his family.
Trabaja para ganar dinero. = He works to earn money.
¿Cuánto pagas por el libro? = How much do you pay for the book?
¿Cuánto paga para limpiar el sistema? = How much do you pay to clean the system?
Lo hacemos por gusto. = We do it for the fun.
Lo hacemos para divertirnos. = We do it to amuse ourselves.

  III. stating a fact: para

If stating a fact without an influence of attitude to this fact the preposition to be used is para.

Un pacifista trabaja para el Pentágono.
= A pacifist works for the Pentagon.. (stating a fact)
aber:

Un pacifista trabaja por el Pentágono.
= A pacifist works because of the Pentagon..(Motif)
El trabaja para una empresa italiana.
= He works for an Italian firm. (stating a fact)
aber:
El trabaja por una empresa italiana.
= He works because of an Italian firm. (Motif)
Lo hacemos por un cliente nuestro.
= We do it for one of our clients. (Motif)
aber:
Lo hacemos para un cliente nuestro.
= We do it because of one of our clients..(stating a fact)

The difference is now clearer between por (for, because of = meaning a reason) and para (for = stating a fact).

  IV. stating a fact or expression of attitude?

Sometimes it can be difficult to decide whether it is just a statement of facts or an expression of attitude. Then both alternatives are possible and it is just up to you which one to use.

Lo hago por tí. = I do it because of you.
Lo hago para tí.= I do it for you.
Un equipo que trabaja para Usted. = A team that works for you.
Un equipo que trabaja por Usted. = A team that works for (because of) you.
Trabaja por la revolución democrática, antiimperialista.
= He works for the democratic, anti-imperialistic revolution.
La izquierda trabaja para la revolución que no cree posible.
= The left wing works for the revolution that they do not believe to be possible.

  V. tool, means, local definition: by, through

When describing tools, means or local definitions por means by or through.

Lo supe por el canal de noticias CNN.
= I have heard in the news channel CNN.
Lo que ocurrió luego, lo supe por el relato de mi madre.
= What happened then I heard through the report of my mother.
Lo conocí por ti.
= I met him through you.
Lástima que me enteré por otros medios y no por Usted.
= It's a pity that I heard through other means and not through you.
Esto lo tienes que aprender por ti mismo.
= You have to learn this by yourself.
Subieron los escalones y entraron por la puerta.
= They came up the stairs and came in through the door.
Iban por el desierto.
= They went through the desert.
Hacía tres días que andaba por el bosque y había perdido la noción del tiempo.
= For three days, he went through the woods and lost his sense of time.
Hemos dado una vuelta por la ciudad.
= We had a walk through the town.

   por for local definition
¿Dónde está mi monedero? Está por ahí.
= Where is my wallet? It is somewhere there.
Vamos a Madrid pasando por Barcelona.
= We go to Madrid through Barcelona.

  VI. giving time: in
Por la mañana suele trabajar.
= In the morning I usually work.
Por la tarde hace tanto calor que no se puede salir de casa.
= In the afternoon it's so hot that one can't leave the house.

  VII. stating prices: for

Before prices the preposition por is used.

Te lo doy por 400 €. = I give it to you for 400 €.

¿Me lo vendes por 100 €? = Do you sell it to me for 100 €?
Pagé 200 € por este libro. = I paid 200 € for this book.

  VIII. substitution, change, mixing things: for (instead of)
Pues no es legal, pero puedo firmar por él.
= It's not legal but I can sign for (instead of) him.
Le tomaron por otra persona.
= They took him for somebody else.
Puedes cambiar esta camisa azul por la amarilla.
= You can change this blue shirt for this yellow one.

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