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How To Use the Preposition Por: Part One

Today we’ll be learning how to use the Spanish preposition por. Ready?

Let’s start with a definition: prepositions are part of a group of words known as a closed grammar category. They are used to indicate a relationship between two words or phrases.

Por can be translated in English as “by,” “for,” “per,” “because,” etc., and can indicate different things in a sentence depending on the context. Let’s check out a couple of uses of this preposition.

Using por to indicate placement

We can use por to indicate placement in the context of proximity or location. Unlike the preposition para, it does not indicate destination. Let’s look at some examples:

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Here we can see that the preposition por refers to a specific place or location that is mentioned in the sentence (la playa, la isla). In both cases, the English translation of the preposition is “by”; however, this can be different depending on the context. For instance:

It’s always time for an island getaway!
Image by 0fjd125gk87 from Pixaby

In this example, the English translation would be “around” instead of “by,” since we are using the preposition to indicate proximity without referring to a specific place (por aquí).

Establishing the cause or reason 

Another use of por is to indicate the cause of or reason for something happening. In this context, the preposition will always answer the question “why?” to explain the reason or cause, i.e., “because of” or “due to.” Let’s see some examples:

Note: Por in this context always precedes a noun or object of causation. This placement contrasts with that of the conjunction porque. While it also indicates causation (its English translation is “because”), porque must be followed by a verb, as in El cielo estaba gris porque las nubes aparecieron. (The sky was gray because the clouds appeared.) It would be incorrect to say “The sky was gray because the clouds.” 

With this information in mind, you are ready to start using the preposition por in your Spanish sentences. You can also check out Part Two, where we explore more uses of por!

Written by Humberto Aparicio

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