Por & Para

This is a topic that is tricky for English speakers, because although both of these words can mean “for”, you have to choose the correct one depending on the situation.

Para

Para can mean “for”, “to”, “in order to” or “towards”.

To refer to a destination or result, you would always choose “para” instead of “por”.

Nós vamos para casa We go home
Eu vou para Portugal I go to Portugal

Por

Por can mean “for”, “by”, “via”, or “through”.

Eu espero por ti I wait for you
Dividir o dinheiro por dois To divide the money by two
Ela vai por She goes through there

Contractions

When “por” is combined with the articles “a” or “o”, it will always become “pela” or “pelo“.

That’s why you will never see “por o” or “por a” in a sentence. They are always contracted.

Estou feliz pelo meu pai I am happy for my father
Tu esperas pela tua mãe You wait for your mother
Obrigado pelo presente Thank you for the present

This does not happen with “para“, only “por”.

Eu vou para a escola I go to the school

Comments:

  • Am I correct that “para mim” is ok when the waiter asks who a dish is for?
    If so might more examples of use of para appear. I seem to hear it’s use in the Eastern Algarve much more than “por”.

    • Yes, you should use “para” to describe who the dish (or any other object) is for. Your suggestion/request is duly noted 🙂

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