Spanish Grammar: "Por"

The Spanish words "por" and "para" are often confused by non-native speakers. Both "por" and "para" literally translated mean "for" in English, but they actually have a variety of meanings. To learn when and how to use "por" vs "para" visit Basic "por" vs. "para" (motion vs. destination). Below we'll explore the rules of usage for the Spanish word "por".

Rule: meaning "along," "by," "through," or "in the area of"
They ran through the city center.
Corrieron por el centro de la ciudad.

Rule: for frequency, velocity and proportion
We go to the gym six times a week.
Vamos al gimnasio tres veces por semana.

Rule: for multiplication and division
Five times five equals twenty-five.
Cinco por cinco son veinticinco.

Rule: convey apology or express gratitude
Thanks for the food.
Gracias por la comida.

Rule: to communicate a duration of time
I walked for four hours.
Caminé por cuatro horas.

Rule: to communicate an exchange of items
They gave us five thousand dollars for the car.
Nos dieron cinco mil dólares por el coche.

Rule: to communicate "in favor of" or "on behalf of"
He did not vote for anyone.
No votó por nadie.

Rule: express a means of transportation or communication
I spoke with her by phone.
Hablé con ella por teléfono.

Rule: means "during", used to express a undetermined time
One can see fireworks during the night in July.
Se puede ver fuegos artificiales por la noche durante el mes de julio.

Rule: means "to be seen as" or "to be considered"
They take me for a fool.
Me tienen por tonto.

Rule: to communicate the purpose for an errand (with ir, pasar, venir, volver, mandar, and preguntar)
I'll return for you at nine o'clock.
Vuelvo por ti a las nueve.

Rule: in passive constructions as "by"
The house was built by my brother.
La casa fue construida por mi hermano.

Rule: used in "estar por" to mean "in the mood to...", "inclined to..." or "about to..."
I'm about ready to leave.
Estoy por salir.

Rule: to communicate cause or reason
The car crashed because of the ice.
El coche se estrelló por causa del hielo.

Rule: to express an action to be completed, when followed by the infinitive, por + infinite
He has not yet started to study.
Él esta por estudiar.