POR vs. PARA in Portuguese

por and para

It's really not that hard to pick whether to use por vs. para to say, for. You'll soon learn that Portuguese has different words to express what we would use one word to accomplish. It's part of what makes the language very precise. English is considered vague by comparison!

por vs. para ~ Can't we all just get along?

The por vs. para question always seems to put everyone into a fighting mood. That's because we're so used to saying for without having to think about it. Imagine if we had two different ways to say, for?!

What exactly does POR really mean?
*DO NOT confuse por with the VERB pôr!

The road to happiness is always : simplify. By learning the most, most used instances of these words we can get to fluency faster.

por

por: Quantity

O alho custa dois por três. » The garlic costs two for three.
Vou esperar por quinze minutos. » I'm going to wait for fifteen minutes.

por: Reason/Motivation

Por qual motivo você quer aprender Português? » For what reason do you want to learn Portuguese?
Eu tenho muito amor por você. » I have lots of love for you.

por: Movement through something

Ela está passando por um momento difícil. » She's going through a difficult time.
Nós vamos por o centro. » We're going by downtown.

*When you have por + o or, por + a » these can contract! Like this:

Nós vamos por o centro. » Nós vamos pelo centro. » We're going by downtown.

por: it can contract too!

When por is used together with "the" (o, a) it gets CONTRACTED like this:
por + o = pelo
por + a = pela

BIZARRE.
It's not an obvious contraction. I think it's just because it sounds good: PAY-LOW & PAY-LA.

Vamos pelo centro da cidade. » Let's go by way of downtown.
Ela jogou tudo pela janela. » She threw everything out the window.

para

Use para to say, go somewhere.
para: Purpose.

Você precisa treinar para falar bem. » You need to practice (in order) to speak well.
Eu vou trabalhar muito para comprar um carro. » I'm going to study a lot (in order) to buy a car.

para: Direction & Destination.

Eu vou para Salvador. » I'm going to Salvador.
Vamos para o centro da cidade. » let's go downtown.

And if you're really LIGADO com a língua and wonder if you can also contract para + o,a.
PODE SIM.
But it's (for now) just coloquial, which means that you should only use it in informal, spoken situations. Language evolves, and one day these contractions may be adopted into the official lexicon:
para + o = pro
para + a = pra

Vamos pro centro da cidade. » Let's go downtown.
Você foi pra festa da Anita ontem? » Did you go to Anita's party yesterday?

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