/
Blogger 1
Isabel Mendoza nació en Cali (Colombia) una ciudad famosa por la alegría y el ambiente festivo de sus ciudadanos. Los colombianos llaman a Cali “la sucursal del cielo” y una de las mayores atracciones turísticas de...
Blogger 2
Anne Smieszny Silva is from Cincinnati, Ohio, where she was a synchronized swimmer for eight years. She began learning Spanish in middle school. She earned Bachelor’s degrees with Honors from the Ohio State...
Blogger 3
Patricia Acosta is from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where at age 8 she began to show her passion for education by teaching math to her (often unwilling) friends, classmates, neighbors and pets with the help...
Blogger 4
Mario A. Nuñez loves Madrid… and when in Madrid, he does what the Madrileños do…eat tapas “con locura”! Somehow he also finds time to go to the museums and cultural sites…
Blogger 5
Angela Padron is originally from Freehold, New Jersey where she grew up in a bicultural household. She had the best of both worlds learning about her mother’s English heritage and her father’s...
Blogger 6
María Treviño loves to travel. Visiting Spanish-speaking countries brings her greatest satisfaction. It’s impossible for her to choose one location as each city has its own special attraction. She loves to...
Blogger 7
Evelyn Silva nació en la pequeña y hermosa ciudad de Cienfuegos, situada en el centro-sur de la isla de Cuba. Amante del olor del mar y del sonido de las olas al chocar con los muros, Evelyn emigró a...
/

Every year, Americans around the nation get together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th through October 15th. The contributions Hispanic Americans have made to the United States are endless and inspiring, and they have had a profound and positive impact on our county.

Scary Grammar Pitfalls Of DOOM - Resources for your Spanish Classroom

Mar 06

Anne Silva

Do you groan inwardly every time your lesson plans say that one of the grammar topics this week is “Por vs. Para”? Do you try to be peppy about the topic, like when you try to convince your kids that going to the dentist is Just That Easy!?

Native-speaking teachers and non-native-speaking teachers alike have grammar topics they Just. Hate. To. Teach. For me, one of those has always been the concept of “por vs. para.” As a non-native speaker, I was in the same position as my students, having to try to make sense of a laundry list of rules about this teeny little topic. And as a student, I remember it blowing my mind that BOTH words could be correct in one situation, but with a subtle change in the shade of meaning. High school foreign language students in general have a bit of an issue with “subtle shades of meaning” the way color-blind people have issues with “subtle shades of cerulean.” How frustrating!

And when I asked my native-speaker Spanish-teacher friends, their answers didn’t usually guide me very well.

“You use por in that sentence,” they would say.

“Ok, but WHY?” I would insist, as though the ancient romance-language gurus had set down a list of reasons etched in stone on the day they decided to invent Spanish.

“Because it sounds right,” they would reason.

Gah.

SO, I propose for you today a forum for all those who have tackled the fearsome Por vs. Para Monster and won… tell us your tales! How do you conquer this beast of a grammar topic? What glimmers of insight have your students found to keep the two straight? How do you keep them saying “This present is for you,” instead of “This present is because of you”? (or vice-versa!) All mnemonics, tricks, magic spells, and the like are welcomed.

And because I would never leave you hanging like that, here’s the way I see it:

VERY roughly speaking, I envision por as the duration of a race, the “during,” the “meantime,” the “journey.” And para, I reckon, is roughly related to the destination, the finish line, the deadline, the end. This isn’t a perfect system, of course, but it’s an image that helps me in case of doubt.

Here is a little table with some more details:

POR

 

(In my own words)

Example

Cause or reason

your motivation during the action

Corrí el maratón por los beneficios aeróbicos.

Time periods during the day

“during”

Siempre corro por la mañana.

Approximate place

“around here/there”

Mis llaves estaban por aquí.

Movement within an area

“through here/there”

Corro por ese barrio.

 

PARA

 

(In my own words)

Example

Purpose

goal (not physical)

Corro para estar en forma.

Recipient of an action

destination of a thing or an action

El premio es para ti.

Opinion

“from where I’m standing”

Para mí, está bien.

Movement toward a place

goal (physical)

Corrí para la meta.

Deadline

goal (time)

Hice la cita para mañana.

 

Ok, so now it’s your turn! Do you love this metaphor of mine? Hate it? See how it’s as hole-y as an old sock? How do YOU approach this topic? What do you have your students do to practice this topic that seems especially effective?

Share and Enjoy
S. Pina March 6, 2014 at 5:44 AM Reply
My mentor taught two songs. They don't cover everything, but they've helped me a lot.
Por: to the tune of We Three Kings
Pray for, play for, pay for use por
For the sake of, in exchange for
Motive, cause, in place of, duration,
By, per, through, for, use por

Para: to the tune of London Bridge
Destined person, place, and time
In order to, in order to become
On the verge of comparison
Purpose, use para
Anne March 6, 2014 at 6:17 PM Reply
How cool! I once learned prepositions in German that way but never knew a song for por and para! I will have to learn these!
Kay March 11, 2014 at 8:13 PM Reply
A latino told me once to pretend that para is the center of a target - which fits with the destination description. Also, if you remember the show "Let's Make a Deal", para is the deal behind door #___ - again the final destination or prize. That helps somewhat - although, again, not a perfect system.
This month on Spanish Classroom

Every year, Americans around the nation get together to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15th through October 15th. The contributions Hispanic Americans have made to the United States are endless and inspiring, and they have had a profound and positive impact on our county.

Recent Posts
LET'S GET SOCIAL