For in Spanish – A Simple Comprehensive Guide with Examples

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For is one of the most multifaceted English prepositions. Maybe you don’t realize it, but you definitely use it all the time. The Cambridge dictionary accounts for around fifteen different meanings for this word; which, as you can imagine, makes it kind of difficult to translate into other languages.

The thing with functional words like this is that these words can’t be simply translated to one single word. While it isn’t totally straightforward, we’ll break down all of the different uses of for in Spanish with plenty of examples so you’ll know exactly which “for” to use!

For in Spanish at a Glance

Before starting to translate, we should systematize a bit what we already know about the preposition for. A shortlist with the different meanings of for will make it easier for us when we try to find their Spanish counterpart; in a way, we’ll know what we’re looking for. Of course, there are many different uses and specific meanings associated with for, but here we have the main ones, followed by a short example:

For Definition

For in Spanish

Example Sentence (Eng)

Example Sentence (Sp)

Intended to be given to

Para

There’s a message for you.

Hay un mensaje para ti

Having the purpose of

Para

These boots are made for walking

Estas botas están hechas para caminar

Because of or as a result of something

Por

He’s famous for his amazing voice.

Él es famoso por su increíble voz.

Amount of time or distance

Por





Durante

We walked for three miles.

We stay there for a couple of days

Caminamos por tres millas

Nos quedamos allí durante un par de días

Occasion or at the time of

Para

Did you buy her something for her birthday?

¿Le compraste un regalo para su cumpleaños?

In support of

A favor de

I’m for gender equality.

Estoy a favor de la igualdad de género

In order to help someone

Por

What can I do for you?

¿Qué puedo hacer por ti?

In relation to someone or something

Para

This book is good, but it’s not for me.

Este libro es bueno, pero no es para mí.

Getting in exchange

Por

I bought it for $10.

Lo compré por $10.

Representing a company, country, etc

Para

She plays for the Sweden national team.

Ella juega para la selección de Suecia.

In the direction of

Para

She got on a plane for Madrid.

Ella se embarcó en un avión para Madrid.

All the Ways to Say For in Spanish

for in spanish

Intended to be given to: Para

When using for to talk about something you might give to someone, whether it be a gift or a message, you would use para.

Spanish

  1. Hay un mensaje para ti.
  2. Compré un regalo para mi madre
  3. Ella dejó una generosa propina para el camarero

English

  1. There’s a message for you.
  2. I bought a present for my mother
  3. She left a generous tip for the waiter

Having the purpose of: Para

Para is used when you want to signify the purpose or the use of something.

Spanish

  1. Estas botas están hechas para caminar.
  2. Estamos recolectando dinero para la Cruz Roja

English

  1. These boots are made for walking.
  2. We’re collecting money for the Red Cross.

Because of or as a result of something: Por

When we talk about the reason or the result of something, we use por.

Spanish

  1. Él es famoso por su increíble voz.
  2. Ella recibió un premio por su investigación
  3. Él fue preso por robo

English

  1. He’s famous for his amazing voice.
  2. She received a prize for her research
  3. He went to jail for robbery

Amount of time or distance: Por, Durante

Both por and durante are used to mean “for” in Spanish, when talking about time or distance. Let’s take a look at some example sentences for por.

Spanish

  1. Estuvo callado por dos horas
  2. Caminamos por tres millas.

English

  1. He was quiet for two hours
  2. We walked for three miles

The other way to say for in Spanish when speaking about time is durante. In Spanish, durante has a meaning strongly associated with time. Durante also means “during”.

Spanish

  1. Ella durmió durante todo el viaje.
  2. Nos quedamos allí durante un par de días.

English

  1. She slept for the whole trip.
  2. We stayed there for a couple of days.

Occasion of or at the time of: Para

If you’ve done something for an occasion, an event or a point in time, you’d use para.

Spanish

  1. ¿Le compraste un regalo para su cumpleaños?
  2. Arreglamos una cita para la semana próxima,
  3. Ya tengo planes para Año Nuevo.

English

  1. Did you buy her something for her birthday?
  2. We arranged a date for next week
  3. I already have plans for New Years.

In support of or in agreement with: A favor de

When talking about being in favor or in agreement with something, the phrase a favor de is appropriate. It translates directly to “in favor of” in English.

Spanish

Estoy a favor de la igualdad de género

English

I’m for gender equality

In order to help someone: Por

Por is used when talking about doing something for someone, or helping someone.

Spanish

  1. ¿Qué puedo hacer por ti?
  2. Lo hice por mis hijos

English

  1. What can I do for you?
  2. I did it for my children

Getting in exchange: Por

If you are using “for” in Spanish when talking about exchanging goods or services, you would use por. It is used commonly when talking about buying something.

Spanish

  1. Lo compré por $10.
  2. Le doy una golosina por cada examen que aprueba

English

  1. I bought it for $10.
  2. I give her candy for each exam she passes

Representing a company, country, etc: Para

Use para when referring to someone representing a company, a country, a group, etc…

Spanish

  1. Ella juega para la selección de Suecia.
  2. Él trabaja para Corporate Inc.

English

  1. She plays for the Sweden national team.
  2. He works for Corporate Inc.

In the direction of: Para

If referring to the direction of something, particularly if you’re going somewhere, para is used.

Spanish

  1. Ella se embarcó en un avión para Madrid.
  2. Él sigió los carteles para la estación

English

  1. She got on a plane for Madrid.
  2. He followed the signs for the station

Alternatively, you could also use the Spanish preposition hacia, which means “toward”.

Conclusion

As you can see, the answer to how to say for in Spanish is not an easy one. Luckily, you usually only have to decide between para and por. If you find this a little challenging, you are not alone. With enough practice, you’ll start to understand the differences and over time, figuring out which “for” to use will feel natural.

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