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Double uses of for and for-same phrases, different meanings

Today we continue with por and para. If you have not seen the previous blog, I advise you to take a look at it first here, since today’s blog is a more advanced level, it is level deeper, let’s say . Why? Because we are going to talk about identical or practically identical phrases with por and para, in which both are correct, but the meaning of the sentences changes if we use por or para. So, you are going to need the basic explanation from the previous blog to grasp this sometimes, subtle differences.

1-For example, let’s start with:

lo hago por ti y lo hago para ti.

I do it for you and I do it for you.

Do you know the difference between these two? Both are correct, as I said, but if I say:

lo hago por ti. This one in fact can have two meanings. lo hago por ti is a substitution or a replacement. You can’t do it and I do it for you.

Or, the second meaning is you are the reason I do something.

For example, your friend wants to go to a party and you don’t, but you say: Lo hago por ti, voy a la fiesta por ti, porque por mí me quedaría en mi casa I do it for you, I go to the party for you, because for me I would stay at home.

On the other hand, if I say, Lo hago para ti, it means that I am doing something and then I am going to give it to you. It’s going to be a gift, you’re going to be the recipient of that thing I’m doing.

2-Another very similar one is:

por ti, lo que sea o para ti, lo que sea.

for you, whatever or for you, whatever.

por ti, lo que sea, it means that you are the reason for what I am doing and I will do anything for you, because you are important to me.

Versus para ti, lo que sea, it’s kind of pick something and I’m going to buy it for you. You are going to receive the thing we are talking about.

3-Another phrase is

                                                trabajo por Susana o trabajo para Susana.

 I work for Susana or I work for Susana.

Again, both correct. But if I say trabajo por Susana, it means that it is a substitution, a replacement. Susana is sick or on vacation or she can’t work and I work in her place.

On the other hand, trabajo para Susana means that Susana is my boss.

4-                                 Abro la carta por mi hermana y abro la carta para mi hermana.

I open the letter for my sister and I open the letter for my sister.

Abro la carta por mi hermana, again it is a substitution. My sister can’t open the letter, she is on vacation, a letter has arrived for her and she tells me, “please open it.” And I open it instead.

But, if abro la carta para mi hermana, I am doing something not very correct, because it means that the letter is for my sister. My sister is the recipient. It says my sister’s name on the envelope. And if I open it, I am opening a letter that is not addressed to me. In this situation, if abro la carta para mi hermana, it is not clear whether my sister knows that I am opening the letter or not. So do not do it! Do not open letters that are not for you.

5-                                                         Mira por ahí o mira para allí.

Look over there or look there.

Mira por ahí, imagine you’ve lost something, you can’t find your keys and I tell you, “you’ve been in the living room, look over there.” It’s look around that place.

But if I tell you, mira para allí, that’s the final point. I want you to look at that place. For example, if we are in the park and I see a pretty bird I will tell you, “What a pretty bird!” And when you ask me, “where?” I will answer, mira para allí, “look over there.” And you will be able to see it.

6-                                             Tengo crema por la cara y tengo crema para la cara.

I have cream for my face and I have cream for my face.

If tengo crema por la cara, it means I have cream around my face. Imagine, I don’t have a mirror and I’ve put on cream. I could ask you “Do I have cream on my face?”

But if I tell you, tengo crema para la cara, it means I have a cream that is especially intended for the face. Imagine that you tell me, I have very dry skin. I could tell you, tengo crema para la cara, do you want it?                                   

7 –       Mi prima acaba de tener un hijo. Iré a conocerlo por Navidad o iré a conocerlo para Navidad.

My cousin just had a son. I’ll go meet him for Christmas or I’ll go meet him for Christmas.

If I say, iré a conocerlo por Navidad. That means the approximate time. It may be a little earlier, it may be a little later.

But if I say iré a conocerlo para Navidad, it means that Christmas is the moment, the time, in which I am going to go and meet him. It’s fixed.

8-                    El cuadro fue pintado por Picasso y el cuadro fue pintado para Picasso

The painting was painted by Picasso and the painting was painted for Picasso.

Picasso was a painter, so probably most of the time we will hear that el cuadro fue pintado por Picasso. Picasso was the author of the painting.

But if we hear, el cuadro fue pintado para Picasso, another author painted the painting with Picasso in mind, and Picasso was the recipient, the one who received the painting.

9-                                 Caminamos por el centro o, Caminamos para el centro.

We walk through the center or: We walk to the center.

If I tell you, caminamos por el centro, it means that we are in the center and we are walking around.

If I tell you what, caminamos para el centro. The center is the destination, our final point. And we are not in the center, we are on the outskirts and we are walking to get to the center.

10-                   The last two sentences por mí, sushi o para mí, sushi.

for me, sushi or for me, sushi.

Por mí, sushi means that I want sushi, I think it’s okay to have sushi for dinner or to eat sushi. I’m at a friends house and they ask, “What do you want for dinner?” “Pizza, pasta, sushi?” I feel like sushi, so I’ll say, por mí, sushi. It means I prefer sushi, I’m happy with the choice.

But if I say, para mí, sushi it’s like, I want sushi, I’m the recipient of sushi. Yeah? Do you see the difference?

If I say: por mí, sushi, maybe, it’s my opinion, but if someone wants something else, I’m open to options, I’m flexible. But if I say para mí, sushi, it’s more direct. If you’re going to order, for my sushi, please.

These are the pairs of sentences that I wanted to discuss with you so that you can see a little better the difference between using por and para and the attention you have to pay when using them, because using one or the other, as you have seen, can change the meaning of the sentence. So, be careful! If you want to delve a little deeper into the topic, I have created some sentences for you to complete with for and for with solutions that you can download here.

Of course, if you want to practice leaving a phrase in the comments, go ahead! I will be delighted to read them.

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