Spanish preposition “Para”
Like an arrow, para moves the sentence forward, away from its original location to a specific destination, and usually in a direct, straight route. This leads us straight to our delineation of para.
Generally Para= For (not always; depends on the use)
The preposition Para expresses purpose, destination, comparison, end of period, comparison, contrast:
Esta herramienta no sirve para nada. (This tool is no longer good for anything.)
Ellos compraron regalos para toda la familia. (They bought gifts for the whole family)
La tarea debería estar hecha para mañana. (The task should be completed tomorrow)
Me voy a tomar un colectivo para ir al centro. (I’ll take the bus to downtown)
No estoy preocupada por su opinión. Para lo que vale! (I’m not worried his opinion for what it’s worth!)
I’ve told you so you know.
The destination of a physical, tangible thing involves the use of para: Este regalo es para Marcos. The destination of the gift is Marcos, and it’s not going anywhere else.
Tenemos suficiente comida para todos. We have enough food for everybody.
Este tirador es para la puerta principal. (This knob is for the front door)
Ella compra juguetes para los niños. (She buys toys for the children)
La canela es para el café. (The cinnamon is for the coffee)
Purpose (before an infinitive)
Things exist for a reason or for a purpose. To describe what something does or what it is used for, use “para” immediately followed by an infinitive. (Remember that a verb cannot be conjugated after a preposition.) In this situation, para nearly always translates as “for:’ and the infinitive usually takes the gerund (“-ing” form) in English. Sometimes the construction translates as “to” plus the verb in English.
Los pulmones son para respirar. (Lungs are for breathing)
El portador de maletas es para llevar el equipaje. (The porter is for carrying luggage)
El freno es para reducir la velocidad. (The break is for slowing down)
Esta medicina es para curarte. (The medicine is to cure you)
Reason for doing something (before an infinitive)
“Para” is also used to express why someone does something. In English, we often say “in order to” (or simply “to” or “for”) just before the verb. Because para is a preposition, the verb that follows must remain in the infinitive.
“El grita para fastidiar a su esposa”. He shouts to irritate his wife.
“Ella miente para sentirse importante”. She (tells) lies to feel important.
“Enciendo las luces para ver. I turn on the lights for seeing.
“Comemos para vivir”. We eat in order to live.
A deadline or specific time limit (in the future)
When you want to remodel your kitchen, you want it done by the time the contractor says it will be done (not three months later). In this context, “para” is used to indicate a time limit or deadline, and usually translates as “by”; however, it can also translate as “for,”“on,” or “before”.
Tenemos que salir para la una. (We have to leave by one o’clock)
La reserva es para el sábado. (The reservation is for Saturday)
Necesito la pintura para el viernes. ( I need the painting on Friday)
Debo hacerlo para el domingo. (I have to do it before Sunday)
Comparison with a certain standard
When someone or something is outside the norm or goes beyond what is expected, “para” is used to draw attention to that distinction and make the comparison. In this context, para translates as for or considering.
Ella es alta para su edad. (She is tailfor her age)
Es rápido para una tortuga. (It’s fast for a turtle)
Hace frio para agosto. (It’s cold for August)
Para su edad, es fuerte. (Considering his age, he’s strong)
An opinion or personal standard
If you want to say “in my opinion,” you can say, literally, en mi opinion; however, for simplicity and for efficiency’s sake, just say para ml. This construction works with names as well as pronouns; in this context, para translates as “for’.
Para mí, el español es hermoso. (In my opinion, the Spanish is beautiful)
Para él, la vida es una lucha. (In his opinion, life is a struggle)
Para ti, la vida es buena. (In her opinion, life is good)
Para Elsa, la carne es venenosa. (For Elsa, meat is poisonous)