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Module by: Marathon Montrose Ramsey. E-mail the author

Summary: The Spanish preposition por and its uses

In passive expressions por indicates the agent "by" whom an action is performed; but if the action be a mental one, the preposition used is preferably de:

Example 1

El muchacho será castigado por su padre. The boy will be punished by his father.

Example 2

Este niño es amado de sus padres. The child is loved by its parents.

Example 3

El fuerte fué tomado por el enemigo. The fort was taken by the enemy.

Example 4

El universo fué creado por Dios. The university was created by God.

Example 5

España fue conquistada por los Moros.Spain was conquered by the Moors.

Example 6

Ese actor ha sido bien recibido por el público. That actor has been well received by the public.

Example 7

Esta obra está escrita por un autor francés. This work is by a French author.

Indicates manner or means:

Example 8

El dentista me sacó el diente por fuerza. The dentist pulled my tooth out by force.

Example 9

Como V. los ha visto por sus propios ojos, puede afirmar que existen. As you have seen them with your own eyes, you can declare that they exist.

Example 10

Por Fulano conseguí el empleo. I obtained the employment through So-and-so.

Example 11

Conducía por la mano á un niño de cinco años. She was leading a child of five years by the hand.

Indicates the reason or motive for an action:

Example 12

Por eso no quiero verle. For that reason I do not want to see him.

Example 13

Éste peleaba por la vida, aquél por la honra. The one was fighting for life, the other for honor.

Example 14

No fui al baile por falta de ropa. I did not go the ball for want of clothes.

Example 15

Por miedo de las consecuencias. For fear of consequences.

Example 16

Le han despedido po una falta leve. They have discharged him for a slight fault.

Example 17

Lo hace por vanidad. He does it out of vanity.

Example 18

No fue admitido por ser católico. He was not admitted, because he was a Catholic.

After the verbs "to go", "to send", and the like, it shows the immediate object of the errand:

Example 19

El muchacho va por leña, por pan. The boy goes for firewood, for bread.

Example 20

Me mandó por el médico. He sent me for the doctor.

Example 21

Vino por su sueldo. He came for his wages.

Indicates opinion, estimation or acceptation:

Example 22

Le tengo por hombre de talento. I take him for a man of talent.

Example 23

Le dejaron por muerto. They left him for dead.

Example 24

Le fusilaron por espía. They shot him for a spy.

Example 25

Fue ahorcado por ladrón. He was hanged for a thief.

Example 26

Lo dan por cosa extraordinaria. They represent it as a strange thing.

Example 27

Pasa por docto. He passes for a learned man.

Example 28

Cuando yo estaba en España, pasaba á menudo por natural del país. When I was in Spain I often passed as a native of the country.

Example 29

Le ajusté por mozo de cuadra. I engaged him as stable-boy.

Example 30

La adoptó por hija. He adopted her as daughter.

Example 31

Lo toma por concedido. He takes it for granted.

Denotes the space of time during which an action takes place or continues:

Example 32

Me ausento de la ciudad por un mes. I leave the city for a month.

Example 33

Me ha prestado el libro por ocho días. He lent me the book for a week.

Example 34

Hemos pleitado por mucho tiempo. We have litigated for a long time.

Example 35

Eso apaciguó al rey por lo pronto. That appeased the king for the time.

Example 36

Eso basta por ahora. That is sufficient for now.

Example 37

Le condenaron á las galeras por el resto de su vida. They confined him to the galleys for the rest of his life.

Denotes the place through or along which motion takes place:

Example 38

Entró por la puerta, pero yo le hice salir por la ventana. He came in through the door, but I made him go out through the window.

Example 39

Vagaba por los campos. He was wandering about the fields.

Example 40

Como andaba por la margen del río. As I walked along the bank of the river.

Example 41

¿Por qué calle vino V.? Through what street did you come?

Example 42

Pasé por Filadelfia. I passed through Philadelphia.

Example 43

He viajado por Méjico. I have travelled through Mexico.

Takes the place of en, in expressing time or place, but is more indefinite:

Example 44

Temíamos encontrar por aquel paraje algún buque de guerra. We were afraid of meeting some war vessel in that quarter.

Example 45

Por diciembre del año pasado despachó á su secretario con instrucciones . . . About December of last year he dispatched his secretary with instructions . . .

Example 46

V. lo encontrará por aquí, sin duda. You will find it around here somewhere, no doubt.

Indicates exchange of one thing for another:

Example 47

Le he dado mi perro por su escopeta. I have given him my dog for his shotgun.

Example 48

He cambiado mi pluma por una nueva. I have exchanged my pen for a new one.

Example 49

Quiere vender su casa por $8.000. He wants to sell his house for $8,000.

Example 50

Pide $8.000 por su casa He asks $8,000 for his house.

Example 51

He pagado $9 por este diccionario. I paid $9 for this dictionary.

Example 52

Le daré á V. $10 por los dos. I will give you $10 for the two.

Offsets one thing against another:

Example 53

He traducido la frase palabra por palabra. I have translated the phrase word for word.

Example 54

Me pagó peso por peso. He paid me dollar for dollar.

Example 55

"Ojo por ojo y diente por diente." "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth."

Indicates unit of measure or number:

Example 56

Por docenas. By the dozen.

Example 57

Á diez por ciento. At ten per cent.

Example 58

Por mayor y por menor. By wholesale and retail.

Example 59

Este vapor marcha quince nudos por hora. This steamer runs fifteen knots an hour.

Example 60

Gano $1.500 por año. I earn $1,500 per annum.

Has the signification of "in behalf of", "in favor of", "for the sake of":

Example 61

Habló elocuentemente por su amigo. He spoke eloquently in his friend's behalf.

Example 62

Lo haré por V. con gusto. I will do it for you with pleasure.

Example 63

Votamos por Cleveland. We voted for Cleveland.

Example 64

Yo estoy por derechos protectores, mi hermano está por el libre cambio. I am for protective tariff, my brother is for free trade.

Example 65

Trabajo por el señor A. I work for Mr. A.

Example 66

Yo haré la guardía por V. esta noche. I will mount guard for you to-night.

Example 67

Escribo esta carta por mi hermano. I am writing this letter for my brother (as a favor to him).

Example 68

¡Una limosna, por Dios!1 señor. An alms for God's sake, Sir!

Appeals to something in the manner of an oath, to strengthen an assertion:

Example 69

¡Por el cielo que está encima de nosotros! By the heaven above us!

Example 70

Por mi conciencia no lo comprendo. On my conscience I don't understand it.

Example 71

¡Por Dios! señor, es verdad lo que le digo. By God! Sir, it is true what I am telling you.

Followed by an infinitive, por indicates what remains to be done, without implying, however, that it will be done:

Example 72

Quedan seis páginas por copiar. There remain six pages to copy.

Example 73

El tratado está por ratificar. The treaty is yet to be ratified.

Example 74

Está por ver. That is to be seen.

Example 75

La contestación está por recibir. The reply is yet to be received.

Example 76

Cartas por escribir. Letters to be written.

Example 77

La mitad de la novela quedaba por leer, cuando . . . Half of the novel remained to be read, when . . .

Example 78

Sin dejar nada por decir. Without leaving anything unsaid.


  1. This supplication is so much used by beggars that they have been nicknamed pordioseros. The term used when speaking courteously of them is pobres, "poor persons". Mendigo, "beggar", is only used in poetical or rhetorical style. Pordiosear is "to go begging".

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