Practice Makes Perfect: Spanish Pronouns and Prepositions, Premium 3rd Edition (2016)

Part II. PREPOSITIONS

Chapter 16. Para and por

Students of Spanish quickly discover that the prepositions para and por are a force to be reckoned with. At first, we discover that they both mean “for.” However, upon closer inspection, we find out that each has several other meanings. Some of those meanings are shared by both prepositions, and others are unique to just one of them.

The issues encountered with para and por are sometimes compared with those of ser and estar, both of which translate as English “to be.” In the case of ser and estar, there is one verb in English that corresponds to two verbs in Spanish, each with a list of rules to absorb.

However, an important distinction between these two pairs of words is that ser and estar, in most grammatical instances, are not interchangeable. When a person makes an error using ser or estar, that error will register as a mistake in the mind of the listener (the bad news), but the listener will nearly always be able to “fix” the mistake in his or her mind and understand what the speaker intended (the good news).

Para and por, on the other hand, are grammatically interchangeable a good deal of the time. You can use one or the other, and you will produce a perfectly well-structured sentence (the good news). However, most listeners lack mind-reading skills, and they will therefore assume that you mean what you are actually saying, which is not always the case (the bad news).

Consider the following pair of sentences (their differences will be explained more clearly later in the chapter):

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While both sentences translate as “Luciano sings for Plácido,” they have very different meanings. In the first sentence, Luciano is singing to Plácido: Luciano is on the stage, and Plácido is sitting happily in the audience listening to the music. In the second sentence, Luciano is singing on behalf of Plácido: Plácido is nowhere to be found, and Luciano takes his place. In this context, Luciano replaces Plácido.

In a nutshell, think of para as an arrow. In one way or another, para tells where something is going. Por, on the other hand, is like a balance scale, equalizing what is on both sides of the preposition.

Thus we must be extremely careful in using para and por. In this chapter, we examine the various meanings of each one in turn: first para, then por. After working with them individually, we mix them up, as we do in everyday conversation. Para and por, even though they are just “little words,” provide the Spanish speaker with a rich way to describe various relationships of people and things.

Para

Para goes forward, like an arrow, away from its origin toward its destination, and usually in a direct, straight route.

The uses of para can be neatly placed into the following four categories: destination, purpose, deadline, and standard. In all four of these categories, which are discussed in detail below, para indicates distinguishing qualities of nouns in a sentence, often with movement toward a specific goal or destination.

Para: destination

Para indicates the destination of someone or something, whether that destination is real or imagined. Para tells where something is going, could go, or perhaps should go. In this context, para nearly always translates as the English “for.”

To indicate real or imagined destination

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To express the recipient of an action

Para tells not only where, but also to whom something is going. The recipient always follows para, which translates as English “for” in this context.

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To indicate direction and/or final destination

Para concerns itself only with the final destination, not with any temporary stops along the way. (Contrast this with the use of por to indicate an intermediate destination.) In this context, para can translate as either English “to” or “for.”

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To indicate an action’s aim or objective, including profession

Para is used to indicate the final destination or objective of your studies—or what you want to be. For example, in universities in the United States, students often talk about their major. In Spanish, a student majoring in biology could say, Estudio para médico, which translates as “I’m studying to be a physician,” focusing on the final destination. The verb “to be” in this context is understood and therefore can be omitted. You can, if you want, include ser(“to be”), as in the sentence Estudio para ser médico. Note that with this usage, the profession usually remains singular in Spanish, even when the subject is plural, as in the second example below.

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Para: purpose

To express purpose before an infinitive

Something’s purpose is the reason that it exists. In describing what something does, or what it is for, use para + VERB. Because a verb is never conjugated after a preposition, the format will always be para + INFINITIVE. This use of para translates as English “for.”

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To indicate purpose for doing something; “in order to” before an infinitive

To give the reason for doing something, use para + INFINITIVE. In this case, para translates as English “to” or “in order to.”

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Para: deadline

To express a specific time limit or deadline in the future

Use para to specify a time limit or deadline in the future, for example, to state by when you need a certain action to have been completed. In this context, para usually translates as English “by”; however, it can also mean “for,” “on,” or “no later than.”

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To express a limited time span in the future

Use para to express an action that stretches out over a specific period of time in the future. Typically, this is a generalized period of time, as opposed to a period that begins at a specific hour and then ends at a specific hour in the future. This use of para translates as English “for.”

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Para: standard

To express a comparison to a certain standard

When comparing someone or something that goes beyond what is expected to what would typically be expected, use para to express that comparison. Para in these cases translates as the English “for.”

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To express an opinion or personal standard

In order to say, “in my opinion,” you can say, literally, en mi opinión, or you can say more simply, para mí. This construction is used with both names and pronouns. In this context, para translates as English “for.”

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Summary

The four categories of the uses of para are listed below. Use this list when doing the exercises that follow.

1. Destination

a. To indicate real or imagined destination

b. To express the recipient of an action

c. To indicate direction and/or final destination

d. To indicate an action’s aim or objective, including profession

2. Purpose

e. To express purpose before an infinitive

f. To indicate purpose for doing something; “in order to” before an infinitive

3. Deadline

g. To express a specific time limit or deadline in the future

h. To express a limited time span in the future

4. Standard

i. To express a comparison to a certain standard

j. To express an opinion or personal standard

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Write the letter from the preceding summary list that corresponds to the reason for using para in each of the following sentences.

________   1. Tenemos que pagar los impuestos (taxes) para el 15 de abril.

________   2. Santa Claus sólo tiene carbón para ella.

________   3. Pongo la radio para escuchar la música.

________   4. Vamos para Amsterdam este verano.

________   5. Para Gregorio, un presidente debe ser diplomático.

________   6. Para recibir buenas notas (grades), necesitas trabajar mucho.

________   7. Camila toma clases para actriz.

________   8. Este jabón es para el cuerpo y ése es para la cara.

________   9. ¡Para un restaurante de cuatro estrellas, esta comida está horrible!

________ 10. Este papel es para envolver regalos.

________ 11. Para Abby, mirar una película es una buena manera de pasar la noche.

________ 12. Ellas estudian para bibliotecarias.

________ 13. Está muy nublado para un día de junio.

________ 14. Para mí, es muy bueno sacar fotos de ocasiones importantes.

________ 15. Tienes que hacer algo para tu novia en el día de San Valentín.

________ 16. Este detergente es para lavar la ropa.

________ 17. Tengo empleo para el año que viene.

________ 18. Salimos para la discoteca a la medianoche.

________ 19. Este espejo (mirror) es para la entrada de la casa.

________ 20. Ella es muy inteligente para una niña de sólo tres años.


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Traducción The words and expressions in bold italic translate as paraUnless otherwise indicated, use the second-person singular Spanish form for English you.

  1This house is perfect for us.

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  2We need a new table for the dining room.

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  3For some people, it isn’t important to have a car.

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  4These shoes are for dancing the tango.

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  5You have to read this book by Thursday.

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  6He watches television to avoid (evitar) his problems.

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  7I’m leaving for Africa tomorrow.

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  8I’m studying to be a magician (el mago).

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  9He’s very polite (cortés) for a teenager (el adolescente).

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10Can you write the letter by Tuesday?

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11This food is for the cat.

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12For him, winter is wonderful, but for me, summer is the best season (la estación).

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13She works a lot in order to get (sacar) good grades.

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14What time do you leave for work (el trabajo)?

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15These apples are not for eating.

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Por

Like a balance scale, por is a great equalizer. The use of por indicates a sense of equality about whatever is on either side of por in a sentence. We trade one thing for another because items are perceived as equal in value. We say how long something lasts, equating the action of “lasting” with an amount of time. We substitute one person or thing for another because we consider the two persons or items to be of equal competence or value, at least temporarily.

The uses of por can be neatly placed into the following six categories: duration, substitution, motivation, movement, emotions, and idioms. In all six of these categories, which are discussed in detail below, por serves to equate or combine nouns in a sentence, rather than distinguish the differences between them.

Por: duration

To express duration of time

When expressing duration, that is, telling how long something lasts, use por. In this context, por translates as English “for.”

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To indicate periods of time during the 24-hour day

Por used before la mañanala tardela noche, or el día indicates an unspecified amount of time, yet it implies that whatever is taking place lasts a while (as opposed to an extremely short time). In this context, por translates as English “for,” “at,” “during,” “on,” or “throughout.”

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To express English use of Latin per

To express times per day, minutes per hour, or the percentage of something, use por to express the relationship. This use of por indicates duration or a portion of a whole, and it corresponds to the English use of Latin per.

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Por: substitution or exchange

To indicate an equal exchange or trade

Por implies an equality of the two nouns that it separates. We freely trade or purchase something, because we perceive that what we are giving is equal in value to what we are getting in return. In this context, por usually translates as English “for.”

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To express substitution (“on behalf of,” “in place of”)

Por indicates equality in a situation where someone or something is substituted for someone or something else. This is seen in the classroom, in the workplace, and in recipes—whenever the original person or ingredient is not available. In these cases, por usually translates as English “for,” “on behalf of,” or “in place of.”

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To express thanks and gratitude

To thank someone for something that he or she has done for you, or to express gratitude for a gift, use por. This is another example of por as an equalizer. This is why we say that we give thanks for a kind deed: The thanks balance the act of giving. In this context, por usually translates as English “for.”

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Por: motivation

To indicate “because of” or having done something (por + infinitive)

To express the reason for having done something, use por + INFINITIVE. This generally translates as “because of” or “due to.” The verb that follows por must be in the infinitive. Expressed in English, this verb is a gerund (which functions as a noun in the sentence), and it always ends in “-ing.”

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To express a motive for doing something

Por tells why a person does something by expressing a specific motive. In these cases, por can translate as either English “for” or “because of.”

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To express a reason for something (por + NOUN or por + INFINITIVE)

Por expresses the reason for something being the way it is; it expresses “why.” In these cases, por is followed by either a noun or an infinitive. The Spanish verb that follows por, when expressed in English, is a gerund (which functions as a noun in the sentence) that always ends in “-ing.” Por can translate as English “for,” “due to,” or “because of.”

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Por: movement

To express means of transportation

To express how someone gets somewhere, use por before the mode of transportation. Several common forms of transportation are listed here. This use of por translates as English “by” or “on.”

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NOTE The preposition en is also used in this way: en aviónen tren, etc.

To express means of sending messages or information

To talk about sending a message, use the preposition por. Several common ways of sending messages or information are listed here. In this context, por can translate as English “by,” “on,” or “via.”

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To indicate the point of an intermediate destination

To indicate an intermediate destination or a temporary stop, use por—for example, a stop by someone’s house or a layover that’s part of a longer trip. Any temporary stop that is not your final destination is indicated by using por.(Contrast this with the use of para to indicate final destination.) In this context, por translates as English “by” or “through.”

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To indicate movement in an area

While para indicates movement to or toward a destination, por indicates that the person is already there and is moving around in a general, nonspecific direction. In such cases, por can translate as English “around,” “through,” “throughout,” or “by.”

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Por: emotions

To express a like (or dislike) or an emotion for someone or something

To express having or feeling something that is intangible—such as respect—for someone, use por. This contrasts with using para to express destination for something tangible, such as a book.

Think of it like this: When you give something tangible away, you are left with nothing; your hand is empty. But you cannot give away emotions, because no matter how much love you give to someone, you will still be filled with love. Something that’s intangible just gets moved around. In this context, por nearly always translates as English “for.”

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Por: idioms

To appear in idiomatic expressions

Por is used in hundreds of idiomatic expressions. In a dictionary of Spanish idiomatic usage, several pages of phrases begin with por. Below are several of the more frequently used idiomatic expressions that begin with por.

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Summary

The six categories of the uses of por are listed below. Use this list when doing the exercises that follow.

1. Duration

a. To express duration of time

b. To indicate periods of time during the 24-hour day

c. To express English use of Latin per

2. Substitution or exchange

d. To indicate an equal exchange or trade

e. To express substitution (“on behalf of,” “in place of”)

f. To express thanks and gratitude

3. Motivation

g. To indicate “because of” or having done something (por + INFINITIVE)

h. To express a motive for doing something

i. To express a reason for something (por + NOUN or por + INFINITIVE)

4. Movement

j. To express means of transportation

k. To express means of sending messages or information

l. To indicate the point of an intermediate destination

m. To indicate movement in an area

5. Emotions

n. To express a like (or dislike) or an emotion for someone or something

6. Idioms

o. To appear in idiomatic expressions

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Write the letter from the preceding summary list that corresponds to the reason for using por in each of the following sentences.

________   1. Ella corre por media hora cada día.

________   2. Vamos a Amsterdam por avión.

________   3. Caminamos por el centro comercial, pero no compramos nada.

________   4. Pagamos cien dólares por la silla.

________   5. El coche va a sesenta millas por hora.

________   6. La policía buscó por todas partes sin encontrar al ladrón (thief).

________   7. No tengo ningún sentimiento por ti.

________   8. Ella siempre duerme una siesta por la tarde.

________   9. Gracias por las manzanas.

________ 10. Él siempre recibe una “A” por estudiar mucho.

________ 11. Tengo laringitis. Tienes que hablar por mí.

________ 12. Voy por tu casa antes de ir al cine.

________ 13. La casa fue destruida por el terremoto.

________ 14. Voy al centro comercial por un vestido.

________ 15. Vamos al teatro el sábado por la noche.

________ 16. No quiero pagar más de diez dólares por una libra de café.

________ 17. Ellos siempre compran la comida por separado.

________ 18. Manejamos por la ciudad en busca del restaurante perfecto.

________ 19. Puedes enviarme la información por correo electrónico.

________ 20. Nadie trabaja por mí cuando estoy enfermo.

________ 21. Voy a la farmacia por medicina.

________ 22. Ellos prefieren viajar por ferrocarril.

________ 23. Montaigne es conocido por sus ensayos (essays).

________ 24. Te doy muchas gracias por tu bondad (kindness).

________ 25. Por comprar tantas cosas, ella está sin plata (broke).


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Traducción Translate the following sentences into Spanish. The word or phrase to be replaced by por or an idiomatic expression with por appears in bold italicUnless otherwise indicated, use the second-person singular Spanish form for English you.

  1We go to school by bus.

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  2You can have those shoes for ten dollars.

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  3He has at least twenty cats.

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  4When I travel, I always walk through the city and I investigate (investigar) everything.

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  5We read the newspaper for thirty minutes every morning.

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  6Juanita is sick today. Can you work for her?

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  7I’m going to the supermarket for milk, butter, and eggs.

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  8Every Monday night he watches football (el fútbol americano) on television.

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  9Because of her allergies (las alergias), she can’t touch the cat.

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10Thanks for nothing.

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11For giving so much (tanto) to others, she deserves (merecer) a medal (la medalla).

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12Ninety percent of all the dentists say that this toothpaste (la pasta de dientes) is horrible.

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13He comes by my house now and then (de vez en cuando).

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14I only have admiration (la estimación) for you.

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15I now understand the differences between por and para for the first time.

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16You can send me the contracts (el contrato) by fax.

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Complete each sentence with the appropriate use of para or porThen give the reason for your choice.

  1. Tengo algunas cosas _________ ti.

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  2. Juan es muy humilde (modest) _________ un hombre tan inteligente y rico.

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  3. Gracias _________ los mapas. Puedo usarlos en mi viaje a España.

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  4. Cada día Mitch practica el clarinete _________ una hora.

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  5. Cuando visito un museo, siempre camino _________ todas las galerías.

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  6. El concierto comienza a las ocho. Quiero llegar al teatro _________ las siete y media.

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  7. Los juguetes de Mattel son _________ los niños.

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  8. Yo tomo café _________ la mañana y _________ la tarde, pero nunca_________ la noche.

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  9. Estas toallas (towels) son _________ el baño principal.

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10. Batman y Robin siempre viajan _________ Batmobile, y nunca _________ autobús.

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11. Este restaurante es demasiado costoso. ¡Cuarenta dólares una _________ ensalada es ridículo!

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12. ¿Estás listo (ready)? Salimos _________ la biblioteca ahora.

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13. Tengo hambre. ¿Hay un restaurante _________ aquí?

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14. No hay clases hoy y nada está abierto _________ la nieve.

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15. Me abono (subscribe) a dos periódicos _________ saber las noticias del mundo.

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16. Cuando la actriz principal está enferma, su suplente (understudy) se presenta _________ ella.

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17. Me cepillo los dientes más o menos cinco veces _________ día.

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18. El dentista cree que debemos cepillarnos los dientes _________ lo menos dos veces al día.

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19. Martín cree que el sistema métrico es el mejor, pero _________ mí, prefiero pies y pulgadas.

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20. Antes de la fiesta, vamos _________ la tienda a comprar unos refrescos.

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21. Siento nada menos que (nothing but) disgusto _________ ellos.

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22. Uso e-mail _________ escribir notas a mis colegas.

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23. No tenemos ni luces ni electricidad _________ no pagar la cuenta de utilidades a tiempo.

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24. John Phillips Sousa es famoso _________sus marchas.

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25. Cada día hablo con mi esposo _________ teléfono.

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26. Después de veinte años, _________ fin Carlota ganó la lotería.

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27. Comemos _________ vivir.

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28. Vamos a tener una fiesta el sábado _________ la noche.

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29. Solamente el treinta _________ ciento de los médicos recomiendan esta medicina.

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30. Ustedes tienen que terminar el proyecto _________ finales del mes.

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The following eight pairs of sentences differ either very little or not at all, except in the use of para and porTranslate each sentence into English, and then describe its meaning based on the use of para or por.

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1. a. Puedes tener mi camisa para tu falda.

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b. Puedes tener mi camisa por tu falda.

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2. a. Vamos para su casa esta noche.

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b. Vamos por su casa esta noche.

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3. a. Tengo muchas muestras (samples) de champú y jabón para el viaje.

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b. Tengo muchas muestras de champú y jabón por el viaje.

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4. a. Martín y Dorotea tienen muchos regalos para Daisy y para Lily.

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b. Martín y Dorotea tienen mucho amor por Daisy y por Lily.

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5. a. Maksim baila para Derek.

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b. Maksim baila por Derek.

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6. a. Conducimos para el parque.

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b. Conducimos por el parque.

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7. a. Estas cremas son para las alergias.

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b. Estas alergias son por las cremas.

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8. a. Para mí, esta sopa está mala.

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b. Por mí, esta sopa está mala.

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Traducción

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This is a story for everyone. There is a woman who lives in Texas. She works for a large company, but she works for very little money. She needs more money for food and clothing. Every Friday afternoon, when she buys gasoline, she pays two dollars extra for lottery tickets. She chooses the lottery numbers for ages of friends and for special dates. This week, for the first time, she wins. She wins a billion dollars. It is enough money to buy everything that she wants. First, she buys gifts for all her friends. Of course, they tell her, “Thank you for these gifts.” Normally, she doesn’t pay more than fifty dollars for a dress; however, for winning the lottery, tomorrow she is going to Paris in order to buy a dress for fifty thousand dollars. Are you happy for her?

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