The word para is tiny but mighty, and is a preposition that can be used with many different verbs. One of the most common uses is when you combine ser and para. In the most basic sense, Ser means “to be” and para is roughly “for” or “in order to.” Remember, lots of aspects of languages don’t exactly translate easily, which is why learning these different combinations can help you get your point across.
Review- forms of the verb ser
Be careful not to confuse this verb with the other verb that means “to be”, estar. They are both used for different reasons. Here, we will focus on ser. Ser is used for concepts like characteristics, origin, relation, date occupation and time. For the most part, you can use ser for concepts that are relatively permanent, whereas estar is used for concepts that change more often. Don’t forget to conjugate your verbs according to the subject and tense! In the present tense, the forms of ser are soy, eres, es, somos, sois, son.
Combine ser + para to indicate a recipient
The first way you can combine ser + para is to indicate a recipient, or who something is for. The formula for this type of statement is:
(Noun) + ser+ para + recipient
Notice that the noun is in parentheses. This is because depending on the conversation, you may have already specified what noun you’re talking about. For example, if I am holding a book, and someone asks me why I have a book, I might respond with the following:
Es para Amelia. It’s for Amelia.
In this case, the conversation has already established that we are talking about the book, so I don’t need to include the noun. Sometimes, context isn’t established. For example, if you baked cookies for and someone is eating them, you might say:
Las galletas son para Josefina. The cookies are for Josefina.
Ser + para to indicate a purpose
The other common way to combine ser and para is to show the purpose of something. The formula for this type of statement is:
(Noun) + ser + para + infinitive
The biggest difference with this formula is instead of something being for a person, it’s for a purpose, and so it requires using verbs in the infinitive. You still need to conjugate the form of the verb ser, but you won’t need to conjugate the second verb. Just like the previous example, sometimes you’ll need to specify the noun, but sometimes you can leave it out if the conversation already established it.
As a language learner, this is really useful for learning new vocabulary! If you don’t know the word that represents the purpose, you could ask, “Para qué es?” Here are some examples:
La computadora es para hacer la tarea. The computer is for doing homework.
La piscina es para nadar. The pool is for swimming.
Los bolígrafos son para escribir. The pens are for writing.