Por qué, Por que, Porqué, or Porque
In Spanish, it‘s very simple to make a mistake. Just leaving out a small detail like an accent mark can completely alter the meaning of a word or a sentence.
In the examples that we‘re going to go through today, I‘m going to show you how a certain group of words that sound the same (and are almost identical in spelling) have different meanings.
The words I’m referring to are “porqué”, “porque”,”por que”, and “por qué”, which are very common in the Spanish language. I’ll go through each word’s spelling and meaning which should make your studying go a little more smoothly.
English Isn’t so Different
Before I go through some examples, I want to let you know that English isn’t so different. Take the word “there” for example. It’s easy enough to pronounce but sometimes the word is misused since there are several variations that all sound the same but are spelled differently. As you may already know, these variations are “there”, “their”, and “they’re”, all of which are used in different contexts, similar to “por qué”, “por que”, “porqué”, and “porque”.
¿Por qué? AKA Why
To ask “why” in Spanish, use “por qué”. Por qué is essentially two words followed with an accent over the letter “e” to make it into a question. In the chart below, I’ve created a list of question words that also have an accent over one of their vowels:
|por qué||why||cómo||how, what|
|de dónde||from where||para qué||why, for what|
|cuánto||how much||cuántos||how many|
|adónde||to where||a quién||to whom|
|de dónde||from where||con quién||With whom|
Examples of the Spanish “why?”, or “por qué”, are:
¿Por qué tienes hambre? -> Why are you hungry?
¿Por qué no bebes agua? -> Why don’t you drink water?
¿Por qué no hablas? -> Why are you not talking?
You can also use “por qué” as a statement rather than a question.
No sé por qué tienes hambre. -> I don’t know why you‘re hungry.
Me pregunto por qué no bebes agua. -> I wonder why you don’t drink water.
Quiero saber por qué no hablas. -> I want to know why you are not talking.
Porque AKA Because
“Porque” is used to answer questions. In this case, it acts as “because”. However, unlike English, you can use this word to start a sentence when speaking or writing.
Let‘s take a look at some examples:
¿Por qué tienes hambre? Porque no tenía tempo para comer. ->Why are you hungry? Because I didn’t have time to eat.
¿Por qué no bebes agua? Porque no tengo sed. -> Why don’t you drink water? Because I am not thirsty.
¿Por qué no hablas? Porque estoy muy cansada. -> Why aren’t you talking? Because I‘m very tired.
Below are more examples of “porque” being used but unlike the previous examples, these ones show it being used to connect sentences:
Me dijo que tenía hambre porque
no tenía tiempo para comer. -> He told me he was hungry because he didn’t have time to eat.
Mi novio me contó que no bebe agua porque no tiene sed. -> My boyfriend told me he isn‘t drinking water because he isn‘t thirsty.
Ella dice que no habla porque porque ella está muy cansada -> She says she is not talking because she is really tired.
Un Porque AKA Reason
Third, we have “un porque”, which means “reason” and is used informally. It’s pretty straightforward and I’ve shared a couple of examples below:
Todo tiene un porqué. -> Everything has a reason.
Él estaba triste sin un porqué. -> He was sad without any reason.
Por que AKA Which
Last but not least is “por que”, which is similar to the English words “for which,” “why” or “(so) that.”
It is used in two different ways depending on the sentence:
If there’s a preposition “por” and a relative pronoun “que”:
In English, you can say: “That’s the prize for which I was nominated.” Although it sounds a bit formal, this type of formality is what we can use along with “por que”.
Es el motivo por que lo hice. It’s the reason why (for which) I did it.
Esa es la razón por que no comió. That is the reason for which (why) he didn‘t eat.
Este es el motivo por que (por el que / por el cual) no hablé. This is the reason for which (why) I didn’t speak.
Use a phrasal verb using “por” and it is followed by “que”:
You will need to use “por” when using phrases that naturally follow with a “que” such as “optar por” (to opt for, decide), “preocuparse por” (to worry about, to take care of), and “luchar por” (to fight for). For example:
Lucho por que el mundo sea un lugar mejor. -> I fight so that the world is a better place.
This last part may seem a little confusing but don’t worry, even native Spanish speakers don’t always get it right. If you are motivated and continue to study, however, you won’t be worrying about the 4 P’s (as I like to call them). So what are you waiting for, start-up LingQ and get your Spanish in gear!
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Enjoyed this post? Check out polyglot and LingQ cofounder Steve Kaufmann’s blog post for some tips for learning Spanish!