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Porque vs por que and porqué vs por qué: the real Clash of the Titans, the ultimate mystery of our world. What’s the difference and how do you correctly use all these porques in Spanish? Well, buckle up because today you are finally going to find out and, most importantly, glue into your brain for eternity, the answers you’ve been looking for.
Essentially, porque, por que, porqué and por qué are all pronounced the same (with some minor differences related to emphasis), but they mean totally different things. While porque translates to “because”, por que translates to “for which”, el porqué to “the reason” and por qué to “why”. It’s obviously incredibly easy to change the whole meaning of a sentence with a single misplaced Spanish accent.
If you are an English speaker, you know that’s not new. We also have our struggles with “your” and “you’re”, “whose” and “who’s”, “these” and “this”. Even if you know English to perfection, sometimes your brain just goes blank and you don’t know what’s the correct form anymore. But the porque, por que, porqué and por qué problem seems even more complicated than that. So read on to discover rules, eloquent examples in Spanish and the correct Spanish pronunciation for each situation.
1. Por qué – how to ask “why?” in Spanish
Let’s start with the two most common porques: por qué and porque – “why?” and “because” – the question and the answer.
Although you may be confused right now with all these versions of – basically – the same word, this por qué will always be written in two words and an accent over “e” when you want to ask a question: “why?”. Let’s add the distinctive Spanish question marks and see some examples:
- ¿Por qué no vienes? – “Why aren’t you coming?”
- ¿Por qué no comes el pastel? – “Why aren’t you eating the cake?”
- ¿Por qué no aprendes español con Mondly? – “Why don’t you learn Spanish with Mondly?”
- ¿Por qué lees libros en español? – “Why do you read books in Spanish?”
Now let’s see some examples where por qué is used as a reported or indirect question. Here are some examples to help you understand better:
- Me preguntó por qué no leo libros en español. – “He asked me why I did not read Spanish books.”
- No sé por qué rechazaste la oferta. – “I don’t know why you refused the offer.”
- Quiero saber por qué está tan feliz. – “I want to know why he/she is so happy.”
2. Porque – “because” or how to give reasons in Spanish
As you already know, whenever you ask “why?” in English, the other person will probably begin their answer using “because”. Well, Spanish has the same rules: whenever you ask someone “por qué”, they will probably begin their answer with the plain and simple “porque” with no spaces and no accents. Let’s see some examples:
- ¿Por qué no vienes a la fiesta? Porque estoy cansado. – “Why are you not coming to the party? Because I’m tired.”
- ¿Por qué estás tan feliz? Porque me voy de vacaciones mañana. – “Why are you so happy? Because I’m going on vacation tomorrow.”
- ¿Por qué me llamaste? Porque necesitaba tu ayuda. – “Why did you call me? Because I needed your help.”
- Porque quiero mejorar mi español. – “Because I want to improve my Spanish.”
In other cases, “because” and “porque” can become the subordinating conjunctions that link two clauses: the reason and the result. Let’s see some examples to help you better understand:
- No llegué a tiempo porque perdí el tren. – “I didn’t make it on time because I missed the train.”
- No me uní a la clase porque estoy aprendiendo español más rápido con Mondly. – “I didn’t join the class because I’m learning Spanish faster with Mondly.”
Well, this was the easy part of the great mystery behind porque vs por que. Lucky for those of us who want to learn Spanish, the simplest porques are also the most frequently used.
But it’s always better to be safe and learn all the possible outcomes than learn only half of them and feel sorry afterwars. So let’s move on to the more problematic porques: por que (for which) and el porqué (the reason).
3. Por que – “For which”
The knottiest of the four porques is definitely the por que that translates to “for which”. Even in English we rarely use this word arrangement in a sentence.
Let’s look at “this is the jacket for which I was looking”. That doesn’t sound exactly natural, does it? A more logical way to express the same information would be “this is the jacket I was looking for”. But Spanish can’t end a sentence with a preposition. So let’s explore the two situations where you’ll need to use “por que”.
- Esta es la razón por que no vine. – “This is the reason for which I didn’t come.”
- Cual es el motivo por que te has ido? – “What is the reason for which you left?”
While in the original Spanish sentence la razón por que can be replaced with por la que / por la cual, in the English translation, “the reason why” can always take the place of “the reason for which”. Same goes for the second example: el motivo por que can be replaced with el motivo por el que / por el cual. In day-to-day conversations in Spanish, people are more likely to use the more natural forms: por la/el que, por la/el cual.
Another possible situation where you’ll need to use por que is when you’ll have phrasal verbs like abogar por (advocate for), preocupar por (worry about) or luchar por (fight for) followed by “que”.
- Yo estoy preocupada por que el vuelo pueda cancelarse. – “I’m worried that the flight might be cancelled.”
- La profesora aboga por que los alumnos no lleven deberes a casa. – “The teacher advocates that students should not receive homework.”
- Mi abuela se preocupa por que comamos bien. – “My grandmother worries about our nutrition.”
- La sociedad luchó por que las mujeres pudiesen votar. – “Society fought for women’s suffrage.”
Well, now it’s all starting to make sense, doesn’t it?
4. El porqué – The reason
Bare with me. This is the last “porqué” and the easiest “porqué”.
El porqué usually translates to “the reason”, but it can also mean “why” – used as a noun. Here’s an example from Simon Sinek: “Everybody has a WHY. Do you know yours?”. In Spanish, that would translate to “Todos tienen un PORQUÉ. ¿Conoces el tuyo?”. Here are a few more examples with el porqué:
- El quería saber más sobre los porqués de mi partida. – He wanted to know more about the reasons for my departure.
- Todo tiene un porqué. – Everything has a reason.
- Este buen clima es el porqué de mi felicidad. – This nice weather is the reason for my happiness.
- ¿Cuál es el porqué de su elección? – “What is the reason of your choice?”
Officially, the four porques are no longer a mystery for you. Yey!
See porque vs por que and porqué vs por qué at work
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