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Can anybody explain to me when each of this variations of "porque" should be used?

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I would like to point out that these words are pronounced differently. The stress falls on the second syllable in "por qué" and "porqué," while it falls on the first syllable in "porque." –  Alan C Nov 15 '11 at 21:11

3 Answers 3

up vote 18 down vote accepted

Por qué asks the question why.

¿Por qué hiciste eso?

Porque means because.

Porque puedo.

Porqué translates roughly to reason.

Quiero saber el porqué de esta decisión.

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I should add that there's a fourth alternative: "por que", which means "por el/la cual" or "por los/las cuales" (Esa fue la razón por que lo echaron a la calle). It can also be por + que as "conjunción subordinante" (El éxito en una carrera pasa por que estudies cada día = [...] pasa por estudiar [...]). In this link you can find an explanation of the four cases, with all the proper gramatical names, which I have long forgotten. –  MikMik Dec 30 '11 at 10:23

Check the RAE for a deep explanation of this. There are several combinations (porque vs. por que as one or two words and then que/qué with or without the accent)

1- You use por qué as two words and with the accents for questions:

Por qué es eso así?

Me pregunto por qué Jorge está tan enfadado(talking to oneself).

Or in exclamation:

Por qué sitios más bonitos hemos pasado de camino aquí!

Using por que in a question is a misspelling. You need the accent.

2- You use porque, as a single word and without the accent to explain something.

Por qué llora el bebé? Llora porque tiene tiene hambre.

3- Porqué, is a noun. We could actually understand is as a pronoun which stands for "the reason or the rationale behind this or that"

No comprendo el porqué de ese razonamiento. No comprendo el porqué (la razón) de eso.

Me gustaría saber porqué Luis ha hecho eso (Me gustaría saber la motivación de Luis para hacer eso)

4- Por que (two words, no accent) is the use of the preposition por and the relative pronoun que, which is quite complex (not only for this specific use, but for many others). Basically that que is introducing a second sentence, subordinate to the firs one. Along with the user of the preposition por the second sentence is explaining the why or the first sentence.

Esa es la razón por que llora el bebé = Esa es la razón por la que llora el bebé.

As a note apart, see that you could use this construction with other prepositions, like para:

Le he dado un biberón al bebé para que coma

The use of para here also helps introducing the subordinate sentence that explains the first sentence.

But, please, check the link I gave you. It is really good. If you have problems understating that in Spanish tell us and we can help with some translations of those rules.

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¡Gran respuesta! Siempre das explicaciones buenas y útiles, que van incluso más allá de la pregunta concreta. Precisamente esto buscaba con el "bounty", que espero sirva para seguir dando información "canónica" a la página. Gracias –  fedorqui Aug 14 at 18:33
  • ¿Por qué? is used in questions, and it means literally why?
  • Porque is the answer to a question asked with ¿Por qué? and it means because
  • Porqué is a sustantive, it'd mean the reason for
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