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Is "por" used much more commonly? Are there any estimates of percent (e.g. por is used 70% of the time while para is used 30% of the time)

  • Don't you mean average frequency? Relative suggests you have something to compare it to, which you didn't provide in your question. – dockeryZ Sep 23 '16 at 3:28
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    This would make sense if 'por' and 'para' were interchangeably but they are not. These are two different prepositions with different meanings and uses. I think this is like asking how much commonly is used the word 'dog' vs the word 'cat' – DGaleano Sep 23 '16 at 20:51
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because is not about the Spanish language as described in the help center, and it is unlikely to be fixed via editing. – DGaleano Sep 23 '16 at 20:55
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The current absolute frequency of por in Spanish texts is around 0.81%, and 0.57 for para, the former is used 59% of the time while the latter is used 41% of the time.

Source: Ngrams. enter image description here

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  • You can also see the relative frequence of both words with the formula por/para, which shows por is used 1.4 times more than para. (Ngram) – Yay Sep 23 '16 at 14:46
  • @Yay you are right, Google Ngram can directly compute the relative frequence. – jlliagre Sep 23 '16 at 20:17
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According to this page, por is used more than para.

Por is the 12th most used word in the Spanish language.

Para is the 15th.

This makes sense because por is only a preposition, while para serves many more purposes. If something only serves one purpose, it's going to be used a lot, like definite and indefinite articles; you're never going to see them used as anything else, and that's why the number one used word in Spanish is el/la, just as in English, the most common word is the.

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  • Sorry, but I have doubts in your argument. "Para" and "por" both have many uses, in some occasions they are interchangeable like in "Estoy aquí por/para algo" (I'm here for something). P.S. Spain – Cristian Sep 23 '16 at 6:58
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These two prepositions when interchangeable in some cases, in most of them they are not. As a rule of thumb, let me prove it with these explanatory examples:

POR

(Yo) lo hago por ti (in your honor) [non-physical complement]

Example:

  • Estoy rezando por ti (You can't say "estoy rezando para ti")

PARA

(Yo) lo hago para ti (I'm doing this to give it to you) [physical complement]

Example:

  • Estoy escribiendo un poema para ti (You can't say "Estoy escribiendo in poema por ti")

However, there are cases where "por" and "para" are interchangeable like in:

  • Estoy estudiando por/para algo. You can find this phrase with both prepositions. Cause "por algo" (for something) is frequently used to specify that something isn't random, to specify that something is made for some reason.

P.S. So the question should be when do we use "por" and when we use "para" and in which exceptions we can use both. Cause otherwise you are asking for the relative frequency of two preps that are in most cases used for different things. I hope I made it clear to you, cause this, in particular, is not an easy topic.

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