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I need some help with:

  1. Estar para [+ infinitive]
  2. Estar por [+ infinitive]

Both meaning, "I am about to do [the action of the infinitve]".

Estoy para ir.

Estoy por ir.

Google translates both of these to mean "I am about to go."

However, searching through the web I'm finding contradictory answers on how these two frases differ in meaning.

I've found that one means that "I'm about to do something, as in right now". And the other means "I'm about to do something, as in not right now, but sometime in my immediate future."

Can someone clarify this for me. Thanks.

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  • Could you please add some more elaborated examples? I am very familiar with the "estar por" construction, but the "estar para" example you give does not sound right to me. – Charlie Apr 17 '17 at 6:58
  • Well, @CarlosAlejo, the pattern is simply 'Estar para [+ infinitive]. So, any examples that I might add would follow this pattern. I'm not sure if doing so would add any value. Feel free to mentally substitute the infinitive of any verb into the pattern, and you'll have additional examples. – Rock Anthony Johnson Apr 17 '17 at 7:06
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I don't think I ever use "estar para" in this sense, but I use "estar por", meaning I'm almost decided to do something: For example:

Estoy tan enfadado que estoy por darle una bofetada: I'm so angry I'm about to slap him (but I'm not doing it for certain)

Sometimes it's also used in a kind of hypothetical or metaphorical sense:

Estoy por comprarme un helicóptero para evitar tantos atascos: I'm going to buy a helicopter to avoid so many traffic jams.

RAE seems to agree with this meaning of "estar por", and sets a higher degree of certainty to "estar para" (note the "casi" in "estar por"):

  1. intr. Denota la disposición próxima o determinada de hacer algo. Estar PARA testar, PARA morir. No está PARA bromas.
  2. intr. No haberse ejecutado aún, o haberse dejado de ejecutar algo. Estar POR escribir, POR sazonar.
  3. intr. Dicho de una persona: Hallarse casi determinada a hacer algo. Estoy POR irme a pasear. Estoy POR romperle la cabeza.

(Entry 21 is another meaning for "estar por" which means that something is yet to be done).

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  • Could you include in your answer an instance of how you would use 'estar para'? – Rock Anthony Johnson Apr 17 '17 at 15:41
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If you search estar in the dictionary, you find the following meanings regarding the verb followed by the prepositions mentioned:

  1. intr. Denota la disposición próxima o determinada de hacer algo. Estar PARA testar, PARA morir. No está PARA bromas.
  2. intr. No haberse ejecutado aún, o haberse dejado de ejecutar algo. Estar POR escribir, POR sazonar.
  3. intr. Dicho de una persona: Hallarse casi determinada a hacer algo. Estoy POR irme a pasear. Estoy POR romperle la cabeza.

As you see, there are differences among them. For instance, if you say

Aquí estoy para servirle a usted.

This translates, according to the 20th meaning, to:

I am here to serve you. (Google Translator choice.)

This case varies slightly when the sentences is a negative one:

Ya no estoy para andar saltando tapias.

This could translate as:

I can't jump over walls anymore.
I am not going to jump over walls anymore. (Google Translator choice.)

Regarding the por preposition, you have two possible meanings:

Esta parte del código aún está por escribirse.

This would be something like:

That part of the code is yet to be written. (Google Translator choice.)

Another example regarding the 22nd meaning:

Estoy por irme al cine yo solo.

This one is very subtle, and could be translated as:

I am thinking about going to the movies alone.
I am about to go to the movies by myself.
I am going to go to the movies alone. (Google Translator choice.)

This example expresses the idea of being about to do something, as stated by that 22nd meaning.

Note that every example has been properly translated by Google Translator (well, the last one lacks some subtleties of the sentence, but it could be a valid one). That's the importance of well-elaborated examples: the more elaborated the sentence, the better Google Translator works.

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  • Igual yo he elaborado muchas afirmaciones con el traductor de Google pero aún así falla en el subjuntivo y usando el se. – Alejandro Apr 17 '17 at 12:02
  • I think "Estoy por irme al cine yo solo" could also indicate the existence of a plan (which has not been carried out yet). – aparente001 Apr 19 '17 at 1:50
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Prepositions are the most difficult part of speech to master.

  1. "I am about to leave" = "Estoy a punto de salir."

  2. "Estoy por salir" is similar...

but it has just a slightly different feel. Version 1 emphasizes this condition of being just about to do the thing.

As someone noted, "Estar ... para" is something else entirely. For example, "Estoy aquí para ayudarte, y no me iré hasta que el departamento esté habitable."

Watch out, Google Translate is sometimes right on the money, but sometimes it spits out nonsense.

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