Porque vs Por Qué vs Por Que: Which to Use and Why
What’s the deal with porque vs por que vs porqué vs por qué? Is there any difference? Pronunciation no, emphasis yes. Does it matter if I omit the accent marks? Oh, yes. Let me explain.
Have you ever made a mistake with it’s or its, or their, they’re, and there? We all do, in situations when our mind simply goes blank. However, if you give a second reading to your text, you’ll correct your mistakes, because the rules that distinguish one from another are quite simple.
It’s the same idea here. Porque, por qué, por que, and porqué are different words with different meanings, and you use them in different situations and grammatical contexts. However, it’s still easy to confuse them.
Read on to discover the rules behind these four apparently similar words. I’ll show you examples that are easy to understand. And give you a super fun board game so that you can polish your porque vs por que skills.
Ready to start?
El Porqué – The reason
Let’s start with the easiest of the porque vs por que dilemma: el porqué. It’s written as a single word with an accent mark over the last letter.
As you can see, I put an article before the whole word. What does it mean? Yes, it’s a masculine noun. And it smoothly translates to “reason” in English.
Because it’s a noun, it always has an article (definite or indefinite) or other determiners in front, such as possessive pronouns (mi porqué, tu porqué).
No entiendo el porqué de tu comportamiento en la boda de tu prima.
I don’t understand the reason for your behavior at your cousin’s wedding.
Todo tiene su porqué.
Everything has its reason.
Esta biblioteca es el porqué de mi felicidad.
This library is the reason for my happiness.
Because it’s a noun, it also has a plural form: los porqués.
Hay que ver los porqués de su decisión, seguro tendrá sus razones.
You have to see the reasons for his decision, he will surely have his motives.
Por qué vs Porque
Let’s continue with our porque vs por que discussion. The next pair is por qué and porque. These are also simple to understand. Just remember: por qué is a question word that translates to “why” in English, and porque is “because.”
Por qué – Why Are You Asking?
Note that por qué has two separate words, and the qué has an accent mark. That should remind you that it is a question. Do you remember that we always put an accent mark over the main question word in Spanish? To learn more, read Say What? The Definitive, Must-Have Guide to Spanish Question Words.
1. Por qué to Introduce Questions
Por qué introduces both direct and indirect questions; it always translates to “why.”
¿Por qué no viniste ayer al club?
Why didn’t you come yesterday?
¿Por qué no te gustan las manzanas?
Why don’t you like apples?
¿Por qué es tu película favorita?
Why is it your favorite movie?
Reported Indirect Question:
Dime por qué no viniste ayer al club.
Tell me why you didn’t come to the club yesterday.
No entiendo por qué no te gustan las manzanas.
I don’t understand why you don’t like apples.
Explícame por qué es tu película favorita.
Explain to me why it is your favorite movie.
2. Por qué to Introduce Exclamations
Por qué can also introduce directive exclamative sentences. Although it’s definitely not as common as ¡Qué!
¡Por qué vista tan hermosa!
Why such a beautiful view! (What a beautiful view!)
¡Por qué lees tanto!
Why do you read so much! (How much you read!)
Porque – Give Me Your Reason
Porque, written as one word with no accent marks, is a conjunction. You’ll use it to explain causes, reasons, or goals.
In this case, you’ll simply translate porque to “because.” You can start a sentence with this word after you’ve heard a question, or use it in the middle of a sentence to explain a cause.
–¿Por qué lo hiciste? –Porque quise.
–Why did you do it? –Because I wanted to.
Compré este coche porque me gustó el color.
I bought this car because I liked the color.
No te escuche porque tenía puestos los audífonos.
I didn’t hear you because I was wearing my headphones.
In this situation, you typically write porque as one single word without an accent, but it is acceptable (although less common) to write it as two separate words (por que). It explains the purpose of your action or behavior and is a synonym for para que.
Note that the verb after porque in this meaning is always in the subjunctive mood.
Hice todo lo posible porque no se separara de mí.
Hice todo lo posible por que no se separara de mí.
I did everything possible to keep him from leaving me.
And here we come to the last part of the porque vs por que dilemma.
Por que is probably the trickiest and the least common in modern Spanish. There are two situations in which you’ll use por que written as two separate words and without an accent mark.
1. Preposition por + the relative pronoun que
Normally, this expression also has a definite article in the middle, but the confusing version without it is also in use. You can translate it with “for which.”
Esta es la razón por (la) que te contacté.
This is the reason for which I contacted you.
Los motivos por (los) que peleaban me parecían ridículos.
The reasons for which they were fighting seemed ridiculous to me.
2. Preposition por (After a Verb, Noun, or Adjective) + Subordinate Conjunction que
In Spanish, there are some words that combine with the preposition por. For example: preocuparse por (to be worried about), asustarse por (to be scared by), estar ansioso por (to be anxious about), una preocupación por (a worry about).
The subjunctive mood follows the por que in this meaning.
Se preocupaban por que no perdieran la casa.
They worried that they would not lose the house.
Estoy ansiosa por que empiece la carrera.
I am eager for the race to begin.
Es una preocupación por que mis hijos puedan tener una vida feliz.
It is a concern that my children can have a happy life.
Porque vs Por qué vs Porqué vs Por que Memory Game
I promised you a board game and here you are. I prepared a learning activity that will help you polish your porque vs por que skills. Just download the game, read the instructions and enjoy. The rules are the same as a typical memory game, so it won’t take you long to understand how everything works.
The game tests all four terms this post covers: por qué, porque, porqué, and por que.
Now, you’re a master of the four porques. But remember, practice makes perfect.
Do you want to use ‘porque vs por que’ in real, one-to-one conversations? Sign up for a free class and take your porques to the next level with one of our friendly and professional native Spanish-speaking teachers from Guatemala. Push your limits, and grow your skills. ¿Por qué no?
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