Do you find it difficult to differentiate between the four Spanish “porqués”? With this blog entry, you’ll solve your doubts and furthermore, you can practice with Spanish grammar exercises. This explication is for all levels, but it is probably most helpful for clearing up doubts for Spanish levels B2 and C1 when using the “porqués” in written texts. If you would like to watch the video lesson, you can find it at the end of this article.
Alright, here are the four: “porqué”, “por qué”, “porque” y “por que”. As you can see, they primarily differ in regard to whether they have an accent or don’t, or if they are written together or separate. Let’s begin with the easiest and best-known one.
This one is formed with the preposition “por” and the interrogative pronoun “qué”. And, for that reason, “por qué” has an interrogative function, which means, we use it to ask questions. An example of this interrogative function is:
¿Por qué estudias español? [This is a direct question.]
However, we can also use it for indirect questions (those that don’t have “¿?”):
Me preguntó por qué estudio español. [Indirect question.]
The second one is a conjunction and it has to different uses:
- In the first case, we use it to answer a question that has been asked using ¿por qué? and we are going to give an explanation. For example:
¿Por qué estudias español? – Porque quiero viajar a España.
“Viajar a España” is the explanation for the question.
- In the second case, we use it as a causal conjunction to explain the cause of a situation with a subordinate clause. For example:
No puedo salir a cenar porque tengo que estudiar mucho.
“Tengo que estudiar mucho” is the cause for “no puedo salir a cenar”
Here, it’s written together and it has an accent. In this case it’s a masculine noun: el porqué or los porqués. “El porqué” has the same meaning as “causa” (cause) or “motivo” (reason). That means, that if you use “porqué” you have to be able to substitute it with “la causa” or “el motivo”. Let’s have a look at an example.
No entiendo el porqué de tu enfado. = No entiendo el motivo/la causa de tu enfado. (I don’t understand the reason for your indignation.)
Let’s continue with the fourth and final case.
Here, we have two different uses. We’ll look at them one by one.
- It’s formed with the preposition “por” + que (relative pronoun). This relative pronoun can be used together with an article: el que, la que, los que, and it introduces a relative clause.
Ahora sé la razón por (la) que te enfadaste ayer. (relative clause)
- The second one is formed with the preposition “por” + que (conjunction). How to differentiate between the “que” of 1. and this one here? The “que” here always comes with verbs that go with “por”, e.g. preguntar por, optar por, votar por, estar preocupado por, sentir preocupación por, etc.
La previsión del tiempo era muy mala. Finalmente votaron por que se cancelase el viaje.
And that’s where we end today’s explication of the use of the four “porqués”. Below, you can find the explanatory video with examples. Watch it, and if you have problems understanding it, just activate the subtitles in Spanish, English or German. In addition, I’ll leave two exercises for you to practice what you’ve learned today.