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Para que: Saying "So That" in Spanish

Today's lesson will focus on the oft-used conjunction para que, which means "so that" or "in order for" in Spanish. 

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Examples of para que in Spanish Sentences

Beginning with a few sentences that contain the Spanish conjunction para que, see if you can identify elements that they all have in common.

 

y ahora colocaré esta mezcla en la refrigeradora, para que se enfríe un poco,

and now, I'll put this mixture in the refrigerator so that it cools down a bit,

Captions 33-34, Ana Carolina Ponche navideño

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¿Pueden dejar de llorar para que empecemos la competencia?

Can you stop crying so that we can start the competition?

Caption 53, NPS No puede ser 1 - El concurso - Part 5

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y los invito a que pongan en práctica todas estas reglas para que puedan usar correctamente estas preposiciones.

and I invite you to put all these rules into practice so that you can use these prepositions correctly.

Captions 70-71, Carlos explica Las preposiciones 'por' y 'para' - Part 3

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Para que Parameters

Did you come up with any commonalities? Let's lay down a couple of ground rules for using para que in Spanish.

 

1. Para que should only be used when there is a change of subject.  

In other words, one thing is done by one entity so that another entity "can" do something else.  

 

Using the English translations, in the first example, "I" (the first subject) will put the mixture in the fridge so that "it" (the second subject) is able to cool down. In the second, "you guys" (the first subject) should stop crying so that "we" (the second subject) can commence the competition, and in the third, "I" (the first subject) am doing the inviting in order for you "you guys" (the second subject) to use the prepositions right.

 

* Note that in these Spanish sentences, the subjects are implied by their verb conjugations rather than explicitly stated (for example, as invito is the first person singular of the verb invitar (to invite), we know the subject is "I").

 

2. Para que is always followed by a subjunctive tense.

If we think of this in terms of our W.E.I.R.D.O. formula for when to use the subjunctive in Spanish, it makes sense since just because something "could" happen based on an initial action, we aren't sure if it will. You will note that two of three translations include the word "can," although this is not always the case, and there are often many ways to translate a Spanish that includes para que into English. 

 

Although all of the examples we have seen thus far have included verbs in the present subjunctive tense, you might come across examples in other subjunctive tenses, such as the imperfect subjunctive when the action takes place in the past. Let's take a look at some examples: 

 

Les dimos los juguetes, los bolígrafos, uno para cada uno para que pudieran escribir.

We gave them the toys, the pens, one for each one so that they could write.

Captions 8-9, Con ánimo de lucro Cortometraje - Part 4

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Lo que hice fue preparar todos los burros, para que estuviesen acostumbrados a recibir a visitas,

What I did was to prepare all the donkeys so they were used to getting visitors,

Captions 35-36, Amaya Apertura del refugio

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Alternative translations for this second example might be "so that they would be used to getting visitors" or "so that they could get used to getting visitors."

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Expressing "So That" With No Subject Change

Although you might hear it done occasionally in spoken Spanish, remember that you should not use para que to connect clauses when there is no change of subject. For example, what if you wanted to say, "I'm going to call the restaurant as soon as possible so that I can get a table"? You shouldn't say Yo voy a llamar el restaurante lo antes posible para que (yo) pueda conseguir una mesa" but instead use para + the infinitive as follows:

 

Yo voy a llamar el restaurante lo antes posible para poder conseguir una mesa.

I'm going to call the restaurant as soon as possible so I can get a table (literally "to be able to get a table"). 

 

Let's see some more examples:

 

mis toallitas desmaquillantes, y mi espejo, donde me miro todas las mañanas para saber que estoy bien.

my makeup remover towelettes, and my mirror, where I look at myself every morning in order to know I look OK.

Captions 55-56, Amaya "Mi camper van"

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An alternative translation could be "so that I know I look OK."

 

Siempre hemos de asistir personalmente a la entidad bancaria para poder realizar la firma de todos los documentos originales.

We should always go personally to the banking entity in order to be able to do the signing of all the original documents.

Captions 13-14, Raquel Abrir una cuenta bancaria

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Another way to say this in English could be "so we can sign all of the original documents." In any case, because there is no change in subject in either of these examples (in the first one, it's yo/I and in the second one, it's nosotros/we), the formula para plus the infinitive was used in lieu of para que

 

¿Para qué?

To conclude, remember that when para qué is used in question or implied question form, it has an accent and means "why?" or "what for?" Let's see some examples:

 

¿Y para qué lo necesito?

And what do I need it for?

Caption 6, Clase Aula Azul Planes para el futuro - Part 1

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¿Para qué fuiste al cine?

Why [for what purpose] did you go to the movies?

Caption 53, Carlos explica Las preposiciones 'por' y 'para' - Part 1

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Keep in mind that although para qué can also be translated as "why" in some contexts, it has a slightly different meaning than por qué (which also means "why") in that it focuses on goal or purpose rather than strictly reason. For more on this subtle distinction, check out this video on the Spanish prepositions por vs. para.

 

That's all for today. We hope that this lesson has made the expression para que more clear para que la puedan usar bien (so that you can use it correctly) and sound like a native speaker. And don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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How to Introduce Yourself in Spanish

Do you know how to introduce yourself in Spanish? With just a few key words and phrases, you can feel comfortable doing so in no time!

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Elements of Introducing Yourself in Spanish

We can break up introducing yourself in Spanish into a few key categories that correspond to how we would introduce ourselves in English. Let's take a look:

 

Greeting

Like in English, you would often begin introducing yourself in Spanish by saying hello to the person:

 

¡Hola!

Hello!

Caption 66, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 16

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This might stand alone or go with some other very common greetings in Spanish: 

 

¡Buenos días!

Good morning!

Caption 2, Amaya La historia de Lukas

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Note that in some countries, like Argentina, it is more common to hear the singular version, Buen día. If it's later in the day (from about noon to sunset), you'd more likely hear Buenas tardes (Good afternoon/evening):

 

Buenas tardes.

Good afternoon.

Caption 31, Cita médica La cita médica de Cleer - Part 1

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And later than that, you might hear Buenas noches (literally "good night"). Note that in contrast to "Good night" in English, Buenas noches can be used as a greeting rather than just to send someone off to bed or say goodbye. That said, "Good evening" might be a more appropriate translation in that context. 

 

Muy buenas noches, bienvenida. -Hola, buenas noches.

Good evening, welcome. -Hello, good evening.

Caption 32, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capítulo 5 - Part 2

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Asking the Other Person How They Are

Again as in English, when introducing yourself in Spanish, it is common to ask the person with whom you are speaking how they are. As there are many ways to do this, we'll give you a just a few options.

 

¿Cómo está usted?

How are you?

Caption 25, Cleer y Lida Saludar en español

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Of course, because there are several ways to say "you" in Spanish (usted is the singular, more formal form), this phrase might be adjusted to "¿Cómo estás tú?" or "¿Cómo estás vos?" to address one person informally. And while there are additional ways to say "you" to more than one person in Spanish, for the purposes of today's lesson, we will stick to the singular forms. Let's see another way to say "How are you?"

 

¿Y cómo te va?

And how are you?

Caption 38, Los Años Maravillosos Capítulo 8 - Part 1

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The more formal alternative with usted would be: "¿Y cómo le va (a usted)?" However, regardless of the formality of the situation or to how many people you are speaking, you can always use the following simple phrase:

 

Hola, ¿qué tal? 

Hello, how are you?

Caption 1, Amaya Apertura del refugio

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Answering How You Are

As the person to whom you are speaking will most likely respond by asking you how you are, we should give you some common answers to the aforementioned questions. Let's start with an answer to "¿Cómo está(s)?" 

 

Muy bien, ¿y tú?

Very well, and you?

Caption 17, Español para principiantes Saludos y encuentros

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If you are addressing one another with usted, you would instead say "¿y usted?" 

 

In contrast, if someone asks you '¿Cómo te/le va?" you might answer: "Bien, ¿y a ti?" or "Bien, ¿y a usted?

 

Although bien (well) or muy bien (very well) are by far the most common ways to answer the question of how you are, particularly when meeting someone for the first time, if you are interested in learning more about ways to say you are just OK, we recommend this lesson entitled ¿Qué tal? Ni bien ni mal (How Are You? Neither Good Nor Bad).

 

Saying your name

Now that we have gotten some formalities out of the way, it's time to say your name! Here are three common ways to do so:

 

Yo me llamo Lida.

My name is Lida.

Caption 12, Cleer y Lida Saludar en español

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Mi nombre es Diego Velázquez.

My name is Diego Velázquez.

Caption 9, Adícora, Venezuela Los fisioterapeutas

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Hola, yo soy Cleer.

Hello, I'm Cleer.

Caption 1, Recetas de cocina Arepas colombianas

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Asking the other person's name

And now, the moment has arrived to ask the other person their name:

 

¿Y cómo te llamas tú?

And, what's your name?

Caption 11, Cleer y Lida Saludar en español

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¿Cómo se llama usted? 

What is your name?

Caption 97, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 10

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¿Cuál es tu nombre?

What's your name?

Caption 10, Cleer y Lida Llegando a una nueva ciudad

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The usted form is: "¿Cuál es su nombre?"

 

Saying "Nice to meet you"

When introducing yourself in Spanish, as in English, you should probably say something along the lines of "Nice to meet you." Here are several options:

 

Mucho gusto, Samuel.

Nice to meet you, Samuel.

Caption 29, Conversaciones en el parque Cap. 3: ¿De quién es esta mochila?

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Un placer, Mónica,

A pleasure, Monica,

Caption 3, Escribiendo un libro Algunos consejos sobre cómo comenzar - Part 1

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Hola, guapa. -Hola. -Encantada. -Encantada de conocerte.

Hello, beautiful. -Hello. -[A] pleasure. -[A] pleasure to meet you.

Caption 8, 75 minutos Gangas para ricos - Part 2

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And, if someone says one of those things to you, you might respond by saying "Igualmente" or "Yo también(Me too). 

 

Hola Cristóbal, encantada. -Igualmente.

Hello, Cristobal. Pleased [to meet you]. -Me too.

Caption 35, 75 minutos Del campo a la mesa - Part 2

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If you'd like to hear many of these phrases in the context of both informal and formal conversations, we recommend the video Saludar en español (Greeting in Spanish). We hope you have enjoyed this lesson on how to introduce yourself in Spanish, and don't forget to leave us your suggestions and comments

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