French Prepositions Par or Pour : Common French Mistakes

french prepositions par pour

It’s not always easy for a French learner to choose between par or pour. Because of their similarity, they are often confused.

You’ll understand the difference the best when these two French prepositions par and pour are put in a direct comparison.


Etymologically, par comes from the Latin per ( means, manner).

Prepositions are usually quite versatile, therefore challenging for every French learner. We’ll present to you a list of meanings and possible translations in English.

Préposition par in Use

By (Transport )

  • Par + noun (indicating means of transportation)

Vous devez envoyer l’autorisation par courrier.

You must send the authorization by mail.

Faites-moi parvenir votre dossier par courrier électronique.

Send me your file by e-mail.

  • Par + noun ( introducing subject in the passive voice)

Elle a été renversée par une voiture.

She was hit by a car.

  • Par + noun (indicating a division or multiplication)

Deux divisé par quatre.

Two divided by four.

Neuf multiplié par trois.

Nine multiple by three.

Through, Go Pass (Accessing a Place)

  • Par + noun (indicating the way to access a place)

Il est passé par la porte du jardin.

He passed through the garden gate.

Passe par-devant pour rentrer dans le château.

Go past to enter the castle.

 For/Of (Cause)

  • Par + nom ( indiquant la cause)

Il a mangé le gâteau par politesse.

He ate the cake out of politeness.

Elle fait du français par plaisir.

She does French for fun.


  • Par + noun ( indicating frequency)

Elle a cours d’anglais deux fois par semaine.

She has an English course two times a week.

Expressions with Par

Par Ailleurs (adverbial phrase) – what is more.

Also, in the literal sense, “par ailleurs” can mean « par un autre chemin » alors que « d’ailleurs » signifie « d’un autre endroit, d’autres endroits ».

Il voit peu son frère, qui d’ailleurs ne s’en plaint pas.

He sees little of his brother, what is more he doesn’t complain about it.

Par exemple – For instance

En Ontario, par example, detoute la population de 65 ans et plus, 57.1% sont des femmes.

In Ontario, for example, of the entire population aged 65 and over, 57.1% are women.

If you feel confident to expand your knowledge more, see the difference between Par Ailleurs and D’ailleurs.

There are plenty of verbs that go along with the preposition par. Check the extensive list here.


Etymologically, the French preposition pour comes from the Latin pro, which means “in favor of”, or the cause.

It can be translated in English, as (for, to, per, in my opinion) and express everything from intention, approbation, comparison, duration, or “instead of”.

Preposition Pour in Use

For (Destination)

  • Pour + nom / pronom tonique ( indicating the person receiving)

C’est pour lui.

It is for him.

Cette maison a été construite pour nos enfants.

This house was built for our children.

  • Pour + nom (with article, indicating the cause)

Elle a obtenu une récompense pour son excellent travail.

She has a reward for her excellent work.

  • Pour + nom (destination)

Il part pour Portugal dans une semaine.

He leaves for Portugal in a week.

To (Goal, Intention)

  • Pour+verb in the infinitive (indicating the goal and intention)

Ils viendrons demain pour terminer le travail qu’ils ont commencé.

They’ll come tomorrow to finish the work they started.


  • Pour + noun / adjective / adverb (indicating la duration)

Elle l’aime pour toujours.

She loves me forever.

In my opinion

Pour moi, ce trajet est plus court.

In my opinion, this distance is shorter.


  •  Pour + un percentage

Au total, tu as trente pour cent de réduction.

In total, you have thirty percent off.

Par vs Pour

Their uses have expanded enormously throughout time…their senses are complementary. Let’s see how to

Practice is the Key

When it comes to prepositions, as they have highly versatile meanings,  practice is a must. Make sure you check this exercise and practice French prepositions par and pour.  

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