Spanish words: “Porque…”, “como…”

spanish words porque como

If you have a while learning Spanish, you’ll know it’s not surprising that there is more than one way to express “cause”. Probably, the first word you learned to express cause was “porque”.

“Porque” is the Spanish alternative to “because” and we generally use it to answer “por qué” questions or “why” questions as you may know them. On the other hand, “como” is a word that we often use to express the way something has been done. Yet, we can also use it to compare things or express cause.

This article will explain how to use “porque” and “como” to express cause. After all, expressing the reason why you did something may help you save the day. Even though in this context both words have similar uses, they are placed differently in sentences.

How to use “porque

It’s true that in most cases we use “porque” to answer “why” questions and express the reason why something happened. Yet, we can also use “porque” in subordinate sentences as a connection word and express cause.

“Porque” will connect the main sentence with the subordinate sentence. The subordinate sentence will express the reason why the event happened. We call these sentences “oraciones subordinadas causales”.

The formula we often use to build these sentences is shown below.

Main sentence + porque + subordinate sentence.

We can use the present, past, or future tense when building these sentences. However, if the main sentence or consequence is in the present or past tense, the cause should be in the same tense. On the other side, if the main sentence or consequence is in the future tense, the cause could be in the past, present, or future tense.

Here are some examples.

Hoy no voy a la escuela porque estoy enfermo.

I’m not going to school today because I’m sick.

Mi jefe está enfadado porque no fui a trabajar.

My boss is upset because I didn’t go to work.

No iré a Puerto Rico en diciembre porque no tendré dinero para esa fecha.

I’ll not go to Puerto Rico in December because I won’t have money for the date.

Me pondré morena porque voy a Tenerife esta semana.

I’ll get tanned because I’m going to Tenerife this week.

How to use “como

As we previously mentioned, we can use “como” to refer to the way something has been done. Also, we can use it to compare two objects or people. Yet, when we want to use it to express cause, we will also build a subordinate sentence. In this case, we will use “como” at the beginning of the sentence.

Since we are building subordinate sentences, we will still have the main sentence, the subordinate sentence, and the connection word which is “como”. The sentence following “como” will be the cause or subordinate sentence. On the flip side, the sentence following the cause will be the consequence or main sentence.

Keep in mind that we need to use a comma between the cause and the consequence. Otherwise, we will end up making grammar mistakes.

The formula we use with “como” is the following.

Como + Cause / Subordinate sentence + comma + Consequence / main sentence

Now, let’s see a few examples.

Como me levanté tarde, no podré ir a clases de Karate.

Since I woke up late, I won’t be able to go to Karate classes.

Como estuve en Tenerife, me compré un traje de baño.

Since I was in Tenerife, I bought a bathing suit.

Como trabajo mucho, necesito descansar.

Since I work a lot, I need to rest.

Como estaré fuera de la ciudad, no podré ir a la obra de teatro de Sofía.

Since I’ll be out of town, I won’t be able to go to Sofia’s play.

As you may notice, we can also use different tenses with “como”.

We will always place “como” at the beginning of the sentence we want to express cause. If we place “como” in the middle of the sentence, it will sound like we are comparing the main sentence with the subordinate sentence and it would make no sense.

Porque vs “como

You probably have several questions in your mind at the moment. After all, you have learned two different ways to express cause but we haven’t explained which one is better. In general, both are great alternatives and we can use them at almost any time.

If you want to emphasize the consequence, we recommend you use “porque” as the audience will focus on the consequence instead of the cause. Similarly, if you want to emphasize the cause, we recommend you use “como”.

Keep in mind that “como” will help you start the sentence with the cause and catch everybody’s attention.

When we talk about which one is more common, we could say that “como” is often used during daily conversations. “Porque” is also pretty common and it will be your best choice if you’re in a business meeting or something similar.

Express cause

In summary, using “porque” and “como” to express cause isn’t a challenge and they will help you in any situation.

We always have to use a comma in the middle of the sentence if we use “como” to express cause. Nonetheless, if we build an “oración subordinada casual” using “porque”, we don’t need to use a comma but we have to place “porque” in the middle.

Don’t forget that we could use any Spanish tense with these words to express cause but frequently the cause and consequence are in the same tense.


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