How do you say “For you” in Spanish?
Perhaps you got a present for someone and you want to sound special giving this present as you speak Spanish.
What if that’s your crush, and you want to sound interesting as you say “this is for you” in Spanish?
And what if that person is a native speaker?
Would you want to use the proper words, or would use your “baby talk” with whatever comes out of your mouth?
I’m sure you’ll pick the first option.
In this article, I’ll teach you how to say “for you” in Spanish properly.
Of course, the most acceptable and common way to say “for you” in Spanish is saying: “Para ti”, but if you want to go beyond that, you have to know some pronouns first.
3 Pronouns to say “For You” in Spanish
In Spanish, we have three different pronouns for the second singular person, which is the word “you” in English.
What does that mean?
It means that the following three pronouns can be used in Spanish as “you”:
- Tú: You.
- Vos: You.
- Usted: You.
Now, the pronoun “usted” is particularly used for formal talking, or to establish some kind of emotional distance between you and the person whom you’re talking with.
“Tú” and “Vos” are commonly heard in casual talking with friends, family and people who want to establish some “emotional closeness”.
Also, you have to know that “vos” is exclusively used in Latin America, and it’s the least thought among Spanish learners of the three pronouns I mentioned above.
In real life, and in countries like Colombia and Argentina they use it every single day.
But, why do I tell you this?
Because, unlike English, we have different ways to say “For You” in Spanish, and it all depends on the pronoun you use.
1- Para ti
The first and most common way to say “For You” in Spanish is:
- Para ti: For you
We say “ti” as a “you”, and this happens because after a preposition like “para”, “tú” becomes “ti”, so if you say:
Para tú, it would be totally wrong.
For those of you interested in grammar, this is called a tonic pronoun.
Google about it if you want, but my suggestion is to avoid worrying about grammar.
Instead of that, focus exclusively on memorizing the phrase, and its meaning.
2- Para vos:
As I said before, people use “vos” in Latin America.
They never use it in Spain, but South America is such a big part of the Spanish-speaking world that I would say it’s a must for anyone who wants to learn Spanish.
I don’t know why they don’t teach “Vos” in Spanish courses, we use it all the time in real life.
In Colombia, for example, we use it just as we use “tú”. It doesn’t sound vulgar, improper, or formal.
Here are a couple of examples using this phrase:
- “Esta camiseta es para vos”.
- “Traje comida para vos y para tus papás”.
3- Para usted:
Have you ever had an argument with your spouse in which you’re trying to ignore each other, even though you live in the same house, and sleep in the same bed?
Imagine that on a day like that, someone delivers a package for your couple at the door and you have to hand it over to her/him.
That’d be a perfect situation to say:
- “Llegó un paquete para usted”
Why would you use “usted”?
Because you’re trying to create some emotional distance between you and your significant other.
This is just a hypothetical situation. Don’t argue with your significant other too much, talking this way to her/him won’t do good to the relationship.
Another situation in which you could say “Para usted” is talking to your doctor, or someone you respect.
In that case, you’d be creating some space between you and the doctor just for the sake of showing some respect, like this:
- “Doctor, estos exámenes son para usted”
4- Para ustedes/vosotros
“Ustedes” and “vosotros” are the equivalent to the plural “you”, which means that you’re talking to several people at the same time.
There’s really no difference in the meaning of these two pronouns, it just depends on where you’re at.
In South America, people use “ustedes”, while in Spain hearing “vosotros” is the norm.
For instance, you may hear Spaniard YouTubers saying something like:
- “He hecho este vídeo para vosotros”: I made this video for you guys.
- “Tengo una sorpresa para vosotros”: I have a surprise for you guys.
A Colombian, or Mexican person, on the other hand, may say something like:
- “Compré comida para ustedes y para sus mascotas”: I bought food for you guys and for your pets.
- “Voy a enviar algo para ustedes por correo”: I’m going to send something for you guys by mail.
Of course, sometimes we can be more specific on to whom were talking about, and that’s when we can include the word “todos”, like in the following examples:
- “Yo compré esta casa para todos ustedes, no tienen razones para pelear por ella”: I bought this house for all of you, you don’t have reasons to fight for it.
- “El dinero que envié es para todos ustedes, repartanlo bien”: The money I sent is for all of you, split it well.
Native speakers may trick you
Some Spanish students may feel like native speakers don’t use the words they know.
This might be true sometimes, but the problem might also be that native speakers shorten the words in ways that Spanish students don’t know.
This happens a lot with the preposition “Para”, which people often turn into “Pa”.
I told this to of my students the other day and he said:
“Oh, so the problem is not me, it’s them!”.
The bottom line is that you may hear people saying:
- Pa’ ti.
- Pa’ vos.
- Pa’ usted.
- Pa’ ustedes.
Be ready for that, and remember that it doesn’t change the meaning of the phrase, it’s just a contraction.
Can you say “Por ti” when you want to say “For You” in Spanish?
“Por” vs “Para” is one of the most common pain points for English speakers who want to learn Spanish.
The problem shows up because in Spanish is not the same if you say “por ti” than if you say “para ti”, while in English we communicate the same idea with only one phrase: For you.
So, what’s the difference between “por ti” and “para ti”?
Simple, If you want to use “para”, it means that you have something for another person.
- It might be an object
- A kiss.
- A surprise.
“Para ti” means that you’re giving something to someone else.
Now, if you say “por ti”, it means that the reason for you to do something is the person whom you’re talking to.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Vine aquí por ti: I came here for you (The reason for me to be here is “you”)
- Compré este carro por vos: I bought this car for you (The car isn’t for you, the reason for me having bought this car was you).
- Traje comida por usted, no porque yo tuviera hambre: I bought food for you (because of you), not because I was hungry. (This phrase communicates the idea of you being the reason for me to buy food, but I’m not offering you food).
Of course, the rules for using “por” and “para” in Spanish go a little beyond that, but that’s the difference when you want to say “for you” in Spanish.
Today we covered a lot on how to say “for you” in Spanish.
You learned that it’ll depend on what pronoun you want to use in the second singular person.
I introduced you to these pronouns:
Remember that native speakers use usted when they want to be formal, or when they want to create some kind of “emotional space” between them and the other person.
Also, remember that people use ustedes in South America, but “vosotros” in Spain when they want to use the second plural person.
And finally, I told you the difference between “por ti” and “para ti”.
I’m sure that after this article, you’re ready to throw a “For you” in Spanish to that person who you’ll get a present for.
What are you going to tell her/him?
Write down an example phrase to give a present to a special person in the comments below: