Almighty Badgers

Time to cement the very important difference between the similarly spelt “pro” and “por”. They could easily be confused, because in some situations they are both translated as “for” in English.

Think of them like this:

  • pro = because of, on account of, for the sake of
  • por = for, in order to, meant for


  • Mi skribis la leteron pro vi = I wrote the letter for you (for your sake, on your account).
  • Mi skribis la leteron por vi = I wrote the letter for you (meant for you).

Pro expresses the cause,motive or reason for an action, feeling or state. In the format: <action/feeling/state> pro <reason/cause>. So:

  • Mi timas la mondon pro la meloj = I fear the world because of the badgers.

Pro can also be used before “tio, ke”. Literally “because of/on account of that thing, that…” Which is almost exactly equal to “ĉar” = “because”:

  • Meloj estas kruelaj pro tio, ke ili manĝas homoj = Badgers are cruel on account of the fact (thing) that (because) they eat people.

“Por” can show what something is meant for:

  • Mi aĉetis melon por vi = I bought a badger for you.

Or very similarly, what an action/feeling is in aid of:

  • Mi faris ĝin por mia sano = I did it for my health.

It works similarly before a verb infinitive (word ending with “i”), and like English, then becomes “in order to”:

  • Mi kuris por eskapi la melojn = I ran in order to escape the badgers.

Similarly to “meant for” is also shows what an action/feeling/thing affects:

  • Meloj estas agrablaj por la okuloj = Badgers are pleasing for the eyes.

“Por” can also show agreement for (in favour of) something, meaning the opposite of “kontraŭ” (against).

  • Mi estas por la propono = I am for (in favour of) the proposal.

In a similar way it can show a subjective viewpoint as in this example from the PMEG page on “por”:

  • Por patrino ne ekzistas infano malbela = For (from the viewpoint of) a mother, there doesn’t exist an ugly child

It can also be used before “ke”. “Por ke” = “in order that / so that”. This requires you to use the imperative (a “u” ending). I’ll leave this for a future post. Here’s an example:

  • Mi oferos min al la meloj, por ke vi povu (imperative) ilin eskapi = I will sacrifice myself to the badgers, so that you can escape them.

“Por” is also used in expressions of time:

  • Por momento = For a moment

And also shows what you are paying for:

  • Mi pagis por du meloj = I paid for two badgers.

It’s meaning kind of overlaps with “pro” when paying for things, or providing things (which is like paying with something other than money). This is especially the case with gratitude.

Because “pro” could be used as in this example from PMEG:

  • Kion vi postulas pro la poto? = What are you demanding (in terms of price) for (on account of the) the jug?

But the most overlap is here:

  • vi dankos min por tio = you will thank me for that
  • vi dankos min pro tio = you will thank me for that

The reason they can be both used to mean about the same thing, is because “pro” is saying “thanks on account of that” i.e. showing motive for the thanks. Whereas “por” is used in the sense of paying thanks for that (and we know that “por” can be used in paying expressions). I kinda prefer “pro” 🙂

(I took inspiration from all over the place for this post. There’s a bit on por and pro in “Being Colloquial in Esperanto“, and in the PMEG (por,pro), and in Kellerman’s Complete Grammar of Esperanto!)


10 thoughts on “Almighty Badgers

  1. i think that a preposition + infinitive is not allowed, so technically one should not say “por eskapi” as in “Mi kuris por eskapi la melojn”. perhaps it should be “mi kuris por eskapado de la melojn” or “mi kuris por ke mi eskapus la melojn”. it’s always a challenge for me to avoid this common error. what do you think?

  2. Mi jxus trovas vian retpagxon kaj tre gxuas gxin!

    Your explanations are very helpful and clear (and if I weren’t so concerned about The Coming Zombie Apocalypse, I would be busy badger-proofing my house after reading your post!)

    Keep up the good work!


    • Mi feliĉas ke alia trovas mian retpaĝon! Kaj ke vi ĝuas ĝin 🙂

      Dankon! I’m glad you think so, though I think this post was teetering on the edge of having too many diverse examples! I’m thinking of trying to pick out more precise topics and focus on them for each blog post.

      Don’t leave yourself wide open to zombie badgers though!


      • One aspect of the language that I have a hard time getting a handle on is participles. I understand the basic construction of participles in Esperanto but, being someone who tends to speak and write in somewhat complex sentences. . . I run into trouble trying to figure out the appropriate usage of participles in Esperanto.

        I haven’t read all of your posts yet but, if you haven’t already done one on participles (usage with some examples) that would be one that would definitely have my interest.

        On a related note, I also have purchased La Hobita (about a year ago) and have finally gotten around to start working my way through it (using la vortaro liberally). I’m really enjoying it and hope that reading it will help my Esperanto abilities on some level.

        Sorry for the long comment/reply (and your answer to my question on the ‘de = of/by’ blog entry did answer my question).

        Gxis kaj dankon!

      • I completely know what you mean. I think the difficulty is not that they are particularly confusing, or illogical, it’s that they can be so expressive. I’m certainly finding that a lot of my complex English phrases reduce to elegant Esperanto counterparts, often involving liberal use of participles.

        I’m liking the “yet” in your “all of your posts yet”! As far as I remember (it’s getting increasingly difficult to recall everything I’ve posted about), I have not written a post devoted entirely to participles. Though I have alluded to some of their uses in the following two posts:

        But various times in the text I have promised to write future posts about participles, and I most definitely will. I’ve just been considering for a long while how to do it, because there are so many usages and interesting bits. It certainly won’t be a single post. It could be its own series, or category. Hopefully this will be coming soon!

        Glad that you’re enjoying the book! I’ve certainly learnt a lot of new words from that book so far!

        Long comments are fine! Makes me feel less bad about replying with my long comments!



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