Thread: De -vs - Para
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Old August 04, 2008, 10:59 AM
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I was waiting on a native speaker to speak at length on the differences, or similarities, between the words, but I can offer my opinion.

The words don't seem to be interchangeable, in my view. The most difficult hurdle we English speakers face is that we don't use a preposition in either instance and cannot, therefore, make an easy comparison.

It seems de is used when a characteristic of an item is being communicated and para is used when an action is linked to the item.
For example, in your original sentence, driving skill is la habilidad de manejar, while the ability to drive is la habilidad para manejar. The former describes the type of skill (what function or characteristic the skill has). The latter, with the use of the infinitive, conveys an action.

Have a look at this example:
En ocasiones usamos una taza de medir para medir la cantidad de harina que necesitamos para hacer el pan.
Usamos una taza de medir para medir la cantidad ...
=We use a measuring cup to measure the amount ...
Usamos una taza para medir la cantidad ...
=We use a cup to measure the amount ...

My .
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