As a shorthand, por is sometimes abbreviated in writing as x. This surely derives from the symbol x‘s role in arithmetic to indicate multiplication: 5 x 7 = cinco por siete. In advertising you’ll also see this in buy one, get one free type of offers: 2 x 1, dos por uno, means two items for the price of one. By the same token, que may be shortened to q in quick writing. As a result, xq is short for porque or por qué, especially in instant messages. A text message: xq ya no vienes? Why aren’t you coming anymore?

Korean cafe, Mexico City

Korean cafe, Mexico City

How to pronounce por qué

The written accent borne by por qué is not merely decorative. In speech, por qué will be stressed (on qué) more than its counterpart porque. Compare these examples:

  • ¿Por qué está funcionando mejor? Why is it working better?
  • ¿Porque está funcionando mejor? Because it’s working better? Is that the reason? This is a confirmation question, for example, in response to Guess why I decided not to sell it.

The word qué will be stressed in the first version.

¿Por qué?

Remember that por can mean in exchange for. I once asked a waitress if I could change the drink I had just ordered. She responded with ¿Por qué?, which I took to mean Why do you want to change your order? I started to explain that I had changed my mind. In fact, she meant What drink do you want to change it for? An appropriate answer would have been por un té de menta, something like that.

La gano porque la gano

Here’s a curious construction involving porque that arises from time to time. I haven’t seen this described in textbooks.

  • Te conquisto porque te conquisto. I will win you over, you’ll see! (telenovela dialogue)
  • La gano porque la gano. I’m going to win this competition. I have no doubt about that.

As you can see from these examples, the speaker is expressing confidence that their desired outcome will become reality.