Por culpa de/gracias a = because of/thanks to

In Spanish, when we want to say that something happens "because of" someone or something we can use the phrase "por culpa de". To express the opposite sentiment, i.e. that something happens "thanks to" something/someone we can use "gracias a". Let's see how they work:

Por culpa de 

Por culpa de is followed by a common noun or a proper noun.

No hemos podido salir en todo el día por culpa de la lluvia.We haven't been able to go out all day because of the rain.

Siempre se están peleando por culpa de su madre. Es una entrometida.They are always fighting because of his mum. She is nosy.

Por culpa de Miguel no hemos ganado el partido.We didn't win the match because of Miguel.

 

Gracias a

Gracias a is followed by a common noun, a proper noun or a subordinate clause (generally using the indicative), 

El problema se resolvió gracias a la intervención del profesor.The problem was solved thanks to the teacher's intervention.

Gracias a la colaboración de los vecinos, las calles quedaron adornadas para la fiesta.Thanks to the neighbours colaboration, the streets were decorated for the party.

Finalmente, pudimos celebrar nuestra boda gracias a que nuestros padres nos ayudaron económicamente.In the end, we could celebrate our wedding thanks to our parents helping financially.

Gracias a que

Gracias a que is constructed the same way as when you use "porque":

  • Pudimos celebrar nuestra boda gracias a que nuestros padres nos ayudaron económicamente.
  • Pudimos celebrar nuestra boda porque nuestros padres nos ayudaron económicamente.
Note that gracias a que could also be translated as "because" as well as "thanks to".

Generally, we use "por culpa de" for something with a "negative result" and "gracias a (que)" for something with a "positive result", but sometimes, when we talk "ironically" we can swap them. For example, we could say:

Gracias a Miguel, hoy no hemos ganado el partido.Thanks to Miguel, we didn't win the match today. (ironic - meaning it's his fault)

Por culpa de mi novio soy la mujer más feliz del mundo.It's my boyfriend's fault that I am the happiest woman in the world. (ironic - meaning thanks to him)

There are other phrases using "culpa" and "gracias", that use different constructions to those described above, for example:

  • using a possessive

Estoy metida en este lío por su culpa.It is his fault that I am in this mess.

¡No ha sido culpa mía!It wasn't my fault!

  • using a pronoun

Ahora soy feliz y todo es gracias a ti.I am now happy and it is all thanks to you.

Gracias a ella me dieron el trabajo.They gave me the job thanks to her.
 

 

 

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Examples and resources

Finalmente, pudimos celebrar nuestra boda gracias a que nuestros padres nos ayudaron económicamente.In the end, we could celebrate our wedding thanks to our parents helping financially.
El problema se resolvió gracias a la intervención del profesor.The problem was solved thanks to the teacher's intervention.
Gracias a ella me dieron el trabajo.They gave me the job thanks to her.
Por culpa de Miguel no hemos ganado el partido.We didn't win the match because of Miguel.
Por culpa de mi novio soy la mujer más feliz del mundo.It's my boyfriend's fault that I am the happiest woman in the world. (ironic - meaning thanks to him)
Ahora soy feliz y todo es gracias a ti.I am now happy and it is all thanks to you.
Siempre se están peleando por culpa de su madre. Es una entrometida.They are always fighting because of his mum. She is nosy.
Gracias a Miguel, hoy no hemos ganado el partido.Thanks to Miguel, we didn't win the match today. (ironic - meaning it's his fault)
¡No ha sido culpa mía!It wasn't my fault!
No hemos podido salir en todo el día por culpa de la lluvia.We haven't been able to go out all day because of the rain.
Gracias a la colaboración de los vecinos, las calles quedaron adornadas para la fiesta.Thanks to the neighbours colaboration, the streets were decorated for the party.
Estoy metida en este lío por su culpa.It is his fault that I am in this mess.
Clever stuff underway!