PERO and SINO in Spanish Grammar

Beginner Spanish Grammar Lesson

People learning

People learning

These grammar notes explain the difference between the Spanish words “pero” and “sino” which are used as “but” or “but rather” and are often confused by students learning Spanish. Read the explanation of the difference between these conjunctions and examples of their use, then practice with the interactive exercises to check your comprehension.

The Spanish conjunctions 'pero' and 'sino' are often translated incorrectly as 'but' in English, but they are actually different.

'Pero' means 'but' and is generally used when the second clause adds a qualification of what has been said before. It could also be translated as 'however','nevertheless', etc.

  • María es muy inteligente pero nada simpática. Maria is very intelligent but not friendly.
  • El día está soleado pero hace frío. It's a sunny day but cold.

'Sino' could be translated as 'but rather', 'but on the contrary' or 'but instead' and it is used to say something negative or the opposite or contradicts something said earlier.

  • Juan no es tonto, sino inteligente.Juan is not stupid, but he is intelligent.
  • El idioma más hablado en Latinoamérica no es portugués, sino español. The most widely spoken language in Latin America is not Portuguese, but Spanish.

You can also find 'sino' in the structure 'no sólo...sino' (which could be translated as 'not only...but also'). If what is being mentioned is an object, you would say: 'No sólo...sino también' and if what follows is a clause you would say: 'No sólo...sino que (también/además)'.

  • No sólo los niños sino también los adultos asisten a este parque de diversiones.
  • No sólo viajarán a Londres sino que también/además visitarán Roma.

Exercise: Complete the sentences below with 'sino' or 'pero'.

Ejercicio: Completa las oraciones con 'sino' o 'pero'.

If you don't know the correct answer, type '?' to reveal it.

Teacher and student in classroom

Teacher and student in classroom

1. No quiero salir,  quiz answerquedarme en casa.

2. Tal vez no sea muy inteligente,  quiz answersé lo que quiero.

3. Diviértete,  quiz answerten cuidado.

4. No es fácil escribir,  quiz answervale la pena.

5. No vine a trabajar,  quiz answera descansar.

6. El cielo no es verde,  quiz answerazul.

7. Este camino es más largo,  quiz answeres seguro.

8. La fiesta no fue divertida,  quiz answeraburrida.

9. No puedo asistir al congreso,  quiz answervoy a enviar mi ponencia.

10. No sólo asaltaron mi casa,  quiz answertambién la del vecino.

11. El perro no es grande,  quiz answerpequeño.

12. La casa es lujosa,  quiz answerestá en un barrio muy ruidoso.



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