Welcome to our grammar lesson about “pero” vs “sino” in Spanish.
Spanish words “pero” and “sino” are two conjunctions. They both mean “but” in English, and for that reason the Spanish learner must understand when to use “pero” and when to use “sino”.
In this lesson we will learn all about it, providing example sentences. At the end you’ll find a Quiz for practice.
“Pero” vs “Sino” – How to Choose
Use of “Pero”
The Spanish word “pero” means “but” in English.
It is a conjunction that expresses an opposition between the elements it connects.
Using the word “pero” is easy! Its placement is very intuitive. We can pretty much translate from English and place “pero” in the same place we would place “but”.
Este hombre es simpático pero cobarde.
This man is nice but cowardly.
Tengo manzanas pero no fresas.
I have apples but not strawberries.
Soy español pero no me gusta dormir siesta.
I’m Spanish but i don’t like taking a nap.
Mi perro es muy dulce, pero a veces muerde.
My dog is very sweet, but sometimes it bites.
There is flexibility in whether to place a comma before “pero” or not. If it feels like there should be a speaking pause before “pero”, we can place a comma, especially when “pero” connects long sentences.
Me gusta comer en este restaurante, pero también me gusta comer en casa.
I like eating in this restaurants, but I also like eating at home.
La economía española atraviesa una fase negativa, pero en los próximos años puede mejorar.
Spanish economy is going through a negative phase, but it can improve in the next years.
Placing a period before “pero” is also possible but not so frequent. After a period it is more common to use other connectors, such as sin embargo, which means “however, nevertheless”. (Learn all about “sin embargo”)
Esta ciudad tiene muchas atracciones turísticas. Sin embargo, para salir por la noche es un poco aburrida.
This town has many tourist attractions. However, for going out at night it is a bit boring.
Use of “Sino”
“Sino” is another word in Spanish which translates as “but” in English, but only in the specific case where we mean “NOT this, BUT that”:
No tengo manzanas sino fresas.
I don’t have apples but strawberries.
No juega al fútbol sino al tenis.
He doesn’t play football but tennis.
No quieren estudiar sino dormir.
They don’t want to study but to sleep.
When “sino” introduces a sentence with a conjugated verb (a verb not in infinitive form), it becomes “sino que”:
No estudio sino que trabajo.
I don’t study but work.(“trabajo” is the verb “trabajar” conjugated in present tense)
Whenever you need to translate “but” into Spanish, just think about this:
- If you are saying something that follows the logic “NOT this, BUT that”, then use “sino”.
- In any other case, use “pero”.
Practice “Pero” vs “Sino”
Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about “pero” vs “sino”: