Pero vs Sino
Language Resources

A frequent error that English-speakers make is translating the English conjunction "but" into Spanish. Why? Well, the confusion lies in that there are two words in Spanish for "but": pero and sino.

English-speakers tend to use "pero" in all situations for which, in English, they would use "but". However, while both pero and sino are used to express contrasting ideas, they have a slightly different meaning and usage.

Keep on reading and find out how to know which "but" to use!

"PERO" - Rules, Uses & Examples

We use "pero" to join two contrasting idea when the second phrase does not negate the first. Instead, you can think of it as adding on to the first idea. See below:

  • No soy española, pero hablo bien el idioma.
    (I'm not Spanish, but I speak the language well.)
  • Hace frío, pero también hace sol.
    (It's cold out, but it's also sunny.)
  • Estudiar no es divertido, pero es necesario.
    (Studying isn't fun, but it's necessary.)

"SINO" - Rules, Uses & Examples

We use sino, on the other hand, is used generally in negative sentences in which the second phrase negates or corrects the first. The equivalent in English would be "but rather" or "but on the contrary".

  • Hoy no voy a estudiar biología, sino matemáticas.
    (Today I'm not going to study biology, but rather math.)

If "sino" separates two conjugated verbs, we use "sino que", such as in the following example:

  • No voy al cine sino que ceno con mis padres.
    (I'm not going to the movies but (rather) I'm eating dinner with my parents.)

When we want to translate "not only... but also...", we use the Spanish construction "no solo... sino también...". Note: if "sino" comes before a clause with a conjugated verb, we must use "sino que". Check out the examples below:

  • Mi amigo no sólo es guapo, sino también simpático.
    (My friend is not only handsome, but also nice.)
  • No sólo corro en el gimnasio sino que también levanto pesas.
    (Not only do I run in the gym, but I also lift weights.)