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Sino vs Pero

What does “sino” mean in Spanish? Why don’t we just use “pero”? Let’s explore this interesting conjunction and how it helps make Spanish so different from English.

Full Podcast Episode


Ejemplo tras ejemplo…I

ntro: Join us on a rigorous, step-by-step journey to fluency. I’m Timothy and this is LearnCraft Spanish.Today we’re going to learn our last few connecting words in Spanish. It’s interesting to point out that the Spanish language has a virtually unlimited number of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs; there are new words being invented every day. But there are some word categories that are strictly limited: There are only so many pronouns, only so many prepositions, and only so many conjunctions. Today we’re going to learn the last of our prepositions and conjunctions.Let’s begin with the word tras. This means something like “after” or “behind”. Now, we already have words for “after” and “behind”, specifically adverbs that tend to be paired with prepositions, such as después de for “after” and detrás de for “behind”. The word tras is used less often than either of these, but it is often used in specific idiomatic situations. Here’s one example:

He’s going after a girl who doesn’t love him.Anda tras una chica que no lo ama.

So here, what we mean by “after” is something like “following”, or hot on the heels. Here’s a more figurative use:

She keeps doing it, hour after hour, without success.Lo sigue haciendo, hora tras hora, sin éxito.

In our quizzing, we’ll mostly stick with these two uses of tras: It’ll be either paired with Andar or used in phrases like hora tras hora or día tras día.Our next preposition is ante, which means roughly the opposite. It means something like “before” or “in front of”. Here’s a typical example:

We sat down before the king.Nos sentamos ante el rey.

So the sense here is not “before” in time, but “in front of”. This sounds a bit formal and fancy, but so does the word ante in Spanish. So in our quizzing, when the English uses the word “before” in this fancy way to mean “in front of”, you can expect to use ante in Spanish.Another meaning of ante is “in the face of”. So for example:

We need to do something in the face of all these problems.Necesitamos hacer algo ante todos estos problemas.

Let’s practice tras and ante.

She knows what to do in the face of doubt.Sabe qué hacer ante la duda.

The color before you is really pretty.El color ante ti es muy bonito.

In the face of trouble, you have to be strong.Ante los problemas, tienes que ser fuerte.

She is going after her dreams.Anda tras sus sueños.

This before you is a phone.Esto ante ti es un teléfono.

I don’t want her to hate her job after doing it hour after hour.No quiero que odie su trabajo después de hacerlo hora tras hora.

Next, we’re going to learn two words that are technically adverbs but are almost always paired with a preposition to make a prepositional phrase. We’ll begin with junto, which means something like “next to”. Of course, we’ve already learned juntos (or juntas) as an adjective to mean “together”. But when you take off the S and then add the preposition a, you get the phrase junto a, which is commonly used to mean “next to” or “near”. For example:

It’s in my room next to my bed.Está en mi habitación junto a mi cama.

Try it yourself in this next example:

I sat next to her in that class.Me senté junto a ella en esa clase.

Note that there’s another phrase in Spanish that means something very similar: al lado de, literally “to the side of”. For example:

The car is beside the house.El auto está al lado de la casa.

To help you choose one or the other, in our quizzing, we’ll translate “next to” as junto a and “beside” as al lado de, even though they mean basically the same thing.Next we have the word frente. This is a word that we’ve already learned as a noun — well, actually, as two nouns: el frente meaning “the front”, and la frente meaning “the forehead”. But when frente is used as an adverb, along with the preposition a, it means something like “facing” or “opposite”. Here’s a typical example:

She lives in the building opposite my house.Vive en el edificio frente a mi casa.

Try it yourself in this next one:

The boys sat opposite the girls.Los chicos se sentaron frente a las chicas.

Let’s practice junto a, al lado de, and frente a. Remember to translate “next to” as junto a and “beside” as al lado de.

She sat next to her friend.Se sentó junto a su amigo.

(Formal) Start working with the one that is opposite you.Empiece a trabajar con el que está frente a usted.

The hospital is beside the school.El hospital está al lado de la escuela.

You can save the dog that is beside that building.Puedes salvar al perro que está al lado de ese edificio.

She tries the food next to that table.Prueba la comida junto a esa mesa.

Do you see the thing that is opposite my house?¿Ves la cosa que está frente a mi casa?

All right, our very last preposition is the word salvo. This word actually has many meanings in Spanish. We’ve already learned it to mean “I save”, as in salvo a mi amigo, or “I save my friend”. But when it’s used as a preposition, it can mean “except”. So for example:

All of my friends came except Juan.Todos mis amigos vinieron salvo Juan.

This sometimes happens in English as well, where we use the word “save” to mean “except”; for example:

We finished all of our projects save the last two.Terminamos todos nuestros proyectos salvo los dos últimos.

But there are even more things that the word salvo means in Spanish, and let’s go ahead and cover them right now. The most common way to say that someone is safe is to say that they’re a salvo. So for example:

It’s OK, now she’s safe.Está bien, ahora está a salvo.

So in the phrase a salvo, the word “salvo” is technically a noun, and this phrase means something like “to safeness”. But it’s very, very common. Try it yourself in this next example:

I know that my daughters are safe.Sé que mis hijas están a salvo.

And then, to make it even more complicated, the word salvo can sometimes be used as an adjective to mean “safe”. This typically happens when it’s not used with the verb Estar right before it, but instead it starts a phrase. For example:

My dog is at home, safe and happy.Mi perro está en casa, salvo y feliz.

When salvo is used this way, it will change based on the gender and number of the thing it’s describing. For example:

My daughters are at home, safe and happy.Mis hijas están en casa, salvas y felices.

Also remember that sometimes the word “safe” is translated as seguro. However, that word is generally used for a place that’s secure, not for someone’s condition. In our quizzing, when the word “safe” is used to describe someone’s personal condition, you can expect to translate it as a salvo if it comes right after a linking verb, but if it begins a phrase, you’ll use the adjective salvo (or salvos or salva or salvas).Let’s practice all these uses of salvo.

My dog is safe.Mi perro está a salvo.

I want everything except the last one.Quiero todo salvo el último.

She got home, safe and calm.Llegó a casa, salva y tranquila.

Everyone was here, except Juan.Todos estaban aquí, salvo Juan.

You’ll be safe here.Estarás a salvo aquí.

They got to the party, safe and happy.Llegaron a la fiesta, salvos y felices.

Next, let’s learn our last two conjunctions. First we have the word mas, spelled m-a-s, with no accent mark. It sounds exactly like the word for “more”, but this word means “but”. For example:

She’s my friend, but she’s not always nice with me.Ella es mi amiga, mas no siempre es buena conmigo.

So essentially this is simply a synonym for pero. And it’s not really used very often except in formal or literary contexts. We actually won’t practice this word much in our quizzing, because pero is much, much more common. But you will run into mas once in a while, so it’s worth mentioning.Our last conjunction is the word sino, which means something like “but rather”. For example:

He isn’t a friend but rather an enemy.No es un amigo sino un enemigo.

So in English, we sometimes use the word “but” to mean “but rather”. For example:

I didn’t want their food but their water.No quería su comida sino su agua.

So why couldn’t we use pero here? The simple answer is that you’ll use sino when the word “but” could be “but rather”. Here’s another example:

We didn’t go to my hometown but to the city.No fuimos a mi pueblo sino a la ciudad.

So here, we could have said “but rather” to the city.And we couldn’t use the word pero here, because to get a little technical, pero is pretty much always used between two entire clauses, or phrases that could be entire sentences by themselves. So for example if the sentence had been:

We didn’t go to my hometown, but we went to the city.

Then the Spanish would be:

No fuimos a mi pueblo, pero fuimos a la ciudad.

And that’s because here we have two entire sentences: “We didn’t go to my hometown.” “We went to the city.” We’ll use pero in these cases. But we’ll use sino if we’re just segmenting off one small part of the sentence that couldn’t be an entire sentence itself, almost as if we’re editing. Here’s another example of sino.

My daughter isn’t here but at home.Mi hija no está aquí sino en casa.

Let’s get some practice choosing between pero and sino.

She doesn’t want me to save her house but her dog.No quiere que salve su casa sino a su perro.

I don’t feel like working but like eating.No tengo ganas de trabajar sino de comer.

He started, but he didn’t finish.Empezó, pero no terminó.

We didn’t eat at home but at that placeNo comimos en casa sino en ese lugar.

She has friends, but she doesn’t talk to them.Tiene amigos, pero no habla con ellos.

To wrap up this episode, let’s learn a couple of simple idioms. Check out this sentence:

We put them all in one place.Los ponemos todos en un solo lugar.

So here, un solo lugar means something like “just one place”. This use of solo is very common to emphasize that there’s just one of something. Try it yourself in this next example, which uses una sola noche:

Can we have both parties in just one evening?¿Podemos tener las dos fiestas en una sola noche?

Next, check out this example:

Apparently she didn’t know where she was going.Al parecer ella no sabía adónde iba.

So the phrase al parecer, literally “to the seem”, is the idiom for “apparently”.

Let’s practice un solo and al parecer.

There is just one dude here.Hay un solo tipo aquí.

Apparently, she wanted just one example.Al parecer, quería un solo ejemplo.

He wants me to start with just one task.Quiere que empiece con una sola tarea.

For more practice with any of this, feel free to dig deeper at LCSPodcast.com/218. Or if you’re ready, let’s go on to today’s final quiz.

She has tried it and she hates it.Lo ha probado y lo odia.

He works hard hour after hour.Trabaja duro hora tras hora.

Based on that, I started working with them.En base a eso, empecé a trabajar con ellos.

I want to try it (f); however, the majority was eaten.Quiero probarla, sin embargo, la mayoría fue comida.

That couple next to the door doesn't want to have a conversation with me.Esa pareja junto a la puerta no quiere tener una conversación conmigo.

Apparently, that noise isn’t from the music but from the conversation.Al parecer, ese ruido no es de la música sino de la conversación.

I’m so sorry to sit next to you.Lamento sentarme junto a ti.

I want her to start working with those projects, except for this one.Quiero que empiece a trabajar con esos proyectos, salvo este.

(Formal) Save the house! It has just one bedroom!¡Salve la casa! ¡Tiene una sola habitación!

He didn’t save one person but rather five.No salvó a una persona sino a cinco.

He is going after politics.Anda tras la política.

I think that sound is in English, but he doesn’t want me to fear.Creo que ese sonido está en inglés, pero él no quiere que yo tema.

We’re starting to work with the biggest size.Estamos empezando a trabajar con el mayor tamaño.

If you try this one(f), you can eat them all(f), except that one(f).Si pruebas esta, puedes comerlas todas, salvo esa.

She doesn’t want me to hate her, not in that state.No quiere que la odie, no en ese estado.

The house opposite mine has just one bedroom.La casa frente a la mía tiene una sola habitación.

We started working with the base and we put it beside that building.Empezamos a trabajar con la base y la pusimos al lado de ese edificio.

I want him to be safe in the face of any problem.Quiero que esté a salvo ante cualquier problema.

That position opposite this isn’t good.Esa posición frente a esto no es buena.

I saw her, safe and calm.La vi, salva y tranquila.

If I save him, he can start a new life.Si lo salvo, puede empezar una nueva vida.

Try this food and then start working!¡Prueba esta comida y luego empieza a trabajar!

We’re starting a new network of friends, safe and happy.Empezamos una nueva red de amigos, salvos y felices.

If she starts working now, maybe she’ll save the project.Si empieza a trabajar ahora, quizás salve el proyecto.

Apparently, you have to be strong in the face of problems.Al parecer, tienes que ser fuerte ante los problemas.

She has saved a lot of people from the building beside this one.Ha salvado a muchas personas del edificio al lado de este.

I don’t hate anything, except homework.No odio nada, salvo la tarea.

For more practice with all of this, go to LCSPodcast.com/218.In tomorrow’s episode, we’ll learn a bunch of new nouns for things found outside, including the words for “tree”, “sun”, “river”, and “rain”.This show is brought to you by LearnCraftSpanish.com. The Spanish voice in this episode was our coach Ximena Lama-Rondón. Our music was performed by the Seattle Marimba Quartet, and I’m Timothy, encouraging you to do the hard work of learning Spanish. Acquiring a second language is one of the most fulfilling things you can do, so start your fluency journey today at LCSPodcast.com.

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