How to Use ‘Sin Embargo’ in Spanish: Meaning, Usage, and Synonyms
Do you know the song by Carlos Macías, Y sin embargo? It goes like this:
Ya no volvería a insistir y buscarte
Y que dejaría ya de recordarte
Sin embargo hoy verás
No lo puedo conseguir
No sé olvidarte
I would not insist and look for you anymore
And that I would stop remembering you
However, today you’ll see
I can’t make it
I don’t know how to forget you
The first stanza in this song introduces contrasting ideas. The singer says that he promised the person he sings to that he would not look for her anymore. However, he can’t forget her. He repeats sin embargo many more times in the song.
And today, I’m going to show you how to master sin embargo. It’s not a complicated expression to use, but we need to remember some punctuation rules.
I’ll also show you some synonyms that you can use to substitute it!
Let’s get started!
Meaning of sin embargo
Sin embargo is an adverbial expression, and it also serves as an adversative conjunction. It is composed of two words that together work as an adverb.
(If you need a quick lesson to refresh your knowledge about adverbs and other parts of speech, check out Spanish Grammar for Beginners: The 8 Parts of Speech.)
It is used to express contrast and opposition between two elements, ideas, clauses, or sentences it connects. It means “however” or “nevertheless” in English and works in a similar way.
It is similar to pero but stronger or more formal; it expresses greater emphasis.
Read about Pero vs. Sino to better understand the difference between these conjunctions.
How to Use Sin Embargo in a Sentence
Sin embargo is not fussy about its position in a sentence. You can put it at the beginning, in the middle, or use it to join two sentences. However, in all these cases you need to remember different punctuation rules.
Once you learn different ways to use it, you won’t forget them. Let’s take a look at three situations:
1. Sin embargo to introduce a comparative argument
You use it to introduce a sentence that contrasts the previous one. The moment the listener hears sin embargo, they know that an opposing idea is coming.
You start the sentence with sin embargo, follow it with a comma, and finish the rest of the sentence.
Quería mucho ver esa exposición. Sin embargo, ya se había acabado.
I really wanted to see that exhibition. However, it was already over.
Me gusta mucho este cuadro. Sin embargo, no cabe en mi departamento.
I really like this painting. However, it doesn’t fit in my apartment.
In this case, you can also place sin embargo at the end of the contrasting sentence. Remember to separate it with a comma.
Quería mucho ver esa exposición. Ya se había acabado, sin embargo.
I really wanted to see that exhibition. It was already over, though.
Me gusta mucho este cuadro. No cabe en mi departamento, sin embargo.
I really like this painting. It doesn’t fit in my apartment though.
2. Sin embargo to join two comparative sentences
You can also join two complete sentences with it. Write the first sentence, followed by a semicolon and sin embargo. Next, add a comma and the second sentence.
Me encantaría cenar contigo; sin embargo, hoy no tengo tiempo.
I would love to have dinner with you; however, I don’t have time today.
Podemos hacerlo juntos; sin embargo, tú tendrás que poner tu parte.
We can do it together; however, you will have to do your part.
3. Sin embargo as an aside
It can also be used to interrupt a sentence. In this case, you place it in the middle of the sentence and separate it with commas.
No puedo ir contigo. Tú, sin embargo, lo vas a disfrutar de todas formas.
I can’t go with you. You, however, are going to enjoy it anyway.
No lo voy a tener listo para mañana. Podría, sin embargo, intentar terminarlo en dos días.
I’m not going to have it ready for tomorrow. I might, however, try to finish it in two days.
Synonyms of Sin Embargo
Good writers use many synonyms to make their work richer. Let me show you some words you can use instead of sin embargo.
Aunque translates to “even though” and “if.” Aunque is a bit more complicated than sin embargo, as you need to think about whether to use the indicative or subjunctive mood.
You’ll use the indicative if a fact is involved or the outcome is known. In all other cases, you should use the subjunctive.
Lo hará aunque no le gusta. (it’s a fact that she doesn’t like it and we know it).
Lo hará aunque no le guste. (It’s possible she might not like it).
Both sentences translate to: “She/he will do it even if s/he doesn’t like it.”
You can use aunque in many places in a sentence.
Aunque le dije que no, ella lo hizo.
Even though I told her not to do it, she did it anyway.
Ella lo hizo, aunque le dije que no.
She did it, even though I told her not to.
2. No Obstante
No obstante is a synonym of sin embargo that is more formal. You wouldn’t use it in everyday conversation with your friends. It is usually followed by a noun or infinitive.
No obstante no tener hambre, el niño devoró todo lo que puse en la mesa.
Despite not being hungry, the child devoured everything I put on the table.
No lo he conseguido, no obstante mis esfuerzos.
I did not succeed, despite my efforts.
3. A pesar de (que)
This phrase translates to “even though,” “even if,” or “despite,” and you use it to diminish the importance of what comes after this expression.
A pesar de no estudiar, aprobé el curso.
Even though I didn’t study, I passed the course.
A pesar de tantos votos perdieron las elecciones.
Despite so many votes, they lost the elections.
If you add que after a pesar de, the verb that follows must be in the subjunctive mood if the action is hypothetical.
Me gusta tomar café a pesar de que sepa que no es bueno para la salud.
I like to drink coffee even though I know it’s not good for my health.
Fuimos a la playa a pesar de que hacía viento.
We went to the beach even though it was windy.
3. Por un lado/una parte – por otro lado/otra parte
You can use these expressions to express a transition from one topic to the other. They translate to “on the one hand…” and “on the other hand…”.
Por un lado, el gobierno quiere tener la gente contenta. Por otro lado, tienen que efectuar ideas que no les gustan a todos.
On the one hand, the government wants to keep people happy. On the other hand, they have to carry out ideas that not everyone likes.
Por una parte su victoria se debía a su esfuerzo, y por otra al apoyo de sus papás.
Her victory was due to her efforts, on the one hand, and to the support of her parents on the other.
It’s fine to use the second part of the expression (por otro lado/por otra parte) without having used the first one.
Me encanta comer. Por otro lado, sé que no me conviene comer tanto.
I love to eat. On the other hand, I know it’s not good for me to eat so much.
Te entiendo. Por otra parte, no puedo estar de acuerdo con lo que hiciste.
I understand. On the other hand, I can’t agree with what you did.
Practice sin embargo in Conversation!
Great job! Now you know all about how to use sin embargo and how to use the correct punctuation with this expression. You’ve also learned many other expressions that you can use to contrast ideas.
Sin embargo, lo mejor es estudiar con alguien más.
However, it’s best to study with someone else.
To make the most of your practice time, sign up for a free class with a certified, native Spanish-speaking teacher from Guatemala to start practicing today!
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