The Ultimate Guide to Using ‘And’ in Spanish (and Other Conjunctions)
Let’s say that you’ve been studying Spanish for a while and you have a decent vocabulary. But your attempts at holding conversations feel robotic or limited, to say the least.
Do you know how to say “and” in Spanish (or “although,” “however,” or other conjunctions you so easily use in English)?
That could be the reason that your conversations don’t flow as well as you would like. Conjunctions in English and in Spanish are important to connect words, ideas, and sentences.
Keep reading to find out what conjunctions are, what types of conjunctions exist, and how they work in Spanish.
What’s a Conjunction?
In both English and Spanish, conjunctions are everywhere. You use them all the time without even noticing, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t important. On the contrary, when you hear someone speaking without using conjunctions, you assume that person is new to the language.
Let’s see an example:
My girlfriend studied history. She also studied philosophy. She didn’t get her degree. She got sick.
What’s missing from these sentences?
Conjunctions. Due to a lack of them, it seems like this person doesn’t speak English very well.
Now, let’s see the same sentences with conjunctions.
My girlfriend studied history and philosophy. Although she didn’t get her degree, because she got sick.
Same thing happens in Spanish. Conjunctions help us link words, phrases, clauses, or sentences. They’re one of the eight parts of speech, and you use them to associate your ideas, add information, and help the conversation flow.
Types of Conjunctions in Spanish
Conjunctions serve many different purposes, and in Spanish they are classified as coordinating and subordinating conjunctions. After that, you will find several sub-classifications according to the conjugation’s function in the sentence, but they are varied. Not even Spanish grammar books agree on them! So, I’ll save you the hassle of learning the sub-classifications and focus on the conjunctions themselves and their use.
That said, it’s important to add that in Spanish we have conjunctive locutions which are expressions that are a set of words that function as a conjunction. You find conjunctive locutions both in coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.
Coordinating conjunctions are used to add elements or join words or sentences of the same hierarchical level. This means that the words or sentences linked by the conjunction do the same function or are part of the same grammatical category.
Coordinating conjunctions serve to express an addition, give an alternative, express contrast, or give an explanation.
Definitely the most used conjunction, y (and in Spanish) is helpful as it allows you to put together two or more words or sentences.
Carlos y Miguel son mexicanos. – Carlos and Miguel are Mexicans.
Hay que llevar un cuaderno, un lápiz y un borrador. – You have to bring a notebook, a pencil, and an eraser.
Estuvimos esperando un buen rato y al final decidimos irnos. – We were waiting a long time, and in the end we decided to leave.
Also meaning and in Spanish, e is used to avoid a double i sound. If the word after the conjunction starts with i or hi, instead of y you have to use e.
Juan, Francisco e Ignacio fueron juntos al estadio. – Juan, Francisco, and Ignacio went to the stadium together.
El perro se quedó solo en la casa e hizo un desastre. – The dog stayed by itself in the house and made a mess.
Ni…ni can be translated as neither…nor. You use it to negate two or more elements. As the two previous conjunctions meaning and in Spanish, ni also express addition, only a negative one this time.
No vinieron ni María ni Alejandra a la fiesta. – Neither María nor Alejandra came to the party.
The first and most used conjunction that gives an alternative, o means ‘or’ in Spanish.
Me iré de vacaciones a Sudamérica o Europa. – I’ll go on vacations to South America or Europe.
No sé si beber café o té. – I don’t know if I want coffee or tea.
Meaning ‘or’ too, u exists to avoid a double o sound, as with y and e. If the word following the conjunction starts with o or ho, then you have to use u.
¿Quién llamó? ¿Karla u Olga? – Who called? Karla or Olga?
Tenemos la posibilidad de hospedarnos en villa u hotel. – We have the option to stay at a villa or hotel.
Translated as ‘either…or’, the only difference with o and u is that when using this conjunction you’re explicitly saying that only those two options exist.
O apruebas el examen o tendrás que buscar otra escuela. – Either you pass this test or you’ll have to find another school.
O ganamos mañana o tendremos que jugar contra los campeones. – Either we win tomorrow or we’ll have to play against the champions.
Conjunctions Expressing Contrast
In Spanish several conjunctions exist to express contrast. Among them you may find the following:
aunque – although, even though
Me gusta la casa, aunque he visto otras mejores. – I like the house, although I’ve seen better.
pero – but
Estoy contento, pero también un poco preocupado. – I’m happy, but also a little worried.
mas (no accent when using as a conjunction) – but
Estoy interesado, mas no convencido aún. – I’m interested, but not convinced yet.
sin embargo – however
María tiene un gran talento, sin embargo le falta disciplina. – Maria has great talent, however she lacks discipline.
no obstante – nevertheless
Lo declararon culpable; no obstante las pruebas eran insuficientes. – He was found guilty; nevertheless the evidence was insufficient.
excepto por – except for
Todo salió perfecto, excepto por las flores que nunca llegaron. – Everything was perfect, except for the flowers that never arrived.
Finally, here are a couple of conjunctions that you can use to give an explanation:
esto es – that is
Nos estamos divorciando; esto es lo que nos preocupa. – We’re getting divorced; that is what’s worrying us.
es decir – that is, i.e.
La obra tuvo una gran respuesta del público; es decir, fue todo un éxito. – The play had a great response from the public; that is, it was a success
Subordinating conjunctions are those that introduce a dependent (subordinate) clause. They work as a transition from the main clause to the dependent one, and in Spanish they also help to highlight the reduced importance of the latter.
Subordinating conjunctions have different functions, among them to express purpose, to allow us to give reasons, to express a condition, and to express a result.
para que – so that, in order to (express purpose)
Trabajamos mucho para que pudieras ir a la universidad. – We worked so hard so that you could go to college.
con el fin de que – so that, in order to (express purpose)
Hablamos con tu maestra con el fin de que te ayude a prepararte para los exámenes. – We talked with your teacher so that she will help you prepare for the exams.
porque – because (to give reason)
Estamos aquí porque tú nos lo pediste. – We are here because you asked us.
puesto que – since (to give a reason)
Creemos que te lo mereces, puesto que has trabajado muy duro para conseguirlo. – We think you deserve it, since you have worked so hard to get it.
ya que – since (to give a reason)
Mañana tendré que dejarte sola, ya que tengo que ir al aeropuerto. – Tomorrow I’ll have to leave you alone, since I have to go to the airport.
si – if (expressing a condition)
Si hace calor, mañana vamos a la playa. – If it’s hot, tomorrow we’ll go to the beach.
siempre que – as long as (expressing a condition)
Tienes mi apoyo siempre que seas honesto conmigo. – You have my support as long as you are honest with me.
así que – so (expressing a result)
Todos votamos, así que está decidido. – We all voted, so it’s decided
por lo tanto – therefore
Entrenamos muy duro toda la semana, por lo tanto estamos listos para el partido. – We trained very hard all week, therefore we are ready for the match.
You’re Now a Master of Conjunctions!
Practice these conjunctions at home and try to use them in real-life conversations. By introducing y (and in Spanish) or porque (because in Spanish), to your vocabulary your sentences will become more and more complex and your level of Spanish will keep improving. If you want regular exposure to more grammar in a simple way, join our Facebook group for daily Spanish grammar posts!
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