Spanish Conjunctions: Building Blocks Of Conversation

Spanish Conjunctions

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What exactly do we mean by the term, Spanish Conjunctions?

Let’s imagine that your best friend Juan is helping you to study Spanish.

He asks you if would prefer to have coffee or tea. He also prepares some snacks because he’s starving and needs some sugar so that he will be able to concentrate better.

The above words in bold are all conjunctions (conjunción in Spanish), as they are words that help connect other words or phrases.

We use these words to add information, to express a contrast, or to introduce an explanation, among other functions.

Learning the most common Spanish conjunctions will help you express your ideas more fluently, and keep the conversation flowing.

Spanish Conjunctions: What You Need To Know

In the next section, we will explore the two different types of Spanish conjunctions.

1) Coordinating Spanish Conjunctions

As their name suggests, coordinating conjunctions coordinate, join, or provide a link between two or more words (nouns, verbs, people, etc.) or phrases, in a sentence.

These can be further classified into different types, depending on their function.

For example:

  • Carlos and Mariana speak Mandarin – Carlos y Mariana hablan mandarín
  • Do you want to eat pizza or pasta? – ¿Quieres comer pizza o pasta?
  • My family is gonna visit me in January, but they will not stay much time – Mi familia va a visitarme en Enero, pero no se quedará mucho tiempo

Let’s take a look at each category below.

A) Expressing Addition 

In Spanish, these words are called “conjunciones copulativas”, but all you need to know is that their main use is to add elements in a sentence.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
Y And
E And
Ni…Ni Neither…Nor

There are two rules that you need to keep in mind when using these words.

Rule #1: For phonetic reasons, the conjunction “y” is always replaced with “e” when the following word starts with an “i” or “hi.

Let’s take a look at some examples:

  • You must wear a coat and a wool hat because of the cold – Debes usar un abrigo y un gorro de lana por el frío
  • Javier and Isabel have gone to the christmas party – Javier e Isabel han ido a la fiesta navideña
  • I would like to visit countries such as Brazil and Italy – Me gustaría visitar países como Brasil e Italia
  • She had read the first and the second chapter of that book – Ella había leído el primer y el segundo capítulo de ese libro

Rule #2: We use the Spanish conjunction “ni…ni” when negating two or more elements in a sentence. In this type of construction, it’s possible to omit the first “ni” as the sentence will already include the negation word “no:

Examples:

  • I like neither soup nor salad – No me gusta ni la sopa ni la ensalada
  • She wanted neither coffee nor tea – Ella no quería café ni té
  • Rafael is buying neither the Ferrari nor the Lambo – Rafael no comprará ni el Ferrari ni el Lamborghini

B) Giving an alternative

These Spanish conjunctions are called “conjunciones disyuntivas”.

More importantly, their main function is to indicate alternatives or differences.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
O Or
U Or
O bien Either…Or

Again, these words have two rules that you need to know.

Rule #1: For phonetic reasons, the conjunction “o” is replaced with “u” when the following word starts with “o” or “ho”.

For example:

  • Seven or eight people might be coming – Vendrán unas siete u ocho personas
  • Would you like to visit Aruba or Curacao? – ¿Te gustaría visitar Aruba o Curazao?
  • The passengers can either travel by air or by sea – Los pasajeros pueden viajar en avión o bien en barco

Rule #2: You need to add an accent to the vowel “o” when it between two numbers.

Examples:

  • I am going to visit Ecuador for 1 or 2 months – Voy a visitar Ecuador por 1 ó 2 meses
  • How many ice creams did you eat? 4 or 5? – ¿Cuántos helados comiste? ¿4 ó 5?
  • How many languages does Claudia speak? 3 or 4? – ¿Cuántos idiomas habla Claudia? ¿3 ó 4?

C) Expressing Contrast

These Spanish conjunctions are used to deny or contrast the first element and affirm the second.

They are better known as “conjunciones adversativas” in Spanish.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
Pero But
Aunque Although, Even though
Sin embargo However
No obstante However (formal), Nevertheless
De otra manera, de otro modo, si no Otherwise, Apart from that
Excepto Except for, Except, Apart from, But

For example:

  • I want to learn playing guitar but I don’t have enough time – Quiero aprender a tocar la guitarra pero no tengo tiempo suficiente
  • My brother used to go swimming every friday, however he never went to a competition – Mi hermano solía ir a nadar cada viernes sin embargo nunca fue a una competencia
  • It’s a long movie although it is entertaining – Es una película muy larga aunque es entretenida

D) Giving an explanation

The last group of Spanish conjunctions in this category are used to join two phrases or sentences, normally one explains or adds information which clarifies the idea of the other.

They are known under the name of “Conjunciones Explicativas” in Spanish.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
O sea In other words, That is to say
Es decir In other words
Más bien Rather

For example:

  • Mauricio is 18 years old, in other words he’s an adult in Venezuela – Mauricio tiene 18 años, es decir es mayor de edad en Venezuela
  • I have a house, rather, I have a mortgage – Tengo una casa, más bien, lo que tengo es una hipoteca
  • Martha is my brother’s wife, in other words she’s my sister in law – Martha es la esposa de mi hermano, o sea es mi cuñada

And now, onto the second category.

2) Subordinating Spanish Conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions’ main purpose is to link two ideas that are dependant on each other. In other words, using these conjunctions on their own won’t work – you need two ideas.

Let’s look at these by category.

A) Giving a reason

in Spanish, these are known as “conjunciones causales” and are used to carry out the function of indicating the cause, expressed in the main proposition.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
Porque Because
Pues As, so
Puesto que Given that
Ya que Since

For example:

  • Karen is not going to the beach because she has too much work to do – Karen no podrá ir a la playa porque tiene muchísimo trabajo
  • I’m travelling Mexico next year since I wanna visit Oaxaca – Viajaré a México el año próximo ya que quiero visitar Oaxaca
  • Andrés went to bed early so he was exhausted – Andrés fue a dormir temprano pues estaba muy cansado

B) Expressing a condition

These Spanish conjunctions indicate a condition or need, in order to verify a circumstance expressed in a sentence.

In Spanish, they are known as “conjunciones condicionales”.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
Si If
Con tal que So that
Siempre que As long as
como If

For example:

  • If we don’t leave now we’re going to miss the train – Como no salgamos ya, vamos a perder el tren
  • We go to the mountains as long as there is a good weather – Vamos a la montaña siempre que haya buen clima
  • It doesn’t matter what time you go to sleep so that you wake up early in the morning – No importa la hora que te duermas con tal que te levantes temprano

c) Expressing an aim

These Spanish conjunctions denote the purpose or focus of the statement in the main sentence.

In Spanish, they are called “conjunciones finales”.

Spanish Conjunction English Equivalent
A fin de que In order to, So that
Para que So that

For example:

  • I will explain it twice in order to have no misunderstandings – A fin de que no hayan confusiones, lo explicaré dos veces
  • These are some suggestions so that you learn how to play Poker – Estas son algunas sugerencias para que aprendas a jugar Poker

Spanish Conjunctions: Practice

Choose the correct Conjunction (Coordinating or Subordinating type) for each sentence

  1. No iré a trabajar ___ estoy enferma (porque / para que / o sea)
  2. El muchacho le preguntó a varias personas ___ nadie le respondió (o / mas bien / pero)
  3. Fabiola tiene que ir al médico ____ no quiere (o / aunque / puesto que)
  4. El gato maúlla ___ lo alimentes (para que / pues / si)
  5. Como frutas ___ es bueno para la salud (al fin de que / no obstante / porque)
  6. ¿Te gustaría al cine ___ al teatro? (o / pero / si)
  7. ___ tienes tiempo podríamos cocinar juntos (si / aunque / ya que)
  8. Mis colores favoritos son el púrpura ___ (sin embargo / y / mas bien)
  9. Maritza no pudo comprar ___ la comida ___ el vino (ni…ni / siempre que / excepto)
  10. Puedes salir a jugar con tus amigos ___ termines tu tarea primero (u / con tal que / o bien)
  11. César quiere aprender a nadar ___ no puede porque le teme al agua (sin embargo / como / y)
  12. ¿Qué tipo de películas te gustan, comedia ___ horror? (no obstante / u / para que)
  13. Llegare a la fiesta en 10 ___ 15 minutos (o / ó / y)
  14. Mi hermano ha invitado a Carolina, Marcos ___ Indira a la fiesta (y / o / e)
  15. Mi esposa y yo nos divorciamos, ___ ya no vivimos juntos (es decir / ni…ni / con tal que)

Answers

Choose the correct Conjunction (Coordinating or Subordinating type) for each sentence

  1. No iré a trabajar porque estoy enferma.
  2. El muchacho le preguntó a varias personas pero nadie le respondió.
  3. Fabiola tiene que ir al médico aunque no quiere.
  4. El gato maúlla para que lo alimentes.
  5. Como frutas pues es bueno para la salud.
  6. ¿Te gustaría al cine o al teatro?
  7. Si tienes tiempo podríamos cocinar juntos.
  8. Mis colores favoritos son el púrpura y el azul índigo.
  9. Maritza no pudo comprar ni la comida ni el vino.
  10. Puedes salir a jugar con tus amigos con tal que termines tu tarea primero.
  11. César quiere aprender a nadar sin embargo no puede porque le teme al agua.
  12. ¿Qué tipo de películas te gustan, comedia u horror?
  13. Llegare a la fiesta en 10 ó 15 minutos.
  14. Mi hermano ha invitado a Carolina, Marcos e Indira a la fiesta.
  15. Mi esposa y yo nos divorciamos, es decir ya no vivimos juntos.
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