spanish conjunctions

Spanish Conjunctions: The Ultimate Guide (When to Use + Example Sentences)

If you want to have fluent conversations and tell a coherent story in Spanish (and any language, for that matter), conjunctions are essential. 

Conjunctions? Yes. Words like y, o, pero, aunque,… (and, or, but, even though,…)

Probably not the first word type you’re thinking of when learning a foreign language, but these little words connect ideas, phrases, and Spanish sentences – in short, they’re the glue that holds together whatever you’re trying to say. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the most important Spanish conjunctions. You’ll also see them in action in plenty of examples and chunks: word combinations you can learn by heart and use in conversations yourself.

Ready?

How many types of conjunctions are there in Spanish?

There are plenty of Spanish conjunctions (and more complicated Spanish connectors):

  • contrast conjunctions
  • adverbial conjunctions
  • explanation conjunctions
  • addition conjunctions
  • and many more. 

You don’t really have to know the categories though; nor do you need to learn them all right away. 

Before going to the next section, let’s see a few examples so you can get a better idea of wat Spanish conjunctions look like.

SpanishEnglish
¿Te gusta el café con o sin azucar?Do you like coffee with or without sugar?
Debemos comprar el boleto y hacer check-in mañanaWe must buy the ticket and check-in tomorrow
Elige el uno u el otrochoose one or the other

See? With conjunctions, you can offer alternatives (this or that). Or, if you want to connect to actions/ideas, using the Spanish y will help you achieve your goal (this and that).

Basic Spanish Conjunctions

Spanish conjunctions of addition

The time to learn the basics and start making use of Spanish conjunctions has come. Let’s start with Spanish conjunctions of addition. Let’s see a few of them. 

SpanishEnglish
yand (standard conjunction)
eand (only when following word starts with “i”)
ni…niNeither…nor

Adding information with these Spanish conjunctions is quite simple. There’s only one caveat. In Spanish, there are two conjunctions equivalent to the English “and”: and e. Let’s see a few more chunks to get a better idea of how to use them. 

SpanishEnglish
Las manzanas y las peras son muy ricas.Apples and pears are very tasty.
Queremos ir a Portugal e Italia.We want to go to Portugal and Italy.
¿El hotel tiene Spa piscina?Does the hotel have a Spa and swimming pool?
Ni esto ni lo otroNeither this nor that
Ni lo uno ni lo otroNeither one nor the other
Ni tu ni yo somos iguales.Neither you nor I are the same.

Do you see the difference? is the “standard” conjunction, used almost always. BUT: if after y there’s a word/noun starting with i you must replace y with e. Take for example, “Portugal e Italia”. It would be difficult to pronounce “Portugal y Italia” (try it out if you want), that’s why you use an e instead. In all other situations, you use y. If you're still confused, feel free to read this in-depth explanation.

The final three chunks with ni… ni… are quite popular among Latin Americans. Often, they use it when they want to express that two things are not the same, or when they do not want to do two different tasks. Then it’s common to see expressions like the following: 

No has hecho ni esto ni lo otro.

You have done neither this nor that. 

Spanish Conjunctions to express alternatives

Offering alternatives is quite useful when speaking Spanish. Let’s imagine that you’ve gone shopping and you can’t decide what to buy. Then, you ask a friend “should I buy this or that?”. If you get an opinion, you probably will decide with ease. And, to help you achieve that, you can use the following Spanish conjunctions. 

SpanishEnglish
oor
uor (only when following word starts with “o”)
O bien…o bieneither…or

O bien… o bien is one of the most popular. Yet, you can also use O…o. 

Again, there’s one instance where the standard is replaced by an u: when the following word starts with an o. Same rule as with and e, and same reasoning: it’s very hard to pronounce two o’s right after another. 

Let’s see some useful Spanish phrases below. 

SpanishEnglish
Unos u otrosOne or the other
Quiero un tiquete o bien para octubre o bien para marzo.I want a ticket for either October or March.
vienes vas, pero asi no podemos estar.Either you come or you go, but we can't be like this.

Spanish conjunctions to express contrast

Without this type of conjunctions, expressing contrast is almost impossible. There are many contrast conjunctions, but the list below should be enough to get you started: 

SpanishEnglish
PeroBut
AunqueAlthough / Even though
Sin embargoHowever
No obstanteNevertheless

The first two, pero and aunque are the most popular worldwide. If you go to Mexico or any other country in Latin America, you’ll use expressions or chunks like the following:

SpanishEnglish
Pero no puedo.But I can’t.
Te lo agradezco, pero no quiero.I appreciate it, but I don’t want it.
Aunque llegues tarde, ven.Even though you arrive late, come.

Spanish conjunctions to give an explanation

In Spanish, there are several ways to give a longer explanation and make sure your audience doesn’t lose track (and neither do you). The most common way to do it is by using the conjunction Es decir (that is). With that one, you can build the following chunks. 

SpanishEnglish
Tu a mí me llamas por mi nombre. Es decir, al pan, pan; y al vino, vinoYou call me by my name. That is, to bread, bread; and wine, wine
Siempre debemos mantener buena actitud. Es decir, al mal tiempo, buena caraWe must always maintain a good attitude. That is, to bad weather, good face

If you'd like to see many of these connectors in action, here's a video from Spring Spanish (a Spanish platform I co-founded) where teacher Paulisima tells a story in Spanish about a trip to Singapore. Good listening practice. See if you can spot some conjunctions:

Conclusion

Generally speaking, conjunctions make communication a lot easier. And as you’ve seen, they can help you not only express better but also keep your audience engaged. 

The best way to learn Spanish (and use conjunctions) is by memorizing chunks. Make sure to get your free Spanish Chunking Starter Pack, where I show you a 4-step method to learn Spanish without having to memorize word lists and grammar rules. It comes with tutorial videos for Conversation Based Chunking ™, sample lessons, flashcard decks, resource lists to get you started, and much more. Conversation Based Chunking™ is currently being used by hundreds of thousands of students across the world with great results. If you want to get fluent in Spanish, I recommend you check out the free starter pack and start implementing the methodology in your studies 🙂

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