Spanish Conjunctions: A Quick and Easy Guide


July 10, 2019

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Want to learn about Spanish conjunctions? 

This article aims to outline the main types of conjunctions, and then give details on how to use the most common ones.

Spanish Conjunctions

What is a Spanish conjunction and what is it used for?

Conjunctions are the tiny little words and phrases that connect other words and phrases. They’re small but really important for making your sentences more sophisticated. Consider this example:

Soy alto. Soy rubio.  (‘I am tall. I am blonde.’)

By simply adding y (‘and’), the information is portrayed a lot more elegantly.

Soy alto y rubio. (‘I am tall and blonde.’)

Common types of conjunctions

Spanish conjunctions can be split into three groups: coordinating, subordinating, and correlative. We’ll be focusing on coordinating and subordinating conjunctions.

Additiony, ni... ni…*
Alternativeso, o… o…*
Explanationes decir
Contrastpero/sino, aunque

*These conjunctions (ones which are used in pairs) are the correlative conjunctions.

Purpose/aimpara que/a fin de que/con el objeto de que
Reasonsporque, ya que/puesto que, como
Conditionsi, siempre que, a condición de que
Resultasí que, por lo tanto

Spanish Coordinating Conjunctions

Let’s start with the coordinating ones. They’re called that because they join together two words or phrases of the same type (e.g. two nouns or two verbs).

y (and)

This one little letter is super important. It’s used for addition, and it means ‘and.’

When it’s used before a word which begins with an ‘ee’ sound (words beginning with ‘i’ and some words beginning with ‘hi’), it changes from y -> e. That’s because Miguel e Ignacio is easier to pronounce than Miguel y Ignacio (there’s too much ‘eeeee’ in there)!
Me gustan los perros y los gatos.I like dogs and cats.
Elisa fue una mujer lista e inolvidable.Elisa was a clever and unforgettable woman.
ni… ni… (neither… nor…) 

This pair of words is also a form of addition. It’s used to mean ‘neither... nor...’

Ni fumo ni tomo drogas.I neither smoke nor take drugs.
No voy ni al parque ni a la piscina.I’m not going to the park or the pool.
o (or)

Another single letter with great meaning! O simply means ‘or,’ introducing an alternative.

When it comes before a word beginning with an ‘o’ sound, it changes so o -> u.
No sé si me gusta más Madrid o Barcelona.I don’t know if I like Madrid or Barcelona more.
¿Tienes otras ideas u opciones?Do you have other ideas or options?
¿Prefieres casas u hoteles?Do you prefer houses or hotels?
o… o… (either… or…)

This also gives alternatives or ultimatums.

O te portas o no vamos a la playa.Either you behave or we don’t go to the beach.
O me llamas o me escribes. Da igual.Either call me or write me. It doesn’t matter.
es decir (that is to say)

This phrase is used to explain or clarify something, like how we sometimes use ‘ie.’

Tuve una reunión con los hermanos Cifuentes, es decir, Francisco y Javier.I had a meeting with the Cifuentes brothers, that is, Francisco and Javier.
Nos vemos después del examen, es decir, a las dos.We’ll see each other after the exam, that is to say, at two.
pero/sino (but) 

Pero simply means ‘but.’ It’s used for contrast.

Sino is used when you want to clarify ‘not A but B’ (no A sino B).
Canto pero no bailo.I sing but I don’t dance.
¡Resultó que no vi a Juan sino a su gemelo!It turned out that I didn’t see Juan but his twin!
aunque (although/even though)

Aunque is another conjunction used for contrast. It sometimes takes the subjunctive.

Spanish Subordinating Conjunctions

Now let’s look at subordinating ones! They’re called that because they join subordinate clauses to main clauses. A subordinate clause is a phrase which depends on the main clause.

para que/a fin de que/con el objeto de que (so that)

These three phrases can almost but not quite be used interchangeably. They do have very similar meanings. They all explain the purpose or aim of something, and take the subjunctive.

Trabajo duro para que mi hija pueda ir a la universidad.I work hard so that my daughter can go to college.
Practico artes marciales a fin de que pueda defenderme.I practice martial arts in order that I can defend myself.
¿Me mentiste con el objetivo de que saliera contigo?Did you lie to me with the objective of getting me to go out with you?
porque (because)

You may have seen the question ‘¿por qué?’ separated into two words, with an accent. This means ‘why?’ The response to this is ‘porque...’ all as one word, with no accent. It introduces the reason for something.

¿Por qué no vienes conmigo?
—Porque no me gustas.
Why don’t you come with me?
—Because I don’t like you.
Tomo pastillas porque tengo una infección.I’m taking tablets because I have an infection.
ya que/puesto que  (because/given that)

These two phrases are similar to porque, but can be used more in the sense of ‘as’ or ‘since’ to provide reasons.

Ya que estoy aquí, te ayudo.Because/given that/as/since I’m here, I’ll help you.
Le compro unos libros a Ana puesto que le encanta leer.I’m buying some books for Ana because/given that/as/since she loves to read.
No pudo entrar ya que no tenía su billete.He couldn’t get in since he didn’t have his ticket.
como (as)

Another way to state reasons, this can be translated as ‘as.’

Como can also be used in the sense of ‘like.’
Como ellos siempre se discuten, yo no me voy a meter.As/because they always argue, I’m not getting involved.
Carlota llegó tarde, como esperábamos.Carlota arrived late, as/like we expected.
si (if)

When written with an accent, means ‘yes.’ When you want to say ‘if’ (a conjunction of condition), make sure you don’t add an accent!

Si estudias mucho, podrás ser astronautaIf you study a lot, you’ll be able to be an astronaut.
Solo voy a la cena si va Lola.I’m only going to the dinner if Lola goes.
siempre que/a condición de que (as long as/on the condition that)

These phrases let you outline conditions for something, and take the subjunctive.

Podéis quedaros aquí siempre que no hagáis demasiado ruido.You can stay here as long as you don’t make too much noise.
Puedes darte de alta al club a condición de que pagues la cuota inmediatamente.You can join the club as long as you pay the fee immediately.
así que (so/therefore)

Now we’re onto conjunctions that portray results. Así que means ‘so.’

No tengo dinero así que no voy de compras.I don’t have money so I’m not going shopping.
por lo tanto (therefore)

This phrase is less commonly used in casual speech than así que, but has a very similar meaning: giving result.

Las pruebas que se ha dado son científicamente admisibles, por lo tanto, se puede aprobar la hipótesis.The evidence provided is scientifically acceptable, therefore the hypothesis can be confirmed.

Quiz time!

For each of these phrases, choose the conjunction that fits best!

1. He vivido en Colombia ___ Venezuela. (‘I’ve lived in Colombia and Venezuela.’)

      a. pero

      b. y

      c. así que

Click to reveal the correct answer:

2. Te estoy diciendo esto ___ te quiero. (‘I’m telling you this because I love you.’)

      a. para que

      b. siempre que

      c. porque

Click to reveal the correct answer:

3. Te ayudaré con este proyecto, ___ me des 30% de los ingresos. (‘I’ll help you with this project, on the condition that you give me 30% of the takings.’)

      a. a condición de que

      b. si

      c. o

Click to reveal the correct answer:

4. No puedo permitirme ambos vestidos. Tengo que escoger ___ el azul ___  el rojo. (‘I can’t afford both dresses. I have to choose either the blue one or the red one.’)

      a. o/o

      b. ni/ni

      c. y/pero

Click to reveal the correct answer:

5. Laura me puso los cuernos ___ la dejé. (‘Laura cheated on me so I left her.’)

      a. a fin de que

      b. así que

      c. y

Click to reveal the correct answer:

6. Ponte las gafas ___  puedas ver la televisión. (‘Put on your glasses so you can see the TV.’)

      a. porque

      b. ya que

      c. para que

Click to reveal the correct answer:

7. No me interesan los idiomas, ___ solo hablo inglés. (‘Languages don’t interest me, that is to say that I only speak English.’)

      a. es decir que

      b. y

      c. o

Click to reveal the correct answer:

8. No fue Pablo que llamó, ___ su hermano. (‘It wasn’t Pablo who called, but his brother.’)

      a. sino

      b. aunque

      c. con el objeto de que

Click to reveal the correct answer:


Congrats! You’ve just learned a whole load of new stuff (or brushed up if you already knew it). Keep working on conjunctions to make your Spanish flow even more beautifully. ¡Hasta la próxima!

For more lessons like this, check out My Spanish Routine below.

About the author 

Annabel is a language-enthusiast from the UK. She studied Spanish and French at the University of Southampton (with an Erasmus study year in Madrid!) and recently graduated. She has interests across the Spanish-speaking world, and is a fan of language in general.

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