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Si no vs. Sino

Si no or sino? That is the question of today's lesson. Do you know when to write one or the other? Both expressions seem very similar but they don’t necessarily mean the same thing. Although even native speakers make mistakes when writing these words, the truth is they are used in specific cases that are easily recognizable. Let's start this lesson with a little quiz: 

 

Which one would you use in the following sentence?:

Amalia no ha llegado al apartamento; ____ ya me hubiera llamado.

Amalia hasn't arrived at the apartment; otherwise she would have called me already.

 

What about in this one?:

no solamente cubre la ciudad de Bogotá, ____ varios municipios alrededor de... de Bogotá,

it doesn't just cover the city of Bogota, but rather several municipalities around... Bogota,

 

We will unveil the answers at the end of this lesson. Now, let's dive into the difference between si no and sino.

 

What is the English equivalent of si no?

Si no is made of two parts. The conditinal conjunction 'si' and the negation 'no'. We use si no to introduce a negative conditional sentence. In particular, we use si no when it works as "otherwise" to imply the idea of "on the contrary". Let's see a couple of examples:

 

porque todos son amantes de los animales, si no, no vendrían a vernos,

because they are all animal lovers, otherwise, they wouldn't come to see us,

Captions 45-46, Santuario para burros Voluntarios

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¿Grabó esto sin su permiso? Claro que sí. Si no, no la habría descubierto.

Did you record this without her permission? Of course. Otherwise, I wouldn't have discovered it.

Captions 52-54, Los casos de Yabla El perrito malcriado - Part 1

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What does the word sino mean in English?

In Spanish, the word sino is a conjunction that usually works as the English equivalent "but" or "but rather". Generally speaking, we use it to create a contrast between and affirmative statement that is placed right after a negative one. Let's see a couple of examples:

 

Que no es una chica, sino un chico. -Oh...

That's it's not a girl, but rather a boy. -Oh...

Caption 40, Extr@: Extra en español Ep 01 La llegada de Sam - Part 2

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Por esta razón, no decimos "uno libro", sino "un libro".

For this reason, we don't say "uno libro," but rather "un libro" ["a book"].

Caption 39, Carlos explica Los Números: Números Cardinales

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Sometimes, we also use sino when we want to state an exception:

Nadie lo sabe sino tu padre.

Nobody except your father knows it.

 

And finally, we use sino when we want to add more elements to a single statement, usually with the formula 'no solo... sino también' (not only... but also): 

unas de las bandas más importantes de Latinoamérica, este... no sólo por su trabajo musical, sino también por su trabajo social y activismo ambiental.

one the most important bands in Latin America, um... not only because of their musical work, but also because of their social work and environmental activism.

Captions 10-12, Doctor Krápula Entrevista

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Let's solve the questions

Considering all of the above, it is time to solve the questions we posed at the beginning of this lesson. Let's unveil the answers:

 

Amalia no ha llegado al apartamento; si no ya me hubiera llamado.

Amalia hasn't arrived at the apartment; otherwise she would have called me already.

Caption 19, Confidencial: El rey de la estafa Capitulo 4 - Part 11

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no solamente cubre la ciudad de Bogotá, sino varios municipios alrededor de... de Bogotá,

it doesn't just cover the city of Bogota, but rather several municipalities around... Bogota,

Captions 57-58, Bogotá Chorro de Quevedo

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That's it for today. We hope this lesson helped you to understand when to write sino and si no. And don't forget to send us your feedback and suggestions.

 

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