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Pero and Sino
Pero and sino are conjunctions that, since they are both generally translated as but, are often confused. However, the contexts in which they are used are distinct, and they are not interchangeable.
  • Uses of pero
    • But, however, nevertheless... signals that what follows is a qualification of what precedes:
      • Julio es inteligente pero un poco ingenuo.
        • Julio is intelligent but a bit naive.
      • Mi novio no es rico, pero eso no me importa.
        • My boyfriend isn't rich, but I don't care.
      • Estoy cansado, pero puedo jugar un poco más.
        • I'm tired, but I can play a little more.
  • Uses of sino
    • But rather... signals that what follows is a contradiction of what precedes (which is always negative):
      • No es la física sino la geología que me interesa.
        • It's not physics but (rather) geology that interests me.
      • La lengua más hablada en Barcelona no es español sino catalán.
        • The language most spoken in Barcelona is not Spanish, but (rather) Catalan.
    • It is used in the structure no sólo...sino también:
      • No sólo los socialistas sino también algunos conservadores se oponen a la propuesta.
        • Not only the socialists, but also some conservatives oppose the proposal.
    • When what follows is a clause, sino que is used:
      • No van a contratar a nuevos empleados, sino que piensan despedir a unos cuantos.
        • They're not going to hire new employees, but (rather) they intend to fire a few.
      • No sólo contribuye dinero para el proyecto, sino que también viene en persona a ayudarnos.
        • He not only contributes money to the project, but also comes in person to help us.
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