32 Spanish Conjunctions to Step Up and Link Up Your Sentences
There are literally hundreds upon hundreds of ways to connect words and sentences.
You may not be aware of it but you use conjunctions practically every time you talk or write.
Longer and more complex sentences are indicative of a higher proficiency level in a language.
In other words, the longer your sentences, the better you (probably) are at speaking a language.
Beginner students of any language tend to write and talk using very short sentences with lots of repetitions and redundant information. This kind of sentences might sound unnatural to a native speaker, but everyone has to start somewhere.
To really step up your language game, you’ll need to connect your thoughts and information into more complex sentences.
And to do that, you’ll need the help of the mighty Spanish conjunction!
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Why Learning Spanish Conjunctions Is Important
Imagine you hear the following:
The boy has a book. He also has a pen. He doesn’t have crayons. He can’t color his drawing.
Would you say this person is a proficient user of English? I’m sure you wouldn’t.
Now have a look at this sentence:
The boy has a book and a pen but doesn’t have crayons, so he can’t color his drawing.
See what three little words can do? The sentence flows nicely, the meaning is easily understandable and you probably think this person is, at least, an upper-intermediate learner.
Those three words, marked in bold in the last example, are conjunctions, and this is the topic we’ll be learning about today.
Simply put, conjunctions are invariable parts of speech that are used to connect words and sentences.
Spanish distinguishes two main types of conjunctions: coordinating (coordinadas or coordinantes) and subordinating (subordinadas or subordinantes). Each of these types includes different categories, making a total of 11 types of conjunctions.
I don’t expect you to know every different type, their uses and the whole list of conjunctions they include. Instead, I’ve simplified the classifications to make things easier for you.
In this post, you’ll find a list of conjunctions divided by their main use. Each of the uses includes some conjunctions with their meanings and sample sentences.
By the end of the article, you’ll feel confident enough to take a step further and start producing (or continue to produce) more and more complex sentences in Spanish.
Get ready to sound more like a native in 3, 2, 1…
32 Spanish Conjunctions to Connect Thoughts Like a Pro
Spanish conjunctions can be divided into two big groups, which in turn contains various subgroups. Let’s have a look at each of them:
1. Coordinating Conjunctions
Coordinating conjunctions are conjunctions that join two or more sentences, clauses or words.
If two or more words are joined by a coordinating conjunction, you need to remember that they have to belong to the same word category.
For example, you can say Me gustan los plátanos y las naranjas (I like bananas and oranges) since they’re both nouns, but you can’t say *Me gustan los plátanos e inteligente (*I like bananas and intelligent) because you’re trying to connect a noun and an adjective.
It sounds just as odd in English, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to remember!
Conjunctions that express an addition
The first subgroup of coordinating conjunctions is used to add options together. The options can range from two or more words to two or more clauses or even whole sentences.
There are three conjunctions in this group:
One of the easiest conjunctions to master, y allows you to put together two or more words, clauses or sentences, including all of them in the same group at the same time.
Me gustan el amarillo y el azul. (I like the yellow and blue ones.)
Antonio hizo la compra y preparó el almuerzo. (Antonio went grocery shopping and prepared lunch.)
El abogado me pidió el DNI, anotó mis datos y me dijo que me llamaría. (The lawyer asked me for my ID, wrote down my personal details and told me he’d call me.)
E is y’s alter ego. They both mean the same and are used for the exact same purpose. You have to use e instead of y when the word that follows the conjunction starts with an i (ee) sound.
Juan e Isa se acaban de casar. (Juan and Isa have just gotten married.)
Me levanté e hice la cama. (I got up and made the bed.)
Luis es alto, guapo e inteligente. (Luis is tall, handsome and intelligent.)
However, if the word following the conjunction starts with a diphthong (ia/hia, ie/hie, io/hio), we use y as usual.
Hay agua y hielo en la mesa. (There’s water and ice on the table.)
Tengo una espada de acero y hierro. (I have a steel and iron sword.)
Pela las patatas y hiérvelas. (Peel the potatoes and boil them.)
Many students ask me how this conjunction can be in this group if we use it to exclude, not include. The answer is simple: When you exclude or discard two things, you’re putting them together in the “no” box.
So, in a way, this conjunction is inclusive. Negative, but inclusive.
Use it to say you don’t like, accept, know, etc. any of the options given or when neither option is correct or acceptable.
Ni mamá ni papá fueron al concierto. (Neither Mum nor Dad went to the concert.)
Ni España ni Portugal tienen más de 100 millones de habitantes. (Neither Spain nor Portugal has more than 100 million inhabitants.)
No me gusta ni la carne ni el pescado. (I like neither meat nor fish.)
Conjunctions that offer alternatives
This group of conjunctions allows you to choose among different options or alternatives. These conjunctions are exclusive because you can’t have more than one of the options and will need to choose one.
This is another obvious and easy-to-use conjunction. Use o when you need to choose one from two or more alternatives.
¿Quieres café o té? (Do you want coffee or tea?)
Quizás es profesor, juez o médico. (He may be a professor, a judge or a doctor.)
Volvió a las 3 o las 4 de la mañana. (He came back at 3 or 4 a.m.)
Just as in the case with the conjunction e, the conjunction u is just o’s alter ego. Use it if the word following the conjunction starts with an o (oh) sound.
Tendrá siete u ocho años. (He must be seven or eight years old.)
Elige uno u otro. (Choose one or the other.)
Pídele a tu hermano 10 u 11 (once) euros. (Ask your brother for 10 or 11 euro.)
This conjunction is similar to the last two because it makes you choose between different options.
However, if you choose the double o…o conjunction, you’re explicitly saying that there are only two options.
O compras una casa paqueña o ahorras un poco más para poder comprar una más grande. (Either you buy a small house or you save up a little more so you can buy a bigger one.)
Puedes elegir o el blanco o el negro. (You can choose either the white one or the black one.)
Solo puedo comprar o plátanos o manzanas. No tengo mucho dinero. (I can only buy either bananas or apples. I don’t have a lot of money.)
If you want to include more options, you need to add one o for each option (but remember you can only choose one at the end).
This isn’t used very often, since you can simply place an o between the last two options, but here’s one example:
Podemos viajar o a Perú, o a Argentina, o a México o a Nicaragua. (We can travel to Peru, Argentina, México or Nicaragua.)
Podemos viajar a Perú, Argentina, México o Nicaragua. (We can travel to Peru, Argentina, México or Nicaragua. [This one sounds more natural!])
Conjunctions that give an explanation
The third group of conjunctions is very easy to use. It allows you to add information or an explanation to what you’ve just said. There are two conjunctions in this group:
esto es (that is to say, in other words, i.e.)
Use esto es in order to explain or clarify what you’ve just said. This conjunction is formal and should always be written between commas.
He comprado la mitad, esto es, cinco piezas. (I’ve bought half of it, i.e., five pieces.)
El hombre giró en dirección sur, esto es, giró a la derecha. (The man turned South, in other words, he turned right.)
Tenemos la colección entera, esto es, las 57 tazas. (We have the whole collection, that is, all 57 mugs.)
es decir (that is to say, in other words, i.e.)
This conjunction means the exact same as esto es, but it’s much more commonly used because it fits every possible context or situation.
Once again, it should be written between commas.
Hay 250 personas más que en 2007, es decir, ha habido un aumento del 23% en 11 años. (There are 250 more people than in 2007, i.e., there’s been an increment of 23% in 11 years.)
He dejado mi trabajo, es decir, estoy en paro. (I’ve quit my job, in other words, I’m unemployed.)
Soy hijo único, es decir, no tengo hermanos ni hermanas. (I’m an only child, in other words, I don’t have any brothers or sisters.)
Conjunctions that express contrast
This group of conjunctions is has many entries, so I’ve chosen some of the conjunctions that we normally use in our daily lives. All these conjunctions are used to express contrast or opposition between what’s been said and what’s going to be said.
Since all of them are used for the same purpose, I won’t be repeating the same information for each of them. Instead, you’ll be given a translation and a couple of sample sentences. I’ve added notes where necessary.
aunque (though, even though, but)
Ya he almorzado, aunque solo son las 11 de la mañana. (I’ve already eaten lunch even though it’s only 11 a.m.)
Voy a comprarlo aunque no me gusta. (I’m going to buy it even though I don’t like it.)
pero (but, yet)
Es bajo pero es un buen jugador de baloncesto. (He’s short, but he’s a good basketball player.)
El coche es pequeño pero bonito. (The car is small yet beautiful.)
mas (but, yet)
This preposition is the very formal counterpart to pero. Notice the lack of accent mark, as opposed to más (more)!
Tengo dinero, mas no soy rico. (I have money, but I’m not rich.)
Le envió una carta, mas él nunca contestó. (She sent him a letter, but he never answered back.)
Normally used when the previous part of the sentence is negative (no…sino).
No es febrero sino marzo. (It’s not February but March.)
No hemos comprado una casa sino un piso. (We haven’t bought a house but an apartment.)
no obstante (however, nevertheless)
This conjunction is rather formal, and is normally used after a period and before a comma.
Me gusta viajar. No obstante, nunca he estado en España. (I like traveling. However, I’ve never been to Spain.)
Me mintió. No obstante, lo perdoné. (He lied to me. However, I forgave him.)
excepto (except, save, excluding)
Use this to add an exception to what’s been said before. A common equivalent is menos (except, excluding).
Todos, excepto/menos Pedro, fueron a la fiesta. (Everyone except Pedro went to the party.)
Voy al gimnasio todos los días excepto/menos los jueves. (I go to the gym every day except Thursday.)
sin embargo (however, nevertheless, though)
This option is less formal than no obstante. It can be written between a semicolon and a comma or between a period and a comma.
Soy estudiante. Sin embargo, ya tengo trabajo. (I’m a student. However, I already have a job.)
Está lloviendo; sin embargo, voy a ir a correr. (It’s raining. However, I’m going to go for a run.)
A subordinating conjunction is basically a word than introduces a subordinate (dependent) clause.
Subordinate conjunctions are also divided into several groups, but they all have two main functions: to provide a transition between the main clause and the subordinate one and to reduce the importance of the subordinate clause so that the other person understands the most important information is included in the main clause.
Here are the four main subgroups of subordinating conjunctions:
Conjunctions that express purpose
These conjunctions are used in order to say that you’ve done something so that something else can happen/be done.
There are four main conjunctions in this group. They all mean the same and are used for the same purpose:
para que (so that, so, in order to/for)
The most common, least formal conjunction of the group.
He apagado las luces para que puedas dormir. (I’ve switched the lights off so that you can sleep.)
Te lo doy para que seas feliz. (I’m giving it to you so that you are happy.)
a fin de que (so that, so, in order to/for)
This one’s more formal than para que.
A fin de que los españoles dejen de fumar, vamos a crear una nueva ley. (In order for Spanish people to stop smoking, we’re going to create a new law.)
Quiero decirte la verdad a fin de que puedas perdonarme algún día. (I want to tell you the truth so that you can forgive me one day.)
con el fin/objeto de que (so that, so, in order to)
Both of these are formal, with con el objeto de que being the more formal of the two.
He solicitado un préstamo con el fin de que compres una casa. (I’ve applied for a loan so that you can buy a house.)
Hemos creado un nuevo sistema con el objeto de que nuestros trabajadores puedan tener más tiempo libre. (We’ve created a new system so that our workers can have more free time.)
Conjunctions that allow us to give reasons
This group of conjunctions introduce a clause that explains the reason why something’s happened, can happen, will happen, etc. It’s a very crowded group, but its main members are:
A conjunction you probably know very well, since it’s mainly used to answer por qué (why) questions.
No voy a la fiesta porque estoy enfermo. (I’m not going to the party because I’m ill.)
¿Por qué? Porque yo lo digo. (Why? Because I say so.)
ya que / puesto que / en vista de que (since, because)
These all mean the same and can be used interchangeably. They’re rather formal but give an air of sophistication to your speech or writing.
No he comprado el teléfono, ya que no tengo dinero. (I haven’t bought the phone because I don’t have any money.)
Puesto que está lloviendo, no iremos al cine. (Since it’s raining, we won’t go to the cinema.)
En vista de que no has aprobado tus exámenes, no puedes ir de vacaciones. (Since you haven’t passed your exams, you can’t go on vacation.)
pues (because, since, for)
This conjunction can be used instead of pero but it’s more formal.
Hemos decidido vender la casa, pues queremos mudarnos a Polonia. (We’ve decided to sell the house because we want to move to Poland.)
El suelo estaba mojado, pues Juan había estado regando las plantas. (The floor was wet, since Juan had been watering the plants.)
Don’t confuse this conjunction with the conjunction como (like, as, as well as). They may look the same, but they’re used for different purposes.
Como (like, as, as well as) is normally used in the middle of sentences.
Nadie dibuja como yo. (Nobody draws like I do.)
However, como (since) will always be the first word in a sentence:
Como estaba nevando, decidimos quedarnos en casa. (Since it was snowing, we decided to stay home.)
Como no me desperté, me perdí el desayuno. (Since I didn’t wake up, I missed breakfast.)
que (because, or else)
Use que in informal situations. It also normally has the connotation of a warning or hidden advice. Lots of moms use que when talking to their children!
Deja de correr que te vas a caer. (Stop running, or else you’ll fall.)
Ven, que necesito ayuda. (Come, because I need help.)
Conjunctions that express a condition
This group of conjunctions is quite self-explanatory. Use these conjunctions when you want to describe a condition. In other words, one clause depends on the other to become possible.
The most important representatives of this group are:
This word is mostly used to introduce a condition.
Si vas a la tienda, compra tomates. (If you go to the grocery store, buy tomatoes.)
No te compraré un ordenador si no apruebas todos tus exámenes. (I won’t buy you a computer if you don’t pass all your exams.)
Here’s yet another como conjunction with yet another different meaning! Use como (if) when you want to warn or threaten someone.
Como no vengas, no compraré helado. (If you don’t come, I won’t buy ice cream.)
No irás a la fiesta como no te portes bien. (You won’t go to the party if you don’t behave.)
siempre que (provided, if)
Puedes jugar siempre que termines tus deberes. (You can play provided you finish your homework.)
Siempre que digas la verdad, te perdonaré. (If you tell the truth, I’ll forgive you.)
con tal de que / a condición de que (on condition that)
Lo acepto con tal de que me paguen más. (I’ll accept that on condition that they pay me more.)
Te lo presto a condición de que me lo devuelvas antes del lunes. (I’ll lend it to you on condition that you give it back to me before Monday.)
en caso de que (if)
Think of en caso de que as a formal sister of si (if). It’s normally used at the beginning of sentences.
En caso de que decidas venir, compra vino. (If you decide to come, buy some wine.)
En caso de que llegues tarde, no podrás entrar. (If you arrive late, you won’t be able to come in.)
Conjunctions that express a result
This last group of conjunctions is used when you want to state the results or consequences of what’s been said or done before. The main conjunctions in this group are:
así que (so)
This conjunction normally follows a comma or a period.
Llegué tarde, así que no pude entrar. (I arrived late, so I wasn’t able to go in.)
Estoy muy cansado, así que me voy a dormir. (I’m very tired, so I’m going to sleep.)
This conjunction means the same as así que and it’s used in the same way, but is less common:
No tengo dinero, luego no puedo comprar una casa. (I don’t have any money, so I can’t buy a house.)
Yo también estaba aquí, luego no tienes que repetir la historia. (I was also here, so you don’t have to repeat the story.)
de modo que (so, so that)
Termina rápido, de modo que podamos irnos ya. (Finish quickly so we can go already.)
No estaba cansado, de modo que me fui a correr. (I wasn’t tired, so I went for a run.)
por lo tanto / por consiguiente (therefore, consequently)
As you can infer from the translations of these two conjunctions, they’re rather formal, especially por consiguiente, which is the queen of being formal. They’re always followed by a comma.
Solo hablo español, por lo tanto, no hablo japonés. (I only speak Spanish. Therefore, I don’t speak Japanese.)
Hay mucha pobreza en España. Por consiguiente, se deben hacer cambios. (There’s a lot of poverty in Spain, therefore, changes need to be made.)
Have you survived until here? If so, congratulations! You can consider yourself a master of conjunctions!
Remember that conjunctions are only words that can help us improve our language skills. Don’t try to avoid them, especially if you want to be an advanced Spanish user.
The more often you use them in your conversations and writings, the better!
Start practicing and you’ll see how much you’ll improve.
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