In English, we use the word “but” a lot. We might use it to disagree with someone or to argue a point. But in Spanish, things are usually a little more complicated than that. There are many different ways you can express the word “but” in Spanish. The important thing is that you need to ensure you don’t end up sounding like Elmer Fudd when trying to say it! Here are three ways to say “but” in Spanish, along with some examples and explanations of how and when to use them.
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How do you say but in Spanish
- Sino: But, Instead
The first way to say “but” in Spanish is to use the word “sino.” This is best translated as “but,” not “instead.” For example, if you want to say, “I can sing, but I don’t enjoy it,” you would say, “Puedo cantar sino no lo disfruto.” In this case, “sino” would mean “but.” “sino” is mainly used in written or formal Spanish. In spoken Spanish, it’s much more common to use “pero” instead.
Other examples where “but” translates to “sino” in Spanish:
- Juan no es tonto, sino inteligente. (Juan is not stupid, but he is intelligent.)
- Pero: But
The second way to say “but” in Spanish is to use the word “pero,” which is the most common way to say it in Spanish. In fact, “pero” is so familiar that, when you hear it spoken, all you really hear is “buuut.” It’s a good idea to think of “pero” as being like the word “but,” but with a stronger emphasis. So, if you say, “I want to study Spanish, but it’s too expensive,” you would say, “Quiero estudiar español pero es muy caro.” In this case, “pero” would mean “but.” This use of “pero” is mainly used in spoken Spanish. In written Spanish, it’s also common to see “pero” written as “sin embargo.”
More examples “but” translates to “pero” in Spanish:
- Estoy enfermo pero lo haré para tu boda. (I am sick but I’ll make it for your wedding.)
- Estás aquí pero tu mente está en otra parte. (You are here, but your mind is elsewhere.)
- Recordando: But
The third way to say “but” in Spanish is to use the word “recordando.” This word can be translated as “but,” but is mainly used to introduce a fact that you want to remember or remember to do. For example, if you say, “I want to study Spanish, but I don’t have any time,” you would say, “Quiero estudiar español recordando que no tengo tiempo.” In this case, “recordando” would mean “but.” This use of “recordando” is mainly used in written Spanish. In spoken Spanish, it’s common to see “recordando” written as “sin embargo.” To ensure you get the pronunciation right, get an app to learn Spanish like italki.
Other Spanish expressions loosely translated to “but”
- Sin embargo: However
Another way to say “but” in Spanish is to use the word “sin embargo.” This word can also be translated as “however,” “although,” or “in spite of.”
For example, if you say, “I want to study Spanish, but it’s too expensive,” you would say, “Quiero estudiar español sin embargo es muy caro.” In this case, “sin embargo” would mean “but.”
Another example is: “No me gustan los parques temáticos, sin embargo, iría por tu bien.” which can be translated to “I don’t like theme parks; however, I would go for your sake.”
This use of “sin embargo” is mainly used in written Spanish. In spoken Spanish, it’s also common to see “sin embargo” written as “pero.” In fact, these two words are basically interchangeable. You can use either word to say “but” in Spanish, and most people won’t even notice. The only difference is that “pero” is more commonly used in speech.
- Tampoco: Neither, Nor
“Tampoco” is rarely used to mean “but” in Spanish, but it can be used. This is best translated as “nor” but can also be translated as “neither.”
- “no tengo sed” – I am not thirsty.
- [response] – Tampoco tengo sed – neither am I thirsty.
In this case, “tampoco” would mean “neither.” Be careful if you use this word because it can also be translated as “either.” Spanish can get complicated, but we are here to help. Keep reading.
- Sino: Or rather
Sino is best translated as “but,” but it can also mean “or rather.” For example, if you want to say, “I want to study Spanish, but it’s too expensive online,” and someone then says, “You can just go to a local language school,” you could say, “Sino, tengo que ir a una escuela de idiomas.” In this case, “sino” would mean “or rather.” In a different context, “sino” could also mean “otherwise.”
- Excepto, Salvo, and Menos: This trio can be translated to mean the same thing.
Menos, salvo, and excepto all mean the same thing. You can use them when you need to state an exception to a general rule. They can be directly translated to the English word “except.”
It is common to use “but” and “except” synonymously in English. In this case, you can use excepto, menos, or salvo. Depending on the context in which they are used, each of these words have different meanings. However, they can all be used to mean “but.”
These examples should help make the idea clearer:
“Everyone but Juanita said yes.”
In this sentence, we can conveniently replace “but” with “except” without changing the sentence’s meaning. So in translating to Spanish, we can use either excepto, menos, or salvo.
Here is what the sentences would look like when translated:
- “Todos excepto Juanita dijeron que sí.”
- “Todos salvo Juanita dijeron que sí.”
- “Todos menos Juanita dijeron que sí.”
Let’s look at other instances where you can use either of these words:
- Me gustan todas las verduras menos el brócoli.
I like all vegetables but broccoli.
- Ellas han visto todas las películas excepto “La rosa de hierro.”
They have seen every movie except “the iron rose.”
- Dormiría en cualquier habitación salvo en esta.
I would sleep in any room except this one.
If you have wondered what “but” in Spanish is or how to spell “but” in Spanish, your worries must be out of the window by now. Remember that the most popular ways to say “but” is “pero” and “sino.” When in doubt, fall back on either of these, and the person you are speaking with will surely understand the point you want to make. To master other ways of saying “but” in Spanish, book lessons with italki today.
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