6 Different Ways To Say “But” In Spanish

6 Different Ways To Say “But” In Spanish

One of the most commonly used words in the English language is the word “but”. It is usually used as a conjunction, which is a word that links two parts of a sentence. English speakers commonly use “but” to link together contrasting statements.

If you speak English as either a first or second language and you are thinking of learning Spanish as an additional language, you might find it interesting and also valuable to know that several Spanish words are used similarly to “but”. It’s just one way that Spanish and English are actually quite similar

If you use a translation app or website, like Google Translate, the first answer you will get to how to say “but” in Spanish will be “pero”.

After “pero” you might see but translated in Spanish to “sino”. “Pero” and “sino” are used by Spanish speakers as conjunctions when they are talking about contrasting statements. “But” is common English conjunction.

For example, if you are offered seafood paella, but are wondering if it’s safe to eat because you have allergies you might say:

I like seafood paella, but I am allergic to shrimps. 

In Spanish, you would replace the “but” with “pero” so it would be:

Me gusta la paella de mariscos, pero soy alérgico a los camarones.

That’s an example of the most basic way to say “but” in Spanish, BUT there are a few other times that “but” is used by Spanish speakers. Let’s take a closer look at them here.

1. Pero

Pronunciation guide: peh-ro

As we said, “pero” is the most common Spanish translation of the word “but”.

We showed you an example of how it can be used when talking about two contrasting statements, but we want to make its usage here clearer. You use “pero” to break up a sentence of contrasting statements that DO NOT contradict each other.

To go back to the example of seafood paella, the two statements here are not contradictory. You can like seafood paella, and you can be allergic to shrimp. 

Another example could be if you said that you like seafood paella, but your friend Mark doesn’t not. Again, two statements that can be true.

I like seafood paella, but Mark doesn’t.

Me gusta la paella de mariscos, pero Mark no.

Now let’s talk about how it is used to emphasize a statement.

You can add “pero” to a statement of opinion or fact if you are really firm in your belief that it is true. For example, a Spanish-speaking child who doesn’t want to stop playing and go home will say:

But I don’t want to go home!

Pero no quiro irme a casa!

2. Sino

Pronunciation guide: see-noh

“Sino” is the second most common translation for “but” in Spanish, and it is also used when talking about contrasting statements BUT, you use “sino” when you are talking about statements that contradict each other. 

“Sino” is often used when you are correcting someone’s assumption. For example, if someone thought you spent the weekend at the beach, but you actually went to the mountains you would say the following:

I didn’t go to the beach, but to the mountains.

No fui a la playa, sino a las montañas.

Since you use “sino” when the second part of a sentence either negates or corrects the first part. You can think of it as more the equivalent of “but rather” or ‘but on the contrary”. 

You also use “sino” if you also mean “but also”.  

So, for example, if you ask a friend to recommend good Spanish movies on Netflix and you want to know if there are subtitles, they might say:

Not only are there English subtitles, but also Spanish subtitles.

No sólo hay subtítulos en inglés, sino también subtítulos en español. 

3. Sino que

Pronunciation guide: see-noh keh

As we mentioned about, you used “sino” when formulating a sentence with two statements that contradict each other, but there’s another way to say “sino” or “but” in Spanish and that is “sino que”.

You use “sino que” in pretty much the same way you use “sino”. It is still basically translatable to “but rather”.  

If you want to use “sino”, you need to make sure that the second part of the sentence has either a noun or an un-conjugated verb. If, however, there is a conjugated verb then that is the time you use “sino que”.

The children didn’t walk, but they ran.

Las ninos caminaron, sino que corrieron.

4. Excepto

Pronunciation guide: ehk-sehp-toh

One other way that “but” is used in English is to note an exception. For example, if you want to say that everyone in your class is going to the party except for George, you can say:

Everyone will be at Patty’s party but/except for George.

The Spanish translation for “except” or “except for” is “except”. So, the above sentence in Spanish will be:

Todos estarán en la fiesta de Patty excepto George.

5. Salvo

Pronunciation guide: sahl-boh

The Spanish word “salvo” is used as an adjective if you want to say “safe” or “unharmed”. It is also, however, used as a preposition if you want to say “except” “or “apart from”.

So, you can use “salvo” the same way and pretty much interchangeable with “except”.

Going back to the example above then, it is also correct then, to say the following:

Todos estarán en la fiesta de Patty salvo George.

6. Menos

Pronunciation guide: meh-nohs

The Spanish word “menos” is usually used as an adjective or an adverb. It is the equivalent of “less” or “fewer”. However, it can also be used as a preposition, and when that is the case, it means “except”.

“Menos” in this case, can also be used instead of “excepto” or “salvo”. 

Todos estarán en la fiesta de Patty menos George.


So now you know six basic ways to say “but” in Spanish. While we’ve tried to provide you with detailed explanations and hopefully illuminating examples to help you learn how to use each of these words properly, you might need further help.
A good way to learn more Spanish is with the language learning app Babbel. Its an app, but think of it more like a buddy who walks you through learning Spanish.
For a more extensive learning, we recommend trying an online Spanish course at Coursera, like this one.

How to say But in Spanish?

Pero, sino, sino que, salvo, excepto

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