Si no and sino
Let’s talk about one of the most common mistakes among our online Spanish students. They always need to improve their writing skills. That’s why they need to correct these confusing words: sino and si no very often. They sound alike but they mean different things and they are used in a very different way. Which form is correct? Both are correct. The point is when we need to use one or another.
1) What do they mean?
Sino means “but”
Si no means “if not” “if someone doesn’t/do something…” There is a condition and consequences.
2) How do we use them?
a) SINO. We introduce two options. The second one excludes the first one.
Mi gata no es gris, sino negra.
My cat is not grey but black.
b) SI NO. There is a condition. If we don’t fulfill this condition, we will have negative consequences.
Si no me llevas a París, me enfadaré.
If you won’t travel to Paris with me, I will get angry at you.
Notice that these consequences can appear in the beginning of the sentence:
Me enfadaré si no me llevas a París.
That’s why it can be easily confused with sino.