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  • What's the difference between mas and más?
  • What rules should I follow to know which one to use?
  • Could you provide examples showing their uses?
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2  
Interesting(?) note, 'mas' also means 'but' in Portuguese, I'm no etymology expert though, so just pointing out the connection. –  Kage Feb 22 '12 at 4:51
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3 Answers

up vote 12 down vote accepted

Más means 'more'

No quiero más comida (I don't want more food)

Mas means 'but', usually it can be replaced by 'pero'

Fui a casa, mas estaba vacía (I went home, but it was empty)

They both have the same pronunciation(*) despite the accent, the accent is here to make clear what meaning is actually used. Note that 'mas' is uncommon in a casual conversation, it is mostly used in literature.

(*) That's only true if they are alone. In a complete sentence, the pronunciation may vary. Please, see Javi's comment for more details.

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I don't think their pronunciation is the same. Mas is "átona" and más is "tónica", so they're not pronounced exactly the same. But I don't know how to explain the difference, really. –  MikMik Feb 22 '12 at 9:50
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@MikMik yeah you're right. They are just pronounced in the same way when they are alone. The "tónicas" are stressed in the entonation of a sentence while the "átonas" are linked to the next "tónica" word (forming like a "whole word" in pronunciation). Here is a good article about that: blog.lengua-e.com/2011/palabras-tonicas-y-palabras-atonas –  Javi Feb 22 '12 at 14:31
    
"Mas" can mean "pero" but also "sino". But "mas" is a very formal way for both meanings; for that reason people tend to use the other options. –  Javi Feb 22 '12 at 14:35
    
@Javi and MikMik, thanks for the clarification :) –  Sergio Cinos Feb 22 '12 at 19:16
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"Mas" is rather unfrequent - at least in every day speech, here in Argentina, but I suspect it's the same in many other places, based on movies, TV, books, etc. It even sounds a bit archaic.

You almost always will see and want to use "más", not "mas" (most of the times you read "mas", it's probably a "más" missing an accent).

How to tell them apart? A quick rule (that I'm making up right now so it's obviously not thorughly tested!) is remembering that "mas" means "but". So if you can replace it with "pero", it's "mas"; otherwise, it's "más".

A dumb example of both words in a sentence:

Las dos son palabras perfectamente válidas, mas una se usa mucho más que la otra.

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Agreeing with Juan, I never heard 'mas' as in 'but' once when I was in Argentina. –  Kage Feb 22 '12 at 4:50
    
It doesn't make any sense comparing "más" and "mas" in the frequency of use. They don't mean the same! It would be like saying that "hello" is more frequent than "helo" in English. You can say that "pero" is much more used than "mas" (they mean the same). –  Juanillo Feb 22 '12 at 14:14
    
"más" and "mas" is not the same. "Más" is a comparative adverb while "mas" is a adversative conjuction. –  Juanillo Feb 22 '12 at 14:19
    
The usage comparison was comparing the frequency of 'mas' and 'pero' –  Kage Feb 22 '12 at 21:56
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When you use "más" it means more.

When you use "mas" you are contrasting ideas, like "but".

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