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Duolingo read me this sentence aloud and asked me to transcribe it:

No veo hombres sino mujeres.

I misunderstood what was said and typed:

No beben hombres sino mujeres.

I thought that that meant:

Men do not drink, but women do.

Does it mean that? Can sino compare subjects, or only objects (No quiero leche sino agua) and clauses (No corro sino camino)?

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A funny transcription, but a good question. :) – Flimzy Jul 10 '14 at 14:57
@Flimzy, I actually thought I'd heard "vev"/"beb" and assumed it must have been "beben" (and that I'd missed a quick "en"): in fact I'd misheard the final "o" as "v". Fwiw. – msh210 Jul 10 '14 at 17:36
up vote 11 down vote accepted


In fact, in the DRAE's first example for the adverb sino, you have the subject being contrasted: No lo hizo Juan, sino Pedro.

The only requirement is that the former element be negative, and the latter affirmative:

  • No como, sino que bebo. (verb)
  • No comí yo, sino tú. (subj)
  • Comí una cena no muy grande, sino bastante pequeña. (adj)
  • etc.

With clauses, remember that clauses really just act as placeholders for other elements (hence the different types are termed noun clauses — used where nouns go —, adjective clauses, etc.)

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+1, and many thanks. Since you cite the RAE, I'll give you the checkmark (as you must be right :-)). If anyone has further info (e.g. on dialectal use) in another answer, that'd be great, too. – msh210 Jul 9 '14 at 3:24
Also, technically, according to the DPD, when doing it with verbs, you should use sino que, although personally for short sentences like the above, it sounds weird to my ears (?*No como sino que bebo*). Anything longer, que will be pretty much obligatory (from the DPD: Prada no compraba la droga, sino que la vendía) – guifa Jul 9 '14 at 13:48
At least here in Spain we always use sino que with verbs, regardless of the sentence length. When I read your answer, your first example sounded wrong to me immediately. – Gorpik Jul 11 '14 at 11:07
@Gorpik, I think it's because with a shorter sentence, in my mind I'm using mas, in which case there's no problem other than sounding, well, old, and poorly swapping with sino. I've updated my post. (my bad) – guifa Jul 11 '14 at 13:48
+1 Nice answer. Keep up the good work! – Joze Jul 28 '14 at 12:55

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