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These words are used in political campaigns. What is the difference? Unidos or Juntos? One is a conjunction the other one is a verb. Not sure what the proper word is.

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  • The two words are very similar in their meanings, but have subtle differences, as you can see in Joan Esteban's answer. But the last part of your question is not completely clear for me. The proper word for what? You talk about political campaigns, but depending on what you need to say you should choose one word or the other.
    – Charlie
    Aug 31 '16 at 21:07
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    Note in the Spanish politics there is a coalition called Unidos Podemos because it consists in the union of mainly two parties: Izquierda Unida and Podemos. So they use a part of the name of both to make the coalition name. Juntos Podemos would have the same meaning, only that it would then not include a reference to the name of Izquierda Unida in it. Sep 1 '16 at 6:05
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Yes, they are synonymous, but consider the affective difference in this sentence:

Con mis padres vivimos juntos pero no somos muy unidos.

(With my parents we live together but aren't united.)

"Juntos" refers to close, while "unidos" refers rather connected or joined.

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  • ¡Buen ejemplo! Curioso que en España diríamos no estamos muy unidos, queriendo decir que no nos llevamos especialmente bien. Sep 1 '16 at 6:12
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From my point of view, "unir" means "to join things together so that they become one," and "junto" means "together."

Examples:

Vamos a unir estas piezas.

The sentence above means to join pieces together (as by soldering, for example) or in a way that can't be separated easily.

Vamos a juntar estas piezas.

The sentence above means to put pieces together, like in a box, for instance, but without soldering them together; the pieces are together but separated from one another inside the box.

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In Spanish, these words are synonyms. There are verbs for each of these words: "unir" and "juntar", which are synonyms. According to the DRAE (Spanish Royal Academy Dictionary):

Unir

  1. Hacer que una cosa esté al lado de otra, o en contacto con ella formando un todo.

  2. Mezclar o trabar algunas cosas entre sí, incorporándolas.

Juntar

  1. Unir unas cosas con otras.

The difference between "unido" and "junto" is that "unido" is the participle of the "unir" while "junto" is a noun by itself:

Junto

  1. Unido, cercano.

  2. Que obra o que es juntamente con otra persona, a la vez o al mismo tiempo que ella.

With this in mind, you can see that "unidos" and "juntos" mean the same.

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It might be helpful to consider the same comparison to their English equivalent:

  • Unidos: United
  • Juntos: Together

So, while "united" and "together" could be seen as synonyms their meaning might be slightly different, as other answers have pointed out.

United we stand, divided we fail

versus

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.

Also, taking in account that these words are used in political campaigns sometimes these two are used interchangeably since they convey a message similar to:

We can't do this unless you join us.

Additionally, this message appeals to the following:

  • A sense of belonging
  • Making a difference by becoming part of a cause

As you can see "united" and "together" are words which are meant to help forming groups, which is the very base of gathering a voting base. A big reason for one party to use "united" versus "together" is to attempt to distinguish (or brand) a message from one party (or candidate) from the remaining parties (or candidates).

Latin american countries can have more than two parties, which would make it more important to brand the messages of their candidates in a short "slogan" that can be memorable and sway voters.

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The short answer (from me) would be this: What we're really talking about when we discuss the differences between "unidos" and "juntos" is the difference between "united" and "together." The answers provided by Jorge and Rodrigo touch on this a bit, but I'll put it into my own words like this:

You can be united even if you aren't physically together.

You can be together (physically) but not united.

I don't have any stats on this,* but I would imagine there is a greater preponderance of political parties with the word "unidos" in them than there are parties with "juntos." The word itelf — unidos — means "united." If "unidos" has already been taken, however, and a new coalition is seeking to distinguish itself, "juntos" is definitely a good second choice because through context it implies a sense of unity that goes beyond physical distance. Even so, after taking a closer look, it appears that as popular as words like "unidos" and "juntos" may be for a political party, political organizers in Spain and Latin America have not restricted themselves to just these two words when coming up with a name for their respective political groups.

But before I whittled my thoughts down to just that — that the difference was really about the difference between "united" and "together," I took a close look at each of these words. I thought it might be helpful for you (and other students of Spanish) to read through some of my observations, but first a correction of sorts:

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*This is a note about my comment on not having collected any stats on how many political parties have contained "unidos" in their names and how many have contained "juntos." Although I did get curious after writing that and looked into it, I discovered, surprisingly, that there really aren't that many, not active ones anyway. I added what I found to the grid you see below. As you can see, there aren't that many, but, clearly, more have "unidos" than "juntos."


The political entities in the grid above are all active, to my knowledge. I didn't purposely look for defunct political entities (of which, I am sure there have been quite a few over the years). But one party, now defunct, that was active recently (within the past 10 years), was a Chilean party called "Juntos Podemos Más." According to the source I've linked you to, it was founded in 2003, but hasn't been active under that name since 2011. If you'd like more information on any of the political entities in the grid, check out Spanish Wikipedia as well as English Wikipedia. Believe it or not, I actually found a couple on English Wikipedia that Spanish Wikipedia didn't have.

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First impressions

The first difference I notice between these two words is that "unidos" tends to be used a lot more in political messages and "juntos" seems to be more often used when talking about relationships, especially romantic ones (although its usage goes far beyond that). Take a look at Google images for "unidos" and "juntos" to see what I mean. This may be due to the fact that a lot of political parties and slogans tend to have the name "unidos" in them.

Overall, "juntos" is a more common word than "unidos" ... at least that is what the Google Ngram viewer will tell you:

A general search of Google pages, as well as one filtered by News (and even Books, no less!) will indicate "unidos" is more common, but in a frequency list of 50,000 Spanish words based off of translated film subtitles, "juntos" comes in at #333 and "unidos" at #1,177 (the lower the number, the more frequent the word).

All of that may be interesting, but it doesn't help a student of Spanish determine when to use "unidos" and when to use "juntos" if both can be translated in similar ways.

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Let's begin with the singular form for these words because sometimes they can differ from their plural forms, but even when they don't, this can help a student understand the plural better.

Unido

According to WordReference, "unido," when used as an adjective or as a past participle, means "united." Collins only lists the adjectival meaning for this word, but translates it a bit differently; it translates it as "close" (as in a close-knit family/una familia muy unida). Some examples of both "unido" and "unidos" follow. These examples, and others in this article, come from headlines/articles in online news publications and Reverso's online context dictionary. Others I wrote myself to illustrate a point, but I tried to choose examples that might be useful.

el Reino Unido
the United Kingdom

los Estados Unidos
the United States

¿Qué países son los más unidos?
Which countries are the most united?

¿Cuál es el hilo común que los ha unido?
What is the common thread that has united them?

WordReference also mentions that "unido" as an adjective can also mean "connected," but I haven't found too many good examples of that. However, I did see some examples of it translated as "joined" when used as an adjective in a passive "se" construction:

Incluso el Museo del Prado se ha unido al '10 Year Challenge'
Even the Prado Museum has joined the '10 Year Challenge'

La derecha se ha unido al independentismo.
The right has joined the independence movement.

Junto

Now for "junto." I'm going to simplify things by just stating that "junto" means "together" when used as an "adjective," "together" when used as an adverb, and when paired with "a" or "con," "next to/by/along" or "(together) with" when used as a preposition (which is often). Some examples of its use as an adjective — junto/junta/juntos/juntas, its use as an adverb — junto, or preposition — junto a/con follow:

as adjective

Estamos juntos.
We are together.

Ellas están juntas.
They are together.

as adverb

The word "junto" as an adverb can sometimes be a bit complicated because it doesn't always follow a typical rule of Spanish adverbs — that they don't decline. This was first brought to my attention in this thread here:

juntos or juntas

In the thread just mentioned, I read that "juntos" acts as an adverb (rather than an adjective) when it follows the following verbs: estudiar, trabajar, vivir. But, after looking at a few examples, I noticed that those weren't the only verbs. I didn't do an exhaustive study of this, but I did find several declined usages of "junto" when paired with other verbs. So you see what I mean, I've listed what I found below:

cantamos/vamos/quedamos/salimos/volvemos/tomamos/miramos/empezamos/esperamos/entramos juntas

Obviously, I used the feminine plural inflection as a test. So, what I interpreted from the thread I just mentioned is that Collins (the source cited in the thread) considers inflected forms of "junto" — junta/juntos/juntas — as adverbs when paired with certain verbs (estudiar, trabajar, vivir). What I discovered by trying to find examples of this is that, in practice, these inflected forms aren't just limited to pairings with those verbs and that most English speakers would consider these inflected forms of "junto" as adverbs.

As a matter of fact, the word "together" is never categorized as an adjective in English unless we're referring to its use in informal speech where sometimes it is used to describe someone who knows what they're doing and does so competently and with conviction as in "The new employee is very together." Just to be clear, "junto" or its many inflections never takes on this meaning of "together."

To sum up this section, basically "junto" can be an adverb that declines for gender and number, and especially tends to do so when it follows a first person plural verb, but there are instances where the writer has not declined it. I don't know if there exists any Spanish grammar rule that says you can't, but frequency of usage can often dictate what does or doesn't sound natural to native speakers of Spanish. Below are some examples from Reverso where "junto" has not been declined. Initially, I thought they might be good examples of standard Spanish, but I later went back to see how frequently I found them online, and now I'm not so sure. If any native/fluent Spanish speaker/teacher would like to chime in on these examples (or any other portion of this post) please add your comment(s) below. Here are the examples:

Montaban junto.
They ride together.

I looked at a smattering of the examples returned from a Google search for this phrase. The vast majority were followed by a preposition (typically "a"). So, if I were to use this adverbially — they ride together (rather than next to something), I would use "montaban juntos" (or "juntas"). I saw enough examples of this in reputable sources to believe that this is standard usage.

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Quizás nosotros los podríamos tejer junto.
Maybe we could knit them together.

This being a rather unlikely thing for most to convey, I instead did a search for "podemos hacerlo junto" and "podemos hacerlo juntos." As with "montaban junto(s)," the same results were found. If I found instances of the former, "junto" was followed by a preposition. So, again, if you need to convey "together" and not "next to," go with an inflected form of "junto."

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Estamos poniendo junto un perfil geográfico.
We're putting together a geographic profile.

As with the other two examples, results indicate that "junto," when it has not been inflected likely is serving as a preposition, is typically followed by "a," and means "next to/by/along(side)." If you mean to convey "together," inflect "junto" for gender and number — "juntos" for males or mixed groups and "juntas" for groups of females.


I'll round out all of these examples of "junto" with those having fewer complications — the ones that act as prepositions:

Alerta por una seta tóxica que abunda junto a ríos asturianos
Alert for a toxic mushroom that abounds next to Asturian rivers

¿Quieres vivir junto al mar?
Do you want to live by the sea?

navegar junto a la costa
to sail along the coast

España, junto con Bélgica y Alemania, serán los países donde más crecerá el empleo para cumplir el Acuerdo de París
Spain, together with Belgium and Germany, will be the countries where employment will grow the most in order to comply with the Paris Agreement

Soy Wolf Blitzer, junto al mejor...
I'm Wolf Blitzer, together with the best...

A note on "unidos" and "juntos" specifically

I mentioned earlier that these two words are sometimes similarly translated. What I mean by that is translations of "unidos" are sometimes the same ones for "juntos." (But not usually the other way around. It'll be a strange day, indeed, if Spanish speakers start calling the states between the 25th and 49th degrees north latitude los Estados Juntos.)

If you search for both of these words in Reverso's context dictionary, you'll find that the first translation listed for both is "together." So, if both of these words can mean "together," how do you know when to use which? Well, for starters, that's a question that would better be answered by a native or fluent speaker of Spanish or a Spanish teacher, but I'll take a shot at answering it based off of what I see at Reverso. To begin, you'll find more translations of "juntos" as "together" than "unidos" as "together." Remember when I mentioned the ranking of these two words in open subtitles? Well, in terms of frequency that means the number of instances of "juntos" was tabulated at 108,529 and 25,514 for "unidos," meaning "juntos" was four times more frequent than "unidos," regardless of translation into English. How does that compare with the numbers at Reverso? Well, total instances of "juntos" totaled 64,280; total instances of "unidos" totaled 4,848. So, immediately it is plain to see that we're dealing with a slightly different database of words since this is a 13-fold difference instead of just four.

Be that as it may, let's hone in on the translations of these words as "together." 61,461 (96%) of the instances of "juntos" are translated as "together"; only 1,736 (36%) of the instances of "unidos" are translated as "together." What does this mean to the student of Spanish? Well, if you're unsure about whether or not you should translate "together" as "juntos" or "unidos," you'll be hedging your bet quite safely by going with "juntos." Apart from that, the only real difference I can see in the examples is that "unidos" when translated as "together" appears to surface in what appears to be rather formal language. I'll provide some examples of both "juntos" as "together" and "unidos" as "together" so you can see what I mean:

Examples with "juntos":

Hacemos cosas juntos, innovamos juntos, avanzamos juntos.
We make things together, we innovate together, we advance together.

Crecieron juntos, se enlistaron juntos, pelearon juntos.
They grew up together, enlisted together, fought together.

Han dormido juntos, vivido juntos, peleado juntos.
You've slept together, lived together, fought together.

Sólo si actuamos juntos sobreviviremos juntos.
Only if we act together will we survive together.

Trabajemos juntos por el bien común europeo.
Let us work together for the common European good.

Examples with "unidos":

Sé que seguiremos trabajando unidos en el futuro.
I know we will continue to work together in the future.

Es importante que trabajemos unidos para lograr una Europa más segura y más tranquila.
It is important that we work together to ensure a safer and more secure Europe.

Los talibanes constituyen una amenaza común y ambos países deben trabajar unidos para abordarla.
The Taliban poses a common threat and both countries must work together to address it.

Fue la incertidumbre lo que nos mantuvo unidos.
It was uncertainty that kept us together.

Overall, the sentences that translated "unidos" as "together" seemed a bit loose to me. I wouldn't say they were bad translations; they just seemed to stray a bit more from the literal meanings of words than what I found in the examples of "juntos" translated as "together." The other thing I noticed is that there is definitely a sense of "united" in the meaning of "together" when you read through those translations that have been translated from "unidos." Taking this thought a step further, if it weren't for the fact that "united" isn't an adverb, you could definitely just as easily swap out "united" for "together" in all of the examples where "unidos" has been translated as "together." Now that I think about it, it might be the main reason why "unidos" would be translated as "together." Sure, for the purposes of creating something grammatically correct in English, you could stretch your translation of "unidos" to "unitedly," but "work unitedly" just doesn't sound as good as "work together" (to me, anyway) and it just isn't a common pairing of words in English.

And this brings me to my next point and something that you might have already noticed. When "unidos" is translated as "together," it often follows some form of "trabajar." Even so, "trabajar juntos," is far more common than "trabajar unidos" (almost 10 times more common). That said, I get the sense that "trabajar juntos" is more of a "working together" and "trabajar unidos" is more of a "working as one (body/unit/entity)." The hyperlinks in the last sentence will take you to Reverso translations for each.

Lastly, "junto" and its inflected forms can serve as an adjective that sometimes means "joined":

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  • 2
    Your contributions here are always welcome Lisa and they help to build a repository of well researched articles which is the overall aim of the Stack Exchange family.
    – mdewey
    Feb 28 '19 at 13:26
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These words come up often in politics, because groupings may be in flux, with groups sometimes splitting, sometimes coming together. Groupings can occur at a variety of levels, from mergers to coalitions to alliances to loose groupings to umbrella group.

For starters: juntar means to gather or bring together; juntarse means to join in doing something together; unirse means to unite; unirse a means to join (an organization or movement) or to unite (for a common purpose).

But the choice isn't cut and dried. When choosing which word to use for a particular message, slogan or chant, the following may be more important than the literal meaning:

  • meter and rhyme

  • a new group wanting to avoid using the word traditionally associated with a particular group

  • a new group wanting to appropriate (and perhaps redefine to some extent) a word previously used by a particular group (think of the Gray Panthers, that came after the Black Panthers -- "Panthers")

  • a new group wanting to show its evolution from one or more previously existing groups

The most useful thing, in understanding which word is used when, would be to look at some examples.

  • ¡El pueblo, unido, jamás será vencido!

This is a chant, and unido works well because of the meter and the rhyme.

  • Únete al PRD.

This is a slogan. It comes from unirse and means "Join the (name of political party)."

  • Juntos Sí Podemos

A slogan, meaning "Together Yes We Can."

  • Entre Todos Sí Podemos

The same, but with a different rhythm.

  • Miles de mujeres llegan a Chiapas para luchar junto a las zapatistas por sus derechos

This is a newspaper headline description. "Luchar junto a" has the literal meaning of "to fight alongside," and it expresses the concept "show solidarity for."

  • Unidos Podemos

As I understood Fedorqui's comment, this is the name of a coalition in Spanish politics. The two primary members are the political parties Izquierda Unida and Podemos. The coalition's name shows its etymology.

  • junta militar [or junta for short]

This is the name of a type of government: military dictatorship. As an example, think of three generals who get together to take over a government as a triumvirate. The name comes from the idea that they came together -- from the verb juntarse (join together).

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