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)?

  • A funny transcription, but a good question. :)
    – Flimzy
    Jul 10, 2014 at 14:57
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    @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, 2014 at 17:36

1 Answer 1



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.)

  • 1
    +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, 2014 at 3:24
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    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) Jul 9, 2014 at 13:48
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    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, 2014 at 11:07
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    @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) Jul 11, 2014 at 13:48
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    +1 Nice answer. Keep up the good work!
    – Joze
    Jul 28, 2014 at 12:55

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