Conjunctions in Spanish Grammar

Introduction

Conjunctions (las conjunciones) connect words, clauses and sentences. Coordinating conjunctions connect two elements of equal value. Subordinating conjunctions introduce and dependent, also subordinate, clause.

Learn about coordinating and subordinating conjunctions with Lingolia. In the exercises, you can practise what you have learnt and consolidate your knowledge.

Example

Cristina está de vacaciones, pero su marido se ha quedado en casa.

Ha pasado las vacaciones en el Mar Mediterráneo porque a ella le encanta el mar.

Ella quiere ver la puesta de sol, por eso está en la playa.

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Coordinators, subordinators and conjunctional expressions

  • Coordinating conjunctions, also coordinators, (conjunciones coordinantes) connect two main clauses. Some common coordinating conjunctions are pero, o and y.
    Example:
    Cristina está de vacaciones, pero su marido se ha quedado en casa.Cristina is on holiday, but her husband stayed at home.
  • Subordinating conjunctions, also subordinators, (conjunciones subordinantes) connect a dependent clause to a main clause. Some example subordinating conjunctions include: que, como, cuando, para, porque, si, pues.
    Example:
    Ha pasado las vacaciones en el Mar Mediterráneo porque a ella le encanta el mar.She’s on holiday in the Mediterranean because she loves the sea.
  • We use the term conjunctional expression to describe a conjunction that consists of multiple words. Some conjunctional expressions are: a fin de que, por eso, antes de que, así que, siempre que, para que.
    Example:
    Ella quiere ver la puesta de sol, por eso está en la playa.She wants to watch the sunset – that’s why she’s at the beach right now.

In the overview you will find various types of dependent clauses that can be introduced using a subordinating conjunction or a conjunctional expression. There are:

  • subject clauses (subordinadas sustantivas de sujeto)
  • object clauses – direct object (subordinadas sustantivas de objeto directo)
  • object clauses – indirect object (subordinadas sustantivas de objeto indirecto)
  • adverbial clauses (subordinadas adverbiales) - these can express reason, result, purpose or goal, time, contradiction, or manner

List of Subordinating Conjunctions

function conjunction indicative/subjunctive example
subject clause
  • que
  • subjunctive
  • Es importante que Cristina descanse durante las vacaciones. It’s important that Cristina get some rest during her holiday.
object clause
(direct object)
  • que
  • indicative in most cases
  • subjunctive:
    - with negation
    - with verbs that indicate possibility, doubt, will, feelings, etc.
  • Yo sé que le gusta el mar.I know she likes the sea.
  • Ella no quiere que nos vayamos.She doesn’t want us to go.
  • Le gustaría que hiciese buen tiempo.She would like it if there were nice weather.
object clause
(indirect object)
  • a quien
  • indicative
  • Cristina cuenta sus experiencias a quien le pregunta. Cristina tells her experiences to anyone who asks her.

adverbial clause –
reason

  • porque
  • ya que
  • dado que
  • como
  • indicative
  • A Cristina le encanta el mar porque el aire es agradable.Cristina likes the sea because the air is pleasant.
adverbial clause –
result
  • así que
  • por eso
  • por lo tanto
  • indicative
  • Se quedó todo el día en la playa, así que se ha quemado la piel.She stayed at the beach all day, so she got a sunburn.
adverbial clause –
purpose
  • a fin de que
  • para que
  • subjunctive
  • Uitiliza crema hidratante para que la quemadura solar se cure.She’s using moisturising cream so that the sunburn will heal.
adverbial clause –
time
  • antes de que
  • hasta que
  • cuando
  • tan pronto como
  • en cuanto
  • depués de que
  • mientras que
  • siempre que
  • indicative, if the action in the main clause takes place at the same time as or after the action in the dependent clause
  • subjunctive, if the action in the main clause takes place before the action in the dependent clause
  • Tan pronto como ve una concha, se la mete en el bolsillo.As soon as she sees a seashell, she puts it in her bag.
  • Se despide de la playa antes de que cojamos el tren.She says goodbye to the beach before we catch the train.
adverbial clause –
contradiction
  • aunque
  • a pesar de que
  • a menos que
  • mientras que
  • aun cuando
  • subjunctive
  • Ella nada muy rápido aunque le duela la pierna.She’s swimming very fast, although her leg is hurting.
adverbial clause –
manner
  • como
  • de manera que
  • de forma que
  • sin que
  • de modo que
  • indicative
  • subjunctive:
    - if the additional information demands an unrealised result
    - after sin que
  • El sol brilla con fuerza, de modo que Cristina tiene que ponerse las gafas de sol.The sun is shining so intensely that Cristina has to put on her sunglasses.
  • Podemos pasear con los niños sin que se cansen.We can take a walk with the children without them getting tired.

When to use the indicative in a sentence and when to use the subjunctive is explained in our verb section, on the page Indicative/Subjunctive.