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Split Conjuctions

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Infographics of Split Conjuctions

What are Split Conjunctions in Spanish

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Conjunctions o las conjunciones are linking words or connectors that connect two phrases, clauses, sentences or ideas. There are hundreds of conjunctions and we use them unconsciously all the time in everyday conversations. 

In the spanish language there are split conjunctions which means they’re made up of two words. Each part of the split conjunction introduces a sentence or a phrase. They’re also known as disjunctive and alternative conjunctions.
  • No habla ni francés ni inglés =She doesn’t speak neither french nor english

  • Puedes tomar o helado o yogur. =You can have either ice cream or yoghurt.

  • No tengo ni hermanos ni hermanas. =I have neither brothers nor sisters.

Commonly used split conjuctions

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Similar to English language the most common and widely used split conjunctions are both...and, neither….nor. However, in the Spanish language there are a lot more. 
  • Mi hermano no come ni carnes ni pescado =My brother doesn’t eat neither meat nor fish

  • Ni Carlos ni Sofía vinieron. =Neither Carlos nor Sofía came.

Split Conjuctions starting Neither .Nor

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Ni ... .ni is literally translated as neither ... .nor. It’s also considered a kind of additional conjunction. This type of conjunction used in pairs is called correlative conjunction. Even though both sentences or phrases linked by this conjunction seem to be used to exclude rather than include, they’re inclusive.

When using ni...ni after a verb you simply use no before the main verb.
  • No fuimos al cine ni mi hermana ni yo =We didn’t go to the cinema neither me nor my sister

  • Ni mi mamá ni mi papá tiene diabetes =Neither my dad nor my mum has diabetes

  • No le gusta ni el chocolate ni los caramelos =She doesn’t like neither chocolate nor candies

  • Ni Paula ni Laura vinieron a mi fiesta de cumpleaños =Neither Paula nor Laura came to my birthday party

  • Mi hermano no come ni carnes ni pescado =My brother doesn’t eat neither meat nor fish

  • No habla ni francés ni inglés =She doesn’t speak neither french nor english

Split Conjuctions starting Either...Or

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O...o means either...or. It’s an alternative conjunction since you need to choose between two options or alternatives. If you want to add more options, you simply add another o for each option you are adding. However, this is a little bit unusual in everyday conversations. You simply add commas between options and and o between the last two options. 
  • Podemos o ir a cenar o al cine. =We can or have dinner or go to the cinema

  • Tienes o yogurt de vainilla or de frutilla =You have or vanilla yoghurt or strawberry yoghurt

  • Podemos viajar o a Italia, o a España, o a Alemania =We can travel to Italy, or Spain or Germany

  • Podemos viajar a Italia, España o Alemania =We can travel to Italy, Spain or Germany

  • Puedes comprar o un pantalón o un short =You can buy or a pair of trousers or a short

Less commonly Used Split Conjunctions in Spanish

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Split conjunctions are known as alternative conjunctions since you have to decide between two options. In spanish there are several split conjunctions which aren’t in the english language.
O bien...o bien which can roughly be translated as Or well...or well but is an alternative to the split conjunction O...o. Sea...sea is the conjugation of the verb to be in the second singular person. 
  • O bien trabajas, o bien estudias =Or you get a job or you study

  • O bien trabajas más horas o bien gastas menos dinero =Or you work more hours or

  • Sea lunes o sea sábado nunca trabaja =Whether it’s Monday or Saturday he neer works

  • Sea un lunar o sea una verruga te tienes que operar =Whether it’s a mole or a wart you need to go through a surgery

  • O bien dices la verdad o bien enfrenta las consecuencias =Or you tell the truth or you face the consequences

  • Sea verdad o sea mentira no me gusta lo que está sucediendo =Whether it’s true or a lie I don’t like what’s going on

Related Lessons in Distinguished Course, to further your understanding.

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