Using the Spanish Conjunction 'Y'

Conjunction Can Mean More Than "And"

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¡Aprendemos español! (Let's learn Spanish!). Terry Vine/Getty Images

Although the Spanish conjunction y usually is the equivalent of the English "and," it also can be used in a few ways that are different than "and" in English.

Common Uses of "Y"

Most of the time, y is used to connect two sentences or words or phrases that are the same part of speech. Some examples:

  • Un perro y una vaca son los protagonistas del libro. A dog and a cow are the book's main characters.
  • Tú y yo sabemos lo que es vivir tan lejos. You and I know what it is to live so far away.
  • Cantábamos y tocábamos mejor que nadie. We sang and we played instruments better than anybody.
  • Es el mejor regalo para él y ella. It's the best gift for him and her.
  • ¿Por qué ese idiota es rico y yo no? Why is that idiot rich and I'm not?
  • El presidente y el vicepresidente tienen un mandato de cuatro años. The president and vice president have a four-year term.
  • Vi la película y la encontré buena. I saw the film and I found it to be good.
  • Me duele mucho y estoy preocupada. I'm in much pain and I am worried.

In questions, y can carry the idea of "what about?" or "how about?" Although the "and" of English can be used the same way, the Spanish usage is much more common.

  • No puedo nadar. ¿Y tú? I can't swim. How about you?
  • No sabía que David estaba enfermo. ¿Y Casandra? I didn't know David was sick. What about Casandra?
  • ¿Y qué? So what?
  • ¿Y si mi hijo no se toma la medicación? What if my son doesn't take the medication?

    In some contexts, y can be used to indicate a contrast in a way that the English "and" standing alone doesn't. In these cases it usually can be translated by "and yet" or "and still."

    • Estudiaba mucho y no sabía nada. She studied a lot and still didn't know anything.
    • Juan es asesino y lo amamos. Juan is a murderer, yet we still love him.

      As with the English "and," when y connects a word or phrase that is repeated, it suggests a large, indefinite amount:

      • Corrieron y corrieron hasta llegar a casa. The ran and they ran until they arrived at home.
      • Es una ciudad muerta desde hace años y años. It has been a dead city since years and years ago.

      Keep in mind that y changes to e when it comes before certain words.

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      Your Citation
      Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Conjunction 'Y'." ThoughtCo, May. 7, 2017, Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, May 7). Using the Spanish Conjunction 'Y'. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Using the Spanish Conjunction 'Y'." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 22, 2018).