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The Preposition sin in Spanish

In this lesson, we will talk about the Spanish preposition sin, which usually translates to "without" in English. In the following lines, we will explore the various ways to use sin, providing different examples to illustrate its use in different contexts. Get ready!


To Express a Lack or Absence

Like the English preposition "without," the primary function of the Spanish preposition sin is to indicate the absence or lack of something. Let's take a look:


en la camioneta, una camioneta blanca sin, este, sin ventanas.

in a van, a white van without, um, without windows.

Caption 32, Amigos D.F. El secuestrar

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Y así acaba nuestro carnaval y la gente sin dinero pero contenta.

And that's how our carnival ends, and people [are left] without money but happy.

Captions 82-83, Cleer y Lida El Carnaval de Barranquilla - Part 2

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Of course, an alternative translation for sin in this second example would be "with no money," which conveys the same idea.


Note that, when used to talk about a lack of something, the preposition sin is the direct opposite of the preposition con. Let's see an example of each with the same noun:


Entonces, se recomienda, todas las mañanas, comer la mitad de una toronja o un pomelo; sin azúcar, no hagan trampa.

So, it's recommended, every morning, to eat half a grapefruit or a "pomelo;" without sugar, don't cheat.

Captions 67-69, Otavalo Conozcamos el Mundo de las Frutas con Julia

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Es una bebida refrescante que se pone jugo de limón con azúcar y agua.

It's a refreshing drink in which one puts lemon juice with sugar and water.

Caption 24, Otavalo Julia nos muestra las verduras

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To Express Opposition or Contradiction

In certain cases, sin can convey opposition or contradiction between two elements. Let's take a look:


Sin embargo, muchas veces tenemos complementos que hacen las veces de adjetivo sin ser adjetivos necesariamente:

However, we often have complements that function as adjectives without necessarily being adjectives:

Captions 50-52, Ana Carolina El uso correcto de los adjetivos

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To Indicate Time or Duration

The preposition sin can also be used to talk about something that has not occurred during a specific period of time. Let's see this usage in action:


Cuéntame ¿qué ha pasado en estos siete años sin vernos? -Ay...

Tell me what has happened in these seven years without seeing each other? -Oh...

Caption 10, El reencuentro Las amigas hablan del trabajo y el amor.

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A more colloquial way to express this in English might be "in these seven years we didn't see each other."


To Emphasize Something

When used after the adverb no, the preposition sin helps to reinforce a message or emphasize something. Let's look at the following video clip:


Me despido de todos, no sin antes recordarles que estén pendiente[s] de nuestro siguiente video.

I'll say goodbye to everyone, not without first reminding you to be on the lookout for our next video.

Captions 32-33, Manos a la obra Separadores de libros: Pikachu

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To Give Orders

When followed by an infinitive verb, the preposition sin can additionally be used to give orders! Let's see one last example:


¡Niños, todos a la cama y sin protestar!

Children, all to bed and without protest!

As you can see, the preposition sin allows for the expression of absence, opposition, and other related concepts. We encourage you to practice using it in different ways to solidify your understanding of this versatile preposition, and don't forget to send us your suggestions and comments.


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