When we learn a language, many doubts arise that go beyond the meaning of a word and are related to its pronunciation or spelling. In fact, a variation in spelling can change the whole meaning of a word or a sentence, as well as being a misspelling.
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This is the case, for example, with “if” and “if not”, the use of which can be confusing.
Here we explain the difference between “if” and “if not” with simple and practical examples.
Meaning and use of “but” and “if not”.
But as a noun
As a noun, “sino” is a masculine term that the Real Academia de la Lengua Españoldefines as “fatality, destiny or unknown force that acts on people and determines the development of events”.
According to this definition, we can use “fate” as a synonym for destiny, fate or fatum.
- His destiny was to live far away from here.
- Although he could not know it, it was written in his destiny.
But as an adversative conjunction
Used as an adversative conjunction, “but” is written as a single word used to contrast concepts. That is to say, it allows us to confront an affirmation with a previous negation.
- I didn’t tell him to come, I told him to stay at home.
- He does not study, but works.
- The general secretary was not expelled, but resigned.
But to express an exception and as a correlation of “not only”, but also to express an exception and as a correlation of “not only”, “not only” and “not only”.
“But” can also be used to express an exception and as a synonym for “only”, “more than”, “other than”, “except” or “apart from”.
In these cases, the conjunction “but” can be followed by “than” when the second sentence contains a verb. Moreover, in this case it will not be preceded by a comma(as in the previous examples), as this is only used in sentences with an adversative value.
- You know I don’t love anyone but you
- I want nothing but refreshment.
- I need nothing but you to to give it another chance.
- I want nothing more than to sleep.
“But” can also be used as a correlative of the adverbial mood “not only”, indicating that an element is added to the initial clause.
- Not only did she buy a handbag, but also some shoes.
- Not only is it cold, but it is also raining.
If not as a conditional conjunction
When we write “if not” separately, we are using the conditional conjunction “if” and the adverb of negation “not”.
This grammatical rule is used to introduce negative conditional sentencesthat can be used as a warning or a threat.
- If you don’t study, you will never pass the exam.
- If you don’t try, you will never succeed.
- And who will tell you, if you don’t?
But or else? 3 Tips on how to use them correctly
A Fundéu tip for knowing when to use “si no” correctly is to try to intersperse “si” and “no” with an element (usually a noun or pronoun) without losing the meaning of the text.
- If (my brother) had not intervened, the meeting would have been a disaster.
- You won’t pass if you don’t study.
- If (she)doesn’t want to, I won’t go.
Another trick to know whether to write “but” together or “if not” separately is to add the conjunction “than” after it.
- I don’t say this one but (I mean)that one over there.
- I don’t want anything but (that I want) a soft drink.
Finally, to check that the use of “if not” as a conditional is correct, you can turn the sentence around without losing its meaning.
- If you don’t study, you will never pass the exam: You will never pass the exam if you don’t study.
- If you don’t try, you won’t make it: You won’t make it if you don’t study.
- And who will tell you, if you don’t: If you don’t,who will tell you?
We hope these tips will help you to differentiate if and if not. However, if you are not sure after a first reading and have doubts, your only option is to read this article again.
For other questions about spelling, take a look at our blog. Espanole is an experienced Spanish language school in Valencia, and we have advice to help you learn or improve your Spanish. Visit us!