Sólo vs Solo vs Solamente: When to use each - BaseLang (2024)

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A lot of words in Spanish are very similar, so are easily confused by learners and native speakers alike. A good example is between sólovs solovs solamente, whose straight translations are often all identical: they all mean onlyin Spanish. But there’s more to it if we dig a little deeper!

In order to demystify these basic Spanish words, in today’s post we’ll cover all of the differences and similarities between sólovs solovs solamentein Spanish. You’ll discover that it’s simpler than it sounds, allowing you to understand and use them properly in no time.

Let’sget started!

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Sólo vs Solo in Spanish

Before we start to compare solo vs solamente in Spanish, let’s first take a close look at the two variants of solo: both with and without the accent. Don’t worry, it’s pretty simple.

The unaccented solo can nowfunction either as an adjectiveor as an adverb. The accented sólowas the adverbial version in the past, but language reforms have done away with the accent so now we just use solo. Let’s take a look!

Solo: adjective

When solofunctions as an adjective, it never has an accent. As an adjective, the translation of solois along the lines of alone, lonely, or single.

Since it’s an adjective, solomust agree in gender and numberwith the noun it describes. The four forms of solowe may encounter are therefore: solo, sola, solos, and solas.

  • En el apartamento de Juan hay un solobaño. – In Juan’sapartment, there is a single bathroom.
  • Mi mamá estaba solaen casa cuando llegamos. – My mom was home alone when we arrived.
  • Creo que tus gatos se sienten solos, deberías pasar más tiempo en casa. – I think your cats feellonely, you should spend more time at home.
  • No creo que las niñas construyeran la casa del árbol solas, seguro las ayudó el abuelo. – I don’t think the girls built the treehouseby themselves, I’m sure Grandpa helped them.

Sólo vs Solo: adverb

First and foremost, it’s important to establish that both soloand sóloserve as adverbs, meaning onlyor just in English. These days, however, the accented sólois rarely used, with the unaccented soloremaining the only option we really need.

In the past, an accent was required to differentiate the adverb from the adjective, so we could always tell that sólowas an adverb and solowas an adjective. In the language reforms of 2010, however, the Spanish Royal Academy (RAE) declared that the accent mark is no longer necessary. Thus, solo(without an accent) is now used as both an adjective and an adverb.

It’s worth noting that some Spanish speakers, including prominent writers, resisted this alteration, choosing to retain the accent in sóloto uphold its adverbial nature. And in fact, even the RAE allows for continued use of the accent where context needs clarity. Nonetheless, for our purposes in understanding modern Spanish, we can consider that both the adjective and the adverb are spelled without the accent as solo.

Remember that adverbs are invariable since they don’t modify nouns, so the only form we’ll see is solo.

  • Solome gusta el helado de chocolate, no me gusta ningún otro. – I onlylike chocolate ice cream, I don’t like any other.
  • Ella soloquiere jugar con su oso de peluche. – She justwants to play with her teddy bear.
  • Solohaz lo que te dice la maestra, Pedro, es por tu bien. – Just do what the teacher tells you, Pedro, it’sfor your own good.

Solamente in Spanish

Like most Spanish words ending in -mente, solamenteis an adverb. Like the adverb solo, solamenteis also translated into English as onlyor just.

  • Ella solamenteusa ropa de color rosa. – She only wears pink clothes.
  • Solamentequiero descansar este fin de semana, nada de fiestas. – I justwant to rest this weekend, no parties.
  • Ellas solamentesalen a correr por las mañanas. – They only go joggingin the mornings.

Solo vs Solamente

Now comes the moment of truth… What is the difference between solo vs solamente? Well, in fact, there is none.

When used as adverbs, soloand solamenteare interchangeable, since they both mean the same thing.

However, pay attention to the context to make sure solois working as an adverband not as an adjective. Solamentecannot be used as an adjective.

  • Nunca viajo en avión, soloen tren. – Nunca viajo en avión, solamenteen tren. – I never travel by plane, onlyby train.
  • Solome quedan 3 días de vacaciones antes de volver a trabajar. – Solamenteme quedan 3 días de vacaciones antes de volver a trabajar. – I onlyhave 3 days of vacation left before I go back to work.
  • ¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? ¡Solome costaron 20 mil pesos! – ¿Te gustan mis zapatos nuevos? ¡Solamenteme costaron 20 mil pesos! – Do you like my new shoes? They onlycost me 20,000 pesos!
  • Creo que ella soloquería que la ayudaras con la tarea. – Creo que ella solamentequería que la ayudaras con la tarea. – I think she justwanted you to help her with her homework.


As we saw in this post comparing sólovs solovs solamente, these three related words stand as prime examples of the multifaceted nature of linguistic expression. Soloand sólohave shown us how the language continues to evolve, with the accented version now relegated to the past. With this in mind, we’ve seen that while sóloand solamentewere formerly interchangeable, now it’s the adverbial version of solothat’s interchangeable with solamente.

In its use as an adjective, solocan take four forms (solo, sola, solos, solas), all conveying meanings of solitude, from alone, to on one’s own, to lonely, to single.

As adverbs, soloand solamenteseamlessly deliver the same essence, meaning justor only, reminding us of the fluidity and richness of language. Yet, even as the modern language landscape evolves, we honor the historical echoes that shaped these words, as their roots continue to inform our understanding of their contemporary usage.

Through the lens of sólovs solo vssolamente, we unearth a mosaic of linguistic history and vibrant expression that keeps Spanish communication dynamic and endlessly captivating!

Sólo vs Solo vs Solamente: When to use each - BaseLang (2024)


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