Sin/sin que + infinitive/subjuntive (subordinate manner clause)

Spanish subordinate clauses introduced by "sin que" (without  [doing something]) always require the subjunctive, while in English this is expressed as "without" plus the gerund. These subordinate clauses express the way in which something is done/will be done/should be done, etc. The subordinate clause functions like an adverb of manner.

Let's see some examples:

Intenta salir de tu casa sin que tu padre te vea.Try to leave your house without your dad noticing.

Logramos tener una conversación amigable sin que nos enfadáramos el uno con el otro.We managed to have an amicable conversation without falling out with each other.

Deberíamos aumentar un poco los precios sin que los clientes lo noten mucho.We should raise the prices a bit [so that] the clients don't really notice.

We can also use "sin" without "que", in which case we need the infinitive. This generally happens when the subject is the same in the main and the subordinate clauses.

For example:

Logramos tener una conversación amigable sin enfadarnos el uno con el otro.We managed to have an amicable conversation without falling out with each other.

Hemos terminado de decorar la habitación sin dejar una gota de pintura en el suelo.We finished decorating the room without leaving a drop of paint on the floor.

Remember that the infinitive can have pronouns attached to it.

Other examples are:

Después de tres horas me fui de la fiesta sin que pudiera bailar con Carlos.After three hours I left the party without managing to dance with Carlos.

No sé cómo lo hice pero aprobé el examen sin estudiar apenas.I am not sure how I did it but I passed the exam with hardly any studying.

Queríamos tratar el tema sin que los niños estuvieran delante.We wanted to deal with the issue without the kids being present.

Sometimes, the infinitive (after "sin") is used when the subjects are different. When this happens, the second subject tends to be placed at the very end of the sentence. This structure is a bit more colloquial than sin que + subjuntivo. For example:

Se pusieron a ver una película muy violenta sin estar acostados los niños.They started to watch a very violent movie while the children were still up. [lit: without the children being in bed]

Deberíamos aumentar un poco los precios sin notarlo mucho los clientes.We should raise the prices a bit [so that] the clients don't really notice.

But remember to omit "que" when using sin + infinitive.

This would be incorrect:

"Se pusieron a ver una película muy violenta sin que estar acostados los niños."

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Examples and resources

Queríamos tratar el tema sin que los niños estuvieran delante.We wanted to deal with the issue without the kids being present.
Intenta salir de tu casa sin que tu padre te vea.Try to leave your house without your dad noticing.
Deberíamos aumentar un poco los precios sin notarlo mucho los clientes.We should raise the prices a bit [so that] the clients don't really notice.
No sé cómo lo hice pero aprobé el examen sin estudiar apenas.I am not sure how I did it but I passed the exam with hardly any studying.
Deberíamos aumentar un poco los precios sin que los clientes lo noten mucho.We should raise the prices a bit [so that] the clients don't really notice.
Después de tres horas me fui de la fiesta sin que pudiera bailar con Carlos.After three hours I left the party without managing to dance with Carlos.
Se pusieron a ver una película muy violenta sin estar acostados los niños.They started to watch a very violent movie while the children were still up. [lit: without the children being in bed]
Logramos tener una conversación amigable sin enfadarnos el uno con el otro.We managed to have an amicable conversation without falling out with each other.
Hemos terminado de decorar la habitación sin dejar una gota de pintura en el suelo.We finished decorating the room without leaving a drop of paint on the floor.
Logramos tener una conversación amigable sin que nos enfadáramos el uno con el otro.We managed to have an amicable conversation without falling out with each other.
Hicieron una protesta pacífica, sin crear enfrentamientos con la policía.They protested peacefully, without creating any confrontation with the police.
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