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Sinnúmero and Sin Número: Similar but Not Equal

Do you know the difference between sinnúmero (one word) and sin número (two separate words)? Do you know how to use them? While sinnúmero and sin número are somewhat similar, they're not quite the same. In this lesson, we'll give you a brief explanation of each, as well as some practical advice for using them. 


Sinnúmero and Sin Número: The Grammatical Difference

From a grammatical standpoint, there's a big difference between sinnúmero and sin número. On one hand, sinnúmero is a masculine noun that, on its own, is used to refer to a "myriad," "plethora," or "abundance" of something. Most often, however, it is employed within the following formula to refer to something "countless" or "endless."


the indefinite article un + the noun sinnúmero + the preposition de


Let's see a couple of examples. 


Hay un sinnúmero de especies de aves

There are countless bird species

Caption 48, Bogotá El cerro de Monserrate

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Cuando nosotros utilizamos este objeto, podemos crear un sinnúmero de movimientos

When we use this object, we can create an endless array of movements

Captions 15-16, Melyna Los beneficios de hula

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As you may have noticed, while the formula un sinnúmero de is sometimes translated with an English noun phrase like "a countless number" or "an endless array," other times, this formula is instead conveyed with an English adjective like "countless," as in the first example. 


Let's now move on to sin número, which is an adjective phrase that is generally placed after a noun to mean "numerous" or "abundant. Let's look at an example:


Los soldados temían que las decisiones del capitán pudieran generar desgracias sin número.

The soldiers feared that the captain's decisions might generate numerous difficulties. 


Finally, we should also say that sin número can be intended more literally when talking about something that has no number, as in the following sentence:


Marco vivió por mucho tiempo en una casa sin número.

Marco lived for a long time in a house without a number.


Sinnúmero vs. Sin Número: The Safest Bet

Although there's a fine line between sinnúmero and sin número, when you want to convey ideas like "countless," "innumerable," or "numerous," the one-word option sinnúmero is your safest bet since the adjective phrase sin número is only rarely used in that context.


Before we go, let's look at one more example of the Spanish noun sinnúmero within the formula we've learned today:


y un sinnúmero de rituales donde se adoraba al sol.

and countless rituals where the sun was worshiped.

Caption 42, Viajando con Priscilla Turismo en Quito

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That's all for this lesson. We hope you've learned something new, and don't forget to send us your comments and suggestions. ¡Hasta la próxima!


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