Spanish expressions: Por un lado…, por el otro lado…

por un lado por el otro lado spanish expressions

There are many ways to compare things or ideas in Spanish. Por un lado… por el otro lado, for example, is a phrase that can help you not only make comparisons but add other ideas. It is a structure built by two phrases that are connectors. As a result, these connectors help us to be able to give continuity to several ideas, and in this way, choose the best one.


Por un lado… por el otro lado can be useful in formal conversations as long as they are both in the same sentence, and not only one. Improving your vocabulary is key if you want to improve your Spanish speaking. Then, if you want to learn how to use Por un lado… por el otro lado, you have to keep reading this brief explanation.


How to use por un lado… por el otro lado


The structures por un lado and por el otro lado are connectors that we use to indicate one idea and counter another. If we use por un lado without following it from por el otro lado, or vice versa, that meaning will be implied.


It means that we cannot use por un lado alone. If you start a sentence with por un lado, then you must pair it with por el otro lado to introduce the second idea. This is only if we take por el otro lado as synonymous with contrast or inverse.


Some natives consider that por el otro lado by itself is informal. So, it is better that when writing or speaking formally, avoid the use of por el otro lado without por un lado. Here are some examples,


Por un lado, ellos estaban fascinados con mis pinturas, pero por el otro lado, me dijeron que no era suficiente como para exhibirlas.

On the one hand, they were fascinated with my paintings, but on the other hand, they told me that it was not enough to exhibit them.


Por un lado Luca me dijo que nos fuéramos a la playa, aunque por el otro lado, mi familia quiere ir a la montaña.

On the one hand Luca told me to go to the beach. Although on the other hand, my family wants to go to the mountains.


Por un lado, cuando Juan me dio la noticia entré en un estado de negación, pero por el otro lado, sabía que tenía que afrontarlo.

On the one hand, when Juan told me the news I went into a state of denial, but on the other hand, I knew I had to face it.


As you can see, we can use por un lado and por el otro lado as a figurative use of the literal action. As if, for example, we were offering two options or alternatives, either toward other people or toward ourselves. If we choose one option, we will differ from the other.


Other ways to use por un lado


The connector por un lado belongs to the group of order connectors. We use this to introduce an aspect, thought, or possibility within a topic. However, this forms a correlative pair with the connector por el otro lado, which introduces another aspect of the same topic.


In other words, we can use it to introduce the first of two contrasting points, facts, or ways of seeing something.


Here are some examples,


Por un lado, eso me hizo sentir mejor, ya que necesitaba que alguien me apoyara en mis decisiones.

On the one hand, that made me feel better since I needed someone to support me in my decisions.


Por un lado me encantan las películas románticas, y por el otro lado, las de ciencia ficción.

On the one hand, I love romantic movies, and on the other hand, science fiction.


Las golosinas no son recomendables: por un lado, no aportan nutrientes variados y, por otro lado, dañan la dentadura.

Candies are not recommended: on the one hand, they do not provide varied nutrients and, on the other hand, they damage the teeth.


Different ways to use por el otro lado


Por el otro lado is a phrase that you can use to introduce a statement that contrasts with a previous statement. Likewise, por el otro lado can also present a different point of view than the one we talked about in the sentence. Por el otro lado can be similar to the English expressions “on the other hand” or “the other way”.


Anyhow, if we use this expression at the beginning of a sentence, then after the expression, there must be a comma. But, we must put por el otro lado surrounded by commas if we use it in the middle of the sentence. In other words, we can use por el otro lado when we have any context that prefaces an alternative to something already explained or just explained.


Now let’s see a few examples below,


Aunque, por el otro lado, me extraña que aún no me haya llamado.

Yet, on the other hand, I’m surprised that he hasn’t called me yet.


Pero. por el otro lado, si a ella le gusta cocinar, deberíamos reunir dinero para pagarle un curso de chef.

But, on the other hand, if she likes to cook, we should raise money to pay for a chef course.


Por un lado Camila no se quiere ir con su mama, pero por el otro lado sabe que no es prudente quedarse sola.

On the one hand, Camila doesn’t want to go with her mom, but on the other hand, she knows it’s not wise to stay alone.


On the flip side, we can also use por el otro lado in the sense of location or place. For example,


Si caminas por el otro lado vas a encontrarte con una tienda de flores, esa es.

If you walk on the other side you will find a flower shop, that is it.


Amanda siempre empieza a pintar por el otro lado, no sabemos por qué.

Amanda always starts painting from the other side, we don’t know why.


Generally speaking, you not only can use por un lado and por el otro lado for decisions or possibilities. Also, you can use them to refer to places, roads, and locations, among others.

Everything will depend on the meaning that we want to give to the sentence, so you must be careful. Por un lado… por el otro lado is quite common so you should start using it ASAP to show off and take the attention of everyone in the room.



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