Using mientras que/en cambio for comparison/contrast

In Spanish we can use the connectives mientras que/ en cambio (whereas/on the other hand) to introduce a clause with information that contrasts with the main clause.

These connectives are followed by the indicative, not the subjunctive.

For example:

Hay gente que no sabe cómo gastar el dinero, mientras que otros mueren de hambre y pobreza.There are people who don't know how to spend their money, whereas others die of hunger and poverty.

Hay gente que no sabe cómo gastar el dinero; en cambio, otros mueren de hambre y pobreza.There are people who don't know how to spend their money, whereas others die of hunger and poverty.

El tiempo británico es bastante lluvioso, mientras que España tiene un clima más agradable.British weather is quite rainy, whereas Spain has nicer weather.

El tiempo británico es bastante lluvioso; en cambio, España tiene un clima más agradable.British weather is quite rainy, whereas Spain has a nicer weather.

Mientras que and en cambio are interchangeable only if they do not start the sentence. If the sentence is started with the clause, then "en cambio" cannot be used. For example:

Los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien, mientras que los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.The first-year students behaved well, whereas the second years [lit: those of the second year] interrupted all the time.

Los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien; en cambio, los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.The first-year students behaved well, whereas the second years [lit: those of the second-year] interrupted all the time.

Mientras que los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien, los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.While the first-year students behaved well, the second years [lit: those of the second year] interrupted all the time.

but this is incorrect:

"En cambio los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien, los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo."

Also note that when using en cambio, there is a longer pause in the speech, so the punctuation is different. It is generally preceded by a semi-colon or full stop, and then followed by a comma. However, mientras que is normally preceded by a comma.

 

Note that when using mientras que as a contrasting conjunction, you can omit "que" but it is more commonly used with it.

List of conjunctions:

Coordinating conjunctions

Subordinating conjunctions

See also Mientras with El Presente de Indicativo or El Presente de Subjuntivo and Mientras with past tenses in the indicative and subjunctive (subordinate time/conditional clauses)

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Examples and resources

Los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien; en cambio, los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.The first-year students behaved well, whereas the second years [lit: those of the second-year] interrupted all the time.
El tiempo británico es bastante lluvioso; en cambio, España tiene un clima más agradable.British weather is quite rainy, whereas Spain has a nicer weather.
Hay gente que no sabe cómo gastar el dinero, mientras que otros mueren de hambre y pobreza.There are people who don't know how to spend their money, whereas others die of hunger and poverty.
El tiempo británico es bastante lluvioso, mientras que España tiene un clima más agradable.British weather is quite rainy, whereas Spain has nicer weather.
Hay gente que no sabe cómo gastar el dinero; en cambio, otros mueren de hambre y pobreza.There are people who don't know how to spend their money, whereas others die of hunger and poverty.
Los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien, mientras que los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.The first-year students behaved well, whereas the second years [lit: those of the second year] interrupted all the time.
Mientras que los alumnos del primer curso se portaron bien, los del segundo curso interrumpieron todo el tiempo.While the first-year students behaved well, the second years [lit: those of the second year] interrupted all the time.
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