Sine qua non


Sine qua non is an expression in the Latin language that in Spanish means “without which no” . It is an expression that is used to refer to the condition or action that is indispensable , essential or essential for something to happen, in other words, which is strictly necessary for a certain action to occur . It is a phrase that tells us that if it is not fulfilled, it will not be possible to achieve an objective that has been raised previously and the fact, for this reason, cannot happen.

What does Sine qua non mean?

Sine qua non is a Latin expression that means ” without which no “, and it is a phrase that indicates a specific condition that is needed because without it a specific issue could not be dealt with or a result could not be obtained .

  • Meaning of sine qua non
  • Etymology
  • Synonyms
  • Use of conditio sine qua non in criminal law
  • Other uses
  • Examples

Meaning of sine qua non

Sine qua non is an expression that is used mainly in documents of a legal nature , technical documents or scientific papers . It is one of those Latinisms , which has already been registered in the DRAE , and whose literal meaning is “without which no” . This phrase is applied as a type of adjectival phrase , to the noun condition. So the condition sine qua non is said of “that without which a thing will not be done or will be considered as not done . ” In other words, it is an inexcusable , indispensable and absolutely necessary condition .



The word “without” means lack or lack of something and this word comes from the Latin “sine” , so the word without is exactly a preposition of sine in Latin. In this language, there are some prepositions that work as prefixes within a composition. The preposition sine is found in many Latin phrases.

In this expression under study, the word ” qua ” is the ablative case of the relative pronoun (Latin, of course) qui-quae-quod, which belongs to the feminine gender and has a singular number . It is in this way because qua goes with the ablative preposition sine and agrees with the singular feminine antecedent condition .


The synonyms for sine qua non are three words, and these are the following:

  • Essential
  • Indispensable
  • Essential

Use of conditio sine qua non in criminal law

Conditio sine qua non or condition sine qua non is a word of Latin origin that was used in its beginnings as a merely legal term to refer to the phrase “condition without which no” . This phrase in the legal field refers to an action, condition, part or necessary and essential ingredient which is rather mandatory, so that something or fact is possible and so that it works properly or correctly.

In the field of criminal law , the phrase sine qua non is used to refer to the causal relationship that has been established between an action and between the final result.

Other uses

At the beginning, when the expression arose, it was used only within the legal field, but today we can observe it in different types of contexts such as in the area of medicine , economics , philosophy , law , among others, and it is used to do reference that without the presence of a condition, or requirement, the act or procedure would not have any effect.

It is also a phrase that is used when you need to give a certain text more elegance , it can be used then, mainly in the writing of books and contexts, whether they are scientific, legal or academic.


Some examples in which we can find the phrase sine qua non are the following:

  • The age of majority to exercise the right to vote in an election is a condition sine qua non .
  • For the validity of any type of contract, the presence of its elements, such as capacity, consent, object, and cause, is a condition sine qua non .
  • Passing this exam is a sine qua non condition to pass the year.
  • The presentation of a minor’s travel permit is a condition sine qua non when he or she travels without the presence of a parent.
  • Science must systematically engage in the investigation of the conditions for the realization of peace, since such investigation is a sine qua non condition to achieve.

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