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In your first example, aber is used as an explanation why you can’t go to school: You’re ill. On the other hand, sondern always indicates some sort of contradiction or replacement, e.g. if you correct a wrong statement (the assumption, that you play tennis). By the way, if the same verb (in this case: spielen) is used for both actions, it is more ...


While aber is pretty close to the English but, the word sondern has a special meaning and cannot be replaced by aber (and vice versa). You are supposed to use sondern after a negated phrase to express, that you are now talking about something true. Ich mag keine Süßigkeiten, sondern Salziges. In English you would use "rather than" in an inverse order. ...


-"aber" has the same meaning as "however" and the contradicted clause can either be positive or negative -"sondern" is used only when the contradicted clause is negative, in other words contains "nicht" or "kein", and it can be translated as "but rather" or "instead" (NOT "instead of")

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