June 11, 2020 ·

Negative Words and Negation in Spanish

Negative Words and Negation in Spanish

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negations in spanish

We have already learned about making simple affirmative statements:

  • Él trabaja en el supermercado.
  • He works at the supermarket.
  • Ella es doctora.
  • She is a doctor.

When we want to make a sentence negative, we place the word “no” before the verb:

  • Él no trabaja en el supermercado.
  • He does not work at the supermarket.
  • Ella no es doctora.
  • She is not a doctor.

When we respond to a question and the response is negative, the use of two negative words is required:

  • ¿Vos hablás español? (Do you speak Spanish?)
  • No. No hablo español. (No. I don’t speak Spanish.)
  • ¿ Están tus padres en la casa? (Are your parents at home?)
  • No. Mis padres no están en casa. (No. My parents are not home.)
  • ¿Siempre vas al supermercado los sábados? (Do you always go to the supermarket on Saturday?)
  • No, nunca voy al supermercado los sábados. (No, I never go to the supermarket on Saturdays.)

Below is a list of affirmative words an their corresponding negative pairs:

  • algo (something)
  • nada (nothing)
  • alguien (somebody)
  • nadie (nobody)
  • algún (-o, -a, -os, -as) (some, something)
  • ningún (-o, -a, -os, -as) (no, none)
  • siempre (always)
  • nunca (never) jamás (never, ever)
  • también (also)
  • tampoco (neither, not either)
  • o . . . o (either . . . or)
  • ni . . . ni (neither . . . nor)

Negative words can be used in many different ways in Spanish as opposed to English:

SpanishEnglish
Nadie come.Nobody eats.
Ella nunca corre.She never runs.
Agustín tampoco nada.Agustín doesn’t swim either.
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The negative words can also be used with the word “no,” following the verb. Note that unlike English, double negatives are acceptable in Spanish:

SpanishEnglish
No habla nadie.Nobody speaks.
Él no come nunca.He never eats.
Alfredo no baila tampoco.Alfredo doesn’t dance either.
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It is possible for three negative words to exist in the same sentence:

  • No como nada nunca.
  • I never eat anything.
  • Ella no come nada tampoco.
  • She doesn’t eat anything either.

It is even possible to have four negative words in the same sentence:

  • Yo no veo nunca a nadie tampoco.
  • I never see anybody either.

In Spanish, we do not usually use negative and affirmative words in the same sentence, as we do in English:

English

  • Ellen doesn’t want anything.
  •  Ellen doesn’t want nothing.

Spanish

  • Ellen no quiere nada.
  • Ellen no quiere algo.

When referring to a masculine noun, alguno and ninguno drop the -o

  • ¿Tenés algún libro?
  • No, no tengo ningún libro.

When using the singular form of a verb, ninguno(a) is usually used:

SpanishEnglish
¿Tenés algunos libros?No, no tengo ninguno.
¿Ténes algunas manzanas?No, no tengo ninguna.

When the noun that ninguno(a) modifies is plural, we also have to make ninguno(a) plural:

  • No me gusta que me hagan ningunas cosquillas.
  • I do not like that they tickle me at all.

In this example “ningunas” is used because “cosquillas” is normally used in plural form.


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