Grammar Latest Posts Linguistics

Learn Some Common Negative Words in Spanish

Today, we’ll look at how to deny something or express disagreement when communicating in Spanish. Let’s begin by listing the most common negative words and their translations: 

Negative WordsTranslations
NadaNothing
NadieNobody, no one
Ninguno/aNone, any
Nunca, jamásNever
Ni…niNeither…nor
Ni siquieraNot even
SinWithout
TampocoNeither


Using double negation

In Spanish, it’s very common to find a double negation in the same sentence. This happens when we find two negative words in combination with the verb, with usually one of these being “no.” This way, the sentence gains more emphasis in its purpose to convey a negative meaning or denial. Take a look at the following two examples:

Tip: Click on any of the linked sentences in this article (while on a mobile) to add them directly to your Fluent Forever app, so you can study them later. Don’t have our app yet? Download it here!

Note: In English, it is grammatically incorrect to use double negation. In the above case, instead of “he didn’t say nothing,” the correct usage would be “he didn’t say anything.”

Mmm pie!
Image by Sabine Van Erp from Pixabay

Note: In English, we use “ever” instead of “never” because there is already one negative phrase at the beginning of the sentence (“nobody.”)


Practice with additional examples

Note: Here, ni siquiera (not even) manifests disappointment within a negative context. Grammatically it acts as an adverb, so its positive variant or antonym would be incluso (even).

Note: In the above sentence, ninguno (none) fulfills the function of an indefinite pronoun. If found next to a noun it acts as an adjective, in which case it has to agree in gender and number, e.g. No tengo ninguna amiga (I don’t have any friends).

Note: The negative expression ni…ni (neither…nor) acts mostly as a double negation, and is always preceded by “no + verb.” We use it exclusively to deny two or more terms.

We can agree that now you’re well equipped to disagree, so keep practicing those negatives!

You can also check out some special negative expressions in this article.


Written by Nicole Oliveira

Enjoy what you're reading?
Sign up for more

Think In Any New Language

GET THE APP