Notes from ¿Qué tal? – Expressing Negation: Indefinite and Negative Words

Here is a list of the most common indefinite and negative words in Spanish.

algo – something, anything
alguien – someone, anyone
algún (alguno/a/os/as) – some, any
siempre – always
también – also
nada – nothing, not anything
nadie – no one, nobody, not anybody
nunca, jamás – never
ningún (ninguno/a) – no, none, not any
tampoco – neither, not either

Pay particular attention to the following aspects of using negative words.

  • When a negative word comes after the main verb, Spanish requires that another negative word–usually no–be placed before the verb. When a negative word precedes the verb, no is not used.
  • ¿No estudia nadie?
    ¿Nadie estudia?

    No estás en clase nunca.
    Nunca estás en clase.

    No quieren cenar aqui tampoco.
    Tampoco quieren cenar aqui. – Tey don’t want to have dinner here, either.

  • The adjectives alguno and ninguno shorten to algún and ningún, respectively before a masculine singular noun–just as uno shortens to un, bueno to buen. and malo to mal. The plural forms ningunos and ningunas are rarely used.
  • ¿Hay algunos recados para mí hoy? –Lo siento, pero hoy no hay ningún recado para Ud.
    Are there any messages for me today? –I’m sorry, but there arc no messages for you today. (There is not a single message for you today.)

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