Answering “Yes” and “No” in Spanish

Although answering “yes” in Spanish is pretty straightforward, answering “no” can be another story, complete with double negatives and a host of new negative words. The following sections break down the simple “yes” and more complicated “no” constructions.

Answering “yes”

Saying “yes” in Spanish is easy. You use (see) to answer yes to a question:

  • ¿Quieres salir conmigo? (Do you want to go out with me?)

  • Sí, con mucho gusto. (Yes, I’d be delighted.)

Answering “no”

The most common negative response to a question is a plain and simple no (no, not). Other common negatives, which you may or may not use in conjunction with no, include those listed in the following table.

Common Spanish and English Negatives
Spanish Negative English Equivalent
ni . . . ni (nee) neither . . . nor
tampoco (tahm-poh-koh) neither, not either
jamás, nunca (Hah-mahs; noon-kah) never, (not) ever
nadie (nah-deeeh) no one, nobody
ninguno(a) (neen-goon-oh) no, none, (not) any
nada (nah-dah) nothing

Here are a few points to keep in mind when answering negatively in Spanish:

  • In Spanish, you generally place negative words before the conjugated verb:

    Nunca comprendo lo que Miguel dice. (I never understand what Miguel says.)

    Unlike in English, double negatives are perfectly acceptable and sometimes even necessary in common Spanish usage. Some sentences may even contain three negatives! If no is one of the negatives, it precedes the conjugated verb. When no is omitted, the other negative precedes the conjugated verb. Here are some examples of both:

    • No lo necesito tampoco./Tampoco lo necesito. (I don’t need it either.)

    • No fumo nunca./Nunca fumo. (I never smoke.)

    • No le escucha a nadie nunca./Nunca le escucha a nadie. (He never listens to anyone.)

  • When you have two verbs in the negative answer, place no before the conjugated verb and put the other negative word after the second verb: No puedo comer ninguna comida picante. (I can’t eat any spicy food.)

  • You may also place negative words before the infinitive of the verb: Él prefiere no ver a nadie. (He doesn’t want to see anyone.)

  • You may use negatives alone (without no):

    ¿Qué buscas? (What do you want?)

    Nada. (Nothing.)

  • A negative preceded by a preposition retains that preposition when placed before the verb: No habla de nadie./De nadie habla. (He doesn’t speak about anyone.)

blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement

Inside Dummies.com

Dummies.com Sweepstakes

Win $500. Easy.