Answering Spanish Questions in the Negative - dummies

Answering Spanish Questions in the Negative

By Gail Stein

Nunca, nadie, ninguno — the Spanish language contains lots of words to answer questions in the negative. These words (and some of their Spanish friends) can help you become a no-man (or -woman); the following sections show you how.

Using no

To make a sentence negative, you can put no before the conjugated verb. If the conjugated verb is preceded by a pronoun, put no before the pronoun. No is often repeated for emphasis:

  • ¿Tocas la guitarra? (Do you play the guitar?)

    (No,) No toco la guitarra. ([No,] I don’t play the guitar.)

  • ¿Debe estudiar los verbos ella? (Should she study the verbs?)

    (No,) Ella no los debe estudiar. ([No,] She shouldn’t study them.)

Using ni . . . ni

In a ni . . . ni (neither . . . nor) construction, the sentence usually begins with the word no. Each part of the ni . . . ni construction precedes the word or words being stressed. Each ni, therefore, may be used before a noun, an adjective, or an infinitive:

  • No nos gusta ni el café ni el té. (We don’t like coffee or tea.)

  • Su coche no es ni grande ni pequeño. (His car is neither big nor little.)

  • No puedo ni cocinar ni coser. (I can neither cook nor sew.)

Using nadie, nada, nunca, and jamás

You use the negatives nadie (nobody), nada (nothing), nunca (never), and jamás (never) after comparisons. Note that the English translation of a Spanish negative equivalent may have an opposite meaning:

  • Mi madre cocina mejor que nadie. (My mother cooks better than anyone.)

  • Ella conduce más que nunca. (She drives better than ever.)

  • Quieren visitar España más que nada. (They want to visit Spain more than anything.)

Using ninguno

When used before a masculine singular noun, ninguno (no, none, [not] any) drops the final -o and adds an accent to the u (ningún). The feminine singular form is ninguna. No plural forms exist. Here’s an example of its usage:

  • ¿Tiene algunos problemas? (Do you have any problems?)

  • No tengo problema ninguno. (I don’t have a problem.)

  • No tengo ningún problema. (I don’t have a problem.)

When used as an adjective, you can replace ninguno/a with alguno/a, which is a more emphatic negative. This construction then follows the noun: No tiene ninguna mascota./No tiene mascota alguna. (He doesn’t have a pet.)