Spanish Grammar Tip

La negación

When engaged in a conversation with somebody, we resort to negatives to deny what is being said, express a dissenting statement, communicate rejection or opposition to our speaker. La negación (negative) in Spanish presents similar traits to when employed in English, although some significant differences also exist.

No is the negative adverb par excellence. It precedes verbs and object pronouns (both direct and indirect).

No quiero ir a la fiesta de Ana contigo. → I don’t want to go to Ana’s party with you.

No le hagas caso a Luis. → Don’t mind Luis.

No las he visto en todo el día. → I haven’t seen them all day long.

No can also go before a given element within the sentence when the speaker intends to make specific reference to it.

No todo el mundo opina lo mismo que tú. → Not everybody thinks the same as you.

The adverbs nunca, jamás (both meaning never) and nunca más (never again) along with the pronouns ninguno, nadie, nada (none, nobody, nothing) and adjectives ningún/a/os/as (any) follow the verb when another negative appears at the beginning of the sentence (usually no)as Spanish allows double negatives.

No me consideró nunca su amigo. → He never thought of me as his friend.

No he vuelto a saber de él nunca más. → I’ve never heard of him ever again.

No bebo nada desde anoche. → I haven’t drunk anything since last night.

No me ha llegado ninguna carta. → I haven’t received any letter.

However, when negative adverbs, pronouns or conjunctions start the sentence, no is not needed.

Nunca me consideró su amigo. → He never thought of me as his friend.

Jamás he vuelto a saber de él. → I’ve never heard of him again.

Additionally, pronouns ninguno/a, nadie and nada can be paired with adverbs nunca and jamás at the beginning of the sentence.

Nunca nadie me ha querido tanto. → Nobody has ever loved me so much.

Nunca nada me había sorprendido así. → Nothing had ever surprised me like this.

Similarly, in Spanish multiple negatives are grammatically correct.

No hizo nunca nada malo a nadie. → She’s never done anything bad to anyone.

Tampoco (neither/nor/either) is an adverb used to deny a concept after a similar one has already been denied, often used in short answers.

Los animales no preguntan y tampoco critican. → Animals don’t ask questions, nor they judge.

Si tú no sales, yo tampoco→ If you don’t go out, I don’t either.

Sin azúcar para mí. – Para mí tampoco. → – No sugar for me. – Neither for me.

Finally, ni (nor) is a negative conjunction used to link two or more negative ideas, often doubled.

No me gusta el rojo ni el blanco. → I don’t like red nor white.

No me gusta ni el rojo ni el blanco. → I don’t like red nor white.

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