This post talks about how to form negative sentences in Spanish. Once you have read this post you should understand the Spanish equivalents of sentence which include words like:
- don’t/do not
- didn’t/did not
Main way of making sentences negative in Spanish
The most common way of making sentences negative in Spanish is by using the word ‘no‘. It is placed in front of the first verb in any sentence to make the whole sentence negative, for example:
- Positive Statement: Vivo en Londres = I live in London
- Negative Statement: No vivo en Londres = I do not live in London.
- Positive Statement: Quiero ir a Madrid = I want to go to Madrid.
- Negative Statement: No quiero ir a Madrid = I do not want to go to Madrid.
It does not matter which tense is being used, for example:
- Positive Statement: Fui a Madrid = I went to Madrid.
- Negative Statement: No fui a Madrid = I did not go to Madrid/I didn’t go to Madrid.
- Positive Statement: Iremos a Madrid = We will go to Madrid.
- Negative Statement: No iremos a Madrid = We will not go to Madrid/We won’t go to Madrid.
If a person answers a ‘Yes/No’ question negatively, you put ‘No, no’, for example:
- ¿Vives en Madrid? = Do you live in Madrid? (asking one friend)
- No, no vivo en Madrid. = No, I do not live in Madrid.
The first ‘No’ is answering ‘No’ in English. The second ‘no’ is making the verb negative (i.e. no vivo = I do not live).
There are a number of other possible negative structures, which I discuss below.
How to say ‘never’ in Spanish
To say ‘never’ in Spanish you put the word ‘no‘ in front of the first verb and put the word ‘nunca‘ after it, for example:
- No hablamos nunca = We never talk.
How to say ‘nobody’ in Spanish
Similarly, when you want to say ‘Nobody’ in a sentence you put ‘no’ in front of the first verb and add ‘nunca’ afterwards, for example:
- No vive nadie aquí = Nobody lives here.
On a side note, you should always use the ‘he/she’ verb ending when using saying nobody does something.
How to say ‘nothing’ in Spanish
When you want to say ‘nothing’ in a sentence you put ‘no‘ in front of the first verb and add ‘nada‘ afterwards, for example:
- No entiendo nada = I understand nothing
How to say ‘not a’/’not any’ in Spanish
When you want to say ‘not a’ or ‘not any’ in a sentence you put ‘no‘ before the first verb and before the noun:
- ningún for masculine singular nouns;:
- ninguna for feminine singular nouns;
- ningunos for masculine plural nouns; and
- ningunas for feminine plural nouns
- No hay ningún museo = There is not a museum. (‘museo’ is masculine and singular)
- No hay ninguna biblioteca = There is not a library. (‘biblioteca’ is feminine and singular)
- No hay ningunos libros = There are not any books (‘libros’ is masculine and plural)
- No hay ningunas mesas = There are not any tables (‘mesas’ is feminine and plural)
You may find it useful to know that in Spanish people usually stick to the singular form if it makes sense. People therefore say (e.g. ‘There is no table’ = No hay ninguna mesa instead of ‘There are no tables’ = No hay ningunas mesas).
Despite the above guidance, the ningún, ninguna etc. words are not strictly necessary, for example:
- No hay museo = There is no museum.
- No hay biblioteca = There is no library.
How to say ‘neither….nor’ in Spanish
To say ‘neither….nor’ you put ‘no‘ in front of the first verb then ‘ni‘ in front of the appropriate nouns, for example:
- No conozco ni Madrid ni Barcelona = I know neither Madrid nor Barcelona
Summary of Negative words in Spanish
- No = not, etc. (i.e. main word to make sentence negative)
- No….nadie = nobody (not anybody)
- No….nunca = never (not ever)
- No….nada = nothing (not anything)
- Ningún/Ninguna = no (not a/not any – masc. singular/fem. singular)
- Ningunos/Ningunas = no (not any – masc. plural/fem. plural)
- No…..ni….ni = neither….nor
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