Say No, Not, Never

So far, you've learned to talk about things in a positive way.

In this activity you'll learn how to say something negative in Spanish.  Negative words are words like no, never, nobody, neither, etc. 

 English Positive Words & Negative Opposites  Spanish Positive Words & Negative Opposites
 someone, anyone, somebody, anybody
 no one, nobody
 something, anything
 one, any, some
 uno, alguno
 also, too
 either / neither
 either ... or
 neither ... nor
 o ... o
 ni ... ni 

Why are you learning this now?

The most important reason is that English rule and Spanish rule for negative words are completely different.

There is only one English RuleOnly use 1 negative word per phrase.
Example:  Jordan doesn't ever eat meat.  OR   Jordan never eats meat.   NOT  Jordan never doesn't eat meat.

There are 2 Spanish Rules
#1: Don't mix negative and positive words.

In Spanish, double, triple, even quadruple negatives are ok. "I don't see nobody nowhere never" is fine.

What's NOT ok is mixing a negative word with a positive word. A positive word is a word that would start with "one," "any" or "some," "ever," or "every."

So  "I don't see anybody anywhere ever" is right in English and wrong in Spanish.  
"I don't see nobody nowhere never" is correct in Spanish.  (Replace the 3 positive words with their opposites).


No veo a alguien
I don't see anybody           is wrong.

No veo a nadie
I don't see nobody             is right

No me gusta algo en el menú
I don't like anything on the menú       is wrong.

No me gusta nada en el menú
I don't like nothing on the menu         is right.

No ves algunos programas de tele las noches de semana
You don't watch any TV shows on weeknights                               is wrong.

No ves ningún programa de tele las noches de semana
You don't watch none TV shows on weeknights                             is right.
#2: You must use at least one negative word before you get to the verb.

Veo ningún problema aquí  
I see no problem here                  is wrong.

No veo ningún problema aquí
I don't see no problem here          is right.

A Daniela le gusta hacer nada los fines de semana
Daniela likes to do nothing on weekends                                   is wrong.

A Daniela no le gusta hacer nada los fines de semana
Daniela doesn't like to do nothing on weekends                        is right.

That means that sometimes there are 2 ways to say something in Spanish that are both ok:

No hay nadie aquí.
There's not nobody here. 
Nadie está aquí.
Nobody's here.

In both cases, we've obeyed rules #1 and #2, so both sentences are correct and mean the same thing.

Daniel no es antipático nunca.
Daniel isn't mean never.
Daniel nunca es antipático.
Daniel never is mean.

Again, we've obeyed rules #1 and #2 in both cases, so both sentences are fine.

The negative words that can be put in front of verbs are:
jamás (means the same as nunca)
ni... ni

Sometimes, 'no' will be used in questions whose purpose is just to confirm our own opinions. 

Te llamas Leticia, ¿no?
Your name's Leticia, right?

¿No es verdad?
¿Isn't that right?

Quiz Yourself!
Don't see the exercise below? You can find it here

Watch the instructional videos on these words, below.