Easy Learning Spanish

Negatives - Easy Learning Grammar Spanish

What is a negative?
A negative question or statement is one which contains a word such as not, never or nothing and is used to say that something is not happening, is not true or is absent.

1   no

  • In English, we often make sentences negative by adding don’t, doesn’t or didn’t before the verb. In Spanish you simply add no (meaning not) before the main verb.
Positive Negative
Trabaja.He works.No trabaja.He doesn’t work.
Comen.They eat.No comen.They don’t eat.
Salió.She went out.No salió.She didn’t go out.
Lo he visto.I’ve seen it.No lo he visto.I haven’t seen it.
Sabe nadar.He can swim.No sabe nadar.He can’t swim.
TipNEVER translate don’t, doesn’t, didn’t using hacer.
  • Where there is a subject (the person doing the action) in the sentence, put no between the subject and the verb.
Juan no vive aquí.Juan doesn’t live here.
Mi hermana no lee mucho.My sister doesn’t read much.
Mis padres no han llamado.My parents haven’t called.
Él no lo comprenderá.He won’t understand.
  • Note that the Spanish word no also means no in answer to a question.
  • Where the subject is only shown by the verb ending, no goes before the verb.
No tenemos tiempo.We haven’t got time.
Todavía no ha llegado.He hasn’t arrived yet.
No hemos comido.We haven’t eaten.
No llevará mucho tiempo.It won’t take long.
  • If there are any object pronouns (for example, me, te, lo, los, le and so on) before the verb, no goes BEFORE them.
No lo he visto.I didn’t see it.
No me gusta el fútbol.I don’t like football.
  • In phrases consisting only of not and another word, such as not now or not me, the Spanish no usually goes AFTER the other word.
Ahora no.Not now.
Yo no.Not me.
Todavía no.Not yet.
  • Some phrases have a special construction in Spanish.
Espero que sí.I hope so.Espero que no.I hope not.
Creo que sí.I think so.Creo que no.I don’t think so.

2   Other negative words

  • In Spanish, you can form negatives using pairs and groups of words, as you can in English.
  • no ... nunca       never or not ... ever
No la veo nunca.I never see her or
I don’t ever see her.
  • no ... jamás       never or not ... ever
No la veo jamás.I never see her or
I don’t ever see her.
  • no ... nada       nothing or not ... anything
No ha dicho nada.He has said nothing or
He hasn’t said anything.
  • no ... nadie       nobody or not ... anybody
No hablaron con nadie.They spoke to nobody or
They didn’t speak to anybody.
  • no ... tampoco       not ... either
Yo no la vi. – Yo tampoco.I didn’t see her. – Neither did I.
or I didn’t either. or Nor did I.
A él no le gusta el café y a mí tampoco.He doesn’t like coffee and neither do I.
  • no ... ni ... ni       neither ... nor
No vinieron ni Carlos ni Ana.Neither Carlos nor Ana came.
  • no ... más       no longer or not ... any more
No te veré más.I won’t see you any more.
  • no ... ningún/ninguna + noun       no or not ... any
No tiene ningún interés en ir.She has no interest in going.
  • Most of these negative words can also be used without no provided they come before any verb.
Nunca or Jamás la veo.I never see her.
Nadie vino.No one came.
Ni Pedro ni Pablo fuman.Neither Pedro nor Pablo smokes.
¿Quién te ha dicho eso? – Nadie.Who told you that? - No one.
¿Qué has hecho? – Nada.What have you done? – Nothing.
  • Sometimes negative expressions combine with each other.
Nunca hacen nada.They never do anything.
Nunca viene nadie.No one ever comes.
No lo haré nunca más.I’ll never do it again.
No veo nunca a nadie.I never see anyone.

3   Word order with negatives

  • In English you can put words like never and ever between have/has/had and the past participle, for example, We have never been to Argentina. You should never separate he, has, ha, había and so on from the past participle of the verb in Spanish.
Nunca hemos estado en Argentina.We have never been to Argentina.
Nunca había visto nada así.I had never seen anything like this.
Ninguno de nosotros había esquiado nunca.None of us had ever skied.
Key points
  • The Spanish word no is equivalent to both no and not in English.
  • You can make sentences negative by putting no before the verb (and before any object pronouns that are in front of the verb).
  • Other negative words also exist, such as nunca, nadie and nada. Use them in combination with no, with the verb sandwiched in between. Most of them also work on their own provided they go before any verb.
  • Never insert negative words, or anything else, between he, has, ha, había and so on and the past participle.

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