Negative Sentences in Spanish

Welcome to our post about negative sentences in Spanish. 

In this lesson, we will learn the basics about how to construct negative sentences in Spanish, both the words we use and their position in the sentence.

We will go through the following points:

1. The word “no” in negative sentences

“No” is the most important word to construct negative sentences. Its usual place is right before the verb:

No leo muchos libros.
I don’t read many books.

Marta no es mi hermana.
Marta isn’t my sister.

¿Tú no has comido todavía?
You haven’t eaten yet?

However, if there are any Direct or Indirect Object or Reflexive Pronouns (“me”, “te”, “se”, “lo”…), we need to place “no” right before them:

No me gusta esta película.
I don’t like this film.

Manuel no se ha levantado.
Manuel hasn’t got up.

Ellos no me lo dan.
They don’t give it to me.


Using “no” twice to emphasize

If we wish to emphasize the negative meaning of the sentence, we can use “no” twice: the first time at the beginning before a comma, and the second one following the system already explained: 

No, mis amigos no saben bailar.
No, my friends don’t know how to dance

No, no me gusta pintar.
No, I don’t like painting.


2. Words “nada”, “nadie”, “ninguno” and “tampoco”

These are other words that are often included in negative sentences. Their meanings are:

  • nada = anything, nothing
  • nadie = anybody, nobody
  • ningún – ninguno/a/os/as = any / none
  • tampoco = either / neither

In general, when we include any of these words in a negative sentence, we have 2 Options where to place them: 

  1. Replacing “no” before the verb.
  2. After the verb, keeping “no” before the verb.

We will now read example sentences for each word, trying both options for each:

Nada

The following are two ways of saying “I don’t like anything”:

No me gusta nada.

Nada me gusta.

Nadie

Two ways of saying “You don’t know anybody?”:

¿No conoces a nadie?

¿A nadie conoces?

Ningún – Ninguno/a/os/as

Two ways of saying “We aren’t interested in any of them”:

No nos interesa ninguno.

Ninguno nos interesa.

Tampoco

Two ways of saying “We don’t have coffee either”:

No tenemos café tampoco.

Tampoco tenemos café.


3. Practice: A Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge!:

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