Negative Sentences in Spanish – Learn and Practice

In this lesson, we are going to learn the basics about how to form negative sentences.

In order to to that, we will study the negative words we use and where to place them in the sentence.

At the end you’ll find a Quiz and an Exercise for practice.

“no”

no is the most important word to form negative sentences.

Its usual place is right before the verb:

Yo no leo muchos libros.
I don’t read many books.

Marta no es mi hermana.
Marta is not my sister.

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


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

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

Ellos no te conocen.
They don’t know you.


Using “no” twice for more emphasis

If we wish to emphasize the negative nature of a sentence, we can use “no” twice: once before a comma, and a second time in its usual place:

No, mis amigos no saben bailar.
No, my friends can’t dance.

No, no quiero pintar.
No, I don’t want to paint.

Other negative words

The following words often appear in negative sentences:

  • nada = anything, nothing
  • nadie = anybody, nobody
  • nunca = never
  • ningún / ninguno / ninguna = any, none, not one
  • tampoco = either, neither

In general we have 2 options for placing these words:

– Option 1: Some place after the verb, keeping no before the verb
– Option 2: Replacing no before the verb


Let’s read some examples. For each negative word, we will show the 2 options where we can place it:

nada

Meaning = anything, nothing

Two ways of saying “I don’t like anything”:

No me gusta nada.

Nada me gusta.



nadie

Meaning = anybody, nobody

Two ways of saying “Nobody has a pencil”:

No tiene nadie un lápiz.

Nadie tiene un lápiz.



nunca

Meaning = never, ever

Two ways of saying “I never drink alcohol”:

Yo no bebo alcohol nunca.

Yo nunca bebo alcohol.



ningún / ninguno / ninguna

Meaning = any, non, not one

  • ningún is masculine. We can only use it right before a noun.
  • ninguno is also masculine, but we can’t use it right before a noun.
  • ninguna is feminine.

Two ways of saying “I don’t want any book”:

No quiero ningún libro.

Ningún libro quiero.


Two ways of saying “There are many books, but none interests me”:

Hay muchos libros, pero no me interesa ninguno.

Hay muchos libros, pero ninguno me interesa.


Two ways of saying “I haven’t read any page”:

No he leído ninguna página.

Ninguna página he leído.


Note: we also have the plural forms ningunos and ningunas, but we seldom use them. We only use them before a couple of nouns that are always plural, for example “gafas” (“ningunas gafas” = any glasses).



tampoco

Meaning: either, neither

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

Nosotros no tenemos café tampoco.

Nosotros tampoco tenemos café.

Practice

Quiz

Take this short Quiz to test your knowledge about negative sentences in Spanish:


Exercise

Fill the gaps with the necessary words to form negative sentences. Click on the gray spaces to see the solutions:

1) No sabes nada.
Yo don’t know anything.

2) Nadie quiere dormir.
Nobody wants to sleep.

3) No han usado ninguna bolsa.
They haven’t used any bag.

4) No conozco ningún museo. No conozco ninguno.
I don’t know of any museums. I don’t know of any.

5) María no quiere jugar.
María doesn’t want to play.

6) Yo tampoco quiero.
I don’t want either.

7) Nueva York es la ciudad que nunca duerme.
New York is the city that never sleeps.

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