Indefinite and negative adjectives, pronouns or adverbs -los indefinidos in Spanish- are types of words that refer to persons, animals, things, etc., which are not specific or clearly defined, e.g. alguien (somebody), algo (something), alguna (some). Many indefinite are quantifies expressing greater or lesser degrees of imprecision, such as bastante (enough) or varios (several). Some of them can be completely negative e.g. nadie (nobody), nada (nothing)…
List of indefinite and negative words in Spanish
You can learn more about indefinite words clicking on the link.
Spanish negative examples
1. Double Negation. In Spanish, unlike English, all negative indicators in a negative sentence must be negative.
No ha visto a nadie desde hace cinco años (He hasn’t seen anyone for five years).
No oímos nada (We didn’t hear anything).
2. NUNCA and JAMÁS.
- Nunca means “never”, It is used in double negative constructions as well as on its own before the verb. Both constructions are equally acceptable to most native speakers.
No he visitado nunca el Museo del Prado (I have never visited the Prado).
Nunca he estados en San Sebastián (I have never been to San Sebastián).
- Nunca can combine with other negatives in a range of constructions.
Nunca ocurre nada en las obras de Samuel Beckett (Nothing ever happens in Samuel Beckett’s plays).
- Más que nunca, menos que nunca…. Comparative + que nunca:
Aquel día los niños se portaron peor que nunca (The children behaved worse than ever that day).
- Jamás is near-synonym of nunca. However, it is used less frequently and its register is slightly more formal and more dramatic, it is rarely used with “no”.
Jamás habían visto un accidente de carretera tan horroroso (They had never seen such a horrific road accident).
- Jamás cannot be used with comparisons to mean “ever”
- Note the emphatic expression nunca jamás (never ever)
No quiero volver a verla nunca jamás (I never want to see her ever again).
3. Ni means “neither” or “nor”, and is used with no in double negative constructions, often in the form of ni…ni, corresponding to the English “neither…(n)or”.
No nos han invitado a la boda ni a ti ni a mí (They haven’t invited either you or me to the wedding).
- However, if ni appears before the verbs, no is omitted in most varieties of modern Spanish.
Ni tú ni yo estamos invitados a la boda (Neither you nor I are invited to the wedding).
- Combined with word siquiera, ni has the emphatic meaning “not even”.
Ni siquiera mis padres sabían que me había tocado la lotería (Not even my parents knew that I had won the lottery).
Negative and indefinite words: exercises and practice
Now it is time to practice everything we have seen in this lesson with the activity below. Remember you can contact your tutor with any question you have about this topic. Don’t you have a Spanish online tutor yet?
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