¡No Pasa Nada! Learn the Essential Affirmative and Negative Words and Phrases in Spanish
Think back to the first ten words you learned in Spanish.
I’m willing to bet that sí (yes) and no (no) were among them, right?
These two little words are incredibly useful.
Accompanied by lots of nodding, vigorous head shaking and hand gestures, they can actually get you pretty far in the Spanish-speaking world!
But sí and no are only two of a long list of useful affirmative and negative Spanish words, such as with and without, anybody and nobody, either and neither, and many others.
Read on for a run-down of all the affirmative and negative words you need to speak Spanish like a pro. You’ll also learn 14 useful phrases to employ affirmative and negative words in everyday Spanish conversation.
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The Complete Walkthrough of Affirmative and Negative Words in Conversational Spanish
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Spanish Affirmative Words
English meaning: Yes
Make sure to include the accent mark above the i. Otherwise, you’ll end up with the word si (if).
¿A ti te gustan las naranjas?
Sí, me gustan mucho.
Do you like oranges?
Yes, I like them a lot.
Todo, Toda, Todos, Todas
English meanings: All, everything, entire
Use the word todo to refer to the general concept of “everything” or “all.”
If you want to talk about all of a specific thing, use todo, toda, todos or todas, plus the corresponding article el, la, los or las, plus the object. Just make sure to correctly match the gender and number! Todo and its variants can refer to people or objects. For example:
Todo el tiempo (the entire time)
Toda la noche (the entire night)
Todos los vestidos (all of the dresses)
Todas las mochilas (all of the backpacks)
When the noun that you’re referring to is already known, you can simply use todo, toda, todos or todas. For example:
¿Qué vestido prefieres?
No sé, ¡me gustan todos!
What dress do you prefer?
I don’t know, I like them all!
English meaning: Something, anything
¿Quieres algo? (Do you want something/anything?)
Algún, Alguna, Algunos, Algunas
English meaning: Some
This word works grammatically just like todo, but instead of meaning “all” it means “some.”
Like todo, it can refer to people or objects.
Note that with algún and its variants, you shouldn’t use the article (el, la, los, las) before the noun.
Algún día (someday)
Alguna niña (some girl)
Algunos ordenadores (some computers)
Algunas piedras (some rocks)
English meaning: Someone, somebody
Alguien is a similar word to algo, except it specifically refers to people.
Grammatically, use alguien in a sentence in the same way that you’d use somebody’s name. For example, to say “I’m waiting for Luis,” you’d say “Estoy esperando a Luis.” To speak more generally, you could say “Estoy esperando a alguien” (I’m waiting for somebody).
English meaning: Always
In Spanish, most adverbs of frequency come after the verb. However, siempre and a few others come before the verb.
Siempre llego a casa antes de las 11. (I always arrive home before 11:00.)
English meaning: Either…or
The word o by itself means “or.” But when you have a sentence that uses the word o twice, the first o frequently means “either” and the second means “or.”
O vamos al supermercado antes de las 9 o tendremos que cenar fuera de casa. (Either we go to the supermarket before 9:00, or we’ll have to eat dinner out.)
English meaning: Also, as well, too
A mí me gusta jugar al fútbol.
¡A mí también!
I like playing soccer.
English meaning: With
You can use con with a name or with a noun. Note that con has three special forms: contigo (with you), conmigo (with me) and consigo (with him/her/them).
Hoy voy a salir con Marta. (Today I’m going to go out with Marta.)
Marta va a salir conmigo. (Marta is going to go out with me.)
Spanish Negative Words
English meaning: No, don’t
When used as a response to a question or request, no means “no” just like in English.
When used before a verb, no signals that the verb is negative, just like the English word “don’t.”
¿Quieres venir conmigo? No, gracias. (Do you want to come with me? No, thanks.)
No queremos ir contigo. (We don’t want to go with you.)
English meaning: Nothing
Use this verb as you’d use algo, but in the negative form.
Nada va a cambiar. (Nothing is going to change.)
English meaning: Nobody
The opposite of alguien, nadie is used exclusively to refer to people.
A nadie le gusta la comida de ese restaurante. (Nobody likes the food at that restaurant.)
Ningún, Ninguno, Ninguna, Ningunos, Ningunas
English meaning: None, no more, any
To express the general concepts “none,” “no more” and “any more,” use ninguno.
No tengo ninguno más. (I don’t have any more.)
Like with algún or todo, you can also use ningún, ninguna, ningunos and ningunas along with other nouns. Note here that ningún is used before masculine singular nouns. As with algún, don’t use articles (el, la, los, las).
No quiero ningún postre. (I don’t want any dessert.)
No tengo ninguna duda. (I don’t have any doubt.)
Ningunos and ningunas are especially tricky. We don’t use them with actual plural nouns, but with special plural nouns which have a singular meaning, in emphatic negative sentences or with expressive plurals:
No tengo ningunas gafas con esa forma. (I don’t have any glasses with that shape.)
Ya no somos ningunos niños. (We aren’t any kids anymore.)
No tengo ningunas ganas. (I don’t have any desire.)
English meaning: Never
Both of these words, nunca and jamás, separately mean “never” in Spanish. For extra emphasis, you can use them together: nunca jamás (never ever).
Yo nunca voy a esa tienda. (I never go to that store.)
Nunca jamás volveré a su casa. (I’ll never, ever go back to his house.)
English meaning: Neither…nor
The Spanish word ni on its own means something like the English “not even.” But a sentence with two instances of the word ni usually means “neither…nor.”
Take, for example, the Spanish proverb Lo olvidado, ni agradecido ni pagado (Forgotten things, neither appreciated nor repaid).
English meaning: Neither
Tampoco is the opposite of the word también. Use it to agree with someone, but when speaking in the negative.
A mí no me gustan los deportes.
A mí tampoco.
I don’t like sports.
English meaning: Without
This false friend has nothing to do with acts against God. (“Sin” is pecado, if you were curious.) Sin in Spanish simply means “without.”
Quiero una hamburguesa sin mayonesa. (I want a hamburger without mayonnaise.)
The Spanish Double Negative
Many Spanish sentences that use negative words involve the use of double negatives. Take, for example, the following sentence:
No digo nada. (I don’t say anything.)
This phrase contains two negative words: no and nada. Technically, it translates to: “I don’t say nothing.”
Speaking like this may feel awkward at first for English speakers because double negatives are considered grammatically incorrect in English. However, in Spanish, if you have the word no before a verb, you frequently need to add a corresponding negative word after the verb.
No había nadie allí. (There wasn’t anybody there.)
Ella no va nunca a ese restaurante. (She never goes to that restaurant.)
If, on the other hand, the negative word comes before the verb, you usually don’t need the double negative.
Nunca va a ese restaurante. (She never goes to that restaurant.)
Of course, there are also cases in which you’ll need to use two negative words in the same sentence. This, also, is completely permissible in Spanish, even though it may feel awkward because it’s grammatically incorrect in English.
Nadie viene nunca a mi casa. (Nobody ever comes to my house.)
Yo nunca he comido ningún tipo de carne. (I’ve never eaten any kind of meat.)
Spanish even dares to go beyond the double negative. Read the complete guide to Spanish negation here!
14 Useful Spanish Expressions Using Affirmative and Negative Words
1. Todo el mundo
English meaning: Everyone
Although todo el mundo translates directly to “all the world,” it doesn’t necessarily refer to the entire world’s population. Instead, use it to colloquially say “everyone” in a variety of contexts.
Todo el mundo cree que deberías pedirle perdón. (Everyone thinks you should say you’re sorry.)
2. De toda la vida
English meaning: Typical, everyday, traditional
To say that something is de toda la vida (of the whole life) is to say that it’s something traditional, typical or regular. It can apply to people as well as to objects.
Es un plato típico de toda la vida. (It’s a traditional dish.)
3. Algo así
English meaning: Something like that
Use this phrase in the way that you’d use the English phrase “something like that.”
¿Compramos una pizza o algo así para cenar? (Should we buy a pizza or something like that for dinner?)
4. Falta algo
English meaning: Something’s missing / It needs something
The word falta in this phrase is the present tense conjugation of the verb faltar (to lack).
La sopa está rica, pero le falta algo. Echa más sal. (The soup is good, but it’s missing something. Add more salt.)
5. Los/las de siempre
English meaning: The regulars / The regular crowd
Los/las de siempre literally translates to “those of always.” Use this lovely expression to refer to your pandilla (group, gang) of friends—the people you’ve known forever or the ones you typically hang out with.
¿Quiénes vienen a la fiesta?
Pues, Gloria, Clara, Alba… las de siempre.
Who’s coming to the party?
Well, Gloria, Clara, Alba… the regular crowd.
6. Hasta siempre
English meaning: Until the end of time / Until forever
This emotional Spanish expression, which directly translates as “until always,” doesn’t quite have an adequate English translation. You can use it as a dramatic farewell to somebody you care about but don’t think you’ll ever see again.
¡Hasta siempre, Diego! ¡Nunca te olvidaré! (Until forever, Diego! I’ll never forget you!)
7. En algún momento
English meaning: Sometime / At some point / Eventually
To talk about an indefinite moment in the future, use the colloquial expression en algún momento.
¿Dónde está Paula?
¿Quién sabe? En algún momento vendrá.
Who knows? She’ll show up at some point.
8. ¿Hay alguien?
English meaning: Is anyone here? / Is anyone there?
This phrase, which literally translates to “Is there someone?” evokes horror movies, creepy sounds in the other room and protagonists peering around corners to make sure they’re alone.
Less dramatically, you can use it when you come home from work to a seemingly empty house, or when you have a bad telephone connection and you’re trying to figure out if the other person can hear you.
¿Hola? ¿Hay alguien? ¡No escucho nada! (Hello? Is anyone there? I can’t hear anything!)
9. Ni de lejos
English meaning: Not by a long shot / Nowhere near / Not even close
Use this phrase (direct translation: “not even from far”) just as you would use the English “not by a long shot.”
Estos no son ni de lejos los mejores churros de Sevilla. (These aren’t even close to being the best churros in Seville.)
10. Ni de coña / Ni de broma
English meaning: No way / Not a chance / not even as a joke.
Broma is a general word for a joke or prank, and in colloquial Spanish, coña also means joke. Hence, the phrases ni de coña and ni de broma mean “not even as a joke!” They can also be used as a forceful or aggressive way of saying “absolutely not!”
No diría eso nunca, ¡ni de coña! (I would never say that, not even as a joke!)
No voy al baile con él, ¡ni de coña! (I’m not going to the dance with him, not a chance!)
An equivalent expression, used in the rioplatense Spanish of Argentina, is ¡ni en pedo! (Not even drunk!)
11. No tiene nada que ver con…
English meaning: That’s got nothing to do with…
This phrase translates to “it’s got nothing to see,” but don’t be fooled—you can use it the same way you’d use the English phrase “that’s got nothing to do with…” For example, you might exclaim it angrily in an argument if someone brings up an irrelevant fact.
You can also use it when comparing two dissimilar things, to emphasize how incomparable they are.
¡El comportamiento de mi madre no tiene nada que ver con lo que estamos discutiendo! (My mother’s behavior hasn’t got anything to do with what we’re arguing about!)
La comida de México no tiene nada que ver con la comida de Argentina. (Mexican food is completely dissimilar to Argentinian food.)
12. No tiene ninguna gracia
English meaning: That’s not funny at all
In Spanish, tener gracia (to have grace) also means “to be funny” or “to be pleasing.” In this case, then, no tiene ninguna gracia would be a strong way to say “that’s not funny at all.”
Ese chiste no tiene ninguna gracia. (That joke isn’t funny at all.)
13. Ni una sola vez
English meaning: Not even once
This phrase translates to “not even one single time,” and you can use it to refuse or deny something effusively.
No he hablado mal de ella ni una sola vez. (I’ve never said anything bad about her, not even once.)
You can also use ni una sola… or ni un solo… with a variety of nouns at the end of the sentence to mean “not even one single…” Just make sure you correctly match the gender of the noun you’re using!
No me ha dicho ni una sola palabra. (He hasn’t even said a single word to me.)
14. No pasa nada
English meaning: Don’t worry / It’s okay
This highly useful phrase, which literally means “nothing happens,” can be used to comfort, excuse or reassure someone. Use it as a response to “I’m sorry,” to comfort someone who’s worried or just to express that something isn’t really important.
No pasa nada si no puedes venir a la cena. (Don’t worry if you can’t make it to the dinner.)
Affirmative and negative Spanish words go far beyond sí and no.
Study these 14 phrases to expand your vocabulary and learn to correctly use affirmative and negative words in casual conversation!
Download: This blog post is available as a convenient and portable PDF that you can take anywhere. Click here to get a copy. (Download)