Introduction to Negation


Negation from the Spanish in Texas Corpus

Negation is a grammatical term for the contradiction of some or all of the meaning of an affirmative (positive) sentence. In English, a sentence is commonly negated by inserting a single negative word (not, don’t, didn’t, won’t, etc.) into the appropriate place in the sentence. In Spanish, a sentence can be negated by inserting one or two words.

Basic Negation

To negate an affirmative sentence, no is placed before the conjugated verb. Donde yo me crecí, no había televisión.
Where I grew up, there was not television.

Alternate Forms of Negation

There are many other Spanish words and expressions that can be used to negate a positive statement besides the basic form nosuch as nunca, nadie, jamás, ningún, etc. These negative words can be used to contradict the verb as well as other parts of a sentence. The following example uses nunca to negate the first clause and no to negate the second. Nunca teníamos radio, o sea, no escuchaba noticias.
We never had radio, in other words, I didn’t hear the news.