Alternate Forms of Negation

Different nuances of negation are achieved by using the negative expressions below.

no … nunca never, not ever
todavía no not yet
no … nada not anything
no … a nadie not anyone
no … más ya no not any longer
no … para nada not at all

Nadie and nada are negative pronouns; they may function as the subject or object of a sentence, or as the object of a preposition. In the sentence below, nadie is the object of the preposition con.  Note that both Spanish and English negate the main verb of the sentence with no and didn’t but Spanish uses the negative indefinite pronoun nadie whereas English uses the positive anyone.

Nosotros éramos neutrales, o sea, no nos metíamos con nadie.
We were neutral, in other words, we didn’t mess with anyone.

Ni conveys the idea of not even or absolutely no, not a single.

Pues yo me acuerdo desde que entré en la preparatoria, en la high school, yo no sabía ni qué quería estudiar.
Well, I remember since I started high school, I didn’t even know what I wanted to study.

Nini is commonly translated as neither…nor. It is used in a similar way as the English expression. Note, however, that in Spanish the verb has to be preceded by no.

Básicamente descubrí que no es ni mejor ni peor que mi cultura, nada más distinta y la acepto.
Basically I discovered that it is neither better nor worse than my culture, just different and I accept it.

Double Negative

Spanish, unlike English uses double negatives, as seen as several sentences above. Compare the example sentence below and its translation. Both Spanish and English negate the main verb of the sentence with no and didn’t, but Spanish uses a negative indefinite pronoun nada whereas English uses a positive one at all.

Al principio no me impresionó nada, pero después era tan buena gente que, ay, me dio el flechazo y allí salió.
At first he didn’t impress me at all but later he was such a good person that, oh, Cupid’s arrow hit me and it worked.