Spanish Positive and Negative Words


Mastering the use of positive (affirmative) and negative words in Spanish is an integral step to becoming a more coherent, fluent-like speaker. This unit reviews many of the common words you will need.

yes or no

We use affirmative words to talk about indefinite situations or items and negative words to talk about negative situations. For example:

Affirmative word: I need something to clean up this spill. (indefinite item needed)

Negative word: There is no one here to help me clean this spill. (negative situation)

Take a look at the Spanish affirmative and negative words below:

Affirmative WordsNegative Words
algo – somethingnada – nothing
alguien – someonenadie – nobody
alguno/a/as/os, algún – a, one, any, someningún, ninguno/a – none
siempre – alwaysnunca, jamás – never
alguna vez – evernunca, jamás – never
también – alsotampoco – neither
o … o, either … orni … ni – neither … nor

*Note: When we use the words alguno and ninguno they must agree in gender with the noun they modify.

 When choosing between a negative and affirmative word, a helpful hint is to remember that if the word “no” has been used before the verb, a negative word must follow. In Spanish, this use of a double negative is not only permitted but required.

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Common European Framework of Reference for Languages

The CEFR is an international standard used to describe language ability. Here are specific details of the CEFR for this topic.

General Explanation:

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Specific Capabilities at this Level

I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.
Spoken Production:
I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.
Spoken Interaction:
I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I’m trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics.
I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.
I can recognize familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly.