Indefinite Words in Spanish

Instructor: Ashley Zehel

Ashley has a M.A. in Spanish as well as a B.S. in Foreign Language Education. She has taught K-12 and now teaches college level.

In this lesson, you'll learn how to use indefinite words when referring to unknown nouns in Spanish. You'll also find some examples of these indefinite words and see how they're used in sentences.

Understanding Indefinite Words

In Spanish, just as in English, indefinite words refer to unspecified nouns. When learning Spanish, they can come in handy when you can't think of the name of that person or thing.

Common Indefinite Words

Here are some common indefinite words in Spanish.

Indefinite Word Definition Spanish English
Algo Something, anything ¿Quieres algo para tomar? Do you want something to drink?
Alguien Someone, somebody, anybody Alguien está cantando. Someone is singing.
Algún/alguno/a/os/as Some, any ¿Tomas alguna clase de español este semestre? Are you taking any Spanish classes this semester?
O...o Either...or Ella prefiere o el café o el té. She prefers either coffee or tea.
Siempre Always De niño, siempre jugaba al fútbol. As a child, he always played soccer.
También Some, a Ellos estudian historia. Yo también. They study history. I do too. / Me too.

Algún/alguno/a/os/as has to match in gender and number with the noun. If placed before a singular masculine noun, it will be shortened to algún.

Spanish English
A algunas personas no les gusta la pizza. Some people don't like pizza.
Algunos estudiantes escuchan música mientras estudian. Some students listen to music while they study.
-¿Tienes algún amigo que hable español? Sí, tengo alguno. Do you have a/any friend that speaks Spanish? Yes, I have one.

Indefinite Words and the Subjunctive

Whether you are familiar with the subjunctive mood or not, it is used regularly with indefinite words, due to the uncertainty of something or someone existing.

To form the present subjunctive:

  • Use the yo form of a verb in the present indicative tense.
  • Remove the -o ending.
  • Add the opposite ending according to the subject, such as -ar or -er. For example, if the verb has an -ar ending, you would use the -er endings for the subjunctive tense. If the verb has an -er/-ir ending, you would use the -ar endings.

However, there are some present subjunctive irregulars. Here are a few examples of ways the subjunctive is used with the indefinite words, algo, alguien, and algún/ alguno/a/os/as. Pay special attention to the verb endings.

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