Negative & Indefinite Pronouns in Spanish

Instructor: Yolanda Reinoso Barzallo

Yolanda holds a CELTA Cambridge, a Juris Doctorate, and a Master of Public Administration. She is a published author of fiction in Spanish.

In daily conversation, we often mention people, animals, or things in general. This means that we do not specify a particular person, animal, or thing. You need indefinite pronouns to do this in Spanish; this lesson explains how to use indefinite pronouns.

No Specific Information

When you say that you don't like 'any' outdoor activity you are speaking in general about outdoor activities. In this case, you do not specify 'hiking', 'skiing', etc. as things you don't enjoy.

Similarly, when you say that 'nobody' has the key to the office door, you generalize instead of naming, one by one, the people who could have the key but do not have it.

In either case, you use indefinite and/or negative pronouns, which are very common in Spanish. However, the Spanish language calls them pronombres indefinidos (indefinite pronouns).

Spanish Indefinite Pronouns

An indefinite pronoun expresses an undetermined quantity or quality. In other words, it refers to someone or something that cannot be quantified or defined. Shown below is a table of commonly used indefinite pronouns. Each includes a pronunciation guide, with the most stressed syllable in capital letters.

Indefinite Pronoun Pronunciation Meaning Example
uno (masc. singular) / una (feminine. singular) OHH-noh, OOH-nah one of Uno de tus hijos rompió el florero. (One of your sons broke the vase)
alguien AHL-guee-ehn someone Alguien dejó estas flores sobre mi escritorio. (Someone left these flowers on my desk)
algo AHL-goh something Tengo algo importante que decir. (I have something important to say)
algún and alguno (masc. singular) / alguna (feminine -singular) ahl-GOON, ahl-GOO-noh, ahl-GOO-nah some (for singular person or thing) Algún empleado alteró los datos. (Some employee altered the data)
algunos (masc. plural) / algunas (feminine plural) ahl-GOO-nohs, ahl-GOO-nahs some, several, a few (for plural people or things) Algunas casas están deterioradas. (Several houses are deteriorated)

Let's take a break here so you can review the table and also learn a bit more. In regards to algún and alguno, you use algún in front of a masculine noun, as in the example shown in the table. Another example is: Algún ruido me despertó anoche (some noise woke me up last night).

Alguno goes after a masculine noun and it is the same as saying 'no' or 'none'. You always use alguno in negative sentences. Here are two examples:

  • No hay motivo alguno para impacientarse. (There is no reason to get impatient)
  • No tengo mensaje alguno en mi correo electrónico. (I have no message in my e-mail)

Finally, you are probably familiar with un (which means 'a'). For example: un perro (a dog). In this case, we have an indefinite article, not an indefinite pronoun. The plural of un and una is unos and unas, but they are indefinite articles. Since this is not the topic of our lesson, just note that uno de and una de mean 'one of' and function as indefinite pronouns.

Let's now take a look at negative pronouns.

Negative Pronouns

In Spanish we also have negative pronouns. These words indicate the non-existence of people or things. Grammatically, they are known as being 'indefinite'. Here is a table showing common negative pronouns:

Indefinite Pronoun Pronunciation Meaning Example
nadie NAH-dee-eh nobody Nadie sabe la respuesta. (Nobody knows the answer)
nada NAH-dah nothing Nada es más importante que la salud. (Nothing is more important than health)
ningún and ninguno (masc. singular) / ninguna (feminine -singular) neen-GOON, neen-GOO-noh, neen-GOO-nah none (for singular person or thing) Ningún vaso está limpio. (None of the glass is clean)
ningunos (masc. plural) / ningunas (feminine -plural) neen-GOO-nohs, neen-GOO-nahs, none (for plural people or things) Ningunas respuestas me satisfacen. (None of the answers satisfy me)

In Spanish there are two important aspects about this group of pronouns:

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