'Ninguno' Usually Used in Singular Form

But English Translation Is Frequently in Plural

empty pocket
No tengo ninguno. (I don't have any.). Dan Moyle/Creative Commons.

Ninguno (as well as the feminine form, ninguna), usually meaning "none" or "not one," is almost always used in the singular form. But ninguno (or the noun it refers to when ninguno is used as an adjective) can often be translated to English as either singular or plural without a change in meaning.

Here's an example: Él tiene lo que ninguna mujer puede resistir. In English, either "He has what no woman can resist" and "He has what no women can resist" mean essentially the same thing. But in Spanish, the singular form would almost always be used. Similarly, a sentence such as "No he tenido ningún problema" could be translated as either "I haven't had any problem" or "I haven't had any problems," with any difference in meaning being very slight. But "ningunos problemas" is hardly ever used.

Some examples showing how English equivalents can be singular or plural:

  • Ninguna persona debe morir en la cárcel. (Nobody should die in jail. No persons should die in jail.)
  • No hay ninguna diferencia entre darle dinero al gobierno y quermarlo. (There's no difference between giving money to the government and burning it. There are no differences between burning money and giving it to the government.)
  • No tengo ninguna pregunta más. (I don't have another question. I don't have any more quesitons.)

It wouldn't be a grammatical crime to use the plural in Spanish sentence like those two, and indeed you may sometimes hear similar constructions. But as a general rule, the main time ningunos or ningunas is used is when referring to nouns that are grammatically plural although singular in meaning:

  • No veo ningunas tijeras. I don't see any scissors.
  • No necesito ningunas gafas. I don't need any glasses.
  • No tengo ningunas ganas de estudiar. I don't have any desire to study.

By the way, there's a reason many of the sentences about use both no and ninguno: Double negatives are common in Spanish. In fact, they're required in many cases where they'd be wrong in English.