Using ‘Ninguno’ and Related Words in Spanish

Plural form ‘ningunos’ seldom used

empty pocket
No tengo ninguna moneda. (I don't have any coins.)).

Dan Moyle / Creative Commons.

Ninguno, along with its feminine form, ninguna, is the Spanish word for "none" or "not one." Like its English equivalents, it can be used as an adjective or pronoun. Related words include the verb ningunear and the noun ninguneo.

Although the plural forms ningunos and ningunos exist, they are seldom used. In other words, ninguno and ninguna are almost always used as singular words.

Ninguno as Singular or Plural in English Translation

Although singular, ninguno can be translated to English using either singular or plural words. For example, look at this sentence: Él tiene lo que ninguna persona puede resistir. In translation, either "He has what no person can resist" and "He has what no people can resist" mean essentially the same thing. 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 quemarlo. (There's no difference between giving money to the government and burning it down. 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 questions.)

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.)

Placement of Ninguno

When used as an adjective, ninguno by default is placed before the noun it modifies. It is possible, however, to place it after the noun as a means of adding emphasis. This use is more common in writing than in speech.

  • No hace diferencia ninguna. (It doesn't make a difference at all.)
  • No tengo influencia ninguna. (I don't have any influence at all.)
  • No habrá carro ninguno por ese precio. (There will be no cars available at all at that price.)

The Double Negative

Keep in mind, as in most of examples above, that in Spanish it is possible to to use double negatives in a way that is prohibited in English. Thus it is common to form sentences that include both ninguno and a negated verb. The basic rule is that is a negative word comes after the verb, a negating word must also be used before the verb.

Using Ningunear

The verb form of ninguno is ningunear, which means to look down on or treat a person or thing as unimportant. Translations vary with context.

  • La prensa argentina ningunearon a los jugadores colombianos. (The Argentine press disparaged the Colombian players.)
  • Siempre me humilló, me ninguneó, siempre. (He always humiliated me, treated me like a nobody, always.)
  • Nunca te ningunees a ti misma. (Never look down on yourself.)

Using Ninguneo

The noun form of ninguno is ninguneo, referring to the act of looking down on or otherwise dismissing the importance of thing. (The same word is also the first-person singular indicative present of ningunear.)

  • El ninguneo es una práctica social que consiste en descalificar a otra persona. (Ninguneo is the social practice that consists of belittling another person.)
  • El ecosistema del este estilo de música es proclive al ninguneo de las mujeres. (The ecosystem of this musical style is prone to the degrading of women.)
  • Eran víctimas de la marginalización y el ninguneo por el gobierno. (They were the victims of marginalization and being ignored by the government.)

Key Takeaways

  • The Spanish ninguno and its feminine form, ninguna, are the Spanish equivalents of "not one" or "none."
  • Ninguno and ninguna are used almost exclusively as singular words, but they can be translated to English using either singular or plural forms.
  • Ninguno and ninguna are frequently used in sentences that contain a double negative, unlike in standard English.