Learn How to Properly Use the Spanish Conjunction 'Ni'

Closest Equivalent in English Is Word 'Nor'

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Learn the fundamentals of the Spanish word "ni.". Corina Gallardo / EyeEm / Getty Images

The Spanish conjunction ni is the equivalent of the English "nor," and sometimes it is used in different ways than "nor" would be used.

Different Uses of Ni

In addition to being used as a direct translation of "nor," ni can be used two or more times in succession to mean "neither...nor" and it can mean "not even."

In many cases in the English translations "nor" is used for clarity, even though the translation is correct if it is translated as "or."

Do not be surprised by double negatives in Spanish. Although shunned in English, Spanish commonly uses double negatives to deliver emphasis.

Ni As the Equivalent of 'Nor'

Ni is the equivalent of "nor" when it follows a verb that is preceded by no or another negation word such as nunca or jamás.

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
No quiere oír ni hablar de su hijo.She doesn't want to hear or [nor] speak about her son.
No puedo encontrarlo ni descargarlo.I can't see it or [nor] download it.
Nunca estudia ni hace nada.He never studies or [nor] does anything.
No compré palomitas ni refrescos.I didn't buy popcorn or [nor] soft drinks.

Ni Used as 'Neither ... Nor'

Ni used twice or several times in succession can be used as the equivalent of "neither ... nor." In Spanish, ni precedes each item in the series.

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
Ni sus creadores ni administradores son responsables. Neither its creators nor its administrators are responsible.
Será ni más ni menos verdadero.It will be neither more nor less true.
Ni nosotros ni el club hemos recibido nada. Neither we nor the club have received anything.
Es como si mi blog hubiera desaparecido, porque no puedo verlo, ni yo ni nadie.It is as if my blog had disappeared, because I can't see it, not I, nor anybody.
No me dabas amor, ni dinero, ni joyas ni nada.You give me neither love, money, jewels nor anything.
Ya no habrá muerte, ni luto, ni llanto, ni dolor.There will be neither death, mourning, tears nor pain.

When Ni Means 'Not Even'

Ni can be used to mean "not even," in the form of ni​ siquiera. The word siquiera is usually optional. Ni siquiera is the more emphatic form.

Spanish SentenceEnglish Translation
Ni (siquiera) lo imaginábamos.We didn't even imagine it.
Ni (siquiera) la supermodelo es inmune a los estragos del tiempo. Not even the supermodel is immune to the ravages of time.
Ni (siquiera) Einstein era capaz de entenderlo. Not even Einstein was capabale of understanding.
No tengo ni (siquiera) una moneda.I don't even have one coin.
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Erichsen, Gerald. "Learn How to Properly Use the Spanish Conjunction 'Ni'." ThoughtCo, Nov. 3, 2017, thoughtco.com/using-ni-in-spanish-3079172. Erichsen, Gerald. (2017, November 3). Learn How to Properly Use the Spanish Conjunction 'Ni'. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/using-ni-in-spanish-3079172 Erichsen, Gerald. "Learn How to Properly Use the Spanish Conjunction 'Ni'." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/using-ni-in-spanish-3079172 (accessed May 23, 2018).