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ashtonispurple  asked:

Could you please explain ninguno and alguno? And what the difference between ninguno and no? I don't really understand the two... Thanks

alguno and ninguno are related to un/uno/una


So, alguno is made up of algo + uno “something + one”… making it “a” or “some (thing)”

And ninguno is made up of ni + uno making it “not  + one” or “no (thing)” or “not any”


When they describe nouns, they show up as algún/ningún for masculine and alguna/ninguna for feminine. This is because they come from un/una “a/an”.

Una persona = A person
Alguna persona = Some person
Ninguna persona = No person

Un problema = A problem
Algún problema = Some problem
Ningún problema = No problem

Unos estudiantes = Some students
Unas estudiantes = Some students (f)
Algunos de los estudiantes = Some of the students
Algunas de las estudiantes = Some of the students (f)
Ninguno de los estudiantes = None of the students [lit. “not one of the students”]
Ninguna de las estudiantes = None of the students (f) [lit. “not one of the students”]


In general, un/una and algún/alguna are very much interchangeable; the difference between “a/an” and “some (kind of)”.

But in approximations un/una is more common [unos quince minutos “about 15 minutes”]

And when you’re specifically talking about a number within a number [like “some of the students” or “some of the people” or “some of the others”] is when you would exclusively be using algún/alguna


With ningún/ninguna it’s more literally “not any” or “none of” and is always singular because it’s literally “not one”


And with alguno/ninguno they are more common either behind the noun or in the absence of nouns i.e. neuter form

Algún problema = Some problem
Problema alguno = Some kind of problem / Any problem at all
sin problema alguno = without any kind of problem

Alguno de estos días = One of these days
Algún día = Some day
Algunos días = Some days

Alguna de las mujeres… = One of the women…
Alguna mujer = Some woman
Algunas mujeres = Some women
Ninguna de las mujeres = None of the women…
Ninguna mujer = No woman / No women

Ninguna duda = No doubt
Duda ninguna = No kind of doubt
sin duda ninguna = undoubtedly



As for no, it’s more of an adverb that’s not really attached to physical numbers.

Using no means “not” or “doesn’t” or “won’t” or “don’t” depending on context; in lists you can also see no as ni which would be “neither” or “nor” in this sense.

Ni Alemania ni Francia… = Neither Germany nor France…

Ni mucho ni poco. = Neither too much nor too little.

No quiero ni puedo hacerlo. = I can’t and won’t do it. [lit. “I don’t want to do it, nor could I”]

Ni siquiera… = Not even…

“La magia no existe, ni para mí, ni para ti, ni para nadie.” = “Magic doesn’t exist, not for me, not for you, not for anyone.” [Pan’s Labyrinth]

It’s also used kind of idiomatically as “none whatsoever”

No hay ni rastro de ella. = There’s no trace of her at all.

No tengo ni idea. = I have no idea.

Ni modo. = No way. / That’s impossible.

No sabe ni una palabra de francés. = He/She doesn’t know even a word of French. [idiomatically something like “doesn’t know any French at all”]


no typically is its own kind of sentence of negation, or it comes before a verb to indicate negation. In some cases you see them repeated:

No, no puedo. = No, I can’t. / No, I cannot.

No debo. = I shouldn’t. / I should not.

No, gracias. No puedo aceptarlo. = No, thank you. I can’t accept it.

No, no puede ser. = No, it cannot be.

No, no hay nadie aquí. = No, there’s no one here.


With no and negation in general this is how it typically goes…

  • no = “No.” [negative statement]
  • no = not / can’t / won’t / shouldn’t / musn’t etc. [adverb]
  • ni = not (at all) [adverb] / neither, nor [in lists with a negation]
  • nadie = no one [subject]
  • ningún/ninguna/ninguno = no thing / not anything [adjective]
  • nada = nothing [noun]
  • la nada = nothingness [also a noun]


By contrast,  can be “yes” as an affirmative statement but when it could also be used as an adverb to mean “indeed”… like sí puedo hacerlo could be “Yes, I can do it” or “I can indeed do it”.


So, ningún/ninguna/ninguno are adjectives that have to agree with their subjects.

This is similar to how mucho/a is an adjective and muy is an adverb, and mucho by itself can be an adverb.

Or how tan adheres to adjectives and tanto/a adheres to nouns/subjects and is dependent on gender and plurality.


What’s good about Spanish is that there are lots of patterns. If you can figure out if a word is being used as an adverb, or if it’s an adjective, or if it’s a subject, it makes it easier to deal with and find equivalents…

Like algo “something” is the opposite of nada “nothing”, nouns… or can function as adverbs to mean “somewhat” or “not at all”. 

And alguien “someone” is the opposite of nadie “no one”, subjects. 

And alguno/alguna/algún “some” are adjectives that will go according to the gender and plurality of the nouns, just like ninguno/ninguna/ningún. Except that it’s grammatically incorrect to have the ninguno ones in plural.

Like we say “nothing”… not “no things” or “no one” and not “no ones”.


It can be a little confusing but it starts to make sense with the patterns.

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