Spanish Indefinite Words

Sometimes you don’t exactly know what you want to refer to. It could be something, or someone, or anyone, for that matter.

These sorts of words are indefinite words. Spanish has them just as English does.

algosomething, anything
alguiensomeone, somebody
alguna vezonce, sometime
alguno/asome, any
cualquier/awhichever, whatever

Note that algo and alguien never change forms—there is NO such thing as “algos” or “alguienes.” However, alguno and cualquier do change forms according to gender. Alguno also changes form according to quantity (in which case it translates as “several”).

Understanding Indefinite Words used in Spanish

Some other useful words along this vein are:

siemprealways
tambiénalso, too

Por ejemplo:

Understanding Negative Words

Perhaps, though, you don’t want to talk about somebody or something. Perhaps you prefer to talk about nobody and nothing. These are negative indefinite words. In Spanish, there is a word with exactly the opposite meaning for each of the positive words you learned above.

Positive IndefiniteNegative IndefiniteTranslation
algonadanothing
alguiennadieno one / nobody
algunoningúnnot any
cualquierninguno/aneither one
onineither / nor
siemprenunca, jamásnever
tambiéntampoconeither / not either

Forming negatives in Spanish can be tricky. Sometimes you can form a negative sentence in Spanish just as you would in English.

Por ejemplo:

There’s another way of forming negative sentences, however. This involves placing the word no before the verb. (Make sure that you do NOT place it before the subject.)

Por ejemplo:

If you want to add a negative indefinite word like “nobody” or “nothing” to a negative sentence, you’re going to have to unlearn some English grammar!

Remember how you learned in school that you should never say things like…

• I ain’t never done it.
• He don’t know nothing.
• There isn’t no one here.


These are called double negatives … and they’re perfectly fine in Spanish!

No lo he hecho nunca.
Él no sabe nada.
No hay nadie aquí.

In fact, you have to form double negatives in Spanish, because that’s the proper way to form those sentences grammatically.

Por ejemplo:

For more on Spanish grammar check out these lessons!


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