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Using 'Ni'

Conjunction Often Equivalent of 'Nor'

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Although it is often stated that the Spanish conjunction ni is the equivalent of the English "nor," it is used in different ways than the English word. Following are some examples of its usage. Note that in many cases in the English translations below that "nor" is used for clarity, even though it is common in English to use "or" instead. Note also the frequent use in these examples of the double negative, which is often required in Spanish.

As the equivalent of "nor": In such cases it follows a verb that is preceded by no or another negation such as nunca or jamás:

  • No quiere oír ni hablar de su hijo. She doesn't want to hear nor speak about her son.
  • No puedo encontrarlo ni descargarlo. I can't see it nor download it.
  • Nunca estudia ni hace nada. He never studies nor does anything.
  • No compré palomitas ni refrescos. I didn't buy popcorn nor soft drinks.
"Ni ... ni meaning "neither ... nor": A pair of nis can be used as the equivalent of "neither ... nor":
  • 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 I 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, neither I nor anybody.
As the equivalent of "neither/nor" in a series: In English, it is common to use one "nor" (or one "or" in a negative sentence) to apply to a series of three or more. In Spanish, however, ni typically precedes each item in the series:
  • 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.
To mean "not even": With this meaning, the form ni siquiera is usually used, although the siquiera is usually optional. Ni siquiera is the more emphatic form:
  • 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 capable of understanding it.
  • No tengo ni (siquiera) un centavo. I don't have even a penny.
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