Using nunca in negative sentences

If we want to make a negative sentence in Spanish to express You never [do something] we use the adverb  nunca (never), and we generally follow one of the following formulas:

1. No +[sentence]+ nunca.

No comes chocolate nunca.
You never eat chocolate.

2. Nunca + [affirmative sentence]

Nunca comes chocolate.
You never eat chocolate.

When using the double negative sentence with no and nunca, the word nunca doesn't always have to be placed at the very end of the sentence. You could place it anywhere after the verb, and regardless of the position the meaning of the sentence remains the same.

For example:

Ella no ve la televisión en su habitación nunca.
She never watches television in her room.

Ella no ve nunca la televisión en su habitación.
She never watches television in her room.

Ella no ve la televisión nunca en su habitación.
She never watches television in her room.

Bear in mind that when the verb comes with direct object, indirect object and reflexive pronouns, these can't be separated from the verb. 

Have a look:

No te podía ver con claridad nunca.
I could never see you clearly.

No te podía ver nunca con claridad.
I could never see you clearly.

Te no podia ver nunca con claridad.
I could never see you clearly.

Yo no me lavo los dientes por la tarde nunca.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.

Yo no me lavo nunca los dientes por la tarde.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.

Yo me no lavo los dientes por la tarde nunca.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.

With perfect tenses you need to be careful not to break the verbal structure. You cannot place "nunca" between the auxiliary haber and the participle. For example:

Nunca hemos estado en un parque temático.
We've never been in a theme park.

Ella no había cocinado ese plato nunca.
She had never cooked that meal.

English speakers sometimes make this mistake because in English it is possible to place "never" between the auxiliary have and the main verb, while in Spanish this is incorrect.

Hemos nunca estado en un parque temático.

Ella no había nunca cocinado ese plato.

There is a bit more flexibility when we have negative sentences with "nunca" using modal verbs like deber (must) or poder (to be able to).

No debes bailar nunca con esa chica.
You must never dance with that girl.

No debes nunca bailar con esa chica.
You must never dance with that girl.

Ella no pudo entender nunca la pregunta.
She could never understand the question.

Ella no pudo nunca entender la pregunta.
She could never understand the question.

Note that to say "hardly ever/nearly never/rarely" we use "casi nunca"

Fátima no sale casi nunca
Fátima hardly ever goes out.

Fátima casi nunca sale.
Fátima hardly ever goes out.

See also Forming negative sentences using no (negation).

Learn more about these related Spanish grammar topics

Examples and resources

No debes bailar nunca con esa chica.
You must never dance with that girl.


Nunca comes chocolate.
You never eat chocolate.


Ella no había cocinado ese plato nunca.
She had never cooked that meal.


Fátima casi nunca sale.
Fátima hardly ever goes out.


Ella no ve la televisión en su habitación nunca.
She never watches television in her room.


Te no podia ver nunca con claridad.
I could never see you clearly.


No comes chocolate nunca.
You never eat chocolate.


Ella no pudo nunca entender la pregunta.
She could never understand the question.


No fui nunca estricta con mis hijos.
I was never strict with my children.


Fátima no sale casi nunca
Fátima hardly ever goes out.


Yo me no lavo los dientes por la tarde nunca.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.


Ella no ve la televisión nunca en su habitación.
She never watches television in her room.


Ella no pudo entender nunca la pregunta.
She could never understand the question.


No te podía ver con claridad nunca.
I could never see you clearly.


Nunca hemos estado en un parque temático.
We've never been in a theme park.


No te podía ver nunca con claridad.
I could never see you clearly.


Yo no me lavo los dientes por la tarde nunca.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.


No debes nunca bailar con esa chica.
You must never dance with that girl.


Yo no me lavo nunca los dientes por la tarde.
I never brush my teeth in the afternoon.


Ella no ve nunca la televisión en su habitación.
She never watches television in her room.


Q&A

Karen

Kwiziq community member

25 February 2019

1 reply

Nunca with auxiliary verb tenses

There doesn’t seem to be an example or text relating to placement in a tense with auxiliary ‘ha’ etc. I gather from the quiz question that you cannot interpose  nunca as in ‘no he nunca visto eso’. As this is the natural order in English (I have never seen that) it would be good to have some explicit mention in the text and examples. 

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

25 February 2019

25/02/19

Hola Karen

Good suggestion! We will add some extra explanation to the lesson.

Gracias

Inma

William

Kwiziq community member

6 September 2018

2 replies

What about tampoco?

Do the grammar rules for "nunca" here also apply for "tampoco". Consider the following four sentences.

Ella no pudo entender tampoco la pregunta.

Ella no pudo entender la pregunta tampoco.

Ella no pudo tampoco entender la pregunta.

Ella tampoco pudo entender la pregunta.

Inma

Kwiziq language super star

6 September 2018

6/09/18

Hola William,

yes it does. Tampoco is used the same way other negative words like "nunca" are. So all your examples are correct!

Just noted a lesson on "Tampoco" that we are missing.

Gracias

Inma

William

Kwiziq community member

6 September 2018

6/09/18

Hi Inma


Thanks for your quick response


By extension can I also combine nunca and tampoco in the same sentence.


Ella no pudo nunca entender tampoco la pregunta.

Ella nunca pudo entender la pregunta tampoco.

William

allison

Kwiziq community member

10 May 2018

1 reply

no deberías nunca salir con ella

This is a strange example and not covered in the explanation. When is it customary to insert a word between two verbs? When else can this occur?

Silvia

Kwiziq language super star

10 May 2018

10/05/18

Hola Allison! The case you are talking about is actually covered in our lesson. When using the negative "nunca" with modal verbs, this can be placed into different orders within the sentence and all of them are correct. Silvia.
How has your day been?