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 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 or 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 fui nunca estricta con mis hijos.
I was never strict with my children.


Fátima casi nunca sale.
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.


Fátima no sale casi nunca
Fátima hardly ever goes out.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


Q&A Forum 4 questions, 5 answers

StuartB1Kwiziq community member

En not a

In one of the mini quiz questions the answer options gave en not a as the chosen preposition: never have I gone to Paris (it said en Paris, not a Paris). We can use either and they'd be right?

Amable gracias,

Asked 1 month ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Stuart

In the question we are asking for the right sentence for "I have never been to Paris.", and we give this answer:

Nunca he estado en París.

If we use the verb "estar" we need preposition "en", we cannot use "a". In English, you generally use "been to/gone to [somewhere]". In Spanish we cannot say "estar a [somewhere]. In order to use preposition "a" you'd need to use the verb "to go":

Nunca he ido a París.

I hope this helps,

Inma

En not a

In one of the mini quiz questions the answer options gave en not a as the chosen preposition: never have I gone to Paris (it said en Paris, not a Paris). We can use either and they'd be right?

Amable gracias,

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

KarenC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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. 

Asked 7 months ago
InmaKwiziq team member

Hola Karen

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

Gracias

Inma

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. 

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

William C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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.

Asked 1 year ago
InmaKwiziq team member

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 C1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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

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.

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

AllisonC1Kwiziq Q&A regular contributor

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?
Asked 1 year ago
SilviaKwiziq team member
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.

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?

Sign in to submit your answer

Don't have an account yet? Join today

Clever stuff underway!