Indefinite and Negative Pronouns in Spanish Translation

This can be explained considering the following two lists. They will be applied with an examination of the problems caused by indefinite and negative pronouns in Spanish translation.

List 1:

Some common English indefinite pronouns and their Spanish translations
Something = algo
Somebody, someone = alguien
Some (one) = alguno (s)

For example, ‘There is something I do not understand’/Hay algo que no comprendo; ‘Someone has told her the truth’/Alguien le ha dicho la verdad.

List 2:

Some common English negative pronouns and their Spanish translations
Nothing = nada
Nobody, no one = nadie
No one, none = ninguno (a, os, as)

For example, ‘Nothing pleases him more than skiing´- Nada le gusta más que esquiar; ‘It is a pleasure that harms no one’/Es un placer que a nadie hace daño.

Translator must remember that though the English language does not permit the use of the double negative, its use is perfectly acceptable in the Spanish language. In fact, Spanish demands that if a negative pronoun comes after the verb, then a ‘no´ must come before the verb. Hence, ‘They didn´t meet anyone at the party´ will be translated into Spanish as ‘No conocieron a nadie en la fiesta´.

They must also remember that an indefinite pronoun requires the negative form in Spanish if appears after a comparative. For example, ‘Más que nada me gusta viajar´ (I like to travel more than anything). The ‘personal a´ must appear before the indefinite pronoun ‘alguien´ as well as its negative counterpart ‘nadie´ if it is being used as a direct object. For example, ‘Esta mañana no he visto a nadie.´ (This morning I have seen no one.)

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