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Ni - Not Even

Michael Stuart sings about a few things he either did not or cannot do. Listen in:


No te había ni conocido

I hadn't even met you

Caption 8, Michael Stuart - Me Siento Vivo

 Play Caption


No me puedo ni imaginar

I can't even imagine

Caption 19, Michael Stuart - Me Siento Vivo

 Play Caption


In both cases, we translated ni as "even," which may confuse some students who think first of ni as "nor," "or" or "neither" first and foremost. (For example: No tengo tiempo ni dinero para viajar, or, No tengo ni tiempo ni dinero para viajar translates as "I don't have the time nor the money to travel").

But the ni we hear in Michael Stuart's song is a ni as in ni siquiera that means "not even."

In the case of Michael Stuart's lyrics, we translate ni as "even" instead of "not even" because English doesn't do no double negative the way Spanish does. (Sorry! A lame attempt to illustrate our grammatical point.) If it did, we'd translate caption 19 from our song as "I can't not even imagine."

When there is only one (single) negative, the substitution of ni for no in a sentence not only changes the meaning from "not" to something more along the lines of "not even," but it tends to make the statement a bit more emphatic as well.


  • Desde que choqué, no manejo.
  • Since I crashed, I do not drive.


  • Desde que choqué, ni manejo.
  • Since I crashed, I don't [even] drive [at all].


To a native speaker, the second statement has an implied meaning along the lines of "It's not like I drive more carefully now, I don't even drive at all!" or "I don't even think about driving!"


  • Todos los días ella pasa frente a mí y ni me saluda.
  • Every day she passes in front of me and does not even say hello.


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