In "Treasure Island", there is this passage:

"This is nothing," he said as soon as he had closed the door. "I have drawn blood enough to keep him quiet awhile; he should lie for a week where he is--that is the best thing for him and you; but another stroke would settle him."

The Spanish translation is:

--Eso no es nada, dijo en cuanto hubo cerrado tras de sí la puerta. Le he sacado sangre suficiente para poderlo mantener bien por bastante tiempo. Debe quedarse por una semana en cama: eso es lo menos malo para él y para Vds.; pero un nuevo ataque le traerá la muerte inevitablemente.

I know that Spanish allows double negatives (which is a "no-no" (no pun intended) in English), but this still seems to be saying, "that is not nothing" (in other words, it is something). Am I right?

  • good question, but the feedback provided by the users unable to explain this properly is making it more confusing
    – Mike
    Mar 1, 2018 at 15:52

5 Answers 5


In spanish Esto no es nada is used to downplay a situation or an action. Example:

This is nothing, I have fought in World War II.

I think in the text it means that the blood drawing is nothing compared to what follows next.


A negative adverb or indefinite pronoun or adjective after the verb like nada, nunca, nadie, ningún/o/a/os/as obligates a negative verb. These words can themselves negate the verb, in which case no double negative is necessary:

  • No es nada.
    Nada es.
  • No lo hace nunca.
    Nunca lo hace.

Just saying "Es nada" only works in the noun sense (la/el nada: nothingness) like El espacio es nada and probably won't come up too terrible often (saying el espacio no es nada would be denying its existence, rather than stating its existence to be absence of anything).


In Spanish you have to put the negative word before the verb. If you don't, then you must put no before it.


nadie lo vio, but no lo vio nadie;
nada hizo, but no hizo nada;


It's surprising how so many confusions would be avoided if this were taught this way:

When the word "no" appears in the sentence, "nada" means "anything" instead of "nothing".

For example, "no es nada" has a "no" inside, so it means it is not anything, instead of it is not-nothing.


It means "that is nothing".

If you want to say "that is not nothing" you should say: "menos es nada" or "es más que nada".

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