I was reading El almohadón de plumas by Horacio Quiroga this morning and ran into the following sentence:

La casa en que vivían influía no poco en sus estremecimientos.

I can make out the construct and it seems fairly straightforward. Except the no poco bit. Isn't no always used with a verb? I have never seen it used with an adverb or adjective before. The way I could translate this was:

The house that they lived in influenced no little in their shudders.

...which makes no sense whatsoever to me! Is there any idiomatic construct at play here? I looked up poco and estremecimiento and found nothing out of ordinary.

1 Answer 1


This is indeed an interesting case where the position of the words makes it harder understand the meaning. As you correctly stated, no is to be used (at least here) to refer to the verb influía.

So in fact the sentence could be:

La casa en que vivían no influía poco en sus estremecimientos.

But then, why this use? Well, it emphasizes poco to contrast it, when they want to mean a lot. This means that you can translate the sentence into something more direct like:

The house where they lived in influenced quite a lot in their shudders.

Or keeping the emphasis (not sure if it is 100% idiomatic in English):

It wasn't little how the house where they lived in influenced in their shudders.

(Note I translated en que vivían to where they lived.)

  • 1
    We do also say: the house where they lived had no little influence on their shudders. It does sound a bit old-fashioned to me but it might fit the style of the rest of the book (which I do not know).
    – mdewey
    Aug 10, 2016 at 17:41

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