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I recently came upon the following sentence:

Gema: Mira, yo creo que el secreto es hacerlos participar de verdad. Si cada uno se hace responsable de una cosa, creo que puede funcionar.

Arturo: No, si me parece una idea estupenda.

Source: "Aveteca." Centro Virtual Cervantes. Nivel C1. Exercise 24.

Arturo's reply to Gema seemed odd. It is a construct I haven't seen before. At first, I thought that maybe it was a typo and that the "si" should be written "sí" to serve as a type of emphatic marker. So I did some online searching and discovered that this "No, si" combo was actually pretty common. Even before doing that, I went to a machine translator (DeepL) and this is what it gave me:

No, I think it's a great idea.

So did Reverso. This only solidified my thinking that perhaps the "si" should really be a "sí" because the situation is one that would warrant an emphatic "sí." For the record, Google Translate translated this sentence as:

No, if that sounds like a great idea to me.

which does not make sense in English.

I'm reasonably convinced that the meaning of No, si me parece una idea estupenda is the one DeepL and Reverso provided, but what I am still unsure about is whether or not a phrase like this should be written with a "si" or a "sí." Anyone happen to know? If the "si" is correct, could someone then explain to me what's going on with this sentence?


¿"No, si me parece..." tiene sentido en español?

Recientemente me encontré con la siguiente frase:

[Véanse arriba en la parte inglesa.]

La respuesta de Arturo a Gema parecía extraña. Es una construcción que no he visto antes. Al principio, pensé que tal vez era un error de imprenta y que el "si" debería ser escrito "sí" para servir como un tipo de marcador enfático. Así que hice algunas búsquedas en línea y descubrí que esta combinación de "No, si" era en realidad bastante común. Incluso antes de hacer eso, fui a un traductor automático (DeepL) y esto es lo que me dio:

[Véanse arriba en la parte inglesa.]

También lo hizo Reverso. Esto sólo solidificó mi pensamiento de que tal vez el "si" debería ser realmente un "sí" porque la situación es una que merecería un enfático "sí". Para que conste, Google Translate tradujo esta frase como:

[Véanse arriba en la parte inglesa.]

lo cual no tiene sentido en inglés.

Estoy razonablemente convencida de que el significado de No, si me parece una idea estupenda es el que DeepL y Reverso proporcionaron, pero de lo que todavía estoy insegura es si una frase como esta debería ser escrita con un "si" o un "sí". ¿Alguien lo sabe? Si el "si" es correcto, ¿podría alguien explicarme qué pasa con esta frase?

Traducción realizada, en parte, con la versión gratuita del traductor www.DeepL.com/Translator

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  • I have not read the long question completely nor the long answers (and I will not do it 😀) but answering what is on the question title, yes, that is a very common way of speaking in Colombia. It completely makes sense and you will hear it a lot. – DGaleano Jan 7 at 13:07
  • Without context, it sounds like teasing . – Pablo Jan 7 at 18:21
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The construction "No, si..." definitely uses the unaccented "si". I would say this uses either the second or the fifth meaning of si:

(2) conj. Denota aseveración terminante. Si ayer lo aseguraste aquí mismo una y otra vez delante de todos nosotros, ¿cómo lo niegas hoy?
[...]
(5) conj. U. a principio de frase, da énfasis o energía a las expresiones de duda o aseveración. ¿Si será verdad lo del testamento? ¡Si dije que esto no podía parar en bien!

i.e., "si" at the beginning of a sentence is used to introduce an ascertainment (something that is known to be true) or to give emphasis or energy to what is being said. For example:

  • Pedro ha suspendido el examen
  • ¿De verdad? ¡Si se lo sabía todo perfectamente!

The construction with "No, si..." is used to agree with something that someone just said. The meaning of "No" is probably "you don't have to convince me", or "you don't need to say more".

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  • Great answer and I really like how you used the DLE as a resource. If it weren't for the reasons I gave to Gustavson in the comments below his answer, I may have given you the green check mark. – Lisa Beck Jan 7 at 9:44
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I haven't been able to open the link provided to the exercise.

Anyway, I find Arturo's "no" in reply to Gema unidiomatic, or inconsistent (good catch, Lisa!). What is he saying "no" to? (please note the characters are inverted in OP's account of the dialog):

Gema: Mira, yo creo que el secreto es hacerlos participar de verdad. Si cada uno se hace responsable de una cosa, creo que puede funcionar.

Arturo: No, si me parece una idea estupenda.

What I would use to emphasize Arturo's high opinion about the idea proposed by Gema is:

Arturo: Pero si me parece una idea estupenda. (Meaning: In fact, it does sound like a great idea.)

As shown here, "pero si" can also be used to protest (the bolds below are mine to show that this combination of conjunctions can also be used to express surprise or emphasis), so it should be used with care:

  • pero [...]
  1. Indica descontento, asombro o énfasis ¡pero si ya te lo dije!; pero ¿y esto qué es? [...] ¡pero si no tiene coche! → I tell you he hasn't got a car!

RAE says that "pero si" can be used to introduce more emphatic objections or excuses ("Con 'pero si' se introducen réplicas más enfáticas en las que se rebate una afirmación previa con un argumento que hablante considera de peso [...]. Son similares las construcciones encabezadas por 'pero si' que introducen una disculpa o un reparo [...]") but also says it can be used to express surprise:

  • ¡Pero si es Luisa! (Look, it's Luisa!)

I would only use "no, si..." to express surprise in other contexts, to mean "no lo puedo creer" (I can't believe it). In that case, "no" would function as an interjection rather than as an adverb of negation, as when we say:

  • ¡No, mira quién vino! (I don't believe it, see who's come!)

I think that for this "no" to make sense combined with the conjunction "si" it has to be enclosed within exclamation marks, to clarify it is an interjection, not an adverb of negation. Without the exclamation marks, it makes no sense to me:

Gema: Mira, yo creo que el secreto es hacerlos participar de verdad. Si cada uno se hace responsable de una cosa, creo que puede funcionar.

Arturo: ¡No, si me parece una idea estupenda! (Wow, it does sound like a great idea to me!)

Note 1: I've read Wimi's reply (which is very good) once and over again and I'm not sure I can rebut the argument about "no" being short for "you don't need to convince me," but personally I think this would be more likely if Gema had said something for Arturo to say "no", for example:

Gema: Mira, yo creo que el secreto es hacerlos participar de verdad. No estoy segura, pero si cada uno se hace responsable de una cosa, creo que puede funcionar.

Arturo: No (no digas que no estás segura, no hay motivo para que dudes), si me parece una idea estupenda.

or

Gema: Mira, yo creo que el secreto es hacerlos participar de verdad. Habría que probar, pero si cada uno se hace responsable de una cosa, creo que puede funcionar.

Arturo: No (no es necesario probar), si me parece una idea estupenda.

Note 2: After reading OP's self-reply, I have to say I'm not at all familiar with the use of "No, si..." to introduce an emphatic comment if "no" does not explicitly negate anything, but it seems to be some regional usage in Spain. I am instead familiar with exclamatory "¡no!" (in colloquial registers it could even be spelt with more than one "o" to express surprise: Nooo), as well as with "pero si".

Now, I do find OP's research on unaccented "si" to introduce emphatic comments really enlightening. Still, I think it keeps its conditional nuance, as I explain below by making reference to the examples contained in the site to which OP provided us with a link (I did not make a literal translation but instead added more words in English to make the idea clearer):

  • Te tengo que pedir un favor. ¡Sí, loco, otro más! Si estás para eso, ¿no? (Why couldn't I ask you another favor if that is, in fact, what you are here for?)

  • Ah, cuando quieras, no, si me encanta. ¿Yo te di mi teléfono, no? (Let's do it whenever you like. Why wouldn't I agree to the plan, if in fact I'd love to do it?)

  • ¿Cuál es tu burla? ¡Si tú estás igualita! ¡Si yo estoy más fresca que una lechuga! (Why should you be making fun (of X) if, as a matter of fact, you are just the same/you haven't changed a bit?)

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  • Good catch (on the inversion of Gema and Arturo), Gustavson! I have since corrected my post. – Lisa Beck Jan 7 at 5:22
  • Great answer, Gustavson, both for effort and quality of answer, but for various reasons (e.g., mine addresses some issues someone at my level may have with the unaccented "si" in this context), I'm giving myself the green check mark this time. I hope that isn't too shameless of me. Truth be told, I think both of us went off on a tangent to some degree, but sometimes knowing the alternatives or identifying what something is not, helps facilitate understanding. NTL, I really liked your answer and look forward to more answers of this caliber in the future. TY4 taking the time and effort. – Lisa Beck Jan 7 at 9:39
  • BTW, you'll need Flash to access the Aveteca exercises. If you use Chrome, I can help you. You can also Google it. I had thought that Flash was ending at the end of December, but it's still working for me on that site. – Lisa Beck Jan 7 at 9:41
  • Love your additional note. It really adds to an answer that is, already, quite excellent. – Lisa Beck Jan 7 at 11:45
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"No, si ..." (with no accent) is a very common expression (at least in Spain) and it's a reluctant/pessimistic/sarcastic admission of some fact.

In the context of the example No, si me parece una idea estupenda, Arturo agrees with some idea, while likely maintaining some discrepancy in other parts of the discussion.

It's hard to find relevant examples searching for "no, si", so I'd recommend to duckduckgoogle something like "no, si al final" or "no, si me parece" itself.

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I don't want to refute what wimi and Gustavson have written, but I do want to add something that deserves more attention than what might be had with a comment. And truth be told, what I have discovered since having posted the question does make me wonder whether or not certain aspects of Spanish grammar, with respect to the word "si," may have been missed.

In the book, A Comprehensive Spanish Grammar, on page 390, you will find an entry for "si." Entry #851, refers to the use of "si" as a conjunction meaning "if." To be perfectly honest, I've never known it to be anything but a conjunction meaning "if," so it is very difficult to get my mind to see this "si" used in a different way. Be that as it may, Entry #852 provides what surely must be a lesser known fact about this word "si":

After verbs of saying or thinking, si can sometimes be found where que would be expected. The explanation for this is probably that there is always a feeling of doubt, the verb actually having the meaning preguntar 'to ask' or preguntarse 'to wonder'.

Don Nicolás se marchó de España el año 39, porque decían si era masón (C.J. Cela)
Don Nicolás left Spain in 1939, because people were saying [that] he was a mason.

I added the excerpt above using the same formatting with some small deviations here and there (e.g., bolding). This statement also applies to the excerpt below.

Now, having said all of that, I also decided to check out what this book had to say about "sí." On page 289, for Entry #626, Jacques de Bruyne writes:

, in addition to its meaning of 'yes', may be used to deny a negative in a preceding sentence, and is the equivalent of an English contrastive stress or 'indeed, sure, right'....

Ahora, que voy a San Francisco (J. Cortázar)
Now I'm certainly going to San Francisco.

Now, let's apply all of this to my original question, which was Is the "si" in the response a typo for "sí," and if not, what is it doing there? What is its purpose?

Let's start with the first excerpt, honing in on the phrase After verbs of saying or thinking ... The verb used in the response is parecerse (in the form of me parece). Could this be a verb of saying or thinking? Sure. But the rest of the sentence (and those that go beyond what I included in the original post) indicate that Arturo is not wondering if Gema's ideas are good. He is totally on board with them (and based off of the tone in Arturo's voice in the accompanying audio, I think most would agree). So, because of that, I think we can rule out that this use of "si" is not that of the use described in the first excerpt.

To me, it is quite clear that the "si" here is used emphatically. This then raises the question for me Why use "si" instead of "sí"? I learned a while back that "sí" can be used emphatically, but now I'm learning that plain old "si" without the accent can be used emphatically, too. Now I am confused. When should I use which and am I conveying something slightly different when I use one or the other? Fortunately, a second attempt to find more information about this mysterious unaccented emphatic "si" proved fruitful. This is what I discovered:

... the word si (without the orthographic accent), commonly used in conditional clauses, can also be used to indicate that you are affirming something very emphatically. It's not always easy (or necessary) to translate it into English, [but it is often translated as "indeed"].

Let's contrast that with the accented "sí" I was already familiar with:

Like the repetition of the word "do" in English, this use of sí has a purely emphatic effect. You could easily answer tú no lo hiciste (you did not do it) with a simple yo lo hice (I did it), but using yo sí lo hice (I did do it) is way more common.

For examples and more information, please visit the following page:

Emphatic Uses of Sí & Si


TLDR: The unaccented "si," which most students of Spanish have learned is a conditional conjunction meaning "if," has other uses in Spanish. Like the accented "sí," they can both be used for emphasis. However, they have slightly different meanings. Here is a real world example of the unaccented "si" (which can be translated as "indeed"):

Note: Examples of "No, si ..." with this usage were difficult to find, but the example above, taken from the comments section of a relatively recent article found in El Mundo does show that, at least in conversation (even that which takes place in social media), this is a phrase one might hear (or see).

Contrast the above with this example of the accented "sí":

... quiero ir al siguiente nivel.
... I do want to go to the next level.

It was very difficult to find real world examples of this. The example above is part of one context example I found on Reverso. You can find several more here and here.

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  • Very interesting. I added Note 2 in my reply to comment on your post. – Gustavson Jan 7 at 10:17

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