Nessuno & Niente (How to say any, anyone and anything in Italian)
Nessuno/Nessuna/Nessun = (not…any)
Nessuno can be used both as an indefinite adjective and as a pronoun .
As an adjective, nessuno comes before a noun and is the translation of “any” in negative sentences in English.
- Non ho nessun dubbio – I don’t have any doubt
- Non ho nessun amico – I don’t have any friend
- Non abbiamo nessuna riunione oggi – We don’t have any meetings today
Nessuno has four possibile forms:
- Nessuno which is the default version for the masculine nouns.
- Nessuna which is used before feminine nouns (e.g., nessuna sedia, nessuna stanza)
- Nessun which is used before masculine nouns starting with a vowel (e.g., nessun amico, nessun albero)
- Nessun’ which is used before feminine nouns starting with a vowel sound (e.g., nessun’amica, nessun’ idea)
Nessuno has no plural!
For English speakers, take note of the following:
Any can also be translated as “qualsiasi” in Italian. However, “any” defaults to qualsiasi only when it is used to mean “no matter which,” as in:
- Quale gusto vuoi? – Which flavor do you want?
- Qualsiasi – Any
Instead, any goes to nessuno/nessuna/nessun only in negative sentences, like in the phrases above.
Nessuno/Nessuna = no one, anyone, none
Nessuno is also a pronoun, and in this case it means nobody / no one, none or anybody / anyone.
When used as a pronoun, it only refers to people and is followed by a 3rd person singular verb conjugation.
- Non c’è nessuno – there isn’t anyone
- Nessuno è venuto alla festa – nobody came to the party.
- Nessuno di noi parla francese – none of us speak French
Note that, we don’t require a double negative if nessuno comes first in a sentence (we won’t need to use the “non” before the verb). In all other cases, use nessuno as follows: non + verb + nessuno.
- Non ho incontrato nessuno per strada – I haven’t met anyone/anybody in the street
Niente = nothing/anything
Niente is a adverb and it means nothing or anything.
Niente only refers to things.
The words nulla and niente are interchangeable and have the same usage. Both are invariable entities (because they are adverbs, they remain the same and are unaffected by gender or number)!
Let’s see a couple of examples:
- Ieri sera non ho mangiato niente – last night I haven’t had anything
- Niente funziona qui – nothing works here
- Qui non funziona niente – nothing works here
Note that, we won’t require a double negative if niente (or nulla) comes first in a sentence (we won’t need to use the “non” before the verb). In all other cases, use niente (or nulla) as follows: non + verb + niente.