Spanish words: “Algo…”, “(un) poco…”, “nada…”

algo un poco nada spanish words

In Spanish, many expressions and phrases can help us express quantity. “Algo”, “poco”, and “nada” are among the most popular words Spanish speakers use to express quantity or a certain degree. For that reason, adding them to your vocabulary is one of the best things you can do if you want to improve your skills and sound like a native speaker.

In some scenarios, we will need to use a preposition or an article if we want to “change” the degree or quantity we want to express. Some Spanish students even face a challenge when deciding what prepositions they should is.

So, if you want to learn more about prepositions and these wonderful Spanish tools, you can’t hesitate to read this article.

How to use “algo

Algo is a Spanish word that we can use as a noun or express quantity or degree. When using it as a noun, we often place it before the main verb. Therefore, the formula we use in that situation looks like the one below.

Algo + main verb + complement

“Algo” means “something”. If we want to build a negative sentence, we just need to add the Spanish word “no” between “algo” and the main verb.

Let’s see a few examples using “algo” as a noun.

Algo no está bien.

Something is not right.

Algo me dice que tú no estudiaste para el examen.

Something tells me you didn’t study for the test.

Por algo, cambiamos los boletos de avion.

For something, we changed the plane tickets.

As you may see, in the third example we use the preposition “por” to indicate “purpose”. In that case, the word “algo” is that purpose. Using “algo” to express why we did something will give an open and general idea of what could happen.

If we want to use “algo” to express quantity or degree, we have to place it after the main verb. The formula we generally use is shown below.

Subject + main verb + algo + complement

Now, let’s see some examples.

Me siento algo cansado.

I feel somewhat tired.

El café está algo caliente.

The coffee is somewhat hot.

Estoy algo preocupado por el resultado de las elecciones.

I am somewhat worried about the outcome of the elections.

Ese pantalón me gusta mucho pero está algo costoso.

I like those pants a lot but they are a bit expensive.

Please note that in all of these examples, we use “algo” between the main verb and an adjective. Even though it isn’t mandatory, most native Spanish speakers use “algo” this way to express degree or quantity. Also, “algo” could be translated to “somewhat” or “a bit” depending on the context.

How to use “poco

“Poco” is a very popular word in Spanish. We can use it alone in a sentence or together with the article “un”. Depending on the word combination, we will change the degree or quantity of what we say. “Poco” is the Spanish equivalent of “little”, “little bit”, “a bit”, or “a few”.

The formula we use when we build a sentence using “poco” looks like the one below.

Subject + verb + un (optional) + poco + complement.

Please note that using the article “un” is optional as we will use it depending on the context. If we use a feminine noun right after “poco”, we will need to change “poco”’s ending.

Let’s see an example.

Hay poca masa para hacer pizza.

There is little dough to make pizza.

The Spanish word masa is a feminine word in Spanish. Consequently, we change “poco” to “poca”. On the other hand, there are some irregular situations where we will use a masculine noun but we still use “poca” instead of “poco”.

Let’s see the sentence below.

Había poca agua en el tanque. Por eso, no me bañé.

There was little water in the tank. That’s why I didn’t take a shower.

The word Agua is masculine. Yet, we use “poca”. In all of these cases, we use “poco” to express quantity since we are using it together with the verb “haber”.

If we want to use “poco” to express degree, we use it together with an adjective. It can help us express moods.

The formula we often use in this scenario is the one shown below.

Subject + verb + un poco + adjective + complement.

Now, let’s see a few examples.

Estoy un poco molesto por lo que acabas de hacer.

I’m a little upset about what you just did.

Estás manejando un poco rápido. Por favor, disminuye la velocidad.

You’re driving a little fast. Please slow down.

Voy un poco apresurado, ¿podemos hablar luego?

I’m a bit rushed, can we talk later?

As you may realize, we often use “un poco” to express degree when we use “poco” together with adjectives. On the other hand, we can also use “un poco” with nouns. However, we will have to make a few tweaks to sentences and add the preposition “de”.

Let’s see some examples below.

Había un poco de agua en el tanque.

There was some water in the tank.

Compré un poco de Gatorade para luego del entrenamiento.

I bought some Gatorade for after training.

In these situations, we use “un poco de”. As a result, no matter if we use a feminine or masculine noun, we will always use “un poco” as saying “una poca” is incorrect. For Spanish speakers, saying “un poco” is a bit different from saying “poco”.

It’s because when we say “un poco” we emphasize that there’s “a little” but in a positive way. On the flip side, using “poco” by itself to express quantity is often seen as a “negative” expression.

How to use “nada

“Nada” is the Spanish word for “anything” or “nothing”. We generally use it to build negative sentences. In some cases, we can use nada to emphasize any feature or “something”. Depending on the context, “nada” will be equivalent to the English expression “at all”.

Let’s see some examples below.

No comiste nada.

You ate nothing.

Nada es lo que parece.

Nothing is what it seems.

¿No hay nada que hacer?

There’s nothing to do?

No estoy nada contento despues de lo que acaba de ocurrir.

I’m not happy at all after what just happened.

Please note that just like all of the other expressions, we can use “nada” together with nouns or adjectives. We generally use “nada” to say something negative. Consequently, in some situations, you will need to use it together with the word “no”.

“Algo”, “poco”, or “nada”?

In summary, “algo”, “poco”, and “nada” are amazing words to express quantity and degree. We can also use them to make questions. If you want to make a question using “nada”, you must use “no” before “nada”. Otherwise, you will make a statement instead of a question.

Keep in mind that “un poco” might slightly change the meaning of the sentence. So, depending on what you try to express, you should use it or not. Practice building sentences with these words. They will definitely help you sound like a native speaker and enhance your communication.


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