Nada, bastante, demasiado, mucho and poco are commonly used adverbs to indicate quantity. Although their job is the same, they are quite different. Take a look!
Uses of nada:
Nada (nothing, anything, not at all) indicates the absence of quantity. It appears in negative sentences and functions as a complement of the verb. In spoken language and more colloquial registers, it modifies adjectives or adverbs.
- No está haciendo nada. He is not doing anything.
- Esta camisa no es nada bonita. This shirt isn’t pretty at all.
- Mi tío no cocina nada bien. My uncle doesn’t cook well at all.
In the last example, ‘nada’ is used to give emphasis to the fact that the uncle doesn’t cook well.
When the adverb nada is placed before another adverb or an adjective, it expresses the opposite meaning of the adjective or adverb.
- Nada bien = mal (badly, bad)
- Nada mal = bien (well, good)
- Nada inteligente = tonto (silly)
- Nada tonto = inteligente (intelligent)
Uses of bastante and demasiado:
Bastante refers to a sufficient amount of something, and demasiado indicates an excessive amount. Both are used as verb complements, although they can also be used to refer to adjectives, adverbs or a noun, determiner. Notice that when bastante precedes a noun, it agrees a number only, and when demasiado precedes a noun, it agrees in both number and gender.
- Habla bastante con sus padres. He speaks pretty often with his parents.
- Es una chica bastante interesante. She’s a pretty interesting girl.
- Lo hizo bastante bien. He did it pretty well.
- Ella dispone de bastante dinero. She has enough money.
- No tiene bastantes lápices. He doesn’t have enough pencils.
- Lo hizo demasiado bien. He did it too well.
- Hay demasiado ruido. There’s too much noise.
- Tiene demasiados lápices. He has too many pencils.
- Hay demasiada humedad. It’s too humid.
- Tiene demasiadas responsabilidades. He has too many responsabilities.
Uses of mucho and poco:
Mucho indicates abundant quantity, and poco indicates insufficient quantity. Both forms can act as verb complements or can modify a noun. When both words modify a noun, they must agree with it in both number and gender.
- Corre mucho / poco. He runs a lot. / He doesn’t run a lot.
- Tiene muchas / pocas amigas. He has a lot of friends. / He has few friends.
- Tiene muchos / pocos coches. He has a lot of cars. / He has few cars.
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