I found that the sentence "Loro non hanno assunto nessuno" translates to "They did not hire anyone".

Since nessuno begins with "n-", I would think it translates to "no one", but the English word in this case is "anyone". Is there a separate word for "anyone"? Why is "nessuno" used here? This seems like a double negative to me - are those common in Italian?

  • 2
    Well, maybe my problem is that I don't understand the difference of usage between "no one" and "anyone" because I would translate this sentence as "They hired no one".
    – Charo
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 9:06
  • 1
    You use "non" with "nessuno" when "nessuno" is written after the verb. For instance, "Qui non c'è nessuno" but "Nessuno ha parlato".
    – Charo
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 9:14
  • Both. It depends on the context.
    – DrewBear
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 16:36

1 Answer 1


Yes, double negatives are grammatical, and common, in Italian.

See on this monolingual dictionary, for instance:

Se posposto al verbo, è di solito rafforzato da altra negazione (non, né, senza, ecc.).

My translation: when the word nessuno comes after the verb, usually it is reinforced by another negation: non, né, senza, etc.

Examples from the same source:

non c’era quasi nessuno; nessuno ha potuto vedermi; non mi ha visto nessuno

You could say non hanno assunto alcuna persona instead, which would be the literal translation (any = alcuno), but it is used a lot less.

Also, a historical note from the same source

L’uso di nessuno insieme a un’altra negazione non era ammesso nel latino classico, ma trova ampi riscontri nel latino tardo ed era perfettamente accettabile già nell’italiano antico

già non è nessuno / cui non posse di botto / dicere (B. Latini, Il tesoretto).

  • 5
    I'd say that anyone translates more accurately as chiunque. The problem is that in Italian double negatives are essentially mandatory, and so giving a word-for-word translation of a sentence is problematic.
    – Denis Nardin
    Commented Dec 16, 2018 at 13:15

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