kein/keine vs. nicht

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by aus dem Libanon, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. aus dem Libanon New Member

    Guten Tag,

    I'm facing a problem when using the words ''keine & nicht''. Any helpful idea on how to differentiate between these 2 words & how to use them correctly in the sentence.

    Zum beispiel, können sie sagen:

    - Ich habe keine frage.
    - Ich weiß nicht.
    - Ich kaufe nicht die lampe.

    Viel Danke,
  2. Gernot Back

    Gernot Back Senior Member

    Cologne, Germany
    German - Germany
    If you negate a noun you use the negative article kein_
    If you negate anything else, you use the negative adverb nicht.
  3. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    The standard word sequence for the last sentence is

    Ich kaufe die Lampe nicht.

    "Kaufe" and "nicht" build a bracket.

    Gernot showed:
    If you use the word sequence:
    Ich kaufe nicht die Lampe.
    it requires an explicit or implicit sentence " ..., sondern die andere oder etwas ganz anderes als eine Lampe.", and "die" is not an article but a demonstrative (die=diese) and has to be spoken stressed.
    Ich kaufe nicht die Lampe. is with the article "die" is wrong.

    Note that it is a main clause. In a subordinate clause the word order changes.

    "Nicht" is part of the verb phrase.
    "Kein" usually belongs to a noun phrase. It is to be declined accordingly.

    Compare: "Das ist nicht rot, sondern blau." - "Das ist kein Rot, sondern Blau".

    I do not understand "alles andere". Is there anything which is no noun phrase and can be negated by "kein"? I tried to find but did not.

    In case "Ich habe eine neue Hose. Es ist keine rote, sondern eine blaue." - here the noun is hidden as trace to the first sentence. Es ist keine rote (Hose), sondern eine blaue (Hose).
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  4. Dornröschen

    Dornröschen Member

    Just an addition:
    The phrase "Ich kaufe keine Lampe" would also be correct, meaning that you have no intention of buying a lamp in general, no matter which one.
    "Ich kaufe die Lampe nicht" would mean you are dealing with a specific lamp that you are not going to buy.
  5. dmz11 Senior Member

    English - US
    Hello aus dem Libanon,

    I don't know if this will help you, but the English equivalents of "keine" and "nicht" are:

    nicht = not (and therefore used with verbs) I do not go; he does not speak; we will not buy (Ich gehe nicht; er spricht nicht; wir kaufen nicht/werden nicht kaufen)

    keine = no (and therefore used with nouns) no lamp; no time; no worries (keine Lampe; keine Zeit; keine Sorgen) etc.

    The only hitch with this, which is implied in some of the previous replies, is that when doing a formal/idiomatic translation, you wouldn't necessarily use the direct equivalent. But from a word-for-word equivalent point of view, this is the simplest, most direct way to think of it.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2012
  6. aus dem Libanon New Member

    Thank You, the answers are so helpful.
  7. das brennende Gespenst Senior Member

    Berlin, Deutschland
    Australisches Englisch
    That is a good way to think of them, however, in English, we generally say "not a" instead of no, and that leads to English speakers using "nicht ein-" instead of "kein".

    The reverse is also true. Germans often use "no" instead of "not a":

    I think the best way to think of it is as kein-meaning "not a" or "not any" (as well as "no") - it negates an indefinite noun phrase. If you are negating a definite noun phrase, it is usually better to negate the verb with nicht instead.

    Positive Negative
    Indefinite: Ich habe (etwas) Geld. Ich habe kein Geld. (I don't have any money. I have no money.)
    Definite: Ich habe das Geld. Ich habe das Geld nicht. (I don't have the money.)

    Positive Negative
    Indefinite: Ich habe eine Frau gesehen. Ich habe keine Frau gesehen. (I didn't see a/any/one woman.)
    Definite: Ich habe die Frau gesehen. Ich habe die Frau nicht gesehen. (I didn't see the woman.)

    Positive Negative
    Indefinite: Eine Frau hat mich gesehen. Keine Frau hat mich gesehen. (No woman saw me. / Not one woman saw me.)
    Definite: Die Frau hat mich gesehen. Die Frau hat mich nicht gesehen. (The woman didn't see me.)

    When using a specific indefinite singular noun (when ein- usually translates to one​ in English) usually ein- is used and the verb is negated with nicht. ("Specific indefinite" might seem like a tautology, but it means the speaker has in mind which individual it is, but can't use definite article the / der/die/das because the listener doesn't know which individual it is. Usually in English, we use "one" or "one of the ...-s") This is the only time I can think of when ein- is used with nicht.

    Eine Frau habe ich nicht gesehen. / Ich habe eine Frau nicht gesehen. (There was one woman I didn't see. / I didn't see one of the women. Ie. I saw all the other women)
    Eine Frau hat mich nicht gesehen. (One woman didn't see me. All the others did.)
  8. Resa Reader Senior Member

    :thumbsup: Simply perfect.

    This is also how I normally teach my French students how to make the difference between "ne ......pas" (~nicht) and "ne .......pas de" (~kein/e/r). I simply tell them that we have more or less the same distinction in German: "ein/e/er" becomes "kein/e/r" (negation of the indefinite article) and "un/une/des" becomes "ne .....pas de". If you have the direct article you have "nicht" in German and "ne.....pas + the definite article" in French.

    Er hat ein Auto. > Er hat kein Auto.
    Il a une voiture. > Il n'a pas de voiture.
    He has (got) a car. > He hasn't got a car. / He doesn't have a car.

    Er hat das Auto heute. > Er hat das Auto heute nicht. (Seine Schwester hat es.)
    Il a la voiture aujourd'hui. > Il n'a pas la voiture aujourd'hui. (C'est sa soeur qui l'a.)
    He has the car today. > He doesn't have the car today.

    Well, this might at least help those who also speak some French. ;-)

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