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nicht/kein

Discussion in 'Deutsch (German)' started by irene.acler, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Hi :)

    I have a question (I'm sort of beginner with German).

    I want to say I don't like tea, and I found I have to say Ich mag keinen Tee. But could I say Ich mag nicht Tee?
    I don't fully understand when I have to use nicht for the negative form and when I have to use kein.
    Could you please explain me that?

    Thank you in advance :)
     
  2. Toadie

    Toadie Senior Member

    Maryland
    English
    I would either say "Ich mag keinen Tee" or "Tee mag ich nicht". (though I would be totally lying!)
     
  3. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Eheh :)
    But why do you put "Tee" at the beginning of the sentence?
     
  4. Toadie

    Toadie Senior Member

    Maryland
    English
    It simply puts extra stress on "Tee".
     
  5. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    OK, but is the sentence I wrote (Ich mag nicht Tee) wrong then?
     
  6. Toadie

    Toadie Senior Member

    Maryland
    English
    It sounds extremely odd to me, but I wouldn't necessarily say it's wrong. I can assure you it's not the most idiomatic choice, but you should wait for a native speaker to tell you if that would technically be wrong or not.
     
  7. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    OK, thank you, Toadie. I just want to know if I have absolutely to avoid that sentence form, just to know for the future :)
     
  8. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Both those suggestions are perfectly idiomatic. :)
    And you're right, Toadie, "Ich mag nicht Tee" sounds odd - but it isn't grammatically wrong, it is a valid construction.

    But to use this is very marked; probably a poet could use for the sake of rhyme:
    - Ich mag nicht Tee, noch Kaffee noch Wein.
    - Ich mag nicht Tee, Kaffee mag ich lieber.
    Also this construction is less marked if followed by an infinitive, like:
    - Ich mag nicht Tee trinken, bis mir die Blase platzt.
    (Which is a very weird sentence semantically but not marked grammatically.)

    But in a more general statement without any specific context whatsoever one would choose "Ich mag keinen Tee."
    Or alternatively "Tee mag ich nicht", which is stronger; examples for the latter (which is preferred in special contexts):

    - A scene in a hospital, Mike tells John that there's tea available round the clock, to which John answers: "Tee mag ich nicht!" - So here it has been established that tea is the topic, and that John don't likes tee: here this phrase is perfectly idiomatic.
    - A girl stays with her aunt and when asked what she'd like to drink she might say: "Tee mag ich nicht, Kakao ist mir lieber." - Again, perfectly idiomatic.


    There might be a logical reason behind all this but if there is I don't know it; I only can tell you about idiomatic use, which I've done above. :)
     
  9. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Ok, thanks, sokol. I understand.
    But is there a logical reason you can explain to me to say when I have to use nicht and when kein?
     
  10. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    As said, I'm sure there's some explanation somewhere (probably on canoo.net, an excellent source for things like that; or probably a forero can help out here): I have never learned those rules of thumbs for German grammar which are so useful for learners of German but of not much use to native speakers (because they know anyway what's correct in case of "nicht/klein".)
     
  11. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Oh, yes, I know it's different for native speakers. Well, I'll wait for someone who knows the rule. Thank you very much anyway!
     
  12. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Saxony-Anhalt
    German
    Here are some rules for "nicht" und "kein".

    As sokol said, "Ich mag keinen Tee" is a more general statement. I would only use "Tee mag ich nicht" if someone assumes that I like it or offers it to me.

    "Tee mag ich nicht" also implies that you would like or just "like"something else because the emphasise in this sentence is on "Tee".
     
  13. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Ok, I see.
    And if I wanted to say that I don't like a specific activity? For example, I don't like to study: Ich mag nicht studieren. Is that correct? And if I say studieren mag ich nicht?
     
  14. Savra Senior Member

    Hamburg
    Deutsch
    Es handelt sich um eine Satzklammer aus Verb und Negierung; Tee bildet das Mittelfeld und kann nicht einfach am Ende folgen. Wenn es sich um den Gegensatz „nicht … noch“ („weder … noch“) handelt, sieht es schon wieder anders aus, und dann kann man es so sagen wie in Deinen Beispielen. Das geht auch, wenn der Gegensatz weggelassen wird: Ich habe nicht Tee getrunken (sondern Kaffee).

    Mit dem letzten Beispiel (Ich mag nicht Tee trinken, bis mir die Blase platzt) habe ich dann aber Probleme. Meines Erachtens ist das grammatisch falsch, außer man meint, daß man lieber Kaffee trinkt, bis die Blase platzt. Vermutlich ist aber gemeint, daß man nicht trinken möchte, ob nun Tee oder Kaffee. Die Satzklammer besteht hier aus mag und nicht trinken, Tee muß wieder im Mittelfeld stehen.

    P.S.: Wenn meine Blase schon platzen muß, dann lieber durch Tee. ;)
     
  15. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    I think German has in general a preference for "kein" over "nicht" constructions. You would use the "nicht" variant only for a reason, e.g. to put extra emphasis on "Tee". This is probably also the reason why "Tee mag ich nicht" is idiomatic and "Ich mag nicht Tee" is not.
     
  16. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Hi,

    there is one general difference between "kein" and "nicht":

    "Kein" negates the noun phrase while "nicht" usually negates the verb phrase (with few exceptions where it can negate a noun.)

    In our example "keinen" means "nicht einen": Ich mag keinen Tee = ich mag nicht einen Tee. "Einen" is not idiomatic in this sentence - it just shows the grammatical relation.

    "Tee mag ich nicht." "Nicht" belongs to the verb, it negates the verb and in this case its place is at the end. The finit verb is at the second place.

    So we have only two positions for the other phrases:

    Tee mag ich nicht.
    Ich mag Tee nicht.

    "Ich mag nicht Tee!" is a abbreviated coll. form for "Ich mag nicht Tee trinken." It is considered as bad style but children use it when in a crying mood to protest against the tee. "Ich mag nicht Tee!" is non-standard, however.
    In this case "trinken" is the infinite part of the verb phrase and put to the end. "Mag" is the finite part and put to the second position of phrases. "Nicht" is put in front of "Tee trinken" because the verb phrase is "Tee trinken" and it negates this phrase.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
  17. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Hi, Savra. I'm sorry, but I didn't understand so much of what you wrote :eek: Could you please write that in English? Thank you very much.

    Ok, thank you, berndf.

    Hutschi, thank you for your explanation. I think now it's more clear to me the difference between nicht and kein.
    And what about the other sentence I wrote? I don't like to study: Ich mag nicht studieren or studieren mag ich nicht, or neither of the two?
     
  18. berndf Moderator

    Geneva
    German (Germany)
    Both are ok. The second is marked, it emphasizes "studieren".
     
  19. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Ok, thank you, berndf. So if I want to emphasise something, I have to put that something at the beginning of the sencence, don't I?
     
  20. Frank78

    Frank78 Senior Member

    Saxony-Anhalt
    German
    Yes that´s one way. Beside thatt you can stress the word you want to emphasise.

    Standard word order:

    Ich gehe morgen einkaufen - nothing emphasised
    Morgen gehe ich einkaufen - emphasis on tomorrow

    If you want to use word stress for emphasising you can keep the standard word order:
    Ich gehe morgen einkaufen. - I and noone else will go shopping
    Ich gehe morgen einkaufen. - tomorrow (again)
    Ich gehe morgen einkaufen. - I`ll go shopping and not to the doctor, to work,etc.
     
  21. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    Stress is only used in spoken language, but it can be marked italic or bold in written language.

    Only in linguistic texts it is marked for stress in single words.

    Because it is not marked usually, it may cause misunderstandings, depending on the way you read.
     
  22. irene.acler Senior Member

    Trento - Italy
    Italiano
    Good, I think I got it! Thank you all for your help!
     
  23. Hutschi

    Hutschi Senior Member

    Dresden, Universum
    German, Germany
    There is one special form were the noun is negated with "nicht" rather than "kein" - this is in comparisions and derived forms:

    Nicht ich gehe in die Stadt, sondern er.
    Nicht Brot möchte ich, sondern Semmeln.

    Nicht der Bahnhof ist das Ziel, sondern die Bibliothek.

    Derived is, for example:
    Nicht der Bahnhof war das Ziel. Wir gingen zum Flughafen.
     

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