Hier sind keine Ratten (Kein always right after the verb?)

loureed4

Senior Member
Spanish
Hello,

I have this sentence: "Hier sind keine Ratten" (= "Rats are not here.")

Could I have written that as: "Ratten sind keine hier" ? . Because I think that "keine" has to be always placed right after the verb. Am I mistaken about this?

Thanks a lot in advance!
 
  • Hutschi

    Senior Member
    Hello,

    I have this sentence: "Hier sind keine Ratten" (= ":tick: ...")

    Could I have written that as: "Ratten sind keine hier":tick: ? . ...



    Hi,
    "keine" basically negates "eine" and belongs to a noun. It means approximately "nicht eine" (I wrote "approximately" because it is not in a mathematical sense).

    So it depends on the noun and not on the verb.

    Can a noun and "kein" be separated? Yes it can.

    The base form is "Es sind keine Ratten da." ("Es" is an replacement subject to make sure the (finite) verb is at the second position.

    You can transform it (with small changes of meaning, but basically it is the same):

    Da sind keine Ratten. (There are no rats.)
    Keine Ratten sind da. (No rats are here.)
    Ratten sind da keine. (There are no rats.)

    Between "keine" and "Ratten" you can add adjectives. "Da sind keine grauen Ratten, nur weiße."
    If it is clear from context, you can omit "Ratten".
    "Da sind keine."

    Compare "nicht" negates the verb.
    Ratten sind da nicht.
    There aren't any rats.

    "Kein" negates the noun.
    Da sind keine Ratten.
    There are no rats.

    That is why the position of "kein" does not depend directly on the position of the verb, as long as the verb is at the right place (second position in a main clause).
     
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    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Hi,
    "keine" basically negates "eine" and belongs to a noun. It means approximately "nicht eine" (I wrote "approximately" because it is not in a mathematical sense).

    So it depends on the noun and not on the verb.

    Can a noun and "kein" be separated? Yes it can.

    The base form is "Es sind keine Ratten da." ("Es" is an replacement subject to make sure the (finite) verb is at the second position.

    You can transform it (with small changes of meaning, but basically it is the same):

    Da sind keine Ratten. (There are no rats.)
    Keine Ratten sind da. (No rats are here.)
    Ratten sind da keine. (There are no rats.)

    Between "keine" and "Ratten" you can add adjectives. "Da sind keine grauen Ratten, nur weiße."
    If it is clear from context, you can omit "Ratten".
    "Da sind keine."

    Compare "nicht" negates the verb.
    Ratten sind da nicht.
    There aren't any rats.

    "Kein" negates the noun.
    Da sind keine Ratten.
    There are no rats.

    That is why the position of "kein" does not depend directly on the position of the verb, as long as the verb is at the right place (second position in a main clause).
    Really interesting!!

    Yesterday I learned that "Es gibt" means "There are" , but you wrote "Da sind" as "There are", I am a bit confused about that Hutschi.

    I don't get any rule to place "keine" but thanks for letting me know that it modifies the noun, and not the verb! :)

    Really interesting too the explanation about "nich" modifying the verb and "kein (nicht ein)" modifying the noun!

    I will have to reread it, because it is really interesting! . Vielen Dank Hutschi!
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You said "Ratten sind da nicht. = There aren't any rats."

    Then, how do you say "Rats are not there." ? . I can't speak much because I am a total beginner but wouldn't that be: "Ratten sind da nicht" ?

    :)
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    I have this sentence: "Hier sind keine Ratten" (= "Rats are not here.")

    Could I have written that as: "Ratten sind keine hier" ? . Because I think that "keine" has to be always placed right after the verb. Am I mistaken about this?
    Usually an article like the negative article kein~ always precedes a noun and is part of a noun phrase (NP).

    However, the topic-comment structure of a text can make it necessary to put only a part of an NP into the pre-field of a German sentence.
    This phenomenon is called split NP topicalization and it is very usual in colloquial oral German.

    The English equivalent to your above German sentence

    Ratten sind keine hier.

    ... would be sth. like

    As for rats, there aren't any here.

    ... focussing on rats as as the topic of the sentence, which must have been mentioned directly or indirectly in the preceding context.



    http://people.umass.edu/lyn/leftwardmoved.pdf
    http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/console19-proceedings-ott.pdf
    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2546424&langid=3
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks Gerno!

    I really appreciate but it is too difficult, sorry. I am just a beginner, I know nothing of German, I feel overwhelmed.

    Vielen Dank! :)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Let me give a slightly less technical answer.
    loureed4 said:
    I have this sentence: "Hier sind keine Ratten" (= "Rats are not here.")
    Your equals-sign is not quite correct here.
    "Hier sind keine Ratten" does not mean "Rats are not here" (which would mean they are not here but somewhere else), it means "There are no rats here" (which focuses on the absence of rats from this place).
    Could I have written that as: "Ratten sind keine hier" ?
    Yes, you can say this, but it would have a slightly different meaning. It focuses on the rats, it means there might be mice here, but no rats.
    Yesterday I learned that "Es gibt" means "There are" , but you wrote "Da sind" as "There are", I am a bit confused about that.
    "There are" has different meanings. Broadly speaking, if it means "they exist", use "es gibt", if it means "they are here/there", use "hier/da sind".
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    You said "Ratten sind da nicht. = There aren't any rats."

    Then, how do you say "Rats are not there." ? . I can't speak much because I am a total beginner but wouldn't that be: "Ratten sind da nicht":tick: ?

    :)
    It is "Ratten sind da nicht" or "Ratten gibt es da nicht." Both mean the same in this case.
    "da" indicates the place as in English "there" in your sentence.
    In German you can also move phrases in the sentence, but it will be too complicate for the moment. II try to keep it parallel to English.

    The sentences have the same meaning.
    Please consider also, I am no native speaker of English, so parts may sound strange.
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    Thanks a lot!
    Could I post some questions that arised while reading your nice replies?:

    1- "HIER sind keine Ratten" = "There are no rats HERE." (btw: I don't see here "there are") :)

    2- "Es sind keine Ratten DA." = There are no rats THERE." ...why not: "DA sind keine Ratten" ?

    Another question is:

    "Ratten sind da nicht" = "There aren't any rats" and I have also read that it means "Rats are not there" ? (post #8)

    I GUESS ALL MY CONFUSION COMES FROM SEEING "SIND" TRANSLATED AS "THERE ARE"


    I feel I am being annoying, I hope that not to be the case. :)
     
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    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    1- "HIER sind keine Ratten" = "There are no rats HERE." (btw: I don't see here "there are")
    Hier = here = aquí; Literally it would become Here are no rats, but in English this construction is unnatural, so we turn it around, putting here to the end and adding a dummy subject there to the front. This "there" does not mean "over there" (allá), but instead "there are" is equivalent to French "il y a".
    I hope this helps clear up your confusion over why "sind" becomes "there are". This is more an English problem than a German problem.
    2- "Es sind keine Ratten DA." = There are no rats THERE." ...why not: "DAS sind keine Ratten" ?
    Das sind keine Ratten would mean Those are no[t] rats [they may look like rats but are actually hamsters].
    Das = That/those; Da = There [in the sense of over there (allá)]. In the sentence "There are no rats there" we have two different uses of there, the first is part of "il y a", the second is "allá".
    But you could say "Da sind keine Ratten", which means the same as "Es sind keine Ratten da", except that it focuses more on the place than on the rats.
    "Ratten sind da nicht" = "There aren't any rats" and I have also read that it means "Rats are not there" ? (post #8)
    "Ratten sind da nicht" or "Ratten sind da keine" is a changed word order from the original "Da sind keine Ratten"; it changes the nuance of the meaning. See post #7.
    But "Rats are not there" is not a natural thing to say in English, so your question in #4 (answered in #8) is pointless (if we never say it, it doesn't matter what it means); you could say "The rats are not there", but that would refer to a particular group of rats.
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    But "Rats are not there" is not a natural thing to say in English, so your question in #4 (answered in #8) is pointless (if we never say it, it doesn't matter what it means); you could say "The rats are not there", but that would refer to a particular group of rats.
    What is the reason for not being a natural thing to say in English Rats are not there? The subject precedes the predicate with or without an article!
    The reason is the topic-comment structure that I mentioned in post #5: You cannot start a sentence with a topic that has not been mentioned directly or indirectly in the context before!
    It is different with the definite article because this indicates that the topic has already been mentioned before, whereas the omission of an article (zero article) indicates the opposite in English!
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    (1) What is the reason for not being a natural thing to say in English Rats are not there? (2) The subject precedes the predicate with or without an article!
    (3) The reason is the topic-comment structure that I mentioned in post #5: (4) You cannot start a sentence with a topic that has not been mentioned directly or indirectly in the context before!
    I'm not entirely sure whether your question (1) is directed at me and you want me to answer it, or whether you intend (3+4) to be your own answer to it. If the latter, I don't understand what the purpose of (2) is, because it looks like a justification for contradicting the premise of the question (as though you were saying "The subject precedes the predicate and therefore it should be a natural thing to say!").

    Dies geht leider etwas off-topic weil es um englischen, nicht deutschen, Sprachgebrauch geht, aber es hängt ja mit Übersetzten zusammen, und verstößt deshalb hoffentlich nicht allzusehr gegen die Forenregeln.

    The trouble with English is that it is more intuitive and less governed by rules than all your scientific references would have us believe. English usage is largely determined by people who don't know the rules! That's why my choice of word "natural" was a careful one. I didn't say it's not correct (that would need a reason, namely that it violates some rule), I said it's not natural (which means there doesn't need to be a reason - it's just the way it is - there is no real reason why we should not say Rats are not there, we just prefer to express the same idea in a different way). I don't think your topic-rule adequately explains this phenomenon, because saying Rats are everywhere is fine.
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    I don't think your topic-rule adequately explains this phenomenon, because saying Rats are everywhere is fine.
    I think the topic-comment rule explains it quite well:

    Ein dritter Fall besteht darin, dass weder Thema noch Rhema von Satz 1 in Satz 2 aufgegriffen werden, z. B.: „Peter ist ziemlich erkältet. Die Arbeitsstelle ist schlecht beheizt.“ Hier liegt ein thematischer Sprung vor. Dass wir beide Sätze aufeinander beziehen, liegt daran, dass wir uns den Zusammenhang mit Hilfe unseres Wissens über die Welt erschließen.
    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thema-Rhema-Gliederung#Arten_der_Thema-Rhema-Progression

    Maybe we should introduce a fourth case, where a new topic doesn't even have to be introduced in the preceding context, when we are talking about commonplace knowledge of the world.

    Rats as a species are well-known. Saying that they can basically exist everywhere, where we as the human species can exist, is almost a commonplace.
    On the other hand, the statement "Rats are not there (in a certain place, mentioned before)" does not fall in that commonplace category.
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I am begining to feel like a pain in the neck, sorry.

    But:

    "Hier sind keine Ratten" =

    1."There are no rats here."
    and
    2."The rats are not here."


    ?

    Am I being so slow in German? . Oh my, I am feeling terribly clumsy! , but I prefer to ask until I understand this "there are" versus "are" issue.

    *Edinburgher, your explanation about "sind" turning into "there are" is great, MAYBE THAT IS ALL?. Sorry if I am making a mountain out of a mole-hill
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    No, "Hier sind keine Ratten" and "Es sind keine Ratten hier" and "Es gibt keine Ratten hier" all mean (1), not (2).

    (2) would be "Die Ratten sind nicht hier".

    (1) means this place has no rats. (2) means the particular group of rats we're interested in is not in this place.

    es gibt = es sind = there are = il y a (here es, there, and il are auxiliary subjects)
     

    Edinburgher

    Senior Member
    German/English bilingual
    Das wird mir ehrlich gesagt zu kompliziert!
    Gernot Back said:
    Maybe we should introduce a fourth case, where a new topic doesn't even have to be introduced in the preceding context, when we are talking about commonplace knowledge of the world.
    But "introducing a fourth case" sounds too much like inventing new add-on rules to explain observations which the existing old rules fail to explain. I'm not sure that approach is all that much better than saying "forget rules, that's just how it is", because you risk ending up with more rules than are helpful.
     

    Hutschi

    Senior Member
    1. "Hier sind keine Ratten" =
    "There are no rats here."

    2. Die Ratten sind nicht hier.
    "The rats are not here."

    In first approximation all sentences are synonym.
    The difference is really small. 2. requires that rats exists.
    1. does not require this fact, strictly speaking, as well in English and in German.
    But we can assume that this restriction is very rare in praxis.

    To the other main question.

    As you saw in the other messages, the position of "kein" does not depend on the verb.

    Keine Ratten sind hier. - this is absolutely wellformed and the sentence means the place here is free of rats. "There are no rats here."
     
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    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    I finally got it, Thanks!!. I was thinking to leave it pass and re-think about this some time afterwards within a month or so...FORTUNATELY WE WERE REALLY KIND AND PATIENT WITH ME. Many thanks!

    Gernot , we don't say "Ratas no hay aquí" but "Aquí no hay ratas". :) . Having said this:

    "Aquí no hay ratas" = "No hay ratas aquí." (They are totally equal in meaning.

    Many thanks again! :)
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    Gernot , we don't say "Ratas no hay aquí" but "Aquí no hay ratas". :)
    Are you sure?
    Julio Villa-García said:
    2.4.2. The emergence of left-dislocations and overt subjects in child Spanish
    (...)
    Illustrative examples of early dislocations in child speech are given in
    (...)
    (18).
    • (...)
    • (...)
    • (...)
    • Monos no hay
      monkeys not are
      ‘As for monkeys, there aren’t any.’
    https://www.google.de/search?q="monos+no+hay"+"Spanish+subjects+can+be+subjects"&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:de:official&client=firefox-a&gws_rd=cr

    I admit that this is only an example of child language and that especially with the verb haber in its impersonal form "hay" it is unusual, but the phenomenon of topicalization and left dislocation as such is quite usual in Spanish and the position of the object does make a difference here.
    Barbara Armstrong Lafford said:
    Spanish demonstrates a similar pattern for generic preposed topics, but, as noted above, specific preposed topics must appear in a Clitic Left Dislocation construction, as in (14b).

    (14)
    • Vitamins, I take everyday. / Your book, I bought.
    • Vitaminas tomo todos los días. / Tu libro, *(lo) he comprado.
      ‘Vitamins I take every day.’ / ‘Your book *(CL) I have bought.’
    http://books.google.de/books?id=3iQpML7dNM8C&pg=PA205&lpg=PA205&dq="Spanish+demonstrates+a+similar+pattern+for+generic+preposed+topics"&source=bl&ots=hhdSckQyAK&sig=Qvq7T7ahq5Zpz8pKvHiU4fSR9uE&hl=de&sa=X&ei=EZDzUZKuEoWttAaW8IGABA&ved=0CDEQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q="Spanish demonstrates a similar pattern for generic preposed topics"&f=false
     

    loureed4

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    You are ABSOLUTELY right Gernot!!

    "Monos no hay aquí, pero perros sí, así que ten cuidado" = "There aren't monkeys here but threre are dogs, so be careful."

    It is not childish by the way, I use this a lot, so, I just...it slipped from my mind, hehe

    Indeed, you are quite right! :) . THANKS!
     

    ernest_

    Senior Member
    Catalan, Spain
    Usually an article like the negative article kein~ always precedes a noun and is part of a noun phrase (NP).

    However, the topic-comment structure of a text can make it necessary to put only a part of an NP into the pre-field of a German sentence.
    This phenomenon is called split NP topicalization and it is very usual in colloquial oral German.

    The English equivalent to your above German sentence
    Ratten sind keine hier.

    ... would be sth. like
    As for rats, there aren't any here.

    ... focussing on rats as as the topic of the sentence, which must have been mentioned directly or indirectly in the preceding context.
    Interesting... so, when kein is separated, is it still an article or is it a pronoun? For example, which one of the following is correct:

    Buch gibt es kein hier.

    or...

    Buch gibt es keines hier.

    :confused:
     

    Gernot Back

    Senior Member
    German - Germany
    Interesting... so, when kein is separated, is it still an article or is it a pronoun? For example, which one of the following is correct:

    Buch gibt es kein hier.:cross:

    or...

    Buch gibt es keines hier.:cross:

    :confused:
    The last sentence would rather be.

    Ein Buch gibt es kein[e]s hier.

    But this is very colloquial, especially in the singular. The plural would be more common, probably because, in the plural, the negative article and the negative pronoun are identical:

    Bücher gibt es keine hier.

    Without having read his whole paper, I think that it is exactly this conflict between the singular neuter form (pronoun) and its alleged function (article) that makes Dennis Ott question the whole concept of split NP topicalization and postulate two separate, predicatively related noun phrases instead.
    http://media.leidenuniv.nl/legacy/console19-proceedings-ott.pdf
     
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