German Negation

Die Negation im Deutschen – Erklärungen und Beispiele

German Negation – Summary

Zusammenfassung

Die Verneinung mit “nicht”

Wir verwenden “nicht” zur Negation:

  • von Verben (nicht steht bei einfachen Zeitformen am Satzende, bei zusammengesetzten Zeitformen vor dem Vollverb am Satzende)
    “Er isst nicht.” –  “Er hat gestern Nacht nicht gegessen.”
  • von Nomen mit bestimmtem Artikel oder Possessivpronomen (nicht steht vor dem bestimmten Artikel)
    “Er hat nicht das Futter bezahlt, sondern das Halsband.”
  • von Eigennamen (nicht steht vor dem Eigennamen)
    “Das ist nicht Philips Hund, sondern Julians.”
  • von Pronomen (nicht steht vor dem Pronomen)
    “Ich habe nicht dich angeschrieben, sondern Philip.”
  • von Adjektiven (nicht steht vor dem Adjektiv)
    “Das ist nicht gerecht!”
  • von Adverbien (nicht steht vor dem Adverb)
    “Er isst nicht gerne Kuchen.”
  • von Ort, Zeit sowie Art/Weise (nicht steht vor der Präposition, die zur Angabe von Ort, Zeit bzw. Art/Weise gehört)

Die Verneinung mit kein

Wir verwenden “kein“:

  • bei Nomen ohne Artikel
    “Ich habe Angst.” – “Ich habe keinen Angst.”
  • anstelle eines unbestimmten Artikels
    “Das ist ein Hund.” – “Das ist kein Hund.”

“Nein, ich will kein Deutsch mehr lernen!”

Hopefully, you will never think or say that. Just think of the beautiful German language, its pronunciation, its irregular verbs and exceptions from the grammar rules and…
No, I hope that you know that its just a joke! Of course, German is a beautiful language, and it is the entrance the to a whole new world full of new people and culture.

But, I just needed something to introduce the topic of this article, the German negation. So, as you have clicked on this page of language-easy.org, I suppose that you are ready to enter this depth of German grammar. Well, the German negation is actually not too complicated. Although, there are some parts that do not exist in this form in the English language – and these are the parts where you simply have to study hard.

So, what is the German negation? In the following I’d like to give you a short definition of this term in German grammar. Furthermore, we will talk about the correct usage of German negation and its different negation phrases.

What’s the German Negation?

Well, as already mentioned, we should clear up what the German negation actually is. So, please try to keep in mind the following ‘definition’.

The German negation or negatives sentences are formed with the word “nicht” (not) and “kein” (no/none).

In the following, we will have a look at the more complicated part of German negation and try the clear up when to use “kein” or “nicht” in a German sentence. Auf geht’s!

The Usage of Nicht in German

Die Verwendung des “Nicht” im Deutschen

So, in this section we will talk about the correct usage of the negation word “nicht”. Well, you simply use the word “nicht” to negate sentences in German. Furthermore, the position of “nicht” in a phrase can vary, depending on what part we want to negate or emphasize. In the following, I’d like to list the most common ways of using “nicht” in the correct way.

How and When to Use “kein”

  1. First, you can use “nicht” in the German negation at the end of a sentence with verbs in simple tenses, like the present or the past tense…
    “Philip weint nicht.” – Philip doesn’t cry.
    … Whereas in compound tenses like the perfect tense it is before the full verb.
    “Philip ist gestern nicht nach Hause gekommen” – Yesterday, Philip hasn’t come home.
  2. Second, “nicht” is put before the definite article or possessive pronoun used with nouns.
    “Philip hat nicht nur ein Bier getrunken, sondern viele!”
  3. Third, and very similar to the second point, in front of names or proper nouns.
    “Das war nicht Julians Fahrrad, sondern Philips.”
  4. Fourth, you place “nicht” before pronouns.
    “Philip hat nicht dich angerufen, sondern Julian.”
  5. Fiths, in front of adjectives.
    “Das ist nicht besonders schlau!”
  6. Sixth, you can put it before adverbs.
    “Philip lernt nicht gerne.”
  7. Seventh and last, you can put “nicht” before the prepositions with indicators of place, time and manner in a German negation.
    “Philip wohnt nicht mehr in Bayern.”

Finally, I’d like to mention that “nicht” almost always come before the word it negates. Well, the only exception is when it negates a verb.

The Usage of kein in German

Die Verwendung des “Kein” im Deutschen

Well, this part of the text about German negation is about the correct usage of the word “kein”. So, as “nicht”, we also use “kein” in the negation of a sentence.

  • First, we use the word “kein” with nouns that don’t have a article.
    “Philip hat kein Fahrrad.”
  • Second, “kein” is used as a replacement for an indefinite article.
    “Das ist kein Hund.”

So, in the following table I’d like to show you the ending for “kein”. Of course, all of have noticed immediately, that the ending are identical with the endings of possessive pronouns.

GenderNominativeGenitiveDativeAccusative
Masculinekeinkeineskeinemkeinen
Femininekeinekeinerkeinerkeine
Neuterkeinkeineskeinemkein
Pluralkeinekeinerkeinenkeine

Now, as we have cleared up nearly everything about the words “nicht” and “kein” in the context of German negation, I’d like to mention a last short point.

The Usage of “nicht” and “kein” with “sondern”

Well, this point is nothing to worry about – but still worth mentioning it. Well, you simply will not get confused in case you want  to combine these words with “sondern”: Both of them are valid.

  • “Philip mag keine Coca Cola, sondern Wasser.”
  • “Philip mag nicht Coca Cola, sondern Wasser.”

The Usage of “doch” after a negative Question

At the end I want you show a small exclusion of saying yes. Normally you allways answer yes in German with “ja”.

  • Hast du eine gute Note? Ja ich habe eine gute Note.
  • Kommst du heute nach Hause? Ja ich komme nach Hause.

But after a negative question you have to say “doch” if you want to say yes.

  • Kommst du heute nicht nach Hause? Doch ich komme nach Hause.
  • Hast du heute keinen Durst? Doch ich habe Durst.
German Negation

Exercises

Übungen

Finally, we have reached the last part of this article where you can prove the German skills you have just learned. In the following you will see some phrases that you should complete with the correct terms. Once you have filled all the gaps, just click on the “correct” button and  you can see your errors and the correct results. Good luck and… auf Wiedersehen!

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