Negation

The 3 different Negation

In German there are 3 different negations:

  • Nein:   „Willst du ein Eis?“ ; „Nein!“
  • Kein:   „Ich möchte kein Eis!“
  • Nicht:   „Ich mag Eis nicht!“

Use of „nein“

„Nein“ is the negative answer to a Question. We used it exclusively to answer questions.

Example:

  • „Hast du deine Hausaufgaben gemacht?“ - „Nein!“
  • „Bist du fertig?“ - „Nein, Mami!“

Use of „kein“

„Kein“ can only negates Nouns. It is used together with nouns that do not have Articles and with nouns with Indefinite Articles.

„Kein“ has to be declined.

Example:

  • „Hast du Durst?“ – „Ich habe keinen Durst.“
  • „Das ist ein Hund.“ – „Das ist kein Hund.“

Declension of „kein“:

Deklination kein

Recommendation: The Negative Article „kein“ 

You can find even more examples and a detailed explanation of usage, formation and declension in the lesson: The Negative Article „kein“ 

Use of „nicht“

„Nicht“ negates an entire sentence or phrase. „Nicht“ can be used to negate Verbs, Adjectives, Adverbs, Pronouns, Prepositions, Proper Nouns and Nouns with Definite Articles.

More simply, everything that can't be negated with „kein“ or „nein“.

  • „Ich esse das nicht.“
  • „Ich habe das nicht gemacht.“
  • „Ich mag dich nicht.“

Negating Entire Sentences / Verbs

The Conjugated main verb is negated, means that the whole sentence / action / situation is negated.

  • „Ich kaufe das Auto nicht.“

Word order: „Nicht“ is at the end of the sentence because the verb has to be in P2!.

With more than one Verb in the sentence

  • „Ich möchte das Auto nicht kaufen.“
  • „Ich habe das Auto nicht gekauft.“

Word order: If there is a 2nd verb in the sentence, Modal Verb, helping verb,... We can place „nicht“ in front of the verb because it is not the one in P2.

Negating an Adverb

  • „Ich wandere gern.“ – „Ich wandere nicht gern.“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Adverb that is negated.

Negating an Adjective

  • „Ich bin schlau.“ – „Ich bin nicht schlau.“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Adjective that is negated.

Negating a Pronoun

  • „Ich habe nicht dich angerufen, sondern Uwe.“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Pronoun that is negated.

Special offer: 5 Ebooks for Free!

Do you like EasyDeutsch? When you buy my Ebooks, you get exercises and even more simple, easy-to-understand explanations, and you also actively support me. Right now there is an offer where you get all 10 EasyDeutsch ebooks for the price of 5 ebooks! Get my ebooks today at a special price: Yes, I want the ebooks and over 100 bonus lessons!

Negating a Proper Noun

  • „Das ist nicht Susi. Das ist Anne!“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Proper Noun that is negated.

Negative Adjuncts and Complements with Prepositions

  • „Ich komme nicht zu deiner Party.“
  • „Ich bin nicht bei Frank.“
  • „Er kommt nicht vor 20 Uhr nach Hause.“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Preposition.

Negating Nouns with Definite Articles or Possessive Pronouns

  • „Er hat nicht seinen Schlüssel, sondern ihren.“
  • „Er hat nicht das Auto, sondern das Fahrrad bezahlt.“

Word order: „Nicht“ needs to be in front of the Article or Possessive Pronoun. (rare and almost always combined with „sondern“). 

Words with Negative opposite

Some words have a negative opposite and form their negation with the opposite: 

Recommendation: Indefinite Pronoun

The words with a negative opposite are all Indefinite Pronouns. For more information on the use and meaning of these words, see Indefinite Pronouns.

Summary

  • Questions are answered in the negative with „Nein“.
  • Nouns with Zero Articles and Indefinite Articles are negated with „kein“.
  • Everything else is negated with „nicht“.
  • „Nicht“ always precedes what is to be negated, unless it negates the Conjugated Verb.
  • There are some words with negative opposite.

Recommendation: Free video lessons every Tuesday & Thursday

Sign up now: Email German Grammar course

Special offer: 5 Ebooks for free!


All German EasyDeutsch Ebooks - 5 plus 5! (5 x 17 = 85)

Buy 5 Ebooks together now and get the other 5 for free!

  1. EasyGerman - German Grammar (Preview)
  2. DaF Grammar Trainer - 300 Exercises (Preview)
  3. 137 German Prepositions (Preview)
  4. Intensive Trainer: German Prepositions (Preview)
  5. Connectors - Conjunctions, Subjunctions, Conjunctional Adverbs (Preview)
  6. 40+ Grammar Lists - Free (Preview)
  7. Nominative, Accusative, Dative or Genitive? - Free (Preview)
  8. Intensive Trainer: German Cases - Free (Preview)
  9. 200+ pages of Grammar Exercises: Level A1-A2 - Free (Preview)
  10. 200+ pages of Grammar Exercises: Level B1-B2 -Free (Preview)

BONUS:

Over 100 ready-to-teach grammar units on all topics of German grammar (A1-B2)

Perfect as homework or for self-learners!

85€ - 219€

Accept gifts and...