top of page
  • Writer's pictureSarah

How to use "nicht" and "kein" in German


German is a language that uses negation in many different ways, and two of the most important words for negation are "nicht" and "kein". Understanding how to use these words correctly is essential for speaking and writing German fluently. In this blog post, we will explore the different uses of "nicht" and "kein" and provide examples of how to use them correctly.



"Nicht" in German

"Nicht" is a word that is used to negate verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in a sentence. It is used to indicate that something is not true or does not exist. Here are some examples of how to use "nicht" in German:

  1. Negating verbs:

  • Ich arbeite nicht heute. (I'm not working today.)

  • Wir sehen den Film nicht. (We're not watching the movie.)

  • Sie singt nicht gerne. (She doesn't like to sing.)

In these examples, "nicht" is used to negate the verbs "arbeiten" (to work), "sehen" (to see), and "singen" (to sing).

  1. Negating adjectives:

  • Das ist nicht schön. (That's not nice.)

  • Die Suppe ist nicht heiß genug. (The soup is not hot enough.)

  • Der Mann ist nicht freundlich. (The man is not friendly.)

In these examples, "nicht" is used to negate the adjectives "schön" (nice), "heiß" (hot), and "freundlich" (friendly).

  1. Negating adverbs:

  • Er spricht nicht laut genug. (He's not speaking loud enough.)

  • Der Zug kommt nicht pünktlich. (The train is not coming on time.)

  • Ich gehe nicht oft ins Kino. (I don't go to the cinema often.)

In these examples, "nicht" is used to negate the adverbs "laut" (loud), "pünktlich" (on time), and "oft" (often).



"Kein" in German

"Kein" is a word that is used to negate nouns in a sentence. It is used to indicate the absence or non-existence of something.

Here are some examples of how to use "kein" in German:

  1. Negating singular nouns:

  • Ich habe kein Auto. (I don't have a car.)

  • Sie hat kein Geld. (She doesn't have any money.)

  • Er hat keine Zeit. (He doesn't have any time.)

In these examples, "kein" is used to negate the singular nouns "Auto" (car), "Geld" (money), and "Zeit" (time).

  1. Negating plural nouns:

  • Wir haben keine Bücher. (We don't have any books.)

  • Sie haben keine Kinder. (They don't have any children.)

  • Ich esse keine Tomaten. (I don't eat any tomatoes.)

In these examples, "kein" is used to negate the plural nouns "Bücher" (books), "Kinder" (children), and the uncountable noun "Tomaten" (tomatoes).

It's important to note that the endings of "kein" change depending on the gender and case of the noun it's negating. Here are the different forms of "kein":

  • Masculine: kein

  • Feminine: keine

  • Neuter: kein

  • Plural: keine

For example:

  • Ich habe keinen Hund. (I don't have a dog.)

  • Wir haben keine neuen Freunde. (We don't have any new friends.)

  • Sie hat kein rotes Kleid. (She doesn't have a red dress



As with any language, there are some common mistakes that German learners make when using "nicht" and "kein". Here are some of the most common mistakes with these two words:


Using "nicht" instead of "kein"

One of the most common mistakes German learners make is using "nicht" instead of "kein" when negating a noun. For example, instead of saying "Ich habe kein Auto" (I don't have a car), they might say "Ich habe nicht Auto". This is incorrect because "nicht" negates verbs, adjectives, and adverbs, but not nouns. Remember to use "kein" to negate nouns.


Using "kein" incorrectly

Another common mistake is using "kein" incorrectly, particularly with the different genders and cases of nouns. For example, saying "Ich habe keine Hunden" instead of "Ich habe keine Hunde" (I don't have any dogs). Remember to use the correct form of "kein" depending on the gender and case of the noun.


Forgetting to use "nicht" or "kein"

Sometimes, German learners forget to use "nicht" or "kein" at all when negating a sentence. For example, saying "Ich habe Auto" instead of "Ich habe kein Auto" (I have a car). This is incorrect because it doesn't indicate that the speaker doesn't have a car. Remember to use "nicht" or "kein" when negating a sentence in German.


Using double negatives

In English, it's common to use double negatives, such as "I don't have no money". However, in German, double negatives are not used. For example, saying "Ich habe nicht kein Geld" is incorrect. Instead, use either "Ich habe kein Geld" or "Ich habe etwas Geld" (I have some money).


Not paying attention to word order

The word order in German is important, particularly when negating a sentence. The word "nicht" usually comes after the verb, while "kein" usually comes before the noun. For example, saying "Ich habe kein heute Arbeit" instead of "Ich habe heute keine Arbeit" (I don't have any work today) is incorrect. Remember to pay attention to word order when using "nicht" and "kein" in a sentence.


By being aware of these common mistakes and practicing their correct usage, you can improve your German language skills and communicate more effectively in German.







Here are some tips to help you use "nicht" and "kein" correctly in German:

1. Pay attention to the noun's gender and case

Remember that "kein" changes depending on the gender and case of the noun. Use "kein" for masculine and neuter nouns in the nominative and accusative cases, and for feminine nouns in the accusative case. For feminine nouns in the nominative case, use "keine". For plural nouns, use "keine" in all cases.


2. Use "kein" before the noun

Unlike English, which often uses "not" to negate nouns, German uses "kein" before the noun. So instead of saying "not a book", you would say "kein Buch".


3. Use "nicht" to negate verbs, adjectives, and adverbs

Use "nicht" to negate verbs, adjectives, and adverbs. For example, "Ich esse nicht" (I'm not eating), "Ich bin nicht müde" (I'm not tired), and "Das ist nicht schön" (That's not pretty).


4. Place "nicht" after the verb

In a sentence with a single verb, place "nicht" after the verb. For example, "Ich esse nicht" (I'm not eating). However, in a sentence with a modal verb, place "nicht" before the infinitive. For example, "Ich kann nicht schwimmen" (I can't swim).


5. Avoid using double negatives

In German, using double negatives is incorrect. So instead of saying "Ich habe nicht kein Geld" (I don't have no money), say "Ich habe kein Geld" (I don't have any money).


6. Pay attention to word order

Word order is important in German, especially when negating a sentence. Generally, "nicht" comes after the verb and "kein" comes before the noun. For example, "Ich habe kein Auto" (I don't have a car) and "Ich fahre nicht gerne Auto" (I don't like driving a car).

By following these tips and practicing the correct usage of "nicht" and "kein", you can avoid common mistakes and improve your German language skills.



Read more blogs!

7 reasons why Winter is the best time to learn German



What is the difference between German"nein", "nicht" and "kein"



Are businesses open on Sundays in Germany?

Comentarios


bottom of page