1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Das Kind isst nicht Orangen."


"Das Kind isst nicht Orangen."

January 3, 2013



Why is this sentence not "Das Kind essen keine Orangen."?


"essen" is either infinitive or plural (wir/sie essen). "Das Kind" = 3rd person singular - "isst"


True enough. But the actual issue here I think is why is this "...nicht Orangen." and not "...keine Orangen." I don't know the answer. "...nicht Orangen." sounds wrong to me. I would have said "Das Kind isst keine Orangen." Christian?


It's nicht because in this case, nicht signifies not eating oranges in general. The child doesn't eat oranges, ever. If it was keine instead, it would imply a specific amount of oranges the kid is refusing to eat. "Das Kind isst keine drei Orangen" is more appropriate for such an instance.


Here's my take.

  • Das Kind isst nicht Orangen.

This is grammatical, but it sounds quite odd to me as I'd expect the sentence to continue and tell what the child is in fact eating. For instance: "Das Kind isst nicht Orangen, sondern Birnen."

  • Das Kind isst Orangen nicht.

This means that the child never eats oranges. The sentence is grammatical, but personally, I'd use the "kein" negation. This might just be my personal preference, though.

  • Das Kind isst keine Orangen.

This negation sounds the most natural to me. It's also the most universal one in terms of context. It means the child isn't eating oranges or the child doesn't (ever) eat oranges.


I have no reason to doubt your explanation, it's just I've never heard that before. Of course that should come as no surprise to me, because my German is not that good. But, assuming that it is okay to use "nicht" here, it still seems awkward to me. Why not "Das Kind isst Orangen nicht."? Or are both okay? Or is my way simply wrong?


For some reason I can't reply to your comment further down the chain...so...My non-native language guess is "Das Kind isst nicht Orangen" means "The kid does NOT eat oranges". "Das Kind isst keine Orangen" means "The kid eats no oranges"....not that he never eats oranges, just that right now, that kid is eating a sum of 0 oranges. I would say that "Das Kind ist Orangen nicht" also works but maybe it sounds bad to a German ear.


Also, forgive the typo ist=isst


I agree with chubbard. I just discussed this with a native and of course he understands (used to my broken German) but basically we considered two options: the child eats no oranges (never ever) and the child does not eat the oranges (at this moment, those particular oranges) and would be, respectively,

( Das Kind isst keine Orangen, Das Kind isst Orangen nicht) , Das kind isst die Orangen nicht.

It is not really possible to do translation word by word on this sentence.


I agree. The "isst nicht" sounds plain wrong to me. It should be "keine Orangen"

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.