1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Die Schuhe sind nicht groß, …

"Die Schuhe sind nicht groß, sondern klein."

Translation:The shoes are not big, but small.

October 11, 2015



Difference between "aber" and "sondern"?


you use "sondern" when the first sentence is negative but "aber" when the first sentence is positive

Examples : *she is (not) lazy but diligent = sie ist nicht faul, sondern fleißig

*he studies much but without success = er lernt viel, oder ohne Erflog

i hope i could help you :)


Did you mean er lernt viel, aber ohne Erflog....?


yes , you are right but sorry i wrote the sentence wrong. i mean " aber " not "oder"


You mean "Danke schön". "Schon" with "o" means "yet".


Or did you maybe mean "Erfolg"? ;)


Heh those moments when words in other languages sound like boss names in games


Thank you, that makes so much easier to remember! Aber is an optimist and cannot stand negative sentences before self! Sondern is very solemn and and does not mind them ;)


a great way to remember which one to use, thanks


Wonderful mnemonic! Have a lingot :)


So in a nutshell, if theres a "nicht" or a "keine" previously in the sentence then sondern is used, orherwise aber is used?


That's a good rule of thumb for a beginner in this course.

It is possible to have a negative sentence followed by aber, when you are not replacing a mistaken assumption but instead adding something like "but despite that", so your suggestion is not a rule as such.

For example:

die Banane ist nicht groß, sondern klein = The banana is not big, but small (= but instead it is small; but rather it is small -- replacing)

die Banane ist nicht groß, aber süß = The banana is not big, but it's sweet (= but nevertheless, but despite that, but even so -- not replacing)


that makes sense. So when it is not an opposite but a comment on the subject, it might be "aber"?


Thank you for this answer, would you be so kind to give the correct translation for such sentence: The banana is not big, but not small either.


Die Banane ist nicht groß, aber auch nicht klein.


REALLY?? That is so specific, but at least (zumindest?) it's easy to remember. If this is actually true, I think that's amazing. Not just because it's so helpful, but because, like I said, they even have that in the language. I feel like I'm starting to understand why so many great thinkers: scientists, philosophers, etc. have come out of Germany. I think the language encourages the citizens to be more aware of what they're saying. Maybe? I don't know, just a hypothesis!


I think this is not correct. See this thread: https://forum.duolingo.com/comment/11602461 The sentence in this thread is "Ich mag keine Orangen, aber Ich mag Äpfel". What I learnt from that thread is, 'Sondern' suggests replacement. In the present sentence, 'Sondern' is used, because, someone told me that these shoes are big, and I am correcting them, 'No boss, these shoes are not big, but rather they are small'. On the other hand, 'Aber' simply means 'but', and there is no replacement here.


Interesting. Thanks for the tip.


This is much helpful. Thanks a lot. Sometimes I think I'm turning insane because of the german language. XD


Sondern means "but" in the sentence of being rather than something else.


Yep. Constructions like "Not X, but Y" are translated to "Nicht X, sondern Y."


thanks. a bit like, in english, saying neither/nor and either/or -- i guess. nicht is paired with "sondern," not "aber."


So to me it seems exactly what you've said, 'rather'! So when the word 'but' can be replaced with the word 'rather', we use 'sondern', right?


I think sondern often comes in place where you would use 'instead' or 'rather' in English.


I had the same confussion and here is what I have found Aber has the same meaning as however and the contradicted clause can either be positive or negative. Sondern is used "only when" the contradicted clause is negative, in other words contains nicht or kein, and it can be translated as but rather or instead – but not instead of.


According to another thread, use sondern when the options are mutally exclusive and aber when they are not.


I wrote "but rather small" and it was wrong. Why?


"The shoes are not big, but rather small" was accepted for me.


it should be correct. As has been pointed out, it could be ambiguous when written but when pronounced you intone the two meanings of rather differently to make clear that you are using rather in the meaning of instead of and not somewhat. It seems that on this question quite a few answers which should be acceptable Duolingo has not yet been programmed to accept.


the English translation reflects the German but not good English. "but rather small" means both the German, but it also means "but somewhat small." I wrote something that is better English "but rather they are small" which clearly translates the German meaning unambiguously, though it is not a literal translation of the German. It was marked wrong.


why not "but instead"?


I've been asked for a screen shot, but hoe=w does one attavh such?


You will have to upload it to a web site somewhere, then post a link (URL) to the image here as a comment.

It's not possible to attach an image directly or to upload the image to Duolingo.


I wrote "The shoes are not big, but they are small" and it marked it wrong, proceeding to show me two separate answers where both parts of the latter half of my sentence were used independently.


I wrote, " The shoes are not big, but small" and Duolingo marked that as incorrect. Why?


I put that and it was marked correct.


Sounds like Duo doesn't know either.


why is the nicht positioned where it is?


If you're negating an adjective (such as groß), the nicht comes before the adjective.


Would using "aber", , instead of "sondern" make the sentence incorrect?


Can you please explain why?


Please read the question by juangger and the answers from Super-Svensk and me above.


Shouldn't "The shoes are not big but are small" be correct?


i agree! there are so many solutions that aren't considered


this is one of the few sentences that make sense!


Why not "Die Schuhe sind kein Gross"


"kein" negates nouns ("kein" means "nicht ein" = not a).

"groß" is not a noun (and therefore isn't written with uppercase "G"), it's an adjective, so it can't be negated with "kein".


How often do germans use these conjunctions ...as often as we use but ,or,either etc. Or less frequently? If less frequently then what do they use?nl


Why is 'The shoes are not big, but rather small.' not accepted?


In English we frequently would use but in this context


If it's sondern, it's going to be "rather"


I think that the difference between aber and sondern is that aber is a head of a independent clause weather sondern is situated in a dependent subordinate clause ,correct me if am wrong


Can I use sondern to say things like: "I have no choice but to take action" ?



Ich habe keine Wahl, sondern muss handeln would correspond to "I have no choice; rather, I have to act".

In your example, "but" is more like "except", not like "rather, instead".


What about "doch" hów ís it used in a sentence?


aber is fine, although not correct...because humans and control. ;)


My problem I'm having is not in the "sondern" but the "klein." Why isn't the form of that word not "kleine," since the shoes are plural?


Because it's a predicative adjective -- it's not before a noun but is additional information about it.

Predicative adjectives are most often found after a form of the verb "to be", but not always -- as in this example.

Predicative adjectives have no endings for gender/number/case in German.

That's why we see groß and klein without any ending here. They would have the same form regardless of what noun you would be speaking about (der Hund/die Katze/das Pferd ist nicht groß, sondern klein; die Tiere sind nicht groß, sondern klein).


I think, the word "Rather" goes well for Sondern, instead of "But"


Repeated correct entries are being mark wrong. This same sentence is coming up,over and over again. Each time I enter the same exact words given as the correction kt is marked as wrong. the lesson WILL NOT GO TO SOMETHING AND AND COME BACK! BUT INSIST I ENTER THE CORRECT SOLUTION WHICH IS MARK AS WRON,G, EACH TIME ' DO!!!!!!!!!!!


Can you provide a link to a screenshot, please?


Once again, a correct solution is marked wrong, even though what was entered is identical to the solution.


I almost thought that it didn't accept "but rather", but then I saw that I wrote "bug" instead of "big". :D


Oh DL why a typo the system is taking it as an Incorrect Answer, and then one loses all the extra points one has earned. It is a great system & free, but DL has to consider that we are not typist. Good day


Oh learner, why get so upset about virtual points. Learners have to consider that in the end, it's only a game. The important part is to learn, surely, not to get 1000 points per day.


The program will not let me insert "sondern" in the blank. If I skip, it just counts it wrong and comes back again. I can't pass this lesson because of this.


Could you write "The shoes are not big, only small"?


Could you write "The shoes are not big, only small"?



the more i think about this the more i think sondern has no equivalent in English, it really should not be translated as "but" as it has a very specific meaning. "The shoes are not big they are small" would be more accurate English


I used "instead." It was rejected.



"The shoes are not large, instead they are small." rejected.



When do you use sondern and when do you use aber.


Please read the existing comments first; this has been explained several times already. Best to read all of them and compare the explanations.


So that are the shoes are small?


The English translations with this word "sondern" seem a bit stuffy and formal (The shoes are not big, but rather small)... Just wondering if this was the case in German as well? Or is "sondern" a perfectly acceptable word in everyday German?


It's perfectly acceptable in everyday German.


Please read the question by juangger and the answers from Super-Svensk and me above.


Please answer the question in another way as Super-Svensk's answer seems incomplete. Please expand. Thanks.


I did that in my answer to Super-Svensk's comment.


The art of communication is to explain things in a way which others can understand rather than repeating something which people don't understand. Don't worry about my question as I will look elsewhere on the web for an answer. Danke.


Dear biertopf. Please forgive me if I was rude. I was frustrated when I didn't see any new attempt to answer the question which had been asked again and again. I apologize if it sounded rude. I have since found a simple easy to understand answer on another website. Thank you for your response.


The art of communication is to ask questions in a polite way, not in a commanding one. "Could you please..." rather than "Please answer" "Please expand".
If my help is not appreciated, then go look somewhere else. If you don't understand, explain what you don't understand, and not that you don't understand.


"ABER" is used when you want to express the opposite between the statement in the main clause and the one in the subordinate clause.

"SONDERN" is used when the two concepts exclude each other. The two concepts cannot happen at the same time. In the first sentence you have a negation expressed with "nicht" or "kein", wchich will help you to identify the word SONDERN as the appropriate one for the sentence.


Thank you, JohnEGore, for this response, I appreciate it.


Me: "The shoes are not big but smal."

Duo: "That's not correct."

Me: "Really, Duo? I just finished translating a sentence that said 'I'm not learning English, but German.' Did you forget? Here's a reminder: you're teaching me German, not English."


Is sondern the equivalent to spanish "mas bien"?

[deactivated user]

    It's supposed to be: "Die Schulen sind nicht groß."


    No, "Schulen" means "schools", while you are supposed to translate "shoes" (Schuhe).

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