Translation:I am not learning English, but German.
"I do not learn English, rather German" is not technically correct; in English, we would say, "I do not learn English, BUT rather, German." I am also finding that this is a helpful indicator (mentally) of sondern vs. aber; sondern implies a substitution; not this, but that; or this, instead of that.
No aber would require a syntactic change in this sentence and would end up producing a quite different message. Since aber does not necessarily add a simple replacement, just saying aber would be more like saying I am not learning English, but I am learning German (to suggest that it, too, may be useful. The sondern sentence just corrects the facts, it doesn't open doors to further exploration.
I actually have always said them both together in this case in English. I am certainly not the only one, but it's obviously not as standard as I thought. But if you are only going to use one, I agree rather in better than but. If you report it, it probably will be accepted (in time). But just as a heads-up, Duo does always accept but rather for sondern (and sino and this word in other languages).
They would both be acceptable.
I feel like this is a pretty good guide for the usage of "nicht".
That guide is rather inaccurate and much too complicated. In reality, "nicht" simply precedes whatever it is negating. The only tricky part is that, when it comes to verbs, "nicht" doesn't precede the finite verb (in Julian872323's example sentences "lerne"), but the non-finite part of the predicate. In their example sentences, the predicate is "Englisch lernen" in the first one or just "lernen" in the second. Or in other words, "Ich lerne nicht Englisch." means "I am not learning English.", while "Ich lerne Englisch nicht." translates to "I am not learning English.".
Edit: It seems like NeoTubNinja changed the link since I wrote my post. The new link (dartmouth) is much better and quite accurate as far as I can tell.
I changed the link to something a little better. It's an ivy league school so it can't be wildly inaccurate. However, there is still a sizable chunk of info about nicht. While it may not be complicated, I don't think it can be just brushed off.
One point of contention I have is about the tricky part. I can't see anybody putting nicht in front of the finite verb. Since the finite verb occupies the 2nd slot, that would require nicht to be in the 1st slot which just wouldn't happen. Especially from somebody like myself whose native language is English. That would be like saying "I not am learning English."
Another point of contention I have is with the examples. I'm assuming anything italicized is what is being negated, correct?
From what I understand, negating before the element (Englisch in this case) puts emphasis on that element. So I would think "Ich lerne nicht Englisch." correlates to "I'm not learning English." Conversely, negating at the end of the sentence seems to negate the general idea of the sentence. That would mean "Ich lerne Englisch nicht." correlates to "I am not learning English." or "Learning English I am not." if you prefer to keep the italics together. So I'm not sure why with the 2nd example you're emphasizing learning only. To me that carries implications that one is not learning English, but doing something else to/with English. If that's the case, why not use something like "Ich lerne nicht Englisch, sondern ich lehre." where you still keep nicht before Englisch?
The best way I can think to phrase it is in mathematical terms. Discrete to be exact. If ~ is a negation, then the first sentence would look like ~(English) and the second would look like ~(I am learning English).
Based off the new link I provided, it looks like in this situation, with the presence of sondern, nicht would go before Englisch like it does in this example. It also looks like Englisch is the verb complement of Englisch lernen and as such, the complement goes at the end with nicht coming before it.
If you have any more appropriate links that could clarify what you meant, I'm all eyes. Always happy to work on my German and fix my mistakes.
The placement of nicht in a sentence is sort of complex. You are right that Englisch learnen is a little like a separable verb. Here is a link talking about the placement of nicht.
"Nicht" is possible because you are contrasting: "not A, but (rather) B".
But "kein" should also be possible here.
Compare the difference in English between "I have no cats" (ich habe keine Katzen) and "I have not cats but dogs" (ich habe nicht Katzen, sondern Hunde) - though "I have no cats, but instead dogs" (Ich habe keine Katzen, sondern Hunde) would also be possible.
"Kein" is not used in this case. I don't know if there is a technical or grammatical reason for that, but it would sound like very bad style (to me as a native speaker, that is).
"Ich lerne kein Englisch" all by itself is only strange. "Ich lerne kein Englisch, sondern Deutsch" is worse.
I think the issue here is that we are talking about what we Learn. To negate a verb you always use nicht. I think this varies with the verb, to some extent. But the equivalent expression in English I learn no English also sounds a little strange. With a verb like speak it is different. Both I don't speak English (Ich spreche nicht Englisch) and I speak no English (Ich spreche kein Englisch) work. But whatever the rule, it seems to work for both languages
Kein is used for countable nouns whereas nicht is a general negation and is typically attached to verbs in my experience. Easiest to think of kein as "not a".
If you can use the pronoun a (ein) with a noun, you will end up using not a (kein).
Ich habe eine Katze. (I have a cat.) Ich habe keine Katze. (I don't have a cat.)
Ich bin fertig. (I am ready.) Ich bin nicht fertig. (I am not ready.)
In the second example there is no pronoun so you use nicht to negate the verb "bin".
The only exception I can think of to these rules is when talking about your profession. You would normally say something along the lines of, "Ich bin Arzt.", leaving out ein. However, in the negation you don't say "Ich bin nicht Arzt." You instead say "Ich bin kein Arzt."
tl;dr Basically it comes down to the presence of the pronoun "a" or not.
You're correct. People do say "I spreche kein Deutsch."
I'm not a native German speaker so I'm sure somebody has a better answer, but I believe this more closely correlates to "I speak no German." as opposed to "Ich spreche nicht Deutsch." which would be "I don't speak German."
I also didn't intend the above to be all-inclusive. Just a general rule-of-thumb.
Based on this post, context seems to be a determining factor on which to use: http://forum.wordreference.com/threads/nicht-kein-deutsch-sprechen.296679/
It might also be a difference between "Ich spreche kein Deutsch" and "Ich spreche nicht deutsch"... the rules of when to capitalise "Deutsch" in such sentences are a bit tricky, since both "I do not speak (the language) German" and "I do not speak in a German way" could potentially make sense, so it's not always easy to decide whether it's an adverb or a noun.
In "kein Deutsch" must be a noun, of course.
(4 years later, but maybe someone else will find this useful) I think of it like this:
Ich mag keine Katze = I like no cats; meaning there are cats in the world to be liked, I just don't happen to like them.
Ich lerne kein Englisch = I learn no English. This doesn't really make sense if you're speaking generally because there is English in the world to be learned, but if you're taking an English language class, then this sentence might make perfect sense: there is English to be learned (in the class), I'm just not learning it.
For this sentence: Ich lerne kein Englisch, sondern Deutsch = I'm learning no English, but (rather) German. In general, this doesn't make much sense. However, if the context is that I told a friend I was going to take an English-language class and instead took a German-language class, but then they asked "are you learning English?", then "Ich lerne kein Englisch, sondern Deutsch" might make sense.
TL;DR Both "...lerne nicht Englisch" and "...lerne kein Englisch" are grammatically correct, but which one makes more sense (and more accurately communicates your thought) depends on the context.
Grammatically speaking, yes, but the meaning is different.
- Ich lerne nicht Englisch, sondern Deutsch. = It's not Englisch that I am learning, but rather / but instead German. (providing the correct alternative)
- Ich lerne nicht Englisch, aber Deutsch (schon). = I do not learn English; but on the other hand / but despite that, I do learn German. (mentioning an additional alternative as an aside; or mentioning something that you might not have believed).
Generally, "not A but B" will be nicht A sondern B.
nicht A aber B would be more for cases such as "I did not finish high school but I still got a good job" (Ich habe das Gymnasium nicht abgeschlossen aber ich habe dennoch einen guten Job bgekommen.) or "I did not get married but I do have children" (Ich bin nicht verheiratet, aber ich habe Kinder.)
Ich bin nicht verheiratet, sondern ich habe Kinder. would imply "It's not married that I am but with children", as if the two are alternatives, and having children precludes being married.
" . . . learn not . . . " is an archaic sequence/format. Colloquially, it is awkward.
Then again, I find the whole sentence somewhat awkward. More common (at least in SE US) would be: "I am learning German, not English." The " . . . , but German." has an understood, unstated "I learn" or "instead I learn" or "am learning" in there that just doesn't sound quite natural to leave out.
Oh, makes sense... I perceived it (and said out loud) as "I learn [not English] but German" rather than "I [learn not] English but German", but this is exactly what i wanted to know, my native language messes up my English grammar :) we can insert "not" easily basically everywhere: "not i learn English but you" (meaning, it's you who is learning English, not me)
Also the sentence pattern that you mentioned does sound prettier and more natural to the ear.
Well, it's proper English as is--odd, but proper nonetheless. I don't think, though, that I'd use the semicolon, since its primary purpose is to join two separate but related thoughts. I think that construction focuses on the fact that I am learning and makes the specification of what I'm learning too much an afterthought. Maybe a colon, though: "I learn: not English, but German."
Still, I think the most colloquial form is going to be "I am learning German, not English." Accentuate the positive, right?
I perceived it (and said out loud) as "I learn [not English] but German" rather than "I [learn not] English but German"
That's how I interpreted it in English, and I think it's possible.
"not i learn English but you" (meaning, it's you who is learning English, not me)
That's fine in German :D "Nicht ich lerne Englisch, sondern du."
I think in English that would have to be "It is not I [it's not me] who is learning English, but you". (Or as you wrote it: it's you who is learning English, not I/me.)
Grammatically correct, but as some have pointed out it sounds archaic. Typically we like to hear "am" or "do" with action verbs, especially the negation.
I am learning German. I am not learning German. I learn English. I do not learn English.
That being said, "I don't learn English, but German." sounds most natural in my opinion.
How about "I'm learning not English but German" instead of "I'm not learning English but German"? As I mentioned before, I chose present simple over present continuous only because I'm lazy and also often do time practices and present simple is faster to write :) My actual question is not about the tense choice but about the "not" placement.
As I see from the various replies, it either sound archaic or doesn't if one makes stressing pauses when talking.
Well, the "archaic" variation would have "not" after the inflected (finite) verb, which is "am" in your case - but "I'm not learning" is not archaic, since "to be" does not need "do-support" :)
So "I'm learning not English but German" can only be understood as the "not English but German" version, I think, since "I'm learning not" is not possible. (Though it sounds like a mistake a German speaker learning English might make....)
Well, I think this is not THAT important at all, as in, I perfectly understand the meaning of the sentence in both German and English or the other way around, I know what to say when I want to convey this meaning, but I'm always very picky about these things somehow ^^() Not really a full-blown grammar Nazi, maybe a harmless grammar Näzchen :D
I think Mariia has the translation that is most direct and most sensible in English. It may be that "I am learning not English but German" is archaic, i.e. not a common construction, but that argument does not make it less appropriate or less correct. A similar construction would be "I am learning neither English nor German". Part of the beauty of Duolingo is that we learn more about our own language too, and that can't be a bad thing given the sorry state common parlance is in!
I wrote: "I do not learn english, but rather I learn german."
I was judged wrong, the "correct" solutions are: • I am not learning English, "but rather I learn German" . • "I do not learn English," but German.
This whole section is F***ed up. This has happened multiple times.
I think it's difficult because there is no word in English which is as strong as the german "sondern". It means, like, ab-so-lute mutual exclusivity. The parts on the different sides of "sondern" are separated somewhat fiercely. also: absondern = to segregate (other translations possible, too) aussondern = to eliminate/weed/discard
Because you miss the Not A but rather B structure that is the whole point of sondern. You simply have made two statements without connection.
To expand on what lynettemcw quite correctly explains: what you have, SpaceBearOne, is a "comma splice," which is simply grammatically incorrect. You could--if you wanted to ignore the concept of sondern--say "I don't learn English; I learn German." Or you could insert a conjunction (and, but, yet, etc).
"I'm not learning English but German". Just to be clear, no one uses that construction. We flip it. I'm learning German, not English. If you felt compelled to put the negative first, it would be "I'm not learning English; I'm learning German". Or perhaps in formal language you might say "I'm not learning English, but rather I'm learning German". Sondern is an example of German efficiency which has no direct translation.
What translation would you propose? I don't see anything wrong with this translation, although it is a construction much more common in German than English. Duo is not attempting to teach you how to speak English better, but rather the workings of German sentence structure. (I swear I didn't intentionally use that construction, it just happened).
While I think the given translaton should be accepted, I agree it's very awkward and more translations shiuld be acceptable. The real test to learning german sentence structue is if you can translate it the other way. I find it harder to go the other way (English to German) because Duo teaches german in sentence structures I never would never.
For the most part aber is but. Sondern is really like the English expression but rather. Unfortunately this English expression has somewhat shrunk so that many people say only but or only rather. But if but rather is not an expression you are familiar with, the closest you can come may be rather than. It gives the same feeling of a limited choice. The difference is subtle. If you said I learn German rather than English the assumption might be that most students are learning English. If you say I am not learning English but rather German, it is more as if you have one language slot and the person you were speaking with assumed you were taking English. So the biggest difference between rather than and but rather is that but rather (just like sondern) is used after a negative clause. So it is always Not A but rather B. Nicht A, sondern B.
It's somewhat hard to explain. Nicht negates the verb and kein negates the noun. So there are a few cases where either could be said, I think, but sometimes they are not the same. Ich spreche nicht Englisch would mean I am not speaking English, negating the verb sprechen. Ich spreche kein Englisch means I speak no English/ I do not speak English. This negates English as a language you speak. With leenen it is more complex. If you are focused on the learning process and what you are currently learning or not learning you can use nicht. But if you focused on the subjects you can use kein.
The difference between Ich spreche kein Englisch and Ich spreche Englisch nicht illustrates the subtlety of kein vs. nicht very well.
- Ich spreche kein Englisch. ==> Literally: "I speak no English," with kein modifying the noun, describing the amount of Englisch being spoken). This would be used by someone who never speaks English, possibly/probably because he doesn't know/understand any English.
- Ich spreche Englisch nicht. ==> "I am not speaking English," with nicht modifying/negating the verb. This could be used to mean one doesn't speak English, perhaps because one doesn't know how to do so. It could also mean that one is not currently speaking English. Or maybe that one is refusing to speak English.
Does your sentence get across the same point? Sure. Of two particular languages, English and German, you are learning the latter and not the former.
Does it entirely miss the point of this exercise, which is to teach proper usage of sondern, the details of which have already been spelled out on this thread by many knowledgeable people, so I'll not repeat them here? Absolutely.
I agree with the above. The translation is nonsensical. You can't use past tense for something that didn't happen (notice how it is not "do not happen")
I did not choose to go to class, but rather i slept in. (Past tense, but what I chose to do was sleep in)
Reported Oct 17/2015
I'm not clear what you mean. You say " You can't use past tense for something that didn't happen " and then " I did not choose to go to class, but rather i slept in. (Past tense, but what I chose to do was sleep in) ". Perhaps I'm being rather dense but this seems to me a contradiction.
I see no issue of past tense here, BlazingFast.
While "I do not learn English . . . " is a bit awkward (I would say "I am not learning English . . . ."), the speaker is discussing what he is (not) currently doing, and contrasting it with what is doing. He is not saying "I did not learn English." I.e., the learning is not over and done. This is "present progressive" or "present continuous" tense.
Your explanation strengthens my point.
You have chosen something else (e.g i did not learn German, but learned another language instead). That is the result of something. It is already done, hence past tense.
If you want to say "i do not", the tense has to agree with the context.
I do not eat ice cream. (This means you never, ever eat ice cream. This is presently a fact. Maybe you hate ice cream, for some reason)
I did not eat ice cream (This means you chose not to eat ice cream this time. Maybe you were too full, or you didn't want to eat something so cold).
The point being is that do not, as you've correctly pointed out, is present tense.
You can't say you "do not learn Germany" if the learning (of German) never happened. You did learn another language.
Hope this clarifies.
I am sorry if you and I have a difference of opinion. I didn't mean for that.
When I originally posted, I thought that the sentence was grammatically incorrect. To me, it sounded awkward and "nonsensical".
Example: Do you learn German? Yes I learn German.
This sounds so awkward, compared to "Are you learning German?"
That's what my issue was with this example. Nothing more, nothing less.
Furthermore, I am not here to troll. I'm here for discussion.
Also, if you say "I am not learning English", you've changed the tense. You are presently doing something. It's not finished.
If you say: "I do not learn English during my classes" - it means that your classes are teaching you something else, or some other reason.
"I did not learn English" is different. It really means that some things have happened but you didn't learn English.
That is too far a field structure wise. You need to come as close as possible to the German if there is an acceptable form. Because of the two independent clauses in your translation the sentence doesn't have the same feel as the German. It also totally avoids translating sondern which was mostly the point.
Few people say but rather in English very often, but that is the best translation for sondern. It is generally said when the speaker considers a choice. I do not learn English but rather German means that the speaker felt that there was a choice of what language to learn and his choice was German. Saying you only learn German (nur Deutsch) assumes that either multiple languages are possible or that you consider it not as good a choice. As for saying I learn no English that is pretty much the definition of the difference between nicht and kein. Nicht negates the action of the verb. Kein negates the object. I learn no English is Ich lerne kein Englisch.
They may sound similar, but so in turn expresses a very different, often almost opposite meaning. Sondern is used to express choosing a different option. This example would be used pretty much only in a situation where it is assumed that you are learning a language but only one. I might have said a sentence like this in High School but it would not likely be said among Duo users as many people are learning multiple languages and no limit or substitution is assumed.
In turn assumes some sort of endeavor of more than one person where there can be some concept of either cooperation or competition and the idea of taking turns comes in. In turn is used to express actions in response to other actions. I actually cannot think of any circumstances where you would say in turn as an option for but rather which is the best translation for sondern.
Sondern neither means nor implies instead of. Instead of is statt or anstatt. Instead of implies you are making an unusual or non standard choice. Sondern just means out of a list of possible choices you have chosen one over another. There don't have to be only two options although if someone says this it implies that it is the reply to someone who made a false assumption.
the sentence doesn't sound quite right in English. the literal translation " I learn not English but German" makes more sense but sounds very old fashioned. I would naturally reverse the order and say " I learn German not English" which i think would be a valid translation for this.
You can't reverse it and get a real sense of sondern. Duo teaches vocabulary grammar and syntax. Just arriving at a similar meaning is not enough. I don't learn English but rather German granted us not a structure that is common any more, but it illustrates how the German sentence would best be functionally represented. This course is not a translation course, the purpose is to discover how to create meaningful Spanish sentences and understand them.
Oder is or. Ich trinke Kaffee oder Tee. I drink coffee or tea. It is usually aber not oder that people confuse. Aber is the normal word but. Sondern is but rather and is only used after a negative. So aber is flexible. Ich trinke Kaffee aber ich bevorzuge Tee. I drink Coffee but I prefer tea. Or Ich hasse Kaffee aber ich liebe Tee. Sondern is only used in a not A but rather B scenario where sondern means but rather and is generally not followed by a clause. Ich trinke nicht Kaffee sondern Tee. I am not drinking coffee but rather tea.
While Duo doesn't care about periods, commas, etc, apostrophes are different. The apostrophe represents a letter or letters not written. Either there is no word like that, as with didnt and dont,or it is a different word like ill, cant, wont and well. But any way you look at it, it is wrong. Computers can be programmed to recognize typos but it is imperfect at best, especially when you consider they may be using words in two languages.
It is required in German and on the English translation everywhere but Duoland. Duo requires no commas, periods, etc. I learned that in Spanish because I hated putting in the ¿ and ¡ before sentences. I no longer bother with any punctuation on Duo and haven't for a couple of years now.
Das ist schon wahr. However, perhaps die Eule gave KRussell11 the instruction regarding the need for a comma before the subordinating conjunction sondern. It's been quite a while since I've had this sentence come up in a daily exercise, so I don't recall.
(And I sometimes will be lazy as well with punctuation and capitalization, lynettemcw. Especially if I'm pressed for time.)
mir mit Englis
ich lerne . . . .
Helfen conjugates to hilfst und hilft (for second and third-person singular); hilfen, though, is not a word.
When one uses helfen, think of it as "give help to . . . ", because the object (the person or thing receiving the help) is Dativ.
And unlike English (auf Deutsch: "Englisch"), the first person pronoun is only capitalized when it is the first word in a sentence.
Nobody knows what your answer was. Die Eule does not maintain your answers for prosperity. You submit it, the app analyzes it, marks it correct/incorrect, and then allows you to review it at the end of the lesson. When you are move on, your answers disappear into the ether.
They need more exercises in the German course. They seem to pull questions randomly from the unit so repeats aren't uncommon in any of the languages I study on Duo, but in the German course it is sometimes four or five times a session I assume that indicates too few exercises to pull from. The German tree is also larger, so I think it is just the sentences that are applicable to certain teaching points that are generally over used They probably need a few more with sondern.
Duo accepted this answer, which I submitted as an experiment: "I'm learning German, not English." Like many other native English speakers, I've struggled a lot with translating "sondern" into English that makes sense. This translation conveys the meaning in English - but is it simply avoiding the common use of "sondern" in German? I was surprised that it was accepted. Input from native German speakers is especially welcomed.
I think your sentence was accepted because of what you identified as the difficulty English speakers have with sondern. It is not quite a perfect translation but it gets the essential meaning across. You asked for native German speakers, which I am not, but I am fluent in German having lived in Germany for a couple of years, and also in Spanish whose word sino has the same meaning.
I don't know whether it is my age or some other factor, but to me, but rather is the perfect translation for sondern. Many people use only but or only rather, but the combination is perfect for sondern. If you read these links on but rather with examples, I think you will get a better idea of exactly what sondern means.
Thanks for your response; I appreciate the links you included. I agree that Duolingo probably accepts dubious translations for "sondern", so I'll make myself think and write "not...but rather", even though it sounds awkward in English. I understand there aren't always perfect parallels between languages, and my goal is to learn to communicate and think in German. Your explanation has helped.
I wanted to see if I could find the answer to this question since I am just starting to learn Russian this week but I am pretty fluent in German. I think the answer is not really. The following discussion discusses и, но and а for English speakers. https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-difference-between-но-and-а-in-Russian-language
Reading it carefully I did find similarities between но and sondern. But sondern has more limited uses. For example, they talked about what it means if но starts a sentence. Sondern cannot begin a sentence. It is a conjunction and basically only appears after a negative in the first clause. There are some special cases, but this is the norm. Its role is to make a different choice among similar things where only one is chosen. Nicht a sondern b. Nicht swartz sondern weiß. Nicht arbeiten sondern spielen. I use but rather to translate that into English, but I must be showing my age or something because many Duo English speakers don't seem familiar with it. But it is a great match to the Spanish word sino.
I don't know if Russian is your native language or just a language that you speak, but I thought you might enjoy this short video on similar words in German and Russian. It is all spoken in German and Russian.
This has been asked and answered over and over and over in this discussion page. One of the best answers is by mizinamo to RevRuckus. Please read through the page (or when do a quick search when there are an incredible number of repetitive or pointless comments) before posting yet another repetitive comment.
Kein negates the noun and nicht negates the verb. I have seen kein in sentences with sondern, but most sentences with sondern do use nicht even though the first clause of the sentence, if taken alone, would use kein. Sondern produces a construct of not a but rather b which definitely looks like you are negating the noun. But this selection sort of revolves around the verb. The issue is which language you are learning. That's my take, but here is a good guide to negation in German for more cases. https://www.fluentu.com/blog/german/german-negation/
Well the easiest answer is that nicht negates the verb and kein negates the noun. I learn no English would be Ich lerne kein English. That would be the more normal sentence except for sondern. Sondern creates a Not A but rather B situation and almost always uses nicht, although you will sometimes see kein.
As a native English speaker (american) just saying but at the end of these sentences sounds really wrong. I'm not sure if it's grammatically correct to just "but German" but It would confuse me for a second to her it. I would say one of the following: "I am not learning English, but rather German." "Instead German" "But actually German" "I am not learning English; I'm learning German." "I do not learn English, but instead German" Actually, I think "I do not learn English," sounds cringie as well.
Different people have different sensibilities about this, but I am with you. But rather is actually the best translation for sondern, and it is accepted by Duo. We don't really have a one word translation here, but other languages do. It is the same as sino in Spanish, for example. But I have been doing Duo for quite a while now and it seems to me that so many people seem to not be familiar with but rather. I don't know whether it is going out of use or if it always had such spotty use, but it seems to not mean much to many people.
I think part of the issue is that this sentence is just too formal and would never come up in natural conversation and on top of that if we are going to say 'not A but B' we essentially start over the sentence. ★"Are you learning English?" "No, I'm learning German.” Or "No, but I am learning German." Or "I'm not learning English; I'm learning German." ★"He takin' English?" "Naw. He's gonna take German instead." "Coo'."
I guess that's a stylistic difference. I use a but rather construction like this in English all the time. It does tend to be in more analytical situations than which language I am learning though. But you will see but rather throughout my comments on Duo, mostly in Spanish and German where I illustrate technical points. But sondern would work perfectly there (as would sino in Spanish). Unfortunately, the sentences where it would be most consistently used are rather too complex for many Duo learners. I think that is the key to many of Duo's strange sentences. They have vocabulary to drill, but don't want to build complex sentences. It is amazing how many times I have seen a comment calling a six or seven word sentence "so long". But it's hard to write short meaningful sentences drilling some words.
''I am not learning English, but German'' is the accepted translation. Yet the system is making use of the word ''am.''
I could change it to ''I learn not English, but rather German'' which would negate which? The verb? The noun?
Is ''not learning'' equivalent to ''learn not?''
Thanks in advance. בס"ד
Yes, at least theoretically. I am, however an American. In modern American English there are essentially only two single, main verbs that form their negatives without using the auxiliary verb do. Those verbs are to be and to have. Even the verb to have generally uses do in the negative except when it is an auxiliary in the perfect tenses. All verbs in constructions with auxiliary verbs simply use not, but do is essentially an implied auxiliary in every English statement except those using the verb to be. That do, although absent from statements except for emphasis, is used to form questions and negatives. Think can be another exception, especially in constructions like this. I think not about the price but rather the quality is a good construction, and of course I think not is a famous retort. This construction makes it a little more likely. But the natural American way to say this is either in the progressive (which is, after all the default present tense for many verbs) or I don't learn..
Does the word “sondern” have anything to do with the placement of “nicht” at all?
I don't think so.
sondern is the "but" you use when you're replacing a wrong assumption with the correct answer.
The nicht could be placed elsewhere if the wrong assumption is, say, the verb and not the object: Ich lerne Englisch nicht, sondern ich kann es schon. "I'm not learning English; I can already speak it."
I am afraid they are not nouns, but adjectives!
I disagree. They are names of languages. Names are nouns.
Supposing they were nouns, shouldn't we say "Ich lerne kein English, sondern Deutsch"?
You could also say, Ich trinke nicht Wasser, sondern Saft, for example.
In general nicht negates the verb and kein negates the noun. This sentence is specifically talking about what is being learned. I am surprised that you asked about the capitalization, though. In English we capitalize the names of languages as "proper nouns", the only ones we capitalize.
Well, it's a little funky to explain. The rule I learned is that nicht negates the verb and kein negates the noun. And that's still true with sondern. We are talking about what we are learning here, not necessarily what we speak or anything else about the languages. But nicht does move in sondern statements in such a ways as to more starkly contrast the a element in the sondern not a but rather b statement.
I don't think lernen is ever used definitely to mean study. Both lernen and studieren are cognates, and they fit perfectly. There are obviously many sentences where either can be used without really changing the meaning. But there won't be a case where lernen is more appropriate in German where to study is more appropriate in English. And since one aspect of every exercise on Duo is demonstrating your knowledge of the vocabulary, you were marked down. There is no situation where studying and learning are actually synonymous. I've known people who studied for hours but not learned a thing.