"Sie ist nicht zu ersetzen."

Translation:She cannot be replaced.

October 12, 2015



For "Sie ist nicht zu ersetzen" the answer I submitted was "She is not to be replaced" and it was marked wrong. Did DuoLingo misjudge or is the meaning wrong?

The suggested correct solution is "She cannot be replaced" -- but where is a word that means "CANNOT" in the sentence? Wouldn't that be something like "Sie kann nicht zu ersetzen werden" ??? (Excuse any errors in that suggestion, I haven't learned the passive voice yet and I am a beginner in general)

October 12, 2015


I suppose the "nicht zu" would be the equivalent of "cannot".

The sentence is ambiguous between "She is not to be replaced" (i.e. an admonition: don't replace her! that's not allowed) and "She cannot be replaced" (i.e. a statement: it's not even possible to replace here even if you did try).

You could say the more literal "Sie kann nicht ersetzt werden" for "She cannot be replaced".

Compare also "Nicht zu glauben!" for "Unbelievable!" -- this also shows the "it cannot be believed" meaning of "nicht zu".

October 12, 2015


I wish they would put notes like this in the beginning of the lesson.

December 27, 2015


I agree, these are the kinds of tidbits that would make it a lot easier to learn this language. Heck, even a list of the vocabulary being introduced would be useful.

November 20, 2018


I find Tinycards great for that :)

June 20, 2019


So, 'nicht zu' is a bit idiomatic, and it looks like it can often be translated as English "un_able". That's quite helpful!

October 3, 2017


Isn't the werden in your suggestions superfluous? I'd translate "She cannot be replaced" as "Sie kann nicht ersetzen". Is that wrong? How come?

Edit: I dunno why I made this comment. What I suggest obviously is not passive... Thank you for the correction clarification!

December 27, 2015

  • Sie kann nicht ersetzt werden. = She cannot be replaced.
  • Sie kann nicht ersetzen. = She cannot replace.

Quite the opposite: in one sentence she's the one doing the replacing, while in the other, she's the one to whom the replacing is being done.

December 27, 2015


I find it very difficult to imagine how I am going to be able to distinguish between the times ersetzen means "to replace something" versus "to be replaced by something." Or am I just not thinking through how context will help with that?

May 29, 2017


It's not that ersetzen sometimes means "replace" and sometimes "to be replaced".

It's that a German construction with (nicht) zu [active verb] is often best translated into English as "can(not)/(should) not be [passive verb]ed".

Similarly with dieser Code ist nicht zu knacken "this code cannot be broken", where knacken does not mean "to be broken" but "to break" -- it's the (nicht) zu which shifts the translation.

Or for a positive sentence: in diesem Bereich sind Helme zu tragen "helmets are to be worn in this area" -- tragen means "to wear" and not "to be worn", but Helme sind zu tragen means "helmets are to be worn" and not "helmets are to wear".

May 29, 2017


Können wir also einen andere Beispiel zu einschließen: "Er ist nicht zu fassen." Ist das recht? Is it an indiomatic expression for "He is not to be believed." which is something I've heard down South in the U.S., and I suspect it's also used elsewhere. But would this also mean that He cannot be caught?

June 18, 2017


"He is unbelievable". That works, though nicht zu fassen probably takes a situation as a subject more often than a person, e.g. Das ist ja nicht zu fassen!

June 18, 2017


Great explanation!!

December 28, 2018


Yes, but try with same principle the word ' replaceable

September 3, 2018


She is not to be replaced is accepted as of September, 2016. Duolingo suggests She cannot be replaced. as the best translation.

September 17, 2016


Accepted now. 16 Feb 2019

February 16, 2019


"She is not to be replaced" is different from "She cannot be replaced". The former suggests a lack of permission. The latter demonstrates dependance.

September 18, 2016


The German sentence can mean either of them.

October 3, 2016


She is not replaceable

May 9, 2016


There should be an actual idiom alert!

December 12, 2016


She is not replaceable sounds better

September 17, 2016


    That would be more like Sie ist nicht ersetzbar.

    June 16, 2017


    since it's ersetzEN shouldn't sie mean they?

    April 10, 2016


    No; ersetzen is in the infinitive, and the main verb is ist, so sie must mean "she".

    April 11, 2016


    "she is not being replaced" was marked wrong :(

    August 13, 2016


    Yes, rightly so -- that's not what the German sentence means.

    It means either "She is not to be replaced" (i.e. don't replace her, because if you do, there will be trouble) or "She is not replaceable / cannot be replaced".

    August 13, 2016


    Sie kann nicht ersetzt werden?

    September 25, 2016


    Sie ist nicht zu ersetzen!

    April 16, 2019


    Don't you ever for a second get to thinking you're irreplaceable

    October 15, 2016


    She is not to replace

    November 22, 2016


    No, that means something else in English -- that she is not allowed to replace [something].

    (But Sie hat [etwas] nicht zu ersetzen. would be similar to your English sentence.)

    November 22, 2016


    Thanks again mizinamo. I will try to remember that.

    November 23, 2016


    "she is not to exchange." not acceptable.

    June 30, 2018


    Correct. That English sentence does not mean the same thing as the German sentence.

    June 30, 2018


    Erseztbar stimmt nicht?

    April 22, 2019


    "ersetzbar" = "replaceable"

    May 12, 2019
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