Translation:She is not wearing a skirt, but a coat.
Could it be "She is not wearing a skirt but rather a coat"? Hovering offers 'but rather' as a translation but maybe it doesn't work in this case? I wanted to report it but as I'm not 100% sure I thought I'd try to get some feedback here... [Also, my G-E dictionary lists only "but" for sondern, so that gave me pause.]
when do we use "einen" and when "ein"?
Use einen in the accusative case -- for example, when it's the direct object of a verb: sie trägt einen Mantel
Use ein in the nominative case -- for example, when it's the subject (ein Mantel liegt auf dem Tisch) or the predicate after the verb "to be" (das ist ein Mantel)
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Surely both sentences are in the same case.
No, they are not.
tragen "to wear" is a transitive verb -- one that takes a direct object in the accusative case.
She wears a coat. The coat is worn by her.
sein "to be" is not a transitive verb, and it does not take a direct object.
Instead, it's a linking verb that links a subject to a predicate that says something about the subject.
In German, such predicates are in the nominative case, not the accusative case.
It is a coat. (You can't say: The coat is been by it.)
Thus Es ist ein Mantel but Sie trägt einen Mantel.
This sentence reminds me how plenty of people get confused about the outfit of the main heroine of the anime movie Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. She is in fact wearing no skirt but a coat and somewhat confusingly colored pants. If you were to explain that in German this exact sentence might come in handy.
I don't know how to get this sentence pronunciation right. I even used the recording and Duolingo got it wrong.
In English, you would say it "She does not wear a skirt." or "She does not wear skirts."
At least in my English, you can't use "wear skirt" in the singular without a determiner such as "a" before "skirt".
German doesn't distinguish between "she does not wear" (simple present) and "she is not wearing" (present continuous), so the German translation would be the same in either case.
That is a correct English sentence but it's a rather free translation.
In general, try to stick to something as close as possible to the original.
Your sentence would be better as a translation of Sie trägt einen Mantel anstelle eines Rocks or perhaps Sie trägt einen Mantel und keinen Rock.
Because you are replacing an incorrect option with the correct one. German has a special word for this “but rather, but actually, but instead” meaning of “but”.
If you used aber, it would mean “on the other hand”, as in ”She is not wearing a skirt, but on the other hand, she is wearing a coat.”
This sentence does not use einen mantel -- it uses einen Mantel. Note the capitalisation.
ein Mantel is the nominative case, einen Mantel is the accusative case.
So you would say, for example, Ich habe einen Mantel. (the coat is the direct object of "have", so is in the accusative case) but Das ist ein Mantel. (the verb "to be" links a subject to a predicate in the nominative case).
So you say einen Mantel when it's worn?
Whenever it's "affected" or "targeted" by any verb -- when it's worn, owned, bought, sold, seen, etc.: Ich trage einen Mantel. Du hast einen Mantel. Er kauft einen Mantel. Wir verkaufen einen Mantel. Ihr seht einen Mantel. "I am wearing a coat. You have a coat. He is buying a coat. We are selling a coat. You see a coat."
tragen "to wear" is a transitive verb -- it has a subject (in the nominative case) and a direct object (in the accusative case, e.g. keinen Rock, einen Mantel).
sein "to be" is not a transitive verb. It does not have a direct object. It's a copula or linking verb that joins a subject (in the nominative case) to a predicate that says something about the subject, and that predicate is also in the nominative case (e.g. kein Buch, ein Mantel).
"She isn't wearing a skirt, but a coat." accepted.
"She is wearing not a skirt but a coat." accepted.
"She doesn't wear a skirt instead of a coat." rejected.
"She isn't wearing a skirt instead of a coat." rejected.
"She wears no skirt rather one coat." rejected.
"She wears no skirt but instead a coat." rejected.
"She wears not a skirt but rather one coat." rejected.