"I did not say that."
Translation:Я не говорил этого.
The question accepts both:
Я не говорил этого
Я етого не говорил
But which would be the more common usage?
Why are both сказать and говорить accepted? And why are both это and этого accepted?
I tried «Я это не сказал» and it was accepted, but I'm wondering why does the suggested translation use the genitive этого? And does using the accusative like I did sound strange?
Yes, the accusative doesn't sound natural here. This makes me think of the way "de" is used in French. In a negation: j'ai un stylo -> je n'ai pas de stylo (у меня есть ручка - у меня нет ручки). Or for the ordinary genitive: la voiture de mon frère (машина моего брата). Putting aside rules and just looking at the usage you sometimes can notice some curious similarities:)
That's an awesome observation, I didn't realize how deep the link between "de" and Russian genitive is! There's even the partitive role that "de" is primarily known for: "donne-moi l'eau" -> «дай мне воду» but "donne-moi de l'eau" -> «дай мне воды». This could come handy for intuition purposes, I'll need to do some research to see how far this parallel goes :-)
In Old French the prepositions de and ad (related to Modern French à) were used to introduce a case called prepositional genitive directly inherited from Latin genitive, so this isn't just a coincidence :-)
Modern French having lost the morphological distinction between the nominative and its oblique forms (except, interestingly, in some pronouns: je [nominative] / me [dative] / moi [accusative] for example) doesn't mean the cases aren't still present in the actual grammar! And since both Russian and French ultimately stem from Proto-Indo-European, it stands to reason that their cases share a lot of uses.
Seems I got caught off guard by the beautifully complex rules of genitive as a direct object yet again. According to szeraja_zhaba's awesome translation of a Gramota.ru article on the topic found in this thread, you should use genitive for a pronoun when it depends on an antecedent as here. I swear I'll remember those someday.
This confuses me. If говорить uses the Accusative case, doesn't that imply that I would want to say something animate? Why can't I use это?
The placement of не matters. It should go right before the thing or the phrase you want to negate.
You could, in principle, say Я не это говорил. It would be parsed as "I said not that ", i.e. "That is not what I said" (what I said was something else).
Unfortunately, you don't. Russian has been moving away from that for quite a while.
Some verbs always do that: you always switch to the Genitive when the verb is negated (e.g. "иметь" —the formal verb for "to have"). Such use is also associated with more affirmative and strong negative. Verbs with abstract objects often do that, too (e.g. "не обращать внимания" ~ "to pay no attention").
Other than that, we use the Accusative by default. It is just that "это" is a fairly generic word and sounds a bit more natural here in the Genitive.
Do you mean Russian used to always use the genitive in negative sentences? Nowadays Polish still does it, accusative verbs always take the genitive case when making a negative sentence.