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  5. "Das ist ja wohl nicht dein E…

"Das ist ja wohl nicht dein Ernst."

Translation:You cannot be serious.

February 2, 2013



If we translate this as "This is probably not your gravity" maybe it will float away.


If we break it up into "Das ist ja wohl nicht " and "dein Ernst"

My translator shows it as this

"That is probably not....... Are you serious!"


The current answer "you cannot be serious" - must be a McEnroe fan somewhere.


Wow, it says it's an adverbs section, but there are a LOT of particles introduced in here. Ja, wohl, doch, mal, eigentlich...


Yes, it's strange. This is meant to be a unit on adverbs, but my first two questions have been virtually untranslatable idioms. FWIW, I guessed "Surely you can't be serious," and Duo allowed it.


I am serious, and don't call me...

oh, it doesn't really work in text :-(


And it refused to accept my "You can't possibly be serious" ,frustratingly inconsistent!


Right? Why don't they have a particle lesson? that's something I really need to work on.


Unfortunately, yes. Particles are a complex subject in German and IMHO they should be taught in a separate section.

Teaching adverbs (ex: wohl), particles (ex: ja) and idiomatic expressions such as "das ist nicht dein Ernst" at the same time is not didactic at all.


In another sentence, "wohl" means "probably". Here, Duo translates it as "certainly". What is this, I don't even.


The word "ja" affects the meaning of "wohl". You may see them together as a response: Yawohl! Yes, of course!


So that's what Sergeant Schulz meant whenever he said "Jawohl, Herr Kommandant!"


Same here. I got the sentence right apart from it... Duolingo, das ist nicht dein Ernst!


This is the worst sentence I've seen on duolingo so far.


yes I am...and don't call me Shirley.


This idiomatic is impossible to translate without prior knowledge!


Even if you understood it, you might get the wrong answer since the correct choices are so narrow.


And what is the 100% corresponding translation???? I understand the meaning but can't say it in english, cause I'm not a native english speaker.


the word-for-word explanation would be:

  • das = that (what you said);
  • ist ja wohl nicht = is surely not;
  • dein Ernst = your honest (intention).

You really can't go for the word-for-word translation here :) There is too much implied informaton in the German phrase.


The only thing I have not understood in this word-to-word is the translation of Ernst as "honest". Wouldn't it mean "seriousness" here ?

"That is surely not your seriousness" does not sound far from "You cannot be serious" and it makes the sentence easier to understand, at least to me.


"surely you are not in earnest" is word for word...although it wouldn't take it


How is it word for word?

das does not mean "surely".

ist does not mean "(you) are".



I think it means the same thing but you don't really hear it spoken anymore.


"You cannot be serious" is said in a kind of exasperated, disbelieving way. You basically saying you can't believe what it is happening. I am a native english speaker. I hope that helps :)


It means the speaker doesn't believe what the other person is saying. It implies disbelief, and desperation


cue your best John McEnroe impersonations!


Thought the same!


I knew there would be a John McEnroe comment here. Now to add "The ball was on the line! Chalk blew up! You're the pits of the Earth.."


I literally tried it in German and it sure does not have the same effect!


I know. My guess was "you are definitely not serious" Wrong, of course.


John McEnroe got it in one!


That ball was ON THE LINE!


That's why there are hints


Why is the rhetorical "Are you serious?" not accepted?


It's not quite the same meaning. "Are you serious?" is a question and the german equivalent would be "Ist das dein Ernst?".


there is no way to translate this without prior knowledge, and not so easy to memorize :/


Why so serious? = Warum so Ernst?

P.S.: "That is not your seriousness, is it?" was not accepted ;[


That's what I answered too...despite the fact that I knew it sounded moronic, I thought maybe the word-for-word translation would be accepted...


It's an idiomatic phrase and now you know it.


What does "ja wohl" mean? I can't guess at what it's supposed to mean from this idiom.


I have compared "Das ist nicht dein Ernst." with "Das ist nicht ja wohl dein Ernst." and "ja wohl" seems to help express a sense of surprise or incredulity, similar to what might be conveyed by the English "You, of course, cannot be serious!!" Any native speakers want to confirm or contradict this idea?


Something like that, yes.

May also imply that you expect the listener to consent (as with your suggested translation of "of course").

"Surely, you can't be serious" might also be an attempt, or "You can't possibly be serious".


I could use "possibly" as in you can't possibly be serious? It is an idiom and literal translation doesn't cut it. Ja, wohl! Yes, sure, of course!


Idiomatically, "You've got to be kidding" is a better translation.


That's an accepted alternative.


Crikey, is it me or is the adverbs section too complicated and introducing too many concepts at one time. Brain currently blown away


"You must be kidding" works! Thanks DL!


"That is yes well not your seriousness". Is this the word-by-word literal translation?


"ja" and "wohl" do not mean "yes" and "well" in this context. They are modal particles, which reflect the mood or attitude of the speaker and/or highlights the sentence focus. Often they are not translated to English. Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_modal_particles

The closest literal translation to English is "That is not your seriousness" .


Or something like "That is surely probably not your serious thoughts"


I don't know what "surely probably" would mean.


Why is Ernst capitalized? Is it a noun in German? It is an adjective in English.


In Deutsch, "ernst" is also a adjective, while here we have "dein Ernst", "your seriousness" :)


I really hope we do have a German Tennis fan in this forum, someone who knows the famous John McEnroe, and who can tell us how to say in German what BigMac was trying to say to the chair man!


what is the grammatical purpose of "ja" in this sentence?


I asked the same at https://german.stackexchange.com/questions/55063/das-ist-ja-wohl-nicht-dein-ernst-meaning-of-particle-ja/55066. Although not even the Germans in Stack Exchange reached a consensus about the exact meaning, my understanding is that emphasizes that the following statement is known/obvious. Although German modal particles are often not translated to English, a similar feeling of "ja wohl" would be expressed in English with the word "obviously".


A better German translation for: "You cannot be serious" is "Das kann nicht dein Ernst sein!". That is more literal, avoids the modal particles "ja wohl" and is also very usual.


"That is not what you mean, seriously" It seems as good as the extremely loose translations I've seen in this section. .


How could we possibly know that "you" had to be used


Because of the presence of 'dein' (your) in the sentence. I know, it's tough!


but ain't dein= your's?


It means 'your'. The point is - that is where the 'you' comes from. In German one can say 'dein Ernst' , meaning 'your serious intent'. Got it?


think i got it, thanks


this english sentence can be translated to german in any other way?


"Du kannst nicht ernst sein." was also accepted.


Well, I couldn't understand the meaning of (wohl) and how to use it yet!


Ich meine es ernst, und nennen Sie mich nicht Shirley.


I put "That is really not serious," from my translator, but it said its wrong.


I think the word you need to key in on is "dein." "Das ist nicht sein Ernst" = "He is not serious;" "Das ist nicht dein Ernst" = "You are not serious," etc.


How does "probably" morph into "certainly" without explanation?


"Ja wohl**" is the key :)


You can not be in ernest? Is that a reasonable translation?


Yes, but it should be "You cannot be in earnest." See the following for when you use "cannot" and when you use "can not": http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/words/cannot-or-can-not

"You can't be in earnest" is also fine.


That's how I remember the German word, but I don't think I actually use "ernest" as a state of being. Perhaps as a description (such an earnest young man). But that's just me.


That is yes probably not your serious... thats a tough one!


What about "You better not be serious!"?


when I read "ja whol" I thought of the Team Fortress 2 medic


Surely you jest! (without the Airplane "Shirley" references :)


Also, das kann doch nicht dein Ernst sein! = Das ist doch/ja wohl nicht dein Ernst! ??


The translated options are far too narrow. Language IS flexible. "You can't possibly be serious" is a perfectly good translation...


Thank you, my thoughts exactly


is it that is surely not your serious true ?


How is this an adverb? I wish they would give idioms there own section.


"You cannot be serious" Literally!


Dieser Ball war auf der Linie!


Is "You're probably not serious" an acceptable translation?


Couldn't this be saying "That isn't your (husband, brother etc.) Ernst."? I had an Uncle Ernst.


You're right! We could be referring to Uncle Ernst. ( had one too.)


John McEnroe slipped this one into the course


...or you must be joking. I put "you have to be joking" I think this is correct. I also think it would be correct to put in: 'you have to be kidding, you must be kidding, or even "seriously?"


I agree. Der Sinn der Sache ist dasselbe.

[deactivated user]

    Is "ja wohl" strictly necessary in this sentence? Would "Das is nicht dein Ernst" do as well?


    It's not grammatically necessary, no.

    Das ist nicht dein Ernst. = You are not serious.

    It's the difference between "You are not serious" and "You cannot be serious / You are surely not serious" or between "You are kidding" and "You must be kidding / You have got to be kidding".


    Wohl means probably in other but this time. Go figure!


    This sentence is how I feel about this sentence.


    "You cannot be serious" sound like a good translation to me, but is not accepted


    Deshalb sind wir am meckern! Ohne weitere Erklärung empfinden wir diese Entscheidungen arbiträr.


    I ignored the McEnroe reference because I thought it was a trap. There is no hint of "cannot" in the German, and the English is not an idiom. "You really aren't serious" seemed reasonable, but alas not to Duo.


    I wrote: "You got to be kidding me" It is an American expression which I thought it carried the same meaning but I was marked wrong.


    I wrote: "You got to be kidding me"

    That should rather be: You have got to be kidding me. (or: You have to be kidding me.)

    Using just "you got" in the sense of "you have" / "you have got" is too colloquial for this course.


    Why not, "Surely you don't mean that?"


    I don't understand why "ja" is needed here. Can someone explain?


    @ Cristina787817

    It's part of the expression. Unfortunately idioms usually just have to be learned.

    Sort of like "he bought the farm" being an expression in US English for someone having died. As well as a being a sentence meaning someone actually buying/purchasing a farm. I never quite understood how that particular idiom came about. Some, one can sort of figure out. But others are just weird.


    The most reasonable explanation I have heard is:
    If a serviceman was killed in action, his family would receive a payout from the insurance and that would pay off the mortgage.


    is "ja wohl" here the flavoring part. I think the sentence sounds dull if you just said "Das ist nicht dein Ernst".

    I think there's a lesson before that says "Das ist mein Ernst" meaning "I am serious".

    Also is it "You are not serious" or "You cannot be serious" ?


    This sentence perfectly sums up this lesson. You can't be serious. The unit is riddled with these idiims that have nothing to do with the rest of the unit. You get what you pay for here.


    Is this one of those sentences I got to mug up?


    "Are you serious?" asked sarcastically should have the same effect.


    "That is yes well not your seriousness" REALLY?!?


    ‘You are of course not serious about it’ was rejected by Duo. Was I hard done by?


    The meaning is the same, but there is no explicit "about it" in the German sentence.


    Shouldn't "You cannot be in earnest" be accepted? It's a more literal translation, and still has the same meaning as the suggested translation.


    this one defeated me so effing hard that I think this is where I take a break and come back tomorrow. I can't even begin to decipher this since Duo gives no explanation of "ja wohl" anywhere. Apparently "wohl" means "well-being" according to DL and ja is "yes." how does this lead to "you cannot be serious."


    @ hmsong.10PLUS

    You can always try a dictionary like dict.cc or pons. Using just one source to learn a language generally does not work.

    Also, while "Wohl' with a capital "W" is a noun and means "wellbeing/welfare/good (as in 'the good')", "wohl" with a lower case does not.

    With a lower case "w" "wohl" is an adverb meaning things like "indeed/surely/arguably/...' and more like it.

    In German you really need to pay attention to capitalization since it can change the meaning.



    And as far as idioms like this go, unfortunately, they just need to be learned/memorized, in any language. English has a huge amount of weird ones that don't really make any sense such as "he bought the farm" meaning "he died" if used as an expression and not a statement of purchase. If translated literally into any other language it would just mean that someone/he purchased a farm.


    Thanks for the link and the advice! My biggest frustration about the idioms given on DL is that they are thrown in without any context. I wish they could provide the literal translation as well so that we can see how the key words are being used in the sentence and then try to connect the literal translation to the actual meaning of the idiom. Thanks again for your help :)


    @ hmsong.10

    It can get a bit frustrating when getting things wrong, especially if it was not reviewed in the "Tips & Notes". What I tell myself though is that overall Duo is very good, especially at keeping you coming back unlike many other programs. Not to mention free. (It is a bit hard to complain too much about something that is provided for free and actually works.)

    Also, often one can learn/remember something really well by getting it wrong. It tends to stick in one's memory. At least it does in mine. And since Duo does not hand out grades it does not matter how often one misses something. (At least on the web version which I use. From what I read in comments the app has "hearts" and if you lose a certain number one has to take a break. The web version does not do that. It just keeps going and works just fine in a browser on a mobile device.)

    If you want something more structured you could try "Deutsche Welle". It is a German news site (also has an English version) and has a whole section devoted to teaching/learning German. It is very, very good. It also has more grammar than Duo and most other online sites, as well as something called "slowly spoken news/Langsame Nachrichten" which are news stories spoken more slowly by people (professionals) with excellent diction. It's not quite as game-like as Duo though, more like regular lessons/school, so it may require a bit more discipline.



    https://www.dw.com/en/top-stories/s-9097 (main site)



    You are the absolute best! Thank you so much for the wealth of knowledge and encouragement! I'll definitely supplement duo with these resources. Have a lingot and my deep appreciation for you to type out such in-depth responses :)


    (Just jumping in on this) Katja-z, you are a blessing! These resources are going to help me (and a lot of others coming across this thread) so much! <3


    Who the heck put this sentence together??


    Germans. Go figure.


    That of course is not your concern.


    Too much idioms, too early for new learners...

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