1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: German
  4. >
  5. "Sie muss es nicht essen."

"Sie muss es nicht essen."

Translation:She does not have to eat it.

February 3, 2013



i wrote "she must not eat it" and it is accepted. So is it true? clearly 'must not' and 'do not have to' are different in meanings.


I have the same question. Can anyone clarify this?

[deactivated user]

    This is a false friend. "Sie muss es nicht essen" means "She does not have to eat it". It does not mean "She must not eat it". The German for "She must not eat it" is "Sie darf es nicht essen".


    really for she must not eat it the correct way is Sie darf es nicht essen? I always thought 'darf' meant 'may', or 'to be allowed to'. example "darf ich essen" - May I eat? I'm more confused now


    I think you're correct about the meaning of the words, but not about how they fit together. I think of "sie muss es nicht essen" as meaning "it isn't the case that she has to eat it" and "sie darf es nicht essen" as meaning "it isn't the case that she may eat it".


    I'm happy to report that "She must not eat it" is no longer accepted, and am sad to say I'm still getting this wrong!


    Gaak. I'm still getting it wrong. What must I do to remember?


    Thanks, Christian! I'll report "She must not eat it" as wrong next time I see it.


    and i wrote she musnt eat it and its not accepted :S


    I think "must not" is stronger than "may not"? How can one express the difference in German?


    I would suggest:

    Sie muss es unbedingt nicht essen!


    I don't mean to be picky, but I love this word, and more people should keep it in mind. These are actually (false) cognates.



    2018 I wrote "She must not eat it" and was marked wrong.


    I think part of the confusion is that, in the positive, the sentences have the same meaning. That is to say, She must eat it. She has to eat it ... mean that it is imperative that she eat it.

    To say "she must not eat it" means that she is forbidden from eating it.
    To say "she doesn't have to eat it" means that she can it, or she can not eat it; whatever is her preference.


    Both: "She must not eat it" and "She does not have to eat it." are given as correct but they have very different meaning. "Muss" looks like Eng. "must" but it's not given in the hovertext then it comes up as a correct answer. Will report it. Now, I see "must" is wrong (thank you Christian) .


    This is probably of no help viz language learning, but this strikes me as a scope difference "She must (not eat) it" (She is compelled not to eat it, she is forbidden from eating it" versus "She (not-must) eat it" (She (is not compelled) to eat it); that is does the 'nicht' negate the 'must' or the 'eat'. It seems the sentence as written means 'She (not-must) eat it" (I know that's ungrammatical, just emphasizing where the 'not' applies.


    I looked up the word 'muss' in several places and they each said it means 'must.' http://dict.leo.org/ende/index_en.html#/search=muss&searchLoc=0&resultOrder=basic&multiwordShowSingle=on https://translate.google.com/#de/en/muss http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/muss except here it says that it means 'to have to' http://dict.tu-chemnitz.de/dings.cgi?o=302;service=deen;query=muss;pos=v http://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/german-english/muss

    I'm thoroughly confused. It looks like we got our English word 'must' from this word which makes sense to me. Did it change meaning over the course of several centuries?

    from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/must?s=t before 900; Middle English most (e), Old English mōste (past tense); cognate with German musste.

    The word 'must' has synonyms which are 'have (to), need, ought (to), shall, should.

    Thanks for any clarification!


    "Muessen" implies obligation, right? So what the sentence means in English is clear "She doesn't have to eat it (implied: if she doesn't want to). Still it's easy to see how an English speaker would translate it as "She must not eat it." (implied: it would not agree with her).


    I wonder if "She has not to eat it." sounds correct for native English speakers.


    What should it say instead? She doesn't need to eat it?


    That definitely sounds more natural. ""She has not to eat it" sounds like it is taken from a Shakespearean play of some sort..."She has but not to eat it, m'lady"...or something along those lines. "She doesn't have to eat it" or "she doesn't need to eat it" both sound fine. "She has not to eat it" sounds really off.


    Thanks! Maybe I should start to write my first play. :)


    I should add that my English is "Canadian" English....so I learned an unhealthy mix of British and American English...more American than British due to television. Maybe "she has not to eat it" would sound more acceptable to someone from the UK?


    I'm English-English, and I agree with Hohenems - 'she doesn't (does not) have to eat it'.


    No, sorry not good Eng.


    why essen do not imply 'they" instead of "she" ?

    [deactivated user]

      Sie muss es nicht essen = She doesn't have to eat it

      Sie müssen es nicht essen = They don't have to eat it / You (formal) don't have to eat it


      I guess my feel for the placement of "nicht" is wrong. I would expect it to be "Sie muss es essen nicht" for the accepted meaning.


      She must not eat it, seems the more appropriate statement. Duo, you are getting more and more tricky!


      But "She must not eat it" means, in English, that what she must do is "not eat it". (i.e. eating it is forbidden)

      While in German, Sie muss es nicht essen, means that there is no "must". (i.e. eating is optional, not required)

      English treats "not" a bit peculiarly in connection with "must".


      Danke fur hilfen


      I am completely confused! Check the questions that followed this one: Ihr müsst zur schule gehen - you have to go to school (have to = must) Du musst jetzt tapfer sein - you must be brave now. Ihr müsst jetzt tapfer sein - you must be brave now. In all three of these questions the English translation for müssen was must.
      Why does it now mean something else for the current question???

      [deactivated user]

        This has already been explained in this very discussion. Asking questions that have already been answered is a massive waste of everyone's time. Please always read the previous comments.


        Maybe look at it like this:

        In English, "she must eat it" would be the same as "she has to eat it"

        So the sentence here is "she has to eat it not"

        Or "she does not have to to eat it".


        When I was taking my first German Course 45 years ago, we learned that -- and this is a quote from my German Text (which I still have):

        "Müssen is usually replaced by brauchen plus zu in negative statements:

        Sie muß gehen. She must (has to) go.

        Sie braucht nicht zu gehen. She does not need (have) to go."

        (This is a 1965/73 textbook and does not incorporate the spelling change which now sees 'muß' as 'muss'.)

        From this, it would seem to me that "Sie muss es nicht essen" should translate to "She must not eat it." In context, it might be something like.

        "Mary is going to eat the rhubarb leaf."

        "No, she must not eat it. It is poisonous!"

        Which is different than:

        "Mary is going to eat the cake."

        "No, she must not eat it. It is for Sally." (which would be translated to Sie darf es nicht essen -- she is not permitted to eat it. A different thing entirely.)

        [deactivated user]

          It's very odd that they completely omitted the fact that "Sie muss nicht gehen" is just another way of saying "Sie braucht nicht zu gehen". Neither is more correct or occurs considerably more frequently.

          I strongly recommend getting a new textbook or grammar book. Those old textbooks often contain strong opinions that don't reflect actual usage.


          From this, it would seem to me that "Sie muss es nicht essen" should translate to "She must not eat it."

          That inference is not correct.

          Note also the "usually replaced by" -- you can also use muss nicht for "does not need to".

          "Mary is going to eat the rhubarb leaf."

          "No, she must not eat it. It is poisonous!"

          This would use darf es nicht essen (= you must not permit her to eat it) in German.


          No, that is reverting to an appeal to authority. Dürfen implies some sort of erlaubnis, which indicates a hierarchy of authority. If I have no authority over what Mary does, then you cannot say that I must not (which is an imperative) permit her to eat it, for I have no authority in the matter. I cannot forbid her to eat it. For all we know, Mary may be the authority, and her word goes ... and my head gets chopped off if I attempt to thwart her will. You could say that I must convince her to not eat that, or that I must prevent her from eating that, but not that I cannot permit her to eat that.

          Müssen indicates necessity or an imperative: 'must'. 'Must' and 'must not' are not indications of necessity and lack of necessity. 'Must not' indicates an opposite necessity. So, "He must go," is a necessity that is not negated by "He must not go." These are two different imperatives. To negate the imperative, in English, we go to 'need', which is a requirement. "He needs to go," and "He does not need to go," are requirement and requirement negated. "He must go," and "He does not need to go," are imperative and negation of necessity, which can stand in for negation of imperative.

          In German, ich muss shows the imperative. Ich muss gehen. Ich muss nicht gehen, may be colloquial for I don't have to go, but that's not what it means. It shows an opposite imperative. "Ich brauche nicht zu gehen", removes the imperative.

          In English, you may hear the word 'can' substituted for 'permitted', but that doesn't make it correct, even though it will be understood. 'My father says I can go,' literally means that my father tells me that I have the ability to go. What the person should say if his father is permitting him to go is, 'My father says I may go.' Ich kann gehen, vs Ich darf gehen.

          [deactivated user]

            Doug, how good is your German? I'm a native speaker of German who studied Linguistics at university and mizinamo is a native speaker of both German and English.

            Ich muss nicht gehen, may be colloquial for I don't have to go, but that's not what it means. It shows an opposite imperative. "Ich brauche nicht zu gehen", removes the imperative.

            That's not true. If anything, it's the exact opposite. "Nicht müssen" meaning "must not" is dialectal. It's not Standard German. I'm sorry to say, but you fell hook line and sinker for a false friend.

            Here's what the Cambridge Student Grammar of German says:

            Stocker, Paul. A Student Grammar of German. Cambridge University Press, 2012, p. 137.

            Here's another reputable resource:

            "müssen means the same as the English must in positive (declarative) sentences and in questions. However, when you negate it and say müssen nicht, it is not the same as the English must not (which really means that you are not supposed to or not allowed to something => in German means "dürfen nicht"). Rather, it means that you do not have to do something."



            Thank you for the cites.

            Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.