Good question. I translate the German sentence as, "Furniture. He does not like it." This adds real emphasis to the word furniture. Almost like saying, "He could choose to dislike a lot of things, but he chooses furniture." It doesn't change the amount of dislike he has for furniture, just points to the silliness of him not liking... furniture.
The way we do this in spoken English is to put a heavier inflection on one part of the sentence. ie. "Well... HE doesn't like furniture." vs. "He doesn't like... FURniture." vs. "He does NOT like furniture."(Note: I'm not shouting in these sentences, but pausing momentarily before the capitalized word and then adding an inflection on the first syllable of that word.) This inflection emphasizes that word.
To do this in written English you would follow up each sentence with a clarification, and that second sentence would be the emphasis. "Well, he doesn't like furniture. I do though." vs. "He doesn't like furniture. He calls them death traps." vs. "He does not like furniture. Don't bring it anywhere near him. He will freak."
It's interesting to note that in the written versions it's the second sentence that receives the inflected word.
Wow, I had never understood this sentence until now, thank you! And may I add, I think there is a way you can say this in the same way in english. I'm not an native english speaker but I've heard the sentence "FURNITURE he does not like!", meaning what you say it means. And furniture is in the same position as the "Möbel" in this sentence, like you say, for emphasis.
The problem with that is (in English) you can't place a direct object before the subject. You can do this in other languages because of declensions, but English doesn't have any of that.
In the sentence, "FURNITURE he does not like!" we have to assume 'he' is the subject and 'furniture' is the direct object. It's true no one will be confused with this sentence, but it does force the reader to make assumptions.
Glad to see most of what I would have said already expressed here! But there is one point I feel needs to be made, which is that phrases like "Furniture, he does not like it." are not proper sentences in English. (Advertisements may use this sort of phrase structure, but people don't actually talk like that.) The sentence "FURNITURE he does not like." is understandable, but quite strange without the specific context of "people already talking about things that he does or does not like".
The best example I can think of in which this sort of word order is used in English is by Yoda, in the Star Wars movies. He often emphasises things by putting them first in his sentences, and is generally regarded as sounding odd.
There is no 'it' in the sentence. You did a transliteration and then added 'it', when you should've been translating.
In other words, you would never say, "Furniture. He doesn't like it," in English. You can really only say, "He doesn't like furniture," because the German sentence encompasses ALL furniture ever made. The pronoun 'it' wouldn't be appropriate here and neither would 'that' or 'those', because we're not talking about the furniture right in front of him, but all furniture everywhere.
Actually the emphasis is on his not liking as opposed to not liking furniture, at least as I have always understood it. If you want to negate the verb as opposed to the noun, you put the noun first. Otherwise it would be Er mag keine Möbel. So this becomes He doesn't LIKE furniture as opposed to He doesn't like FURNITURE.
Kein is used when we want to express that something is not something. So, for instance, "a table is not a chair", and therefore, "Der Tisch ist kein Stuhl!" "Nicht" is an abverb, therefore use "nicht" to express negations of actions. http://www.jabbalab.com/blog/821/kein-oder-nicht-whats-the-difference
My intuition is that there could be a difference in degree: Er mag Kaffee nicht. - He does not like coffee (in general). Er mag keinen Kaffee. - He does not like any coffee (no matter how good).
"er mag" does not mean only "he likes", but also "he wishes / would like to have". I think you could use "Er mag Kaffee nicht." for a general statement "He does not like coffee.", but "Er mag keinen Kaffee." to express current wishes. I imagine my mum sending me to ask the guest in the next room if he would like some coffee; I come back and I say "Er mag keinen Kaffee." - "He does not want coffee."
No, not always.
For example, if you topicalise an indefinite noun, then you will have both ein and nicht, e.g. Ein Buch hat er nicht* "He does not have a BOOK / As for a book, he does not have that / A book he does not have".
Also, remember that ein can be not only the indefinite article "a(n)" but also the number "one". When it's "one", then you can have sentences such as Er hat nicht ein Buch, sondern zwei "He has not one book but two; the number of books that he has is not one but rather two".
i find that duolingo just has some really weird sentences sometimes.. haha makes it a little more fun sometimes but also causes some confusion. I tend to second guess myself because im expecting normal sentences. "Er mag Möbel nicht" is also correct but according to other posts on here the way duolingo says it is just stressing that its furniture he doesnt like.
I just wanted to point out that you would say it, "...that doesn't like a specific piece/type of furniture , than someone who does not like every piece/type of furniture." Also, you "could have written", not wrote.
I realize we're learning German here, and not English, but it's helpful (to me, at least) not to reinforce incorrect usage.
The German sentence put the object first, turning it into a kind of topic–comment sentence: "As for furniture: he doesn't like it".
It starts with the thing that you are going to talk about (the furniture) and then says something about that topic (he doesn't like it).
The verb comes second in this sentence, so the subject er comes after the verb.
If you take something like Peter mag sie nicht, it could mean either "Peter doesn't like her" or "She doesn't like Peter".
In that case, only context can disambiguate -- had you been talking about other boys that she likes, and now you're topicalising Peter to say that "As for Peter, she doesn't like him"? Or had you been talking about Peter and whom he likes and now you have a sentence where he's (still) the subject and saying that he doesn't like her?
In general, though, in such ambiguous sentences, it may be safer to put the subject first, so the first interpretation of Peter mag sie nicht would be "Peter doesn't like her".
Suppose I have a list titled "Furniture he does not like" (eg cocktail cabinets, coffee tables, reclining chairs, bean bags).
It is not uncommon to omit obvious words, especially in casual English. The full version would be something like: "This is furniture that he does not like".
I disagree -- I think that the full version would be something like furniture that he does not like.
The book title is not a sentence nor is it intended to be one -- it's just a noun phrase.
Consider an atlas, for example, which might have the title "Our Earth". That doesn't mean that the title is short for "This book is about our earth" or anything like that.
Amazing really to think we can leave out the subject and the main verb, reducing the main clause to one noun, and even omit the subordinating conjunction and still make sense.
It's just the subordinating conjunction that was omitted, I think.
And that's something that you can't do in German.
It does make me wonder though, would we get away with "Möbel, er nicht mag" or would we need the whole "Das sind Möbel, die er nicht mag" ?
It would be Möbel, die er nicht mag.
(Das sind Möbel, die er nicht mag is, of course, a valid sentence, but your hypothetical book title would just be the noun phrase, I think, not an entire sentence.)
So that you can be more expressive.
Why does English need the word "ponder" when "think" exists? Well, sometimes it's useful to have the expressiveness that comes through having both "think" and "ponder".
Similarly, it's useful to be able to subtly show different emphasis and so say more closely what you mean if you can use word order to showcase particular parts of your sentence.
That's also possible.
Möbel mag er nicht is a topic–comment sentence: it puts the topic Möbel first and then comments on that topic with mag er nicht.
A bit as if you were to say "As for furniture: he doesn't like it". (But it doesn't sound as clunky as that in German.)
Just a different way of emphasising/focussing.
No, because Möbel is plural in German so "Furniture doesn't like her" would be Möbel mögen sie nicht.
(Which then would be ambiguous with "Furniture doesn't like them" and "They don't like furniture".)
Something such as Das Pferd mag sie nicht would be ambiguous between "The horse doesn't like her" and "She doesn't like the horse" (and "The hose doesn't like them").
In such ambiguous sentences, generally the first noun phrase (before the verb) will be interpreted as the subject, as putting the subject first is the default word order.
Why is 'Er mag keine Möbel' not also correct? I get the idea of the suplied answer conveying some sort emphasis but this context is completely absent in Duolingo... As with many other examples (the infinity of types of 'your' questions). The way this translates into English would make you sound like Yoda!! Furniture he likes it not, mmmmmm!
Why is ‘Mag er nicht Möbel’ or ‘Mag er Möbel nicht’ incorrect?
In a statement (rather than a yes-no question), the verb has to be in the second position in the sentence -- not at the beginning.
Why was Möbel moved to the start of the sentence?
To mark it as the topic - the thing you are going to talk about.
"As for furniture: he doesn't like it." might be a way to convey the idea, though the German sounds more natural than that English construction.
It's ungrammatical in standard German, because Frau and Mann are countable and singular, so they need a determiner before them, such as an article.
It would be fine in a newspaper headline, where such small words are often omitted to save space.
But the usual interpretation in such an ambiguous situation is that the subject comes first.
Similarly with a sentence such as Die Frau mag das Kind nicht which is grammatical but, at least in theory, still ambiguous. In practice, it's again resolved by assuming that the subject comes first.
In speech, you can use intonation to make the "object first" interpretation more likely. In writing, you can't, which is why you wouldn't put the object first in such a sentence if your goal is to communicate, rather than to confuse.