"I do not eat oranges."
Translation:Ich esse keine Orangen.
with the English sentence I interpret it as the eating being negated, not the orange.
Really? That is, you think that there is definitely an orange involved but you're specifically saying that what you're doing to it is not "eating" but some other verb?
I would interpret it as the entire sentence being negated -- i.e. "It's not the case that: I eat oranges."
Not "I don't-eat oranges".
it seems that in German, at least at this level, if there's a noun in the sentence, the default is negating it, rather than the verb.
In German, the way to negate an entire sentence is to use kein if there is an indefinite object.
If there is no object or if there is a definite object, then you use nicht to negate the sentence.
Negating the sentence and negating the noun are different things:
- Ich esse die Orangen nicht. "I don't eat the oranges." (negating sentence: nicht at the end)
- Ich esse nicht die Orangen [, sondern die Äpfel]. "I don't eat the oranges [but rather the apples]." (negating noun [and providing correction]: nicht before the element you are negating, i.e. the noun)
Look at "definite article endings":
It's accusative plural, that's why it's keine.
keinen would be dative plural.
The endings in the plural are like those of the definite article: diE Orangen / keinE Orangen (nominative + accusative); dER Orangen / keinER Orangen (genitive); dEN Orangen / keinEN Orangen (dative).