"Sie müssen es nicht essen."

Translation:They do not have to eat it.

March 4, 2013

51 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/karlectron

No question that modals can be tough, but very useful in conversation. An interesting thing to remember is the relative strength of statements in regards to whether the statement is positive or negative. Zum Beispiel (for example) Dürfen positive is a soft statement. Darf ich jetzt spielen? (May I play now?) Soft. Dürfen negative is strong. Du darfst nicht rauchen. (You are not allowed to smoke.) Strong. Müssen positive is strong. Wir müssen unsere Tiere füttern. (We have to feed our animals.) Strong. Müssen negative is soft. Sie muss nicht schwimmen. (She does not have to swim.) Soft.

December 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/jamaicarose2

I have found it useful to translate müssen as "required to" or "have to". Then it's correct for positive or negative use. If you translate "müssen" as "must"(which of course is tempting because it looks so similar) that only works in the positive form.

June 24, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/NathanWill806004

An excellent tip. Thank you.

April 10, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Claudia516405

Thanks! That helped me a lot

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/ilivetotravel

Very helpful!

July 20, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/JJ1856

So how do you say 'She must not swim' Strong? (eg A parent to a teacher if the child has a cold. )

December 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/karlectron

"Sie muss nicht schwimmen." is too weak and sounds as if she has the option of swimming. Saying "Meine Tochter darf nicht schwimmen." means 'My daughter must not swim' which is the strong statement you want to convey.

December 25, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/JJ1856

Thanks for that. I think I've got it now....finally. I'm copying tis into my notes.

December 26, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Teresinha

Me too. Thanks, karlectron!

June 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/philipralph84

Thank you, very well explained indeed! I had a quick question: where do "soll" and "nicht soll" fall in this hierarchy? From other comments it looks like they are both strong, "I should" and "I am not supposed to" respectively, but I'd love your opinion.

February 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/SaulSnatsky

Philip, not being a native speaker, please take my opinion with that understanding. However, I often use "solte," meaning "really should." I've noticed that the other modals, such as "muss," "konnen" drop into their past tense to indicate "gotta" or "really." By the time they drop into their subjunctive, the voice is strained a bit more to indicate that. I belong to a conversational group, and that's all they do is talk, most of them more fluent than I. For "sollen" try out "Ich soll gehen," vs. "Ich sollte gehen," vs. "Ich sollte gegangen sein." The difference is slight, but in English we'd say softly, "I should go;" with a little more force, "I really should go;" and being a little upset, "I should have gone." Where "nicht" fits in I feel that it simply negates the sentence with the same amount of verbal force as the other sentences.

April 23, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/greenbajr

Very helpful!

January 9, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Wicked_Starfish

Thank you! Have my Lingot!

March 26, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/kijkenroboter

Thank you very much

September 28, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Clownsuits

Vielen Dank!

September 21, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/LB_StorM

Duo accepts two translations that mean different things: "they do not have to eat it" and "they must not eat it".

They must not eat it = Sie dürfen es nicht essen, no?

March 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya

Yes, you're right. 'must not' is wrong.

March 4, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/JJ1856

Are you sure about this? As a beginner non-native German speaker it seems there are three different possibilities to describe the situation, if not the sentence: müssen nicht= must not (eg because it's poisoned) dürfen nicht = not allowed to (eg because you have to wait for others) ????? = do not have to eat (because it's your personal choice)

But maybe I've got the wrong sense of müssen, probably because it sounds so like must in English

December 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya

Yes I'm sure. "Must not" = "dürfen nicht".

December 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/tylerthehun

Then how do you distinguish "must not eat it" from "may not eat it"? Sie sollen es nicht essen?

June 23, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/David215844

Duolingo did not accept 'They must not eat it' for me; it was marked as wrong.

August 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 979

And Duo is correctly doing so. The negation of modal verbs works differently in English and German. Though the (positive) "müssen" corresponds to "must", "nicht müssen" does not mean "must not" (that would be "nicht dürfen"), but "need not".

August 7, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/David215844

Ah. I see. Thank you.

August 8, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/-rolf-

Does it make sense to think of "muessen" as "required to"? Z. B.: "Sie muessen schwimmen."..."They are required to swim."....."Sie muessen nicht schwimmen."..."They are not required to swim."...?

June 3, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jeff.chern

Could another native german speaker step in and explain why 'muessen es nicht' is 'do not have to' instead of 'must not' ?

May 21, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/pietvo

I am not a native German speaker but Dutch, but the system is Dutch is roughlu the same as in German. So, müssen = must and dürfen = may (also can in contemporary English).

So far, so good, but the problem is with the "not". In English the not belongs to the following part: You must not eat = you must (not eat). So there is an obligation to not eat. Same with may.

In German and Dutch the not belongs to the modal verb. Sie müssen es nicht essen = Sie (müssen nicht) es essen. I.e. There is not an obligation (müssen nicht) to eat. Or in other words it is the negative of Sie müssen es essen. The latter is an obligation to eat so the former is not an obligation to eat or they are allowed not to eat. In English expressed by may: They may (not eat it).

In the same way: Sie dürfen es nicht essen = negation of (Sie dürfen es essen) = they are not allowed to eat it. In English: they must (not eat it).

September 13, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/karlectron

A common mistake is to interpret Muessen as "Must" in English. If you, instead interpret Muessen as "have to," it will make sense. So when you negate "have to," it turns into "don't have to." As far as Duerfen, think of it as "allowed to"

October 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/maripositalinda

This was very helpful!

February 5, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/SaulSnatsky

I checked with an online translator and the first translation is "have to." I've always used it to mean "must," and I see now that I was wrong.

September 26, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/Artist-Engineer

Sounds like she's saying "Sie mussen Essen nicht essen."

August 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/SaulSnatsky

"Sie müssen DAS Essen nicht essen." Without the "das" it sounds like the person shouldn't eat at all! You probably realized this after you posted, but it is comical. Thanks.

July 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/krys1301

How am I supposed to know that the answer is not, "They must not eat it," when that is literally what is written?

July 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/SaulSnatsky

Krys, you are perfectly correct, IMO. I'd say "Sie solten es nicht essen" to soften it a bit, meaning "should not eat it," whereas I'd say "Sie müsten es nicht essen!" to place more emphasis, as "really not at all" eat it. Duo is a language class, not mathematics, so often there is not one correct "solution." Have a Lingot.

July 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/krys1301

Much appreciated, SaulSnatsky.

July 31, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/LuisAdrian943811

Its So frustrating that the word "sie" can mean both she and They!!

June 23, 2019, 4:23 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Patty13647

Just keep your eye on the verb, and it will get easier!

June 23, 2019, 5:16 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 979

One could as well say 'It's so frustrating that the word "you" can mean "du", "Sie" and also "ihr" ' :-)

June 23, 2019, 6:59 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Patty13647

One could say and DOES say that--often!!

June 23, 2019, 9:30 AM

https://www.duolingo.com/Murkster

What's wrong with "They're not supposed to eat it?"

June 29, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/CallMeAnja

That would be Sie sollen es nicht essen.

November 18, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Appa

I guess "shouldn't" should fit here :) "You shouldn't eat it"

September 16, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/wataya

No, it shouldn't :)

  • "they shouldn't eat it" = "Sie sollten es nicht essen"
September 17, 2013

https://www.duolingo.com/Ronel166785

So what does it mean then when you say: "sie dürfen es nicht essen" ? And "Sie brauchen es nicht essen"?

October 26, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/greenbajr

What is negated by /not/? German: the modal verb; English: the action verb.

English: "You are allowed to refuse it..."

German:"You are not allowed to eat it.".

and

English: "You are required to refuse it.:"

German:""You are not required to eat it.

Ben

Note: You meant Sie (you) instead of sie (she or they).

October 27, 2015

https://www.duolingo.com/SaulSnatsky

There is an enormous response to this use of "müssen." I think it is because we jumble up "must," "may," and "should" in English. Throw in "might" just for more confusion. Try not to get hung up on this unless you are a language teacher or linguist. I must...or should?...or "oughta?" get going...now. Go with Duo for this and move on to something else. You must/should/might/could do yourself a favor.

July 22, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/R.L.Jalabert

Why is "You must not eat it" incorrect?? Wouldn't that also be the formal you version of "you must"?

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 979

negation of modal verbs works differently in English and German. The positive "you must"/"du musst" defines a definite obligation. But whereas in German the negation "du musst nicht" only states the lack of such an obligation (= "you don't have to"), which is better translated as "you need not", in English the negation "you must not" defines that there is an obligation not to do it, which in German is expressed as "du darfst nicht".

December 14, 2018

https://www.duolingo.com/Patty13647

"They must not eat it or they will die." Will a native speaker of German please translate this for me? Thanks.

February 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/fehrerdef
Mod
  • 979

"Sie dürfen das/es nicht essen oder sie werden sterben".

February 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Patty13647

thanks

February 14, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Patty13647

Danke!

February 14, 2019
Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.