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Ich lerne nicht englisch, sondern deutsch


Isn't this sentence wrong? Cux it should be "ich lerne kein englisch." I almost killed myself trying to remember using kein/keine before nouns and now i see this sentence on DL.

Plus, when we need to negate verbs, doesn't nicht come at the end anyway? Like "ich mag es nicht", not "ich mag nicht es" and "sie schwimmt nicht" rather than "sie nicht schwimmt".

Even google translate uses kein.. but i need to know if this is an error or a possible usage. Cux in the latter case, what happened to the kein/keine rule before nouns..??

June 4, 2017



Both exist.

Ich lerne kein Englisch and Ich lerne nicht Englisch. Why does both exist? I dont know, but my best guess is. Nicht negates the verb, kein negates the noun in these two sentences. Anyways I'd say that lernen and kein is rarely used here, nicht is the more common variant here.

This happens pretty often that both versions are in use. Ich mache keine Hausaufgaben. Ich mache meine Hausaufgaben nicht. The nicht construction usually happens with defined nouns. Now speaking about a language, it doesnt make sense to speak about a defined or undefined english, so for this case both variants are on the same level. (In other scenarios like when youre talking about the differences of Britisch, American and Australian Englisch, then you might have a context where its relevant to differ between defined and undefined. For everything else, theres a reason why "Englisch" (and other languagenames like "Deutsch) have no plural in german).


Hmm i figure it is about proper nouns and stuff.. but then why kein though.. so thanks for saying something on that.. its a language.. thats why perhaps..


What do you understand as proper nouns and stuff?


That english is a proper noun.. so we can say nicht Englisch..


You dont need a noun for nicht. The nicht negates the verb and is independant of the following noun. The indefinite pronoun kein needs a noun (or it becomes Keiner and its inflection, then its without).

Ich lerne schnell. Ich lerne nicht schnell. Schnell is an adverb.


Sorry, the other thing I posted was wrong. Anyway, you can't say something like

Ich mag nicht den Hund, it has to be

Ich mag den Hund nicht.

It's not because of proper nouns, it has to do with definite or indefinite nouns, like MortiBird said before.

"kein" refers to none of an indefinite noun


Nicht is not at all independent of the following noun.. Cux when we have a noun, it depends on so many things if we use nicht or kein.. like check out this article i found..



In answer to this:

Thank you for telling me these details.. they are helpful to know. Is that also the case with die/das/der in general? Like nicht following the noun sounds more natural?

No, der/die/das is the defined article. The defined article always precedes the connected noun (and all its attributes). Adjective attributes are always between article and noun. Subordinated clauses that are attributes always succeed the noun. Genitive attributes (with or without article for the genitive) can either precede or succeed the noun.

Der/die/das act mostly like the. The kid was playing a game. You wouldnt say "Kid the was playing a game" (or any other psoition for the wouldnt make sense either as long as it shall be connected to kid).


No i just mean to know if eg

Ich esse nicht das food/die orangen

are fine with NICHT where it is..

or by your comment did u mean these sound strange and should rather be

Ich esse das food/die orangen nicht?


Answer to:

**Ich esse nicht das food/die orangen

are fine with nicht where it is..**

Same as before. Ich esse die Orangen nicht. Ich esse die Banane nicht. Ich esse den Apfel nicht. Ich esse das Ei nicht. The other variant is unusual.

den/die/das Sg and die Pl. for accusative.

Nearly the only case, where you will see "Ich esse nicht die Orange" will be in a "Ich esse nicht die Orange, sondern die Birne". Here you have a contrast.


Quote form your link. If it is not the noun you are negating, you can forget the above rules and just use "nicht."

You asked if the nicht sentence is wrong, but the nicht sentence simply negates the verb.

Also your link has a short paragraph what covers this sentence, but with another explanation attempt. It uses different examples - Ich spiele kein Tennis / Ich spiele nicht Tennis.

This is a reply to one of your other messages.


Paralars 1 u can say ich mag nicht den hund i think.. like if you try typing i do not eat the food on google translate, you'll get ich esse nicht das essen. Same structure. Plus i have seen the structure in other places. Both are possible when there is a definite article invovled, den hund nicht as well as nicht den hund.

And i know that u use nicht if there is also der, den, die or say a pronoun like mein or dein present before the noun.. but that is a different rule.. we are just talking about whether to use kein or nicht right next to a noun which depends on whether it is a proper or common noun..


Mortibird, the sentence you quoted is followed by examples of adjectives and phrasal verbs, for which i know we use nicht.


Another reply to one of your other messages.

1 Ich mag den Hund nicht.

2 Ich mag nicht den Hund.

3 Ich mag nicht den Hund, sondern die Katze.

1 and 2 describe the same thing, yet to 99% you will just encounter 1 and if you say 2 you will sound strange. Nicht has the tendency to preceed the dative or accusative object (BUT when its a case like 3). This tendency is strong and its really rare to see something like 2.

3 describes a contrast and here you see the nicht is usually in front of whatever is contrasted. The emphasis shifts with the nicht and the nicht at the end is the "neutral" position.


Thank you for telling me these details.. they are helpful to know. Is that also the case with die/das/der in general? Like nicht following the noun sounds more natural?


kein literally means not any

And English is something that you can have "some" or "any" of, if that makes sense. You can say things like "I speak some English" or "Do you know any English?". This quirk exists in the German language as well


O yea thanks! Now i get it! That makes sense.. !! I speak no english.. kein englisch. Right.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynPiiIDjgcg Jenny should clear up the whole issue for you


Thank you!! It was a great video! Plus thanks so much for showing me her channel !

Ok so.. because english is a proper noun (google) nicht is also possible..


Gern geschehen und viel erfolg!


"nicht Englisch, sondern Deutsch", you can imagine this phrase as a whole compound object for the verb lerne

Was lerne ich? - Nicht Englisch, sondern Deutsch

Just "Ich lerne nicht Englisch" would be wrong, as you mentioned.

You could also say "kein Englisch", which means "I learn no English"/"I don't learn any English"

both are correct.

You could also say "Ich lerne Englisch nicht", but it's not very common. A more common phrase would be "Englisch lerne ich nicht", which emphazises English. That would be more important, since this statement seems to be in a situation where you want to clarify which languages you learn, and which you don't.

So as you can see, there are many possible ways for constructing this sentence, these are just nuances on what you want to emphazise (as is usually the case with German word order)

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