"Do not look down!"
Translation:Nicht nach unten schauen!
I got this in an exercise where I had to pick from the list of words to form the sentence, and I didn't get it because it didn't seem like the right words were there. Apparently, the answer it wanted was "Nicht nach unten schauen." How does that work? The words don't seem to be in the right order, and the verb isn't in the imperative.
This form works by simply putting the infinitive at the end. If you want me to guess why, I’d say it’s probably an abbreviation of “[Man sollte] nicht nach unten schauen” ([One should] not look down) or something similar.
This pattern using the infinitive is typically used where you want to be very brief and save as much space/time as you can. It is also typically intended for everybody who hears/reads it, whereas the imperative tends to be directed at somebody in particular. Therefore, you will most often encounter the form with the infinitive in places like warning (or other) signs, cooking recipes, to-do lists and such.
So, this same form just turned up in an exercise where "No, do not look." was translated as "Nein, nicht schauen." With the "no"/"nein" on the front, it definitely sounds more like a spoken sentence than something on a sign, etc. Does that seem right? Has that formed passed into speech, or is this a case of Duolingo constructing sentences that aren't technically wrong, but wouldn't ever be encountered in practice?
"Schaust nicht unten" is wrong (is it really?).
"Don't look down!" is a command, but you didn't use the command form (imperative) which is schau for du. (It's as if you wrote "Are quiet!" rather than "Be quiet!" in English -- with the indicative instead of the imperative.)
Also, unten means "at the bottom" rather than "towards the bottom" which is what "down" (usually) means.
I’m afraid that’s not acceptable, and it wouldn’t be with other direction complements, either:
- Er ging nicht in die Schule. (not: “in die Schule nicht“)
- Stell das nicht auf den Stuhl. (not “auf den Stuhl nicht”)
I’m not totally sure about the reason for this. My best guess is that in cases like these, the negation is seen as negating only the direction, not the whole sentence. The speaker isn’t saying that you shouldn’t look, only that you shouldn’t look down, implying that looking in other directions is perfectly ok.
The only one I can think of is that runter – being short for herunter – is fairly colloquial. Also be aware that (he)runter (and its opposite (he)rauf as well) tends to fuse with the verb as a separable prefix. So with runter the sentence would be: “Nicht runterschauen” (rather than “*runter schauen”).
You added a double ending there ;) The stem is schau-, add the Sie ending: schauen.
Also unten is a position, not a direction. So it has to be nach unten here (or a synonym like herunter “(to) down here”, hinunter “(to) down there” or colloquial runter).
And finally, the nicht has to come before the nach unten (or whatever synonym) because that is the part you are negating. The speaker is not telling the other person to close their eyes and not look at anything at all, they are instructing them not to look down.