Kein or nicht ?
I do not understand when to use kein and when to use nicht.
I thought that nicht was to negate a verb like i do not talk - ich spreche nicht and kein was used to say not a like i am not a man - ich bin kein mann
but them i get sentences like meine Frau isst keinen Kase, which is negating a verb but uses Kein
Could someone explain the rules to me
Hi Qiunnn, it´s confusing, I know :-( Try to think of it like this Kein - you use it when you talk about things. "Deine Frau isst keinen Käse, kein Stück" Cheese has a mass, is something nicht - you use it when you talk about feelings or actions. "Du sprichst nicht" " Du schläfst nicht (action)" aber "Du machst kein Auge zu (an eye is a thing)". In both sentences you say that you can´t sleep but in different ways. No rule is perfect but with this little memory hook you say it most of the time right.
PS. there´s one more "little" thing. Like I said no rule is perfekt. When you use a noun than it´s unfortunately different. Nouns like trouble fear ect. for example Ich will niemanden ärgern/verärgern (action) BUT Ich will keinen Ärger machen. Ich will dich nicht ängstigen (action) BUT Ich will Dir keine Angst machen. or more difficult Ich will dir nicht weh tun BUT Ich will Dir keinen Schmerz bereiten. I hope, I didn´t confuse you even more^^
Hi Jake, these two words are in that way equal that they have the same result but they are in my opinion not synonyms. "nicht" means you don´t do something. You don´t pay, you don´t take, you don´t want and the result is you have no (kein) piece of something, you don´t get something (kein Stück).
You didn´t pay so you didn´t get the bread. Du hast NICHT bezahlt, Du hast kein Brot bekommen.
Again, the rule is not perfect. When you use formal german it´s more tricky but it´s a proper way to show the little difference.
My rule of thumb (which I came up with myself so could be very wrong) is that if you COULD say the sentence in English with "no <noun>" even if that's not the normal way in English then you use "kein" in German.
So we might normally say "My wife doesn't eat cheese" but you COULD say "My wife eats no cheese" so in German you must say "Meine Frau isst keine Kase".
Kein is used with nouns that are accompanied by an indefinite article (a/an) or no article at all. Nicht is used when the noun is accompanied by a definite article (the), but it can also be used with indef. ones, depending on the context. Nicht is also used to negate other verbs and adverbs. In the general sense, kein reflects the "no" variant of negation, as in, das ist kein apfel, which means "that is no apple." Nicht is the "not" form, as in, das ist nicht ein apfel, which means "that is not an apple." Even though there's a definite article, nicht is used because you can't say "that is no an apple." As in the comments above, you could modify your sentence to use either one (like in the my wife doesn't eat cheese example, above.) Notice that, even in English, when you use no to negate, it only negates a noun. Using not negates a verb (so the nicht form is always followed by a verb.) For example, in Wir essen keine tomaten (We eat no tomatoes), only the noun "tomatoes" is negated. In Wir essen nicht tomaten (We do not eat tomatoes), it is the verb "essen" ( to eat) that's negated. Correct me if I'm wrong. Hope this helps!