"Sie konnten die Tür von außen nicht öffnen."

Translation:They could not open the door from the outside.

March 9, 2013



How do you know when to use nicht or keine. I see an indefinite article in offnen here which makes me think keine offnen.

March 9, 2013


Here is a simple check: when there is "kein" in German, you can use "no" in English. It does not always sound well, but it usually works. Like: Ich habe keine Babys - I have no children. Ich will kein Kleid - I want no dress ("I don't want a dress" is maybe better, but "no" also works). "Kein" is much more common in German than "no" in English.

"Kein" is always used with nouns and "nicht" with verbs.

In this sentence you could probably use "kein" with "Tür": Sie konnten keine Tür von außen offnen", but this would mean "They could not open any door from outside" (They could open no door from outside).

These are my own explanations, please be aware that I'm neither a native German nor a native English speaker. See more about "nicht" and "kein" here: http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/German-Negation.htm

May 1, 2013


Here's the even easier version: Use "kein" anytime where it would make sense to use "ein" and just think of "kein" as "not a(ny)" or "nicht ein."

April 30, 2018


How does this konnten turn to past tense "could not". I don't see what is going on here.

March 9, 2013


"konnten" is exactly the past tense (Präteritum) of "können".

May 1, 2013


This is the same problem I have encountered a couple of times on DL, use of the past tense before its official introduction.

September 29, 2014


Why not "vom außen"?

June 12, 2014


Seriously my motherly language was german

October 15, 2014


The male voice seems to say "könnten" instead of "konnten".

January 25, 2019


Would placing the nicht after konnten make gramatical sense, or does it need to be structured this way?

May 2, 2019
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