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"I have nothing to do with that!"

Translation:Ich habe damit nichts zu tun!

September 25, 2017

66 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob46196

Interesting that Duo gives this answer here, because in the lesson it gave me this answer: "Ich habe nichts damit an dem Hut." If the latter is correct, then I would guess it is some kind of idiomatic expression. Anyone know for sure?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/quis_lib_duo

The idiomatic expression nichts am Hut haben mit X has a different meaning: It means not being interested in X or in interacting with X.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Treacle18

Could machen be used instead of tun?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

„Mit etw. (nichts) zu tun haben“ is a fixed expression.

Using "machen" in place of "tun" would be analogous to saying:

"He can't dance—he's got two left legs!"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kl.estes

Which sounds...perfectly legit ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Okay, to me it sounds off, which is all I was trying to communicate.

Feel free to swap out words from the expression so that it sounds 'wrong', because that's how it sounds when you swap out "machen" for "tun" in this fixed phrase.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/OldMansChild

Is there a general way to say English's "to do"? as for now I still don't know how to say "something to eat" in German, etwas zu essen? I do hear "die starke frau fur dich zu spielen" from sehnsucht by Helene Fischer, but again I'm not even sure if it's what I think it is.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Is there a general way to say English's "to do"?

No - but tun and zu tun are the most common ways to translate it, i.e. with the infinitive, with or without zu.

"something to eat" is indeed etwas zu essen.

But "I want to eat" is ich will/möchte essen, without zu.

It depends on the context.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JMBarrett52

"Ich habe nichts damit an dem Hut" literally means "I have nothing to do with the hat." It's hard to understand how German gets there from "I have nothing to do with it." I guess it's just easier to stay with "Ich habe damit nichts zu tun." It hurts the head less.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

No, it doesn't mean "I have nothing to do with the hat."

If you translate it literally, it would be "I have nothing at the hat with that."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fdmoyses

Why this word order? Bringing damit after the verb? What's the rational behind?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

The verb has to be in the second place in the sentence -- you cannot have both ich and damit before it.

As for the relative placement of damit and nichts -- both Ich habe damit nichts zu tun and Ich habe nichts damit zu tun are possible, with slightly difference emphasis in each case.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Doctor-John

What is difference in emphasis between "Ich habe damit nichts zu tun" and "Ich habe nichts damit zu tun"? (I find the first easier to say.)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

I can't put it in words, I'm afraid. They are really very similar.

If you want to emphasise, the nichts (as in "nothing at all"), then putting it first feels more comfortable. But other than that, they are more or less interchangeable.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Doctor-John

OK, at this point in my learning, it sounds like I can say "Ich habe damit nichts zu tun" or "Ich habe damit absolut nichts zu tun" and forget about "Ich habe nichts damit zu tun." (I really dislike the sound of "nichts damit.")


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob46196

I think it is because "damit nichts zu tun" is considered an entire subordinate clause. In German, when a subordinate clause begins with a subordinating conjunction (damit in this instance), then the subordinating conjunction moves to the first place in the clause. German word order is a very complex topic and often difficult to understand for non-native speakers. A very academic, but thorough, discussion is here: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/WordOrder.html


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

This sentence contains the word damit with stress on the first syllable (sort of a combination of mit das or mit es), not damit with stress on the second syllable (the subordinating conjunction).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/royalt213

I'm finally starting to get a general intuitive feel for what word order sounds correct in German. Very cool.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/_TheSeaCucumber_

Just so I completely understand, can someone explain the position of "damit" in "Ich habe damit nichts zu tun"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sagar-Jani

Looks like this is the correct translation but in the app Duo shows "Ich habe nichts damit an dem Hut!"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Guend1

why not: Ich kann mit das nichts tun


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JessicaEye

That would translate to "I can do nothing with that". Like if you're trying to dig a hole to plant a tree and someone gives you a teaspoon.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FatAlan

should it really be in this example 'Ich kann damit nichts zu tun'?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Without zu.

Ich kann damit nichts tun = I can't do anything with that.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/MusicMike512

May I please get an explanation of what "damit" means?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

In this sentence (where it is stressed on the first syllable), it means "with that".

damit is used instead of mit das or mit es.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/crispybacon4

So would it be OK to say "Ich habe nichts mit das zu tun"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

No.

Firstly, "mit" is a dative preposition, so it would need to be "dem" instead of "das".

Secondly, and more importantly, there are, however, only a few situations where you would use the "mit x" construction instead of "damit" when "x" refers to a non-living entity (and this isn't one of them), so I would recommend using "damit" exclusively, unless you are referring to an animal or a person, and then learning the exceptions as you come across them.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/beagoodone

'dabei' instead of 'damit' is also correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

No.

"Damit (etw./nichts) zu tun haben" is a (relatively) fixed phrase, where "mit", "zu tun" and the relevant form of "haben" are all essential components that are not interchangeable with synonyms (though I could write a separate post about why "damit" and "dabei" are rarely, if ever, synonymous).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

please explain why this is incorrect: "Ich habe nichts zu tun damit"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Because the "Infinitiv mit zu" (i.e. "zu tun") needs to be at the end.

The rule of thumb in 'normal' sentences (i.e. declarative sentences in the indicative mood) is that the first verb conjugates (i.e. "haben" -> "habe") and goes into the second position, and the rest of the verbs go to the end in the infinitive form (i.e. "tun" remains "tun") where, depending on the verbs in question, an additional "zu" may be added. Of the remaining information, one element goes into the first position, and the rest goes in the middle (i.e. between the conjugated verb and the verb/s at the end).

Now, there are occasions where additional information does get added in the "Nachfeld" (i.e. after the verbs at the end), but all you really need to know now is that this isn't really one of them:

No. of results for the Google search "Ich habe damit nichts zu tun":

Approximately 24,900

No. of results for the Google search "Ich habe nichts damit zu tun":

Approximately 38,500

No. of results for the Google search "Ich habe nichts zu tun damit":

Approximately 13


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

Well, I see the statistics, but that does not make the sentence wrong. It is still correct, and perhaps, less used in written language. But you can emphasize "damit" but placing it at the end of the sentence without violating the grammatical rules. So, I am a little puzzled why is considered wrong.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Well, I see the statistics, but that does not make the sentence wrong.

When we're dealing with tens of thousands of results on the one hand, and barely ten on the other, there's certainly something afoot.

But you can emphasize "damit" but placing it at the end of the sentence without violating the grammatical rules.

Forgive me for using a German source.
The second Grundregel für den Satzbau in Hauptsätzen according to Lingolia is:

infinite Verbformen (Infinitiv, Partizip II) stehen am Satzende

And to illustrate these Grundregeln they incorporated this table into the article:

Where you'll notice that in all the examples the non-finite verb (in this case a past participle rather than an infinitive) comes right at the end.

I hope that helps somewhat with your puzzlement.

EDIT

Indefinite -> non-finite


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

I am not disagreeing with your assertion and I agree that it is generally true that the verb goes to the end of the sentence, but in your previous post it says that sentences may have "ein Nachfeld" and when I answered previously, I was referring to that. I don't have to be right, but I wonder whether "damit" after the verb couldn't be such a case. Again, it would indicate that it was placed there for emphasis, and based on the given sentence, I believe that this is possible. Isn't "der Nachsatz" designed to emphasize "something"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

but in your previous post it says that sentences may have "ein Nachfeld" and when I answered previously, I was referring to that. I don't have to be right, but I wonder whether "damit" after the verb couldn't be such a case.

Okay, it looks as though you're clinging onto the wrong part of my comment, trying to tilt it to work in your favour. If I highlight the areas I believe are of importance, hopefully we can both view this the same way:

Now, there are occasions where additional information does get added in the "Nachfeld" (i.e. after the verbs at the end), but all you really need to know now is that this isn't really one of them

The "statistics" I went on to list quantify my assertion.

Isn't "der Nachsatz" designed to emphasize "something"?

I presume you're using "Nachsatz" as a synonym for "Nachfeld".
Please check out this article about the "Nachfeld" by CanooNet.eu*; it explains the "Nachfeld" better than I ever could.

If you read it to the end you'll see there's a section called Not in the Nachfeld, under which you'll see the element pronominal adverbs i.e. the class of words that "damit" is a part of.


*It seems Canoo.net has 'moved' to the domain CanooNet.eu


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maram609540

(Ich habe mit der sache nichts zu tun )/( ich habe nichts damit zu tun ) .......... are these two sentences have the same meaning ?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

are Do these two sentences have the same meaning?

More or less, but they could never (or at least very rarely) be used interchangeably.

When the context is clear (i.e. when it's clear what "damit" is referring to), "damit" would be used. When it isn't so clear, "mit der Sache" would be the go to.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/25carpe

Why is "zu" before "tun" in this sentence?

Did I forget a lesson that explains that?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/FatAlan

I tried Ich habe mit dieser Sache nichts zu tun. That wasn't accepted, although "ich habe mit der Sache nichts zu tun" was. Why can't dieser replace der in this sentence?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Because the English has "that" and not "this".


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter_Bot

Is this sentence "Ich habe nichts, damit zu tun" grammarically correct?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

Remove the comma, and you're golden :)

Because "damit" can also be a conjunction with a completely different meaning, you need to remove the comma for the sentence to be grammatically correct.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter_Bot

I see...

I was asking that because I thought "to do with something" is "mit etwas zu tun"...

TBH I'm still confused, haha


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

You're right with the translation, and in very much the same way that it would be wrong to put a comma in the English sentence, the same is true of the German one.

Does that help at all?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Peter_Bot

Yes... I think I understand now

More accurately it should be "mit etwas zu tun haben"

https://www.linguee.de/deutsch-englisch/uebersetzung/mit+etwas+zu+tun+haben.html?cw=336

Thank you!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

You're right, that's the fixed phrase.
And I'm glad I could help :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Markqz
  • 1826

What is the "zu" in "zu tun" doing? Why not just "tun"?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Tony979198

It's the "to" of "to do"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/actonianlyd

I'm way behind here; I though damit is "in order that" or "so" - so what other meaning does it have that makes sense here?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

I would always recommend reading through the comments, as your question may have already been asked and answered:

MusicMike512
May I please get an explanation of what "damit" means?

mizinamo
In this sentence (where it is stressed on the first syllable), it means "with that".

damit is used instead of mit das or mit es.

crispybacon4
So would it be OK to say "Ich habe nichts mit das zu tun"?

AdamKean
No.

Firstly, "mit" is a dative preposition, so it would need to be "dem" instead of "das".

Secondly, and more importantly, there are, however, only a few situations where you would use the "mit x" construction instead of "damit" when "x" refers to a non-living entity (and this isn't one of them), so I would recommend using "damit" exclusively, unless you are referring to an animal or a person, and then learning the exceptions as you come across them.

AdamKean
Damit als Konjunktion
Damit als Adverb
"German is easy!" article on "da-" words (including "damit") &
"German is easy!" article on "mit"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/actonianlyd

Hi AdamKean - Thanks; so sorry to inconvenience you. For some reason I can't see this comment in the previous. My very old smart phone possibly. I looked through all the comments I could see.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

No worries. It just clogs up the discussion unnecessarily when the same question keeps getting repeated.

One of the reasons I tend to use Duo on my laptop.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Reza836

Could I use "dabei" instead onf "damit"?

Dabei habe ich nichts zu tun!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AdamKean

And to add to what mizinamo said, here's another thread from this discussion that posed the same question as yours:

beagoodone
'dabei' instead of 'damit' is also correct?

AdamKean
No.

"Damit (etw./nichts) zu tun haben" is a (relatively) fixed phrase, where "mit", "zu tun" and the relevant form of "haben" are all essential components that are not interchangeable with synonyms (though I could write a separate post about why "damit" and "dabei" are rarely, if ever, synonymous).


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Could I use "dabei" instead onf "damit"?

Dabei habe ich nichts zu tun!

No; the meaning would change completely: "But I have nothing to do!"


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dakeryas

Is hiermit completely wrong, instead of damit?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

hiermit would be “with this”, but the English sentence has “with that”.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Dakeryas

Thank you for the explanation!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ShaiGolomb

In a previous lesson Ich habe mit der Sache nichts zu tun was accepted.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Susan799085

Previously, Duolingo used the sentence "Ich habe mit der Sache nichts zu tun."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/PaulLavender0

DUO answer has mentioned a hat, where is the hat?

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