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  5. "He has never eaten cheese!"

"He has never eaten cheese!"

Translation:Er hat noch nie Käse gegessen!

January 2, 2018



Jan 2, 2018 - I wrote "Er hat Käse nie gegessen", and DL suggested Er hat nie Käse gegessen! I thought nie should be as close to what it modified, gegessen in this case. Is my sentence/supposition incorrect? In addition, is DL's preferred answer, Er hat noch nie Käse gegessen! indeed preferable? And again, I would have expected noch nie to be closer to gegessen


The word order in your sentence is indeed wrong.

DL's preferred answer would be my preferred choice as well, given that the use of the English present perfect suggests "not up until now" which the German noch nie captures.


Yes, "Er hat noch nie Käse gegessen" would be preferred.

"Er hat Käse noch nie gegessen" sounds unnatural, unless the context is something like this: "I'll make him a cheese sandwich." "He doesn't like cheese." "What?! Is this some new diet of his?" "Er hat Käse noch nie gegessen. You're telling me you never noticed, in all these years?"

I suppose the "rule" is this, but I guess it's not too clear (sorry):

  • "He has never [done this thing]" = "Er hat noch nie [object verb]" - where "[done this thing]" can be viewed as one "coherent" action. I think this is always a correct and natural word order.

  • "He has never [done this thing to that thing]" can be phrased "Er hat [object] noch nie [verb]", and it often doesn't sound natural.

Some examples:

"I heard he was famous for his grilled cheese." "Er hat Käse noch nie gegrillt. He only ever fried it."

"What do you mean, you saw his photos from China? Er hat noch nie Asien besucht." ("He has never visited Asia.")

"He always wanted to visit all continents before he died; he often talked about his fascination for the Great Wall of China. Er hat Asien nie besucht."

"Er hatte dieses Haus noch nie betreten." ("He had never entered this house before.")

"Er hat noch nie einen Elefanten gefüttert." ("He has never fed an elephant.")

"Ich habe so ein Auto noch nie gefahren." ("I have never driven this kind of car before (and I don't know how to use its technical features)")

"Ich habe noch nie so ein Auto gefahren!" ("I have never driven a car like this before (and it's amazing)!")


I'm sorry, Stepintime, I'm still a bit befuddled over this. (BTW, are you a fan of dancing? :-) )

And thank you so much for taking the time to answer me! Ich schätze es wirklich!

Let's take your last two examples. Are you placing noch nie as a modifier of gefahren in the first of the two, and as a modifier of ein Auto in the second one? And does the first one still sound awkward?

Hmmm. How about Er hat noch nie Käse gegessen emphasizes that it's the cheese he's never eaten, and Er hat Käse noch nie gegessen emphasizes that it's the (non-)eating of the cheese, rather than maybe having stomped on it or sculpted it. That second one would be a bit odd, for sure. Am I getting anywhere with this?

If so, then why is the noch nie in Er hatte dieses Haus noch nie betreten in front of betreten, when we should be emphasizing dieses Haus? Or am I still not getting it?


Yes, it's a weird thing and hard to explain... (at least for me. Maybe there's some good explanation somewhere and I just don't get it myself.)

(And, well, no, I wouldn't call myself a fan of dancing - just chose a "positive" Mary Poppins nickname and avatar to motivate me :) )

I think you're correct about the modifiers, but I'm not sure about the whole thing. "Ich habe so ein Auto noch nie gefahren" - there's this car, and you say, "I've never driven that before". And in "Ich habe noch nie so ein Auto gefahren", "noch nie" refers to the driving of the car, not just the driving, but the whole activity of "driving the car".

In the car example, you can use both versions in both contexts, because in that case there's not much difference between "here's this car, and I've never driven anything like that before" ("...so ein Auto noch nie...") and "I've never done the 'driving-this-kind-of-car' thing before" ("...noch nie so ein Auto").

I agree with you on the cheese. - Edit: By the way, I've found a sensible example where you can use the other word order: "He says he hates cheese, it makes him vomit." "Huh? Er hat Käse noch nie gegessen! How would he know?" (emphasis in English: "He's never eaten cheese!" ...just as he's never sculpted it)

  • I guess the rule actually could be that usually (!) "Er hat noch nie [object verb]" works a lot better for indefinite objects ("fed an elephant"), and "Er hat [object] noch nie [verb]" works a lot better for definite objects ("entered that house").

In the house example, you know that the house exists, maybe you've been told about the house in the previous sentence ("There was a house at the end of the road. He had never entered that house, but..."), so it's like in the car example: "There's this car, and I've never driven that kind." ("Ich habe so ein Auto noch nie gefahren.") "There was this house, and he had never entered it." ("Er hatte dieses Haus noch nie betreten.").

"Er hatte noch nie dieses Haus betreten" normally sounds more or less unnatural, but it could be used in a context like this: "After they had been talking on the doorstep for half an hour, the old man invited him inside. He was excited. Er hatte noch nie dieses Haus betreten, and now he was going to see all the wonders it held inside." ...but it still sounds a bit unusual. But (see below) what (I think) does work is, "He was shocked at those allegations of breaking and entering that house. Er hatte noch nie dieses Haus betreten, and he wasn't going to do it if his life depended on it." ...

...It would make you emphasise "noch nie" when reading it out loud (and, in the example with the old man, maybe "dieses Haus" as well, if you want to put more awe in it). Again, it's about the whole act of "entering the house" altogether, like it's comparable to "feeding an elephant" or "killing a human" or "meeting a king" ...or "eating cheese" :)

"Er hatte dieses Haus noch nie betreten" is really a neutral sentence stating a fact, so you don't have to emphasise anything. You could emphasise "betreten" ("He had never entered it before, but he just knew there had to be a rocking chair and a fireplace with a dog sleeping on a fluffy carpet"), or "dieses Haus" ("He had never entered this house before, but it was bound to have the same layout as the neighbouring houses"), or, for that matter, "noch nie" ("He was shocked at those allegations. Er hatte dieses Haus noch nie betreten!" - or - "Er hatte noch nie dieses Haus betreten!").

Hope this helps clear it up a bit, but feel free to ask some more.


Thank you very much! Yes, I think it's a bit clearer now. And I'm going to ponder this some more.

Grins! I love the scene with the chimney sweeps! And Dick van Dyke was still going strong 2 years ago. He shines with enthusiasm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoPugqYMISM&list=WL&index=82


I wrote "Er hat nie Käse gegessen", and it was marked wrong. Apparently you need "noch". Not sure why.


As of July 28th, 2020, you can put 'Er hat nie Käse gegessen'.


Is there any difference/ what would a native say from using 'noch nie' to just 'nie' in the above sentence?


Er hat nie Käse gegessen is perhaps closer to "He never ate cheese." (For example, when telling the story of someone's life.)

Er hat noch nie Käse gegessen for "He has never eaten cheese." (meaning: not yet, not so far; the "not having eaten" is somehow relevant to the present moment)


I think "Er hat nie Käse gegessen" would refer to a past period of time in which he didn't eat cheese. As mizinamo said, you could say it at someone's funeral (= "he never ate cheese throughout his whole lifetime", he never came to know the joy of eating cheese), or you could say, "All those times when he travelled abroad / During those two weeks we spent in France he never ate cheese, because he distrusted foreign cheese", or if you were friends in highschool and meet again years later: "Why is he ordering extra cheese? He never used to eat cheese!"

"Noch nie" = literally "never yet": "he has never eaten cheese in all his life until now".

Just "not yet" would be "noch nicht" or, in this case, "Er hat noch keinen Käse gegessen (today, at this party)."


He's missing out


What's the difference between noch nie and nievor

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