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Where does "nicht" go in a sentence?

I always assumed it went before the verb, but I have seen instances where it follows the verb and is at the end of the sentence. Does it's position in the sentence actually matter?


January 14, 2018



In the Tips and Notes there are some explanations. I wrote here what's there.

Position of Nicht

Adverbs go in different places in different languages. You cannot simply place the German adverb "nicht" where you would put "not" in English.

The German "nicht" will precede adjectives and adverbs as in "Das Frühstück ist nicht schlecht" (the breakfast is not bad) and "Das Hemd ist nicht ganz blau" (the shirt is not entirely blue).

For verbs, "nicht" can either precede or follow a verb. Typically, "nicht" comes after conjugated verbs as in "Die Maus isst nicht" (The mouse does not eat). In conversational German, the perfect ("Ich habe gegessen" = "I have eaten") is often used to express past occurrences ("I ate"). If such statements are negated, "nicht" will come before the participle at the end of the sentence: "Ich habe nicht gegessen" (I did not eat/I have not eaten).

Finally, "nicht" also tends to come at the end of sentences (after direct objects like "mir" = "me", or after yes/no questions if there are just one conjugated verb). For example, "die Lehrerin hilft mir nicht" (the teacher does not help me) and "Hat er den Ball nicht?" (Does he not have the ball?).

[deactivated user]

    Part of learning a new language is thinking differently. Don't make assumptions based on your knowledge of English.

    http://www.lsa.umich.edu/German/hmr/Grammatik/Wortstellung/nicht.html Maybe you'll find this helpful. (scroll down to the "Position of nicht" section)


    A few examples: Do you have a XXX?- Answer: I habe keinen Hund. I habe keine Tochter. I habe kein Kind. (So you see when you giving NO to a noun then you use kein, keine, keinen - "nicht+ein"). But, when you are giving NO to something else (action): I mag nicht zur Schule gehen. Ich will nicht zu Hause bleiben. Or: Do you like Mark? Magst du Mark? - Ice mag ihn nicht.

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