"He eats nothing but fruit."
Translation:Er isst nichts außer Obst.
It corrected my response by using "als" (I used "aber"). What is the difference between using aber, außer, and als?
As far as my understanding, außer is similar to "besides" or "excluding". It's also used as "but," however the word "but" has many meanings.
Meanings of BUT:
But1: However; denying or going against the previous fact
But2: Exclusion. E.g. I will meet anyone but her.
But3: Impossibility. E.g. I can't help but falling in love. (= it is impossible not to fall in love). Nothing I can do but observe (= It is not possible for me to anything; only can I observe.)
aber is the first definition of But
außer is the second definition of But.
als is not but, rather it means "than"
Now, als means "than" in English. I don't know if "Er isst nichts als Obst" is a natural sentence, because I'm not a native, but in this case the sentences would translate to "He eats nothing other than fruit".
"Sondern" is used as a conjuction; it translates "but" when it has a meaning similar to instead, rather. E.g.:
"I don't like cats, but (rather) dogs." — "ich mag nicht Katzen, sondern Hunde."
"I didn't write you this letter, but (rather) that one over there." — "ich habe dir nicht diesen Brief geschrieben, sondern den da drüben."
"You shouldn't ask me, but him (instead)." — "Du solltest nicht mich fragen, sondern ihn."
"Außer", on the other hand, is a preposition meaning except; it translates "but" when it means excluding, except. E.g.:
"I don't like any dogs but/except mine." — "Ich mag keine Hunde außer meinem."
"Everyone but me was invited." — "Jeder außer mir wurde eingeladen."
"Außer" can also be used as a conjuction with the meaning except (for).
- "I always like you, except when you are mad at me" — "Ich mag dich immer, außer wenn du mir böse bist."
"Aber" can be used in all other cases:
"I like cats, but not dogs." — "Ich mag Katzen, aber ich mag keinen Hund."
"I love him, but he doesn't love me." — "Ich liebe ihn, aber er liebt mich nicht."
"Doch" is very similar to "aber" and has no semantic difference, but is slightly different in usage. One collocation I have observed, for example, is with zwar:
- "The noise is certainly annoying/it is true that the noise is annoying, but it is necessary." — "Der Lärm stört zwar, doch er ist notwendig."
In English, but can either be used as a coordinating conjunction or as a synonym for except.
German doesn't combine the two meanings into one word, so we have to use aber as a coordinating conjunction and außer to mean except.
March 1, 2017 - I'm finding on the various German forums that they're interchangeable - so I'm going to report it.
I wrote ausser and Duo told me to pay attention to ß. I knew that recent language revision suggest to use ss in place of ß. What I'm wrong? Could you explain me, please? Thanks in advance!
Details for the use of ß and ss can be found here: http://german.about.com/library/weekly/aa092898.htm
Rule of thumb: if you cannot remember the correct spelling use the ss and pretend you are Swiss :)
In short, ß was changed to ss when after a short vowel, but kept after a long vowel or a diphthong (au, äu, ei, eu, ai), which incidentally makes it easier for a learner to remember certain pronunciations.
For example: "Fluss" has a short u (pronounced similar the oo in "foot" or "book") so you spell it with ss, but "Fuß" has a long u (pronounced similar to the oo in "food" or "brood") so you spell it with ß; "außer" has a diphthong (which phonologically has the same length as a long vowel) so you also spell it with ß.
When writing in all capitals, however, SS is the advised form for all cases, even though some designs for a capital eszett to be used in these circumstances have been made (ẞ as opposed to ß). So the standard all-caps for "Fuß" is "FUSS" but you could write "FUẞ".
In Switzerland, instead, it is always ss.
"In accusative case, use 'nichts' for neuter nouns like 'Obst'." What would one use for a feminine or masculine noun?
Hmm, I think "nichts" simply means nothing. It is not declined. Someone correct me please.
I think I don't understand why it is "nichts" and not "nicht".
because "nicht" means more " not" (As in, Ich bin nicht. I am not.) Whereas "nichts means "nothing" (as in, Ich bin nichts. I am nothing)
So "nichts" is always a noun that doesn't reflect gender or number? But why would the Duo correction (I got it wrong) talk about the accusative case and a neuter noun? (I quoted the Duo explanation above.) Thanks for trying to explain this.
It is not poorly explained by Duo but they use the wrong example. Nichts means nothing and nicht means not. In English, you don't use an article after "but" when you mean it like it is meant above. So, the sentence says: He eats nothing but fruit. You don't say: he eats nothing but the fruit. In German they don't say: Er isst nichts ausser dem Obst, they just say "Obst", like the English say Fruit. Do I make any sense at all for you?
Thank you Marieke 1974 and muitosabao for the explanations. You both make sense to me, but the Duo explanation doesn't. I think the Duo explanation would be clearer if it omitted reference to gender.
I wrote, " Er isst nur Obst" and got right. "Only" and "nothing except" mean the same.
Fruit can be either singular or plural. Frucht should have been accepted.
Because that's a different “but”. “Aber” represents the adversative conjunction “but”, as in “I like pizza, but I don't like mozzarella”; “außer” is instead the translation for the preposition “but”, as in “I hate everyone but you”. Basically, if you can substitute “except” for “but” in a sentence, then use “außer” in German.
There's actually also a third meaning of “but” that is also a conjunction and translates into “sondern” and that is the ”rather-but”. The best rule of thumb is: if you can say “but rather” instead of just “but”, then use “sondern”; but the best thing to do is to learn the type of sentence in which “sondern” is used, like: “he's not eating apples, but oranges“ = “er isst nicht Äpfel, sondern Orangen”.
Aside from the obvious but very important grammatical difference (‘Obst’ is a singular collective noun, while ‘Früchte’ is the plural of the count noun ‘Frucht’), the main difference is that ‘Obst’ is mostly a culinary term, while ‘Frucht’ is mostly a biological term; inedible fruits are still Früchte but not Obst and tomatoes could technically be argued to be Früchte but they are definitely Gemüse, not Obst. The different grammar also makes a difference: if you want to refer to a single item you're going to use ‘Frucht’, because ‘Obst’ would always refer to fruits as a whole. Furthermore, ‘Frucht’ can be used figuratively (as in ‘the fruits of one's labour’, ‘die Früchte seiner Arbeit’), while ‘Obst’ cannot. Other than that, the choice depends on certain set expressions and personal preference.