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  5. "I cannot tell her that now."

"I cannot tell her that now."

Translation:Ich kann es ihr jetzt nicht sagen.

March 24, 2013



So many questions; let me start with positioning "nicht." "Nicht" is an adverb. Rule: adverbs a) precede the verb they modify, or b) follow the verb they modify, unless a pronoun follows the verb; then c) the adverb follows the pronoun. When there is a modal auxilliary verb involved, the verb is split with the modal auxilliary verb in slot 2 of the sentence and the verb infinitive at the end. In my answer to this question, I wrote "....kann nicht ...." which DL rejected in favor of "... nicht sagen." Is positioning "nicht" before the infinitive where a modal verb is used a rule or a preference? DL's answer suggests that it is a rule.


Trll me how to postion "Jetzt". It is very confusing. :(


But, in so many places 'that' has been translated as 'das' in Duolingo itself !!


I guess you could also say: "Das kann ich ihr jetzt nicht erzählen/sagen".


Why cannot say Ich kann das ihr jetzt nicht sagen?


That is the exact correct answer DuoLingo is giving me now...I wrote "Ich kann das ihr nicht jetzt sagen." But it tells me the correct answer is "Ich kann das ihr jetzt nicht sagen."


I believe that in German, a normal sentence is ordered as follows: Time+Place+Manner where as in English: Manner+Place+Time This is why you have to place 'Jetzt" at the beginning of the sentence, since it applies as time.

Another mistake is that you shouldn't place 'nicht" in front of 'sagen". Instead, you should place it behind 'kann", since it is the word that is being negated.

I hope I could help.


look here: http://faculty.vassar.edu/vonderem/deutsch_heute/Kapitel02/Grammatik/nicht1.html

the word 'nicht' comes very often behind the word which is negated. The order of time and place follow no rule, it is just like the speaker likes it. If a speaker likes the order depends on which word he/she likes to underline.

  • In der Schule war es um 8 Uhr wieder extrem leise. (let us talk about the school)
  • Um 8 Uhr war es in der Schule wieder extrem leise. (what did I do at 8 o'clock, at eight I ...)
  • Extrem leise war es .... (oh it was extrem quiet; sometime unexpected happened, let us talk about)


Can someone explain me this word order please?

When we have two verbs we put the direct object and indirect object and then "nicht"? I always get confused with the word order when it comes to "nicht" or sentences "full of elements".


It is my understanding that the NICHT is put in front of the most important verb. So NICHT SAGEN. My guess is that you are Spanish speaking. In Latino languages the order is opposite like SAGEN NO (but this order is only in latino languages). And about time and place, these words are put in front of the most important verb, so "....JETZT nicht sagen" .


So nicht sagen. ?? -Is not German. The position of 'nicht' is right, but the sentence sounds wild.

So, nicht weitersagen. Nicht weitersagen! Nichts sagen! Nichts weitersagen! ~don't tell it her/him.


Yes, you are right, i was only citing the important part of the sentence. The full sentence would be: Ich kann es ihr jetzt NICHT SAGEN.
Or another example concerning the word order: Wir können jetzt NiCHT EINKAUFEN.


I'm Portuguese, but yes. Thanks!


Third question: In the comments, above, I saw the "Time, Manner, Place" rule of order disputed. I understand that different elements of a sentence can be placed in slot 1 for emphasis, but I am still clinging to the concept that the remaining adverbial modifiers should be in TMP order. Is this a false hope?


Does German has a time, manner, place order? -Sure it will have one, but sorry I don't feel the borders.- The position of the verb is the most important, the rest is more or less switchable. Of coures when you switch the order you often underline other facts in a sentence.

Can you please give more examples of sentences with adverbial modifiers. On which we can discuss this.


Slot 1: Er (subject)

Slot 2: wollte (verb 1)

Slot 3: (no direct object, verb form is intransitive)

Slot 4a: am Montag (time)

Slot 4b: mit seiner Freundin (manner)

Slot 4c: ins Kino (place)

Slot 5: gehen (verb 2)

Any of the components in Slot 4 can move to the front of the sentence for emphasis, in which case "es" would follow "wollte" and the remaining components would retain their TMP order.

Another example:

Ich::habe::heute:hart:an meinem Projekt::gearbeitet


Er wollte am Montag mit seiner Freundin ins Kino gehen.

-okay I missed to say to you you only will have a big difference in the sentence, when you have a 'nicht' in the sentence and you change the word order. If you does not have a 'nicht' inside of your sentence the change in content will not be really important.

  • Er wollte mit seiner Freundin am Montag ins Kino gehen. -he wanted to go with her girlfriend to do something somewhen....
  • Er wollte am Montag mit seiner Freundin ins Kino gehen. -on Monday he wanted to do something ...
  • Er wollte am Montag mit seiner Freundin ins Kino gehen. ~because ins Kino gehen is one activity you can not seperate Kino and the verb.

  • Er wollte im Kino mit seiner Freundin am Montag einen Film sehen. - you see you are very free to choose a position for the time, manner and the place.

  • Er wollte am Montag mit seiner Freundin im Kino einen Film sehen. ~He wanted to do it on Monday, maybe the next sentence would tell us what he will do an Tuesday.

  • Er wollte mit seiner Freundin am Montag im Kino einen Film sehen. ~he wanted to go ... with his friend/girlfriend.

<-- When you say these sentences in the same mood they will say the same in the end. Your order makes sure you can not say something wild.

  • Ich habe heute hart an meinen Projekt gearbeitet. (sounds like the most neutral one) Ich habe an meinem Projekt heute hart gearbeitet. (~leads to the idea you did not work hard on it yesterday.) Ich habe hart an meinem Projekt gearbeitet.
  • Not every position is okay for 'heute' for example: Ich habe hart heute an meinem Projekt gearbeitet. This is not good.


Sorry for asking this again, but after looking at all the posts I still do not have a clear answer. Is Ich kann es ihr nicht jetzt sagen wrong?

What I've learned earlier is that by negating jetzt you would express that you cannot tell her now (but could at another time), whereas by negating sagen you express that you can do other things now, but not telling her. However, the nicht jetzt option is marked wrong.

More to the point, the English sentence clearly expresses the first idea, that now is not a good time, maybe later, so wouldn't nicht jetzt sagen be more correct?

Can someone clarify this, please? As I said, I do not see a clear answer in the 50 existing posts.


"das kann ich nicht jetzt sagen" could be possible, no?


You missed out the 'her'


It's not really an accurate translation, though.


how should I arrange "jetzt" and "night"?my answer: "Ich kann nicht das ihr jetzt sagen" is wrong.


"Ich kann ihr das jetzt nicht sagen"


Question 4, my word order (which DL rejects): The sentence to be translated: "I cannot tell her that now."

Slot 1: Ich = I (subject) Slot 2: kann = can (modal auxilliary verb) Slot 3: das = that (a pronoun and the direct object, the thing being told) Slot 4a: nicht jetzt = not now (Time adverbial modifier) Slot 4b: ihr = (to) her (indirect object in dative case) Slot 5: sagen = tell (infinitive)

Why is this (painfully constructed) sentence wrong?


Slot 1 to 2 are correct. --> Ich kann ...

Ich kann ihr das jetzt nicht erzählen. --> we think, he can tell 'that' tomorrow or in the future somewhen.

Ich kann ihm jetzt nicht das Spielzeug wegnehmen. Ich kann es ihm jetzt nicht wegnehmen.(~sounds like a normal order) ; Ich kann ihm es jetzt nicht wegnehmen.(~, but I could take something away from another guy.)


I'm not sure what point you are trying to make here, but let me parse out one of your sentences so you can see how I think and then, hopefully, correct me.

Your sentence: "Ich kann ihm jetzt nicht das Spielzeug wegnehmen."

My construction (intentionally omitting "nicht" which I want to discuss separately):

Slot 1 2: Ich kann

Slot 3: das Spielzeug (direct object)

Slot 4a: jetzt (time)

Slot 4b: (from) ihm (dative "him" suggesting manner)

Slot 5: wegnehmen (verb 2)

This is different from your construction and, if it is wrong, please correct me. Now, let us discuss where to put "nicht." I see four possible places:

kann nicht

nicht jetzt

jetzt nicht

nicht wegnehmen

Is there a correct one? Are any of them wrong (I would suspect "yes," but you tell me)?


Ich kann ihm das Spielzeug jetzt wegnehmen. Ich kann ihm jetzt das Spielzeug wegnehmen. The point is he must be next to me otherwise I am not able to catch the toy.

Ich kann das Spielzeug ihm jetzt wegnehmen. (now he is sleeping, the (disliked) toy lies next ot him, I focus on the (disliked) toy which should be away from him.)

In this sentence 'ihm' sound wild in the fifth slot.

For itself they are all correct.

Now in the sentence:

  • Ich kann ihm jetzt nicht das Spielzeug wegnehmen. works, I can't do it now, but later.

  • Ich kann nicht ihm .... AUA does not work. --> Ich kann nicht schlafen. works.

  • Ich kann das Spielzeug ihm nicht jetzt ... AUA. --> Nicht jetzt! Bitte kommen Sie morgen wieder. Ich kann jetzt nicht. works.

  • Ich kann ihm (jetzt) das Spielzeug nicht wegnehmen. works, he is used to play with the toy for days, the speaker does not focus on the moment.

I don't know if it will help you, it is a site from my stored list. http://faculty.vassar.edu/vonderem/deutsch_heute/Kapitel02/Grammatik/nicht1.html


Why is "Ich kann es ihr nicht jetzt sagen" wrong ? It seems to me like this order would emphasize the fact that I cannot tell her "that" right now but that I could do it later (for example tomorrow). Is there a grammatical rule forbidding this order ?


Another question: DL used "es" to represent "that." Could "das" have been used instead?


yes, it is possible in German, too. But I guess, we use more often 'es' in this sentence.

'Ich kann ihr das nicht erzählen/sagen.' 'Ich kann das ihr nicht erzählen/sagen.'


OK, turn the question around. When would you NOT use "es" for "that" in place of "das?" An aside on this issue: "es" is always a pronoun; "das" is primarily an article and when used as such, it defines case and impacts declension. Using "das" as a pronoun would, it seems to me, cause some confusion in some instances. For example: "That man ..." cannot translate into "Das Mann ..." So, having confused both of us, would one rule possibly be that "das" (can) become "es" when it is the direct object of a sentence?


That man=Jener Mann. ; This man= Dieser Mann

If you use 'das' in a sentence it can always be omitted by 'dies'(=this/that).

I don't think you will find a rule with direct or indirect object. My opinion is more like: 'das/dies' focus on something special which can be easyly omited by a single word or a short word group. 'Es' is not always -but sometimes it is- such easyly omitable by some words.

If I am in your position, I would not think too much about this, because the background is always missing when Duolingo asks. I guess the 'es' is only more often used because there are more situations in a German life when we use 'es' than 'das'/'dies' for this specific sentence. And when the theory is right, that 'das/dies' is more often used for easyly describable facts, you need to know the background.


I'm still confused about nicht in this sentence. Other discussions have insisted that nicht come immediately after the verb it is negating-in this case, kann. So, what is it about this sentence in particular that changes that?


I tried "jetzt", not accepted with the correct translation using "nun". So next I used "nun", just to finish this verdammte exercise. Again not accepted beacuse it gives "jetzt" in the "Correct Solution".Mir scheint unsere Eule ist ein Teufel!


So nichts is usually before a main verb if there is modal vb in a d claus!


I've been dinged before using das instead of es, even though I though they were somewhat interchangeable, but here it wants es. And in an earlier lesson, it wanted das.

Also, is reden not acceptable here? It sure didn't allow me to use it.


Why not Ich kann ihr nicht das jetzt sagen?


The order of words is not correct German. (I don't know the formal rules, though)


Why is the es needed here ?


Melden = to tell .. isn t?


I was wondering, do people in germany say "right now" as an alternative to now? like I would more naturally say "I can't tell her that right now" I'm not really sure what "right" 's purpose is because you can't have a more now than now.. but that's what i naturally think.. so anyway do they have that distinction and where would it be placed in the sentence..


Why dative ihr instead of sie here?


Because "ihr" ( to her ) is the indirect object "es{" is the DO.


what is wrong with "ich kann jetzt es ihr nicht sagen" ?


Why not use "dürfen" as well? It could work, with a different suggestion than "können". "I don't have the right to tell her that now".


ich kann ihr das nicht jetzt erzälhlen


You can give this as answer and Duolingo will accept it, Jetzt kann ich es ihr nicht sagen.


This seems to break the rules. We’re supposed to use Time, Manner, place, right? Well the time is jetzt, and the manner is ihr. So one would think it would be “Ich kann es jetzt ihr nicht sagen”, but it says this is wrong. Why?


"Ich kann jetzt ihr das nicht sagen." is wrong, and I don't understand why. That = das, not es. Das is a pronoun but not a personal one, so it comes second even though it's accusative. Adverbs come before objects usually depending on emphasis.


Why is "Ich kann das ihr jetzt nicht reden" marked incorrect?


I have the same issue as JosepAbenz


I have looked at a number of grammar references, and haven't found a satisfactory explanation yet for the usage and placement of "nicht" in phrases with modal verbs. It seems like:

Which verb does "nicht" negate, the modal verb or the main verb?

The modal verb, exs:

er muss das nicht tun = he not-must (doesn't have to) do that (not "he must not- do that")

er darf das nicht tun = he not-may (isn't allowed to, may not) do that (not "he may not-do that")

Where is nicht placed?

before adjectives it modifies

apparently, in main clauses, after verbs, as well as verb objects and other adverbials. In this sentence, it is confusing, as "nicht" appears immediately before the main verb (as it does with adjectives), but long after the modal verb it actually modifies: "Ich kann es ihr jetzt nicht ..."

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