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Word order: "Du bist es nicht" vs "Es bist du nicht"

Does it make a difference which one I use? I've heard both, whereby "Es bist du nicht" only once, and I am not sure whether it has some sort of implication.

For instance, in case: it's not your fault / it's not you, which one would you use:

Du bist es nicht, mich ärgert… Es bist du nicht, mich ärgert…

Is the second one wrong or does it have a different implication?

June 16, 2018



Both are possible. In my region the first one would be more common, the second has a somewhat poetic touch. But to highlight the "not you" the best version i'd consider in this case were Es bist nicht du, as it negates the du and not the whole phrase, as the position of the nicht at the end does. Apart from the even stronger: Nicht du bist es.


So, "Es bist nicht du" would be like "It's (really) not you" / "It's (really) not your fault"? How common is it to use this word order, because it's sounds, for some reason, somewhat unnatural to me. I thought I've heard it wrong the only time that I've actually heard it.


That's not rare in everydays speech. It sounds strange, as the relative clause has been dropped, what happens often in such situations. Someone gets angry and you think it's because of you. It's not you (that bothers me). it's ...

You said you heard, and that's the problem here. In casual speech one uses sometimes weird word orders because of changing mind inbetween. The really important point is, where is the accent within the sentence, is there a break after it and is there probably a second, weaker one. Arround this anchor you will construct the meaning of the sentence what can totally differ from the meaning given by the word order.


I never heard the second one. You would rather say "Das bist du nicht" or if you want to imply that someone is acting against their personality "that's not you" it would be "Das bist nicht du!" in german. I guess you could say "Es bist nicht du, wegen dem ich sauer bin, sondern...." to say "I'm not mad because of you, it's....


Oh well, I guess I don't remember correctly, it was probably "Es bist nicht du", I just remember it was something like that and I haven't heard it before and I found it very unusual.

In that case, would "Es bist du nicht", theoretically, still be correct, but mean something else than "Es bist nicht du" ?


As I explained before, it sounds somewhat poetic because of its strong rhythm (Iambs).

Es bist du nicht, die ich sehe,
nur dein Bild, das mir verblieb.
Bin allein in meinem Wehe
und mit meiner argen Lieb.


that order sounds more like it would be in a poem or really old text.

I think "es bist nicht du" would be a phrase to start a sentence but would sound weird if it was your whole sentence, while "Das bist nicht du" could stand on its own.

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