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Nicht vs Keine

Is it nicht Ingenieur, or kein Ingenieur?

November 11, 2018


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It depends on the sentence.

In a stand-alone sentence, I would use "kein":

Er ist kein Ingenieur.
Er ist kein Arzt.
Ich bin kein Fachmann.

But in this sentence, I would use "nicht":

Er ist nicht Ingenieur, sondern Chemiker.

Canoo.net, a very reliable source for German grammar, says that in the first sentence, you can use "kein" or "nicht": http://www.canoo.net/services/OnlineGrammar/Satz/Negation/Negationswort/kein-ein.html?lang=en. Nevertheless, my own inclination is toward "kein".

Ich bin keine Mathematikerin.

To me, it sounds more appropriate. But let's see what others say.

November 11, 2018


Nicht is a negation, i.e., nicht = no. Kein = none. Although both can be used in various situations with various nuances of a meaning.


Hi there,

Kein is used exactly the same as ein. The same conjugation, adjective declension, everything. Only add a K at the beginning.


Nicht is 'Not'.

Hope this helps!


It's "kein." Think of kein as "not a," as in it refers to a noun. Then insert it into various sentences from there. "I am not a milkman." "There are no chips." "There is no way to do this."


Without the rest of the sentence, there is no way to tell which word you want. But nicht ingenieur by itself is grammatically wrong.

Er ist kein Ingenieur.

Er werde Ingenieur nicht.

Nicht can only attach to a verb, just as in English Does not/Machts nicht.

Kein can only attach to a noun, as in No true Scotsman/Kein echter Schotte.


Er werde Ingenieur nicht. isn't a German sentence construction at all though. I don't know exactly what you are trying to say with it -- he won't become an engineer, maybe? In that case, it would be Er wird kein Ingenieur (werden).


Brilliantly explained. Thank you!

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