What is the difference between these two sentences?
There’s a line in a song that says “Es tut ja gar nicht weh” and I have no idea what the “ja” means in this context. How is it different to “Es tut gar nicht weh”? Thanks for any help
Hi. You'll need a native speaker to really give you the full flavor of this concept, but I can offer you some student background.
Both gar and ja are working here as so-called modal particles. The sentence would make sense without them, but they intensify and contextualize it.
The basic sentence is:
Es tut nicht weh - It doesn't hurt
Now, adding the gar gives a sense of at all - it intensifies the "doesn't"
Es tut gar nicht weh - It doesn't hurt at all
The ja then adds an extra level, a sense of really that makes it feel like this is being said to someone and assuring them (perhaps through gritted teeth) that this is really true:
Es tut ja gar nicht weh - It really doesn't hurt at all
Maybe a German can add more, or correct the nuances.
Native here. Very nice explanation. These words just make your German sound more natural. It's really like mixing in some words like really, ain't it, well, like, get it?, you know, isn't it?, innit?, it does+infinitve They are not really necessary but they transport a subtle message, innit? I'm afraid there are no strict rules in German when and where to use these words, but advanced learners will get over time a natural understanding of them, eventually.