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  5. "You cannot say "no"."

"You cannot say "no"."

Translation:Du kannst nicht "nein" sagen.

April 10, 2013



I'm really having problems with "nicht" placement in some of these sentences. What is wrong with saying, "Du kann "nein" nicht sagen"?


I would like to know the same thing. There is a general rule for placing "nicht" in a sentence. As I understand it, if you are negating a single word, nicht would come before that word. If you are negating the entire thought expressed by the sentence, nicht should come at the very end of the sentence except that the last position can be usurped by separable verb prefixes or verb infinitives "chased" by modal verbs or by a third thing that escapes me right now. By both of these "rules", "nicht sagen" seems right but DL disagrees.


It is my understanding that "nein" is part of the infinitive ("nein" sagen, i.e. to say "no"), and this is the reason that "nicht" comes before it.


"Nicht" is modifying the word "kannst" (by the way, this should be "kannst" and not "kann" to agree with "Du"). When "nicht" is modifying a verb, it comes right after the verb, so "Du kannst 'nein' nicht sagen" is wrong.


I think that in this case "nicht" is negating the verb "kann" not the verb "sagen". Like how in English the word "cannot" has "not" next to "can". But I may be wrong. There may be a larger rule on the placement of "nicht". :-)


I have the same problem with 'nicht,' and also answered 'Du kannst 'nein' nicht sagen.'


I got it wrong for using "darfst" instead of "kannst." Either should be an acceptable translation of "cannot" in this example.


why is the following wrong? Du kannst kein "nein" sagen.


"Kein" is an adjective meaning "not any" or "no," so literally, this would mean "You can't say any 'no,'" which is nonsense. You need to negate the verb "kannst," so use the adverb "nicht."

See this link about "kein" vs. "nicht": http://german.about.com/od/grammar/a/German-Negation.htm


That would mean, you cannot say "any" no. As in, you are not allowed to say any of the "no"s. Which doesn't really make sense.


There is no consistency with the placement of "nicht" among the answers to these questions. Können Sie uns nicht explizit sagen? Warum muss es so uneindeutig sein? Das ist so lächerlich! Ich hasse diese zweideutigen Antworten! Sei präzise, Duo! Erklär alle deine Antworten! Keiner sollte kostenlos arbeiten! Es ist nicht unser Arbeit!


Shouldn't this be an imperative? Or could it be at least?


No; the verb "kannst" is not in imperative form. If we try to put in imperative form, though, the sentence ends up kind of strange (something like "Don't be able to say 'no.'").

Actually, I'm not sure that modal verbs even have imperative forms--according to my source ( http://www.canoo.net/inflection/k%C3%B6nnen:V:haben), "können" doesn't seem to. Hypothetically, though, the imperative form would be the stem of the verb, so we end up with "Könn nicht 'nein' sagen." ("Don't be able to say 'no.'").

If you just want to say "Don't say 'no,'" use "Sag nicht 'nein.'"


Du kannst nicht "nein" sagen. is a statement while Du kannst nicht "nein" sagen! is an imperative.


Adding an exclamation mark doesn't make a sentence grammatically imperative. In German imperatives have the same sentence structure as verb-subject inversion questions.


You are right, it is only an order because it is only similar to an imperative. ("Sag nicht 'nein'!" is the imperative.)


In fact I believe the imperative would be "Sag du nicht 'nein'!".


You can write your sentence, but normally the pronoun is only used by "Sie" the formal "you".


I wasn't aware of that, thanks.


I went the next level and used the more common „German quotation marks.“ Just trying to get used to them as well as the rest if the language.


When do you use "sagen" and when do you use "regen"?


"regen" means "to rain".

Did you mean "reden"? That verb means "to talk".


This is how I understand the placement of nicht. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Du kannst "nein" nicht sagen. --> nicht negates sagen

  • Translate: You can not say anything, including nein.

Du kannst nicht "nein" sagen. --> nicht negates "nein"

  • Translate: You can say things, but cannot say nein in particular.


Redundancy nicht nie?

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