"Spielst du kein Tennis?"

Translation:Don't you play tennis?

April 15, 2013

This discussion is locked.


I put "You don't play tennis?" and it was marked wrong. Why? :/


That would be OK in US English, too. Did you report it as an error?


Forgive me for not remembering the grammatical terms. Aren't these two distinct types of questions?

Example 1- Don't you play tennis? - I don't know the answer. I'm genuinely asking.
Example 2- You don't play tennis? - I already know the answer but I'm looking for confirmation.

Example 1:

  • Can I borrow your tennis racket tonight?
  • Sorry, I don't have one.
  • Don't you play tennis?
  • No, I play badminton.

Example 2:

  • I agreed to play tennis with this girl I like. It's going to be a disaster. I've never played tennis before.
  • You don't play tennis? But your condo has 6 courts right in back of it. Why are you paying all these extra fees if you don't even use them?
  • Can we focus here? What am I going to do?

Example 1 - Did not know the person didn't play tennis.
Example 2 - Just found out the person didn't play tennis.

I think the German sentence structure also differentiates between question type:

Example 1 - Spielst du kein Tennis?
Example 2 - Du spielst kein Tennis?

EDIT: Multiple formatting issues and a few mistakes.


Hah! Good question. In English, I'm not sure it's so much a question of grammar (structure) as common usage, but now that you bring it up I think I'd parse it this way.

"Do you play tennis?" (I have no idea whether you play tennis. I'm asking.)

"You don't play tennis?" OR "Don't you play tennis?" would be more or less equivalent. (I'm surprised to discover that you don't, or apparently don't.)


Yeah, the negative tone gave me issues and made me question myself, but when I follow the German "Spielst du" versus "Du spielst" stucture, I haven't had issues so far. If we drop the "not" altogether it is "Do you play tennis" versus "You play tennis?". I thought Menschenkind had linked to an article explaining it but I haven't been able to find it yet. Back to my bookmarks... (slow day at work).


Do you play tennis or don't you play tennis — that's the question. ;-) [SCNR. Inane comments are ready for deletion ;-) ]


"To play, or not to play, that is the question. Better to take up rackets against . . . " OK, I'll stop. ;-)


Good find. I guess I'd call either "Don't you play tennis?" or "You don't play tennis?" an echo question,* because it would be in response to a specific indication that you don't play tennis (either a statement to that effect, or some clue--say, looking at a tennis racket in puzzled disbelief, or avoiding the company tennis match).

I'd still consider either of those questions as being equally appropriate in either of your examples, but the distinction you're making strikes me as the sort of thing that might be regionally variable.

*"Do you play tennis?" wouldn't be an echo question, but that's not the example in question here.


Oh . . . wait. I think I see what you're saying. (I must stop trying to think in the morning. It makes my head hurt, and nobody wins. ;-)

  1. Echo question: "I don't play tennis." "You don't play tennis?" (In this case, you wouldn't respond "Don't you play tennis?" German equivalent: "Du spielst kein tennis?"

  2. Not necessarily an echo question: "I don't have a tennis racket." "Don't you play tennis?" OR "You don't play tennis?" (The latter might come with a note of incredulity.)

German equivalent: "Du spielst kein tennis?" BUT NOT "Du spielst kein tennis?"

In other words, German doesn't allow for the variation in (2) that English does?


Is "spielst du nicht Tennis" wrong? Or "spielst du Tennis nicht" ?


I thought "Don't you play tennis?" to apply to a situation where you thought somebody used to play tennis and confirming it, while "You don't play tennis?" to asking somebody whether one would play or not(although I must say "Are you not playing tennis?" to be a more natural choice). Seems like learning English as a foreign language induced some misconceptions.


You're right, it could be used in that situation, too.


I put "You play no tennis?" and it marked me wrong. Why?


Duolingo expects neutral questions to start with a verb, as in "Don't you play?", rather than using statement word order.

That kind of surprise/confirmation question also exists in German, e.g. Du spielst kein Tennis?? -- but this sentence is not of that type and should not be translated to such a question in English.


Shouldn't "Do you play no tennis" also work?


That's a valid (i.e., grammatical) question in English. It is, however, somewhat of an unusual way of expressing the thought. That said, it is how I translated this exercise at first, basically because I prefer to maintain the correlation between "kein" and "no". There are only subtle differences between the various ways of asking this in English:

  1. Do you play no tennis?
  2. Do you not play tennis?
  3. Don't you play tennis?
  4. You don't [do not] play tennis?
  5. Do you never play tennis?

The thread started by polomare here six years ago addresses those subtleties quite well, so I won't repeat it here. I will, however, note that in the third example I give, one should not expand the contraction "don't" to "do not": "Do not you play tennis?" is so odd as to likely be considered incorrect.


Könnte man hier auch Tennis nicht sagen?

Learn German in just 5 minutes a day. For free.