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"Nein, du darfst das nicht sehen."

Translation:No, you may not see that.

July 16, 2014



In this sentence, is the sense of "may" conditional, ("You might not be able to see it") or imperative ("you are not allowed to see it"). As an isolated sentence, it is ambiguous in English. Is it also ambiguous in German?


No. The German can only mean "you are not allowed to see it" -- dürfen = to be allowed to, "to may".

For "You may not see it (= it's possible that you don't see it)" I'd say Du siehst es vielleicht nicht or Eventuell siehst du es nicht.

And for "You may not see it, but it's still there", one possibility is Du magst es nicht sehen, aber es ist dennoch da. mögen nowadays usually means "to like" but the original meaning "it's possible" that the English "may" still has is still used in some circumstances such as this one.


As usual, a very clear answer - thank you! Another question - I drive a lot, so have "dead time" that I want to fill usefully. I would like to get a CD or mp3 collection of simple stories, nursery rhymes in German - anything - that is simple and understandable to which I can listen to improve my vocablary, etc.. Any suggestions?


How about nachrichtenleicht -- news in simple language with short sentences etc.? I have no experience with them myself but have heard them recommended before. They have a podcast page: http://www.nachrichtenleicht.de/podcast-nachrichtenleicht.2134.de.html


In Australia (but it's on the internet) they have a radio program in German run by the Special Broadcasting Service. It's not very simple German but not that hard either.

Google for sbs german or go to https://www.sbs.com.au/yourlanguage/german

You'll also get a bit of info on Australia and what some Germans are doing in Australia so might be of interest to German travellers.

I haven't listened lately but they sometimes had a section teaching you Australian slang (Strine) terms which was quite amusing so you'd learn Strine and German at the same time.

You can download an sbs app too. I would sometimes just start it off before driving.


Vielen Dank (oder danke schön? welches?). Ich werde es versuchen.


Both are fine :)

[deactivated user]

    is here someone responsible who REALLY can speak german? man, the incorrectness and errors are driving me mad :(


    In the Tips & Notes, Duo states that "darfen...nicht" translates to "must not" (and says that "müssen...nicht" means "do not have to"). So why is "you must not see that" not an accepted answer here?


    The basic meaning of dürfen is "be allowed".

    "to see" is more an involuntary or passive action, so "you may not see that" seems more appropriate to me, whereas with a voluntary action such as, say, opening a box, both "you may not do that" and "you must not do that" are possible translations of du darfst die Schachtel nicht öffnen.

    I suppose "you must not see that" is not completely wrong, though, so I'll add it.


    Should "No, you may not see it" be accepted? It is not currently, I know that "es" is it and "das" is that but just curious if this is one of those that would require context to know for sure.


    This course generally keeps es/it and das/that pretty strictly separated.


    Okay, thanks for the reply


    I put "no you may not see", marked wrong. This kind of implied indirect object seems equivalent to me to "no you may not see that", when "may" is used in terms of permission.


    Reporting it for giving "No, you cannot see that" as incorrect.


    Well, there is a difference between "can" and "may", a pretty big one, IMO. The same goes for "dürfen" and "können" in German.


    Yes, I realised that with further examples. I think I was confused because duo gave one of the meanings of dürfen as "can".


    Well, yeah. Colloquially they are sometimes used interchangeably, in both languages, so it is no wonder that it is listed there. In some sentences using them "wrong" does not sound that wrong and in some it sounds really weird. So better to stay on the safe side, if not totally sure :)


    But I am learning from the previous examples of the DL itself...


    And you just learned how you cannot always translate "dürfen" to "can" ;)

    See, DL works! :D


    It reminds me an argument/discussion/debate I had with a friend about the "real meaning" of "must". It was during elementary school.


    I translated as you..."No, I cannot see that"...because the same reason...

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