https://www.duolingo.com/thejohnfreeman

Infinitive vs non-finite verbs ("ich esse nicht")

Duolingo accepts both "I do not eat" and "I am not eating" as translations for "ich esse nicht", but these translations could have different meanings: "I do not eat" could be interpreted as "I never eat anything", whereas "I am not eating" could not.

How can I tell which meaning is intended when hearing the German phrase? Could it be used to mean either?

August 6, 2012

3 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/elae

If someone were to say "I never eat anything", I think they'd be more likely to say "Ich esse nie".

August 6, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/vivace160

There wouldn't be two meanings of "Ich esse nicht." in German because German doesn't have the present continuous tense ("I am verb+ing...). "I don't eat." is the same thing as "I'm not eating.": "Ich esse nicht." As elae said, you would say "Ich esse nie." to say you never eat.

August 6, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/thejohnfreeman

Excellent explanation, thank you.

August 6, 2012
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