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  5. "Ik kan geen rijst koken."

"Ik kan geen rijst koken."

Translation:I cannot cook rice.

July 26, 2014



The difference between geen and niet is the word that follows them. Thus, geen is always followed by a susbstantive: Ik kan geen rijst koken. In turn, niet is always followed by an infinitive verb form: Ik kan rijst niet koken. Both meaning the same, but under different constructions. I hope this clarifies!


I'm not sure why this can't be "I can't cook any rice" - perhaps when you wanted to cook rice but had run out of it!


Especially considering that the 'geen' means 'not any'.


I had this same question when it came up on the reverse translation for the exact same reason. If "rice" was omitted in the English, it would simply mean "I can't cook" and would be "Ik kan niet koken." Right?

This one confuses the hell out of me.


Yep. If you were to say, "I can't cook," it would be, "Ik kan niet koken." :)


true. But you want to say "I can't cook rice", so you should say "ik kan niet rijst koken". But that is no proper dutch. When rice is added you should change 'niet' for 'geen rijst'


Actually, you just don't need the 'any'. Adding 'any' may result in the meaning of different sorts of rice, which in Dutch would be 'Ik kan geen enkele (soort) rijst koken'.


No, forgive me, but that's not correct English usage.

In English if you say "I can't cook any rice", the normal usage is that you mean that you are differentiating between cooking some rice to eat for dinner and not cooking any rice to eat for dinner.

If you want to say that you can't cook any kind of rice then the English sentence needs to be expanded as you suggest for the Dutch sentence.... Alternatively if you want to imply you can't cook rice at all, then the English sentence is "I can't cook rice!"

I say this as a native English speaker and keen cook!


Respectfully, that's not what adding 'any' would mean, except for in very specific circumstances.


Agreed. It is a specific situation. I just wanted to point out that 'any' is not necessary and may change the meaning if added.


Sorry this has nothing to do with the sentence but could you add more features like in German they have flashcards you can study and additional skills to learn like holidays and stuff. Dank Je!


The top hint for "kan" is "may". Why is "I may not cook rice" not accepted then?


Good question. In English, I may not cook rice means that there is a possibility I won't cook rice. I think we'll have Chinese food for dinner tonight, but I may not cook rice. May in the sense of can is a formal use, which is slowly disappearing.and is used when asking permission. The classic place everyone remembers being told about it is asking something like - Can I get a class of water and being told - yes you can, but may you. We'd need a native Dutch speaker to verify it, but I suspect that kan contains both the asking permission and ability to perform meanings.


Because in English, "can" and "may" are sometimes interchangeable. But not always.


Is it acceptable to say Ik kan rijst niet koken?


That way you are specifically negating only the verb koken, i.e. explicitly without negating its object rijst. This only makes sense when it's about what you can and cannot do with rice. Example: "Ik kan rijst niet koken maar eten."


You and me both. And I'm Asian.


I don't understand this. How are you using geen with an uncountable noun? Are you allowed to do that in Dutch?


Why wouldn't you be?


Geen means "not a." In English, you rarely use an indefinite article for an uncountable noun. For example, you could say, "I need a potato," but you couldn't say, "I have a bread."


Not sure why you think 'geen' means only 'not a'. As I mentioned above, 'geen' means 'not any', and I'd say it means this more often than 'not a'.


Thank you! I didn't realize it could be used like that.


Sure can! 'Er zijn geen broodjes' means 'there are no buns', or 'there are not any buns', to phrase it differently.


Should "I may not cook rice" also be an acceptable translation?

"I may not" is definitely less common than "I cannot", but it does carry precisely the same meaning as far as I am aware.


May not carries a meaning of possibility - I cook rice every day, but I may not do it tonight (think of maybe), or lack of permission (this is going away). I want to cook rice but he won't let me, so I may not). Cannot is ability (which is why the second meaning of may is going away - if you're not allowed to you don't have the ability too. ) I can't cook rice tonight because we don't have any.


I'm aware of that. :)

I was assuming that the sentence was the result of a lack of permission, hence why I submitted "I may not cook rice" as my answer. Although distinctly less common in use these days (as you noted), it is still very much a valid thing to say in English.

I suppose a better question to ask would be, within the provided Dutch sentence, what specifies that the translation must be "cannot" instead of "may not"?


I think I would be much more likely to hear someone complaining that for one reason or another they are unable to cook rice ("It never turns out the way I want it!" - "I can only do this properly with a rice cooker, but mine is broken." - "My family don't like it, so they hardly eat any of it." - "I tried in the microwave some day, but it turned out too crispy. Maybe I should have added water?") than someone complaining that they are not allowed to ("My mother says I am too young to cook rice.").

That said, the Dutch sentence is technically ambiguous and can have the meaning that seems more natural to do. But if you use can in English, the English sentence has exactly the same ambiguity, i.e., it is a perfect translation in this respect.

Your sentence is the appropriate translation for the unambiguous Dutch sentence "Ik moog geen rijst koken".


why is "i can cook no rice" wrong?


It is arguably a technically correct translation, but it is at least very misleading. Your English sentence means "There is no rice that I can cook". Dutch and German have the strange quirk that instead of negating a transitive verb we tend to formally negate the object of the verb. I.e., instead of saying "Ik kan niet rijst koken", we tend to say "Ik kan geen rijst koken". Therefore, if we actually want to say "I can cook no rice / There is no rice that I can cook", then we can only use the more explicit "Er is geen rijst, die ik kan koken".

If this was confusing, maybe the following makes it clearer:

Ik kan niet rijst koken. = I cannot cook rice. = Ik kan geen rijst koken. ≠ I can cook no rice. = Er is geen rijst, die ik kan koken. = There is no rice that I can cook.

(Of course the difference between the two meanings is quite subtle in most cases, and this is probably precisely why this quirk developed. In cases when the distinction didn't matter, early speakers of Dutch/German strongly preferred the geen construction and then began to extend it even to cases where it technically didn't fit.)


Thorough explanation, thank you very much.


why is it kan geen and not kan...niet


There are rules ro apply neet, niet and geen in Dutch, but in English we also have rules. When the verb is affirmative, with a negative sense, use I cook no rice; I have no money; he has no book, although the any version is preferred better, both "no" and "any" are adjectives. Examples: I do not cook any rice. I do not have any money, etc.


Vertue75, I suggest you re-study your English grammar. We cannot apply the rule "it does not look well". There are rules of usage in English.

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