But in English there's a distinction between "I don't speak German" and "I don't speak any German." Duo is telling me that there's no such distinction in German.
It says that "I speak no German" and "I don't speak German" are acceptable translations. But the former means "I don't speak any German."
A Person who can say "guten Tag" might be able to say that he doesn't speak German, especially if that's all the German he knows.
Most of the time, adding "any" to an English sentence acts as an intensifier and doesn't change the meaning, but in this case, the program doesn't make it clear how the sentence in question would be interpreted.
"I speak no German" suggests you know nothing of the german language. "I don't speak German" however suggests something more like I can't hold a conversation in it. For instance even if I know only the phrase ""Ich spreche kein Deutsch" then it is inaccurate to say I know NO German.
True . . . but back before I began studying German in earnest, when all I knew was a few isolated words and phrases, I learned to recognize the question "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" and I vowed that if I was ever asked that, I would answer "nein." I thought it was really funny to able to answer that I didn't speak a language in the language. I would have loved to know this whole phrase.
And of course, it is a good model sentence for talking about not speaking other languages, like "ich spreche kein Englisch" or "ich spreche kein Französisch," so even if we don't ever run across this sentence word for word, it is still helpful to learn it.
Incidentally, although I never was asked "Sprechen Sie Deutsch?" I was once sitting around a table listening intently to a long conversation between several German speakers, trying to pick out as many isolated words as I could. They must have been talking about Germany, because "Deutschland" was about the only word I understood. Well, ok, ok, I suppose they really could have been talking about anything . . . anyway, one of them, seeing me listening so intently, asked me "Sprichst du Deutsch?" and after I moment's rapid thinking, I figured that must mean the same thing as "Sprechen Sie Deutsch" just with a different formality, so I answered "nein." :D
This phrase is very useful in Germany if you're not ready to converse! When I visited my boyfriend (now husband) when he was studying in a small university town outside Stuttgart, he taught me this phrase. One day during my visit I traveled alone via bus from his apartment to the town center to meet him for lunch, and an older woman approached me on the bus asking something in German. I politely and apologetically said this phrase back to her, probably with a bad enough accent for her to believe me. She asked, "Englisch?" I said "Ja" (I actually said "Sí" first because I had just come from a studying in Italy!), and then she just walked away.
Both are correct, if they are the answer to the question: "Sprechen Sie Französisch?" But usualy the answer would be: "Ich kann nicht (viel) Französisch" or "Französisch kann ich nicht." If someone only says: "Ich spreche nicht Französisch" then it seems as he refuses to speak French. The question is: "kann er nicht oder will er nicht (doesn't he want to)".
Since both are correct, why am I reading in another comment of this discussion that when we use "nicht", it has to go at the end of the sentence? In other words, are all of the below correct?:
Ich spreche kein Französisch.
Ich spreche nicht Französisch.
Ich spreche Französisch nicht.
Ich kan nicht Französisch.
Ich kan Französisch nicht.
Ich kan kein Französisch.
Since Deutsch here is the direct object and therefore the phrase is in the accusative, why isn't it "keinen"?
So does "Ich spreche Deutsch nicht" mean something like "i don't SPEAK German (but i might be able to read, write, or understand it)", whereas "Ich spreche kein Deutsch" is more like "i don't speak GERMAN (but speak another language)"? I'm not sure i understand the distinction between negating a verb vs negating a noun very well and could use a few examples of the difference in meaning
Because that's just not how it works in German. They negate whole phrases with "nicht", but specific nouns with "kein" and its derivatives. Also, if you were to use "nicht" here, it would have to go at the end of the sentence. I recollect Duolingo's explanation in the hints section covers the rules pretty well, or if you want some examples, you can take a look at this thread: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/1072247$from_email=commentcomment_id=1265227
1- Nominativ + Maskulin (or Neutrum): kein [Kein Mann isst Suppe].
2- Nominativ + Feminin (or plural): keine [Keine Frauen trinken Bier]
3- Akkusativ + Maskulin: keinen [Ich sehe keinen Mann]
4- Akkusativ + Neutrum: kein [Ich treffe kein Mädchen]
5- Akkusativ + Feminin (or plural): keine [Ich sehe keine Frau]
6- Dativ + Maskulin (or Neutrum): keinem [Ich danke keinem Mann]
7- Dativ + Feminin: keiner [Ich folge keiner Frau]
8- Dativ + Plural: keinen [Ich antworte keinen Jungs].
I don’t understand why “Ich spreche Deutsch nicht” is wrong. Especially since I’ve typed this answer before and it didn’t count it wrong. It’s only being counted wrong recently and also I looked up the rules for negation using nicht and kein and my answer should be correct according to FluentU and several other websites. My sentence negates the verb, or at least the whole sentence since it’s at the end of the sentence, and should be correct. Isn’t that right? Or am I wrong?