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  5. Geen vs niet


Geen vs niet

I understand the semantic differences between the two, but I'm still having trouble of when to use which.

For example, one amusing practice sentence is "Dieren dragen geen klompen," but why is it translated as "Animals do not wear clogs"? If the reverse is given, "Animals do not wear clogs," why am I told it's wrong to write, "Dieren dragen niet klompen." What exactly is going on here that geen should be used over niet? From what I understand, geen negates the noun being described, whereas niet negates the entire verb phrase.

I feel as though there is something I'm not seeing. What exactly is the difference between "dragen geen klompen" and "dragen niet klompen" that one can be used but the other cannot for such a simple phrase as "does not wear clogs"?

January 16, 2015


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I don't know if you've seen this page, but you can find some information here. If you still don't understand (of didn't understand that page in the first place, my bad), feel free to ask! :)


Thanks! Like I said, I get the idea behind the differences between the two, but I don't know why one should be used over the other in certain English expressions. Why isn't "dragen klompen niet" correct but "dragen geen klompen" is, if the English is "do not wear clogs"? In the English it seems I'm negating the whole verb phrase, not just "the clogs." Now if the English were, "I am not wearing clogs, but shoes" or "I wear no clogs," then it makes sense to me to use geen rather than niet. I'm confused why in English if the verb phrase is negated, you still sometimes want to use geen rather than niet in Dutch. That page doesn't really explain that, unless it went right over my head.

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