I think Duo may just be a little more pedantic in this example. It's trying to emphasize the difference between using nichts and nicht. "Ich verstehe nicht" would be "I don't understand," since nicht modifies theverb verstehen. On the other hand, "ich verstehe nichts," with the s, emphasizes that there is nothing you understand. They're basically the same; one is just more emphatic than the other. :)
To clarify for the benefit of Rohini308443, SamirRafat, phuntimes, sbridge, and perhaps others:
The literal, word-for-word translation of "Ich verstehe nichts" is "I understand nothing," meaning that the speaker does not comprehend anything at all. (Although, realistically, such a statement is probably limited to the topic at hand; if one truly did not understand anything, one wouldn't even be able to converse).
This could also be stated as the complement, "I do not understand anything." Understanding nothing has the same meaning as not understanding anything.
Leaving off the "anything/nothing" does not capture the full meaning of the German sentence.
I wrote that, "I don't understand" and it said I was wrong. I would think it's the same meaning!
"Ich verstehe nicht" would indicate one does not understand some particular thing. "Ich verstehe nicht
s" would indicate more of a total state of confusion. lai_mesunda was correct in saying that die Eule is using this to emphasize the difference between nicht und nichts.
If you are having a hard time grasping the difference between the two sentences here, then du verstehst nicht. If you are totally bewildered by the entirety of German, then perhaps du verstehst nicht
s, which would explain why du verstehst nicht.
You can also say: "Ich verstehe nur Bahnhof." (Literally: "I only understand railway station." Figuratively: "It is all Greek to me.")
Any idea why that would mean that? I'm guessing that it's because the trains are so reliable that it's easy to determine how the schedules work so it's not hard to understand it. Am I even close?
If I said, "Ich verstehe nicht" that would mean "I do not understand." In this case, "nichts" with the s makes the sentence mean something else: I do not understand anything. Is that correct?
I do not understand (anything) please where is the anything. I thought "etwas" is anything so Ich verstehe nichts etwas.
I think "nichts" can also mean "nothing". But sometimes, 'I understand nothing.'
This sentence says it all. I really understand nothing in this section. Lol I've done fine until this point. Now Ive read a thousand comments and tried to get it...yet still I understand NOTHING. I'll keep trying.
I always seem to get these phrases whenever I get a bunch wrong right before it... Duolingo's calling me out lmao
I said "I do not understand" mainly because the difference between nicht and nichts was not made clear beforehand, I was left wondering where the "anything or thing" came from DUO was clumsily teaching this lesson.
I would suggest that giving all the information one needs in advance would be a far better method of teaching DUO has a Blunt repetitive approach, hence the growing popularity of "BUSUU" instead, more info on busuu may be found here - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Busuu