"Ihm ist nicht gut."

Translation:He is not well.

December 27, 2012



Maybe I can help here. "He is not well" --> "Er ist nicht gut", but in German the implication would be "he" is a "not good" person. To say "He is not well" and imply he is sick you say "Ihm ist nicht gut" which is like a shortened way of saying "Es ist ihm nicht gut" which can better be translated as "It is not good to him". "It" in this case isn't anything, It's just the way people say it in the language. Compare the (older) English saying "How goes it?". "It" is just life in general, I suppose. And since you are describing your condition by referencing how "it" is "to" you, you must use dative case. I'm not a native German speaker but we have a similar thing in my language, so just my 2 cents to English speakers.

March 25, 2013


best explanation..should be on top of the list

May 19, 2015


Thanks so much for the explanation, got it easily as the same rule applies in my native Russian ;)

November 5, 2016


Duo marking it. Danke dir!

December 8, 2014


Is it right to say "es ist nicht gut ihm" ?

July 19, 2015


No, word order is: Es ist ihm nicht gut.

October 18, 2015


is that because ihm means "to him"? so the sentance reads "it is for him not good"

January 13, 2016


Afaik it's because when the dative part is made of only a pronoun, it goes before the accusative part.

So "Es ist nicht gut meinem Hund" should be ok since "Hund" is no pronoun.

Please correct or extend upon my answer if you can.

September 16, 2016


No you definitely can NOT say "es ist nicht gut meinem Hund". That sentence makes no sence at all and no german would understand what you mean. If you would like to say that your dog is not doing well you could say "meinem Hund geht es nicht gut".

July 20, 2017


Great explanation! What's your native language?

May 21, 2016


This make sense. thank you

September 11, 2015


thanks a lot

December 23, 2015


That's what I thought, makes sense. What I have trouble with is why is "ihm" before the verb?

Also, is this sentence really grammatically correct without a subject? Can I expect further indirect objects substituting subjects like this?

This is all very odd. I hope these are not rules but rather colloquial exceptions.

September 16, 2016


Yes, this sentence is really grammatically correct without this particular type of subject. The indirect object is not substituting for the subject but is rather simply placed in first position. This is an expression that is worded this way in German, but it is worded differently in the English expression.

When the subject is "it", but it is not an actual object, you will see this happen in this type of sentence. It is not (going well) good for him, but only to mean "He is not well." The verb must always be in second position in a main clause, so you had to put something else first and the pronoun is the main reason there is a sentence in the first place. We are talking about "him". Here is a great article about German word order: http://www.dartmouth.edu/~deutsch/Grammatik/WordOrder/MainClauses.html

September 26, 2018


Hi, I wrote "It is not good to him" thinking of something that happens around. It was marked incorrect. How can I say it if "Ihm ist nicht gut" corresponds only to the way he feels? Or am I not getting it right?

June 13, 2017


Thank you!

July 4, 2017


Awesome, thank you! <3

July 7, 2017


i suppose its another way of saying "..going well for him" which would imply a dative case for "him".

September 25, 2017


Can I also say "Es geht ihm nicht gut"?

January 18, 2019


Yes, but they have slightly different meanings.

If I hear, Es geht ihm nicht gut, I think that he is ill, while if I hear Ihm ist nicht gut, I think specifically that he is feeling a bit sick to his stomach, nauseated.

January 18, 2019


danke schon

June 5, 2019


I think I can answer the question. Many statements about whether someone is well or feeling good, or sick use the dative. It's just idiomatic. E.g., we have "Mir es ist kalt", "Ihm ist nicht gut", "Wie geht es dir/Ihnen?" and so on. IANANGS (I am not a native German speaker) so YMMV (your mileage may vary).

January 1, 2013


Ihm ist (es) nicht gut, mir ist (es) kalt. "Es" is the subject, that's why "ihm" and "mir" are dative. But in these sentences, "es" is often omitted.

March 18, 2013


What is a literal translation of your sentences when 'es' is included.

March 21, 2013


"For him, it is not well." ('it' being the situation)

August 15, 2015


That would be "Him it is not well" "Me it is cold".

March 28, 2013


"It is not well for him" "it is cold to me" The word in dative case can be interpreted as being preceded by "for" or "to". Another example: "ich danke ihm", is "I give thanks to him"

April 21, 2013


I tried inputting something like the former ("It is not good for him") and it counted it wrong.

August 3, 2013


Is that also why "Many thanks" translates to "Vielen Dank" and not "Viele Danke" or something?

August 19, 2014


"It is not well for him" does not work at all in English, so it is closer to our "He is not well." We could say "How goes it? " and respond "It goes well." Yet, this can be more than about health. In German the "it" that they are talking about is the person's health, isn't it? So it is like "His health is not well." in English. The closest I could come to dative type construction in English is "It does not go well for him." Again that can refer to his job, his life, his relationships, as well as his health. That is why the best translation of the German expression "Ihm ist nicht gut." is the English expression "He is not well." Sometimes you just cannot translate word for word and especially not case for case.

September 18, 2015



The problem with the exact phrase "It is not good for him" is that we have an expression in English "to be good for someone" that means something different from the German here. You might say, if he were eating way too many sweets or spending too much time inside watching television, "It is not good for him." But my understanding of the German sentence is that it means "he is not well," something totally different.

August 15, 2015


thx this helps a lot

August 18, 2014


if inverted, the sentence "him it is not well" turns into "it is him who is not well" which is improper grammar because "him" is the predicate nominative in the nominative case.

August 18, 2014


You can NOT say "mir es ist kalt". That sounds weird and is plain wrong. You have to say "mir ist kalt", or "ich friere".

July 20, 2017


Well, that's how it's done in English as well. "It's not good for him" is the implication.

November 7, 2017


The answer given ¨He is not good" is really incorrect. A correct translation in idiomatic English might be "He is not doing well" or maybe "he is not well". If an English speaker was asked to translate "He is not good." into German it would come one "Er ist nicht gut" which would have the proper implication of not being a good person.

December 27, 2012


But wouldn't the fact that this sentence in this form imply he not feeling well? You could say, "He is not good" as a response to someone asking if he is sick, and it would be translated into German like "Ihm ist nicht gut." I could be completely off base.

February 22, 2013


Yes, "Ihm ist nicht gut." would always mean he is not feeling well. "He is not good." could mean the same thing in the right context, yes. "Er ist nicht gut." would, I think, not ever mean that because a German speaker would assume that you would have used "Ihm" if that's what you had intended to say. I could also be completely off base...

February 22, 2013


I THINK you would say "Er ist nicht gut" in answer to a question like "Is he good at sports?". It's only when talking about wellbeing that you use the dative case, because it is a shortening of "It is not going well FOR him".

June 12, 2013


Thanks for putting this in perspective .English-->German--->English the circle should always be leading to the same translation ,so yes thanks for pointing out the idiom loss in translation. Helps me!

September 9, 2014


I think "He is not good" is a correct, but ambiguous, translation. Without context you could translate it back to German as the original sentence or to a German sentence with a different meaning. There is probably a Venn diagram to be drawn here.

October 3, 2013


Why doesn't "It is not good" work here as well?

April 18, 2013


based on my understanding, it should work because "ihm" = "to him" or "to it", with the implication that "it" is not feeling well...

October 3, 2013


Was wondering that as well

March 22, 2017


I agree with Bikebreaker. Also, why is "He" in the sentence "He is not good" dative? Isn't dative only applied to an indirect object or applied because of a dative preposition? I detect neither of those appropriate applications.

January 1, 2013


Thank you for all the explanations! Spanish is my native language and I have to write in english but thinking sometimes in spanish all the german sentences, a bit of chaos :)

April 4, 2013


Why is it dative?

July 13, 2014


The subject is "it" as in "it is not well for him." (His health is not well.) We don't do this in English, we say "He is not well.", but we have a similar construction for "It is not going well for him." (That does not apply here because it is about more than just his health. I am just showing you that the form exists in English with "it" as the subject and "him" as an object of a preposition that would be Dative in German.)

September 18, 2015


Because that is how it is said in German :|

Seriously, you should really read all the comments next time before posting. Bikebreaker and several others have already given many excellent answers to this.

July 16, 2014


Despite the fact that some people have claimed the answer to the question: "why is 'ihm' used and not 'er,' in this sentence;" has already been answered, I have not read a clear and concise answer to that question.

However, I may have gleamed that the answer to this question is that it's idiomatic to use "ihm" in this idiomatic context: "Ihm" is used in the dative case when inquiring to some ones health, and "er" is used when inquiring about some ones character.

March 7, 2015


Where "some people" = me? Perhaps that is because I personally found mjukicpro's answer quite adequate, although perhaps I found it clearer than I ought to have, given that I have also been following the thread "meinem Kind ist schlecht" (https://www.duolingo.com/comment/112787$from_email=commentcomment_id=1946433) Hmm . . . Let me see if I can summarize it in a manner that is more clear to you:

You might be able to translate "he is not well" as "er ist nicht gut," except that "er ist nicht gut" has the wrong meaning, "he is not a good person". Instead, the normal way to talk about health in German is to use a phrase involving "it" going or not going well "with him", namely, "Es geht ihm nicht gut." or, more concisely, "Ihm ist nicht gut."

March 9, 2015


So, this statement, depending on context, could be understood to mean that the guy is EITHER physically ill or is in a bad situation and not happy?

October 14, 2016


All that said, shouldn't "it's not good for him" be accepted as well?

September 15, 2013


No, that has an entirely different meaning in English. "Tobacco is not good for him." for example could be "It is not good for him." This would be closer to "It does not go well for him." except that is not just about health. So you must translate the entire German expression with the entire English expression "He is not well." to get the same meaning.

September 18, 2015


I wonder if the translation "it's not going well for him" would be accepted. I guess it doesn't matter, because I already know it means that. Like "mir ist kalt" isn't poor grammar "me is cold!", but rather, "it is cold to/for me."

February 12, 2016


This is kinda cool: "ihm" has the same letters as "him," which works out rather well in this particular case . . .

October 14, 2016


This dative construction is found in both Middle High German and Old High German. In MHG, mir ist wē meant I am sad. In South Rhine Franconian, a dialect of OHG, es ist mir is used.


Braune, Wilhelm; Ebbinghaus, Ernst A. (1994). Althochdeutsches Lesebuch (17th ed.). Tübingen: Niemeyer p. 127

February 27, 2017


you answered before I asked. thanks Actually both "wll" and "good" might be right depending on whether you meant health wise "well" or good person thus "good" but the "ihm" form hre seems to be specific to health. Whoops noticed others have already explained it and im more depth. Thanks evryone.

June 23, 2013


Ihm is a dative form of es as well. How are we supposed to know?

November 25, 2013


Great! Now we can talk about the health of an animal as well?

September 18, 2015


yes you can. dogs get sick too........that why you got vets.

February 23, 2018


he don't feel good! incorrect!

June 1, 2014


The subject and the verb must agree. They don't. He doesn't.

June 1, 2014


Couldn't this mean "He is bad" as well?

January 20, 2015


No, I don't think so. I refer you to the discussions in the rest of this thread for my reasons.

January 20, 2015


I thought it should have been ihm ist nicht Gesund (healthy)

February 11, 2015


If you wanted to use the word healthy, it would be "Er ist nicht gesund." http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/allemand-anglais/gesund to say "He is not well." you need to use the German expression "Ihm ist nicht gut." or "Ihm geht es nicht gut." (Technically,"It does not go well for him", but the meaning is "He is not well.") http://dictionnaire.reverso.net/anglais-allemand/well

September 18, 2015


it's not good with him?

February 20, 2015


Technically "it is not good to him.", but the English expression would be "He is not well."

September 26, 2018


I writed " İhm ist nicht good. " and that was wrong. Is that matter the uppercase latter?

July 4, 2015


If what you wrote was "Ihm ist nicht good," then the problem is just that you wrote the English word "good" instead of the German word "gut." The capital letter is fine; in fact, if you look up to the top of this thread, you will see that "Ihm ist nicht gut." is the answer listed, so it is definitely accepted.

Edit: now that I look more closely, I see that the dark spot above the "Í" is not actually a smudge on my screen, but an accent mark. That could also have been a problem. The German word should not have an accent mark.

July 5, 2015


This sentence applies to me atm:)

March 10, 2016


Can "it" replace "he" in translating this sentence?

April 14, 2016


No. the literal "It is not good to him." does not work in English so "Ihm ist nicht gut." must be translated as "He is not well."

September 26, 2018


Is this correct for saying ' I'm not feeling well."? 'Mir geht's nicht gut.' What the most common say of saying " I don't feel well."?

October 20, 2016


Yes, Mir geht's nicht gut. is fine.

You could also say, Ich fühle mich nicht (so) gut or Es geht mir nicht gut.

July 4, 2017


Is," Er ist krank", the same as, "Ihm ist nicht gut"?

January 24, 2017


Once again Duolingo does not allow a frère enough translation

October 30, 2017


I thought it would be...Es gibt ihm nicht gut. Would that be correct.

November 16, 2017



es gibt is used to describe the existence of something ("there is a... / there are ...").

es geht ihm nicht gut is possible, though.

November 16, 2017


Deutsch ist verrückt !!

February 10, 2018


"Ihm" is also the dative for "es". So therefore why cannot this phrase be translated as "it is not good". Could someone explain please.

August 20, 2018


Ihm ist nicht gut is about not feeling well (perhaps being slightly sick to one's stomach).

Things that are "it" generally don't have feelings or stomachs.

August 20, 2018


Ich bin nicht so gut

October 18, 2018


The subject is “es” in this sentence, so it would be “Es geht mir gut.” The person who is feeling well or not feeling well is in Dative. It is similar in construction to “It goes well for me.” Dative is also used in a lot of reflexive situations when I wash my hands...etc. https://www.thoughtco.com/parts-of-the-body-dative-reflexive-4077757



Mir ist nicht gut. I am not feeling well.

October 18, 2018


I answer: "It is not good to him". Why is it a wrong answer?

April 24, 2019


It does not work that way in English. It would mean something else. Instead of trying to translate literally word by word, learn whinch expression in German means which expression in English.

April 24, 2019
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