Advent Calendar 3 – “German no goes”


door  3 of our German Advent Calendar and if you’re now super excited because you think we’re about to talk about a few no goes in Germany, then I have one word for you:


Because today is not about no goes. It’s about where the German not goes. Nicht. And actually, we won’t even look at it, we’ll just do an exercise.
Yeah, you can boooh all you want, but you can’t click away because then you’ll get on Santa’s shit-list. You have to do the workout or no Christmas for you!

Seriously though, it’s been a few  lot of weeks month since the first part on the mini series on nicht.
It is definitely time for part 2, and I thought doing a little work out is a good reminder for you and also, I can potentially work your questions into the second part, which will come out. At some point.

So… I’ll give you a few sentences and you just have to negate them by putting in nicht into the position where it sounds most natural.
The fundamental rule for that is super simple:

 Nicht goes before what it negates.

But that only works if you know the side sentence twist ;).
If you don’t know what that is… well… check out part one of the series on nicht.

Where to put “nicht” – part 1

In the workout, there are all kinds of challenges and levels of difficulties. So don’t worry, if you get some of them wrong. That’s kind of the purpose… to see what we need to focus on in part 2.
The only thing I didn’t include is the kein-stuff. I wanted to keep the focus on nicht.
But enough talk, let’s jump right in. The solutions are in the audio, but you can leave yours in the comments, if you want.
Viel Spaß :)

1)    Ich trinke gerne Glühwein.

2)   Ich habe gut geschlafen.

3)   Ich mag Weihnachten.

4)   Der Film hat mir gefallen.

5)   Thomas will heute Abend tanzen gehen.

6)   Maria hat sich gut um meine Pflanzen gekümmert. (look after my plants)

7)   Einhörner existieren.

8)   Das Bier ist kalt.


little break :), breathe in, breathe out, breeze through


9)    Thomas kann sich daran erinnern.

10)    Meine Kopfschmerzen gehen weg.

11)    Thomas’ Füße riechen nach Käse.

12)    Maria kocht gerne.

13)    Thomas hat gesagt, dass ihm der Film gefallen hat. (negate both parts).

14)   Die Suppe schmeckt mir.

15)   Maria weiß, was sie will. (negate both parts)

16)   Ich habe lange geschlafen.


That’s right, there are two correct choices in the last one. And they mean different things. 3, 2, 1… questions go!
Seriously, though… how’d you do? Was it easy or hard? How many did you get correct?
Let me know in the comments which ones you were having trouble with and what questions popped up and I’ll point you in the right direction.
Hope you enjoyed this, have a great day and bis morgen :)

for members :)

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#3 Ich mag NICHT Weinachten.
#9Thomas kann sich daran NICHT erinnern.
#15 Maria weiß NICHT was sie will.

Why are those wrong? Got the “Maria weiß NICHT”-part correct, but not in the side-sentence. Isn’t there a difference between Maria not knowing waht she wants and Maria knowing what she doesn’t want?

Odd that I got #7 correct (loved the soundtrack to that one!) but didn’t get #3. HELP?


Oy, typo on “Weihnachten” – my spelling probably translates into something foul. Just wanna add that I changed the sentence structure of #3 to the “real” sentence structure according to your Position of “nicht” Part 1 and got (dass) ich Weihnachten mag, which morphs into (dass) ich Weihnachten NICHT mag and then, Ich mag Weihnachten NICHT, but that just FEELS wrong – “Ich mag NICHT Weihnacht”, FEELS more intuitive. I like not xmas. What do I not like? Xmas. But yet, the Einhorn-sentence FELT like NICHT went at the end, when in fact, I can’t wrangle that sentence into the Position of “nicht” Part 1 form.


Could no. 5 also have more than one correct answer? Does “Thomas will nicht heute Abend tanzen gehen.” mean that it’s just tonight that Thomas doesn’t want to go dancing? (Perhaps he and Maria are doing an intensive course and he’d like a night off.)
Also, can “nicht” be placed to mean that it’s just dancing he doesn’t want to do? (Maybe Thomas would like to go carol singing tonight.)


I was tired. After sleep I see that “…. nicht tanzen gehen” does likely mean just not dancing. If he didn’t want to go out at all the dancing wouldn’t need to be mentioned, would it? Question now is whether ” …..tanzen nicht gehen”, which sounds odd to me, could mean happy to dance at home, but not out?

Shannon Skilton
Shannon Skilton

I missed two:. #3 (careless mistake) and #9 (my answer…Thomas kann sich daran nicht errinnern–thinking that he could remember other things, just not that particular one)


Hallo Emanuel! Vielen Dank…
1) Ich trinke nicht gerne Glühwein.
2)Ich habe nicht gut geschlafen.
3)Ich mag nicht Weihnachten.
4)Der Film hat mir nicht gefallen.
5)Thomas will heute Abend nicht tanzen gehen.
6)Maria hat sich nicht gut um meine Pflanzen gekümmert.
7)Einhörner existieren nicht.
8)Das Bier ist nicht kalt.
9)Thomas kann sich daran nicht erinnern.
10)Meine Kopfschmerzen gehen nicht weg.
11)Thomas’ Füße riechen nicht nach Käse.
12)Maria kocht nicht gerne.
13) Thomas hat nicht gesagt, dass der Film ihm nicht gefallen hat.
14)Die Suppe schmeckt mir nicht.
15)Maria weiß nicht, was sie nicht will.
16)Ich habe nicht lange geschlafen. Ich habe lange nicht geschlafen.


Shannon, Exactly what I thought on #9 — that Thomas can remember other stuff but not whatever daran refered to. Would be interesting to hear how you thought to get #15 correct – not sure if Maria weiß, was sie nicht will means something other than Maria weiß nicht was sie will.

David Smith
David Smith

I got most of them, but need some explan on 15.


I got all but #5 right, and when I applied your side-sentence strategy, it explained itself.

This strategy is brilliant, thank you Emanuel! I love it! My only concern is that for the most part I used what sounded right, rather than the side-sentence strategy. I will have go back over them and apply the new strategy regardless.


I think that ‚heute Abend‘ can be chronological organized hence ‚nicht‘ has to follow rather than precede


Number 3, like (above) Amerikanerin, I wan’t to put the NICHT before Xmas.

#14 I got “right” because it ‘sounded’ right, but I don’t know why it sounded right to put the NICHT at the end.
1. Die Suppe (nicht?) schmeckt mir. Nah…sounds like horrible German (and I learned that the verb needs to be in the second position)
2. Die Suppe schmeckt (nicht?) mir. Nope. still sounds wrong, therefore it must be:
3. Die supper schmeckt mir nicht. Yep, it sounds right.

But I don’t know WHY, except for the verb “rule”.


Does one of these pairs sound more idiomatic than the other, or does it just depend on context? Ich hätte auf das zweite getippt, aber ich habe keine gute Erklärung dafür.
1. Ich trinke gerne Glühwein. Ich trinke nicht gerne Glühwein.
2. Ich trinke Glühwein gerne. Ich trinke Glühwein nicht gerne.

Related to #16 (love the sound effect btw), is there a difference between:
1. Ich habe lange nicht geschlafen.
2. Ich habe seit langem nicht geschlafen.


It sounds like you bugged the negotiations between SPD and CDU…
#16 good way for them to end a session (using both nicht versions at each other)


Hmm.. I got #9 wrong, the rest was fine. Why is it “Thomas kann sich NICHT daran erinnern”?


5) Thomas will heute Abend tanzen gehen.

This one confused me because I see three ways of negating this with different resulting meanings:

Thomas will nicht heute Abend tanzen gehen = Tonight, Thomas doesn’t want to go dancing. (i.e. this is how he feels right now rather than that he wants to go on a different night)

Thomas will heute Abend nicht tanzen gehen = Thomas wants to not go dancing tonight (he wants to avoid going dancing tonight)

Thomas will heute Abend tanzen gehen nicht [will] = Thomas doesn’t want to go dancing tonight (he has no wish to go dancing tonight, but if everyone else wants to…)

I note you say the first is also correct. What of the third?


About this:

You said:
As for Maria… there’s no difference in meaning to English.
– Maria doesn’t know what she wants. vs
– Maria knows what she doesn’t want.

ABER, es ist anders. Vielleicht:

Maria doesn’t know which man she wants to date.
Maria knows she doesn’t want Michael.

Hope that helps. :)

Francesca Greenoak
Francesca Greenoak

Sometimes grammar seems like poetry. Loved this advent item – and nicht Part I, especially the derivation of Klein. Big thrill. ( Should get out more perhaps.)


in 11 – are you negating whether his feet smell like cheese – like you think they smell like roses or are you negating the verb – or that now sounds like a dumb question because wouldn’t I use kein to negate the cheese part only (if that is even possible)? this is hard…
what about the simpler sentence – his feet don’t smell – and what’s the “rule” or “tendency”

thomas’ fu:ss nicht riechen
thomas’ fu:ss riechen nicht


Ahhhh! Dankeschön. :) das hilft!

Jonathan Lowell Dentler
Jonathan Lowell Dentler

Here goes..

1. Ich trinke nicht gerne Glühwein.
2. Ich habe nicht gut geschlafen.
3. Ich mag Weihachten nicht.
4. Der Film hat mir nicht gefallen.
5. Thomas will heute abend nicht tanzen gehen.
6. Maria hat sich nicht gut um meine Pflanzen gekümmert.
7. Einhörner existieren nicht.
8. Das bier ist nicht kalt.
9. Thomas kann sich daran nicht erinnern.
10. Meine Kopfschmerzen gehen nicht weg.
11. Thomas’ Füße riechen nicht nach Käse.
12. Maria kocht nicht gerne.
13. Thomas hat nicht gesagt, dass ihm der Film nicht gefallen hat.
14. Die Suppe schmeckt mir nicht.
15. Maria weiß nicht, was sie nicht will.
16. Ich habe nicht lange geschlafen.

Jonathan Lowell Dentler
Jonathan Lowell Dentler

Yay! This combined with part 1 was very helpful, thanks. I like the way of thinking of the side sentence construction as the natural way, that makes the easy rule “nicht comes before what it negates” very simple and applicable.