The position of “nicht” – Part 2

Ey yo German learners,

what is gucci? Welcome to  the most lit German learning blog ever. And because it is Brovember, I have a very special topic for you, bros. Today, we’ll finally get the very very very long awaited part of two of our mini series called

The amazing Positions of “nicht”

or in short  T.A.M.P.O.N.
Yup, that’s what jokes are made of in Brovember.
Seriously though, my apologies to all of you that it took me so long to finish part two!!! But it’s an important topic and I wanted to get it right.
In part one we learned two things; kind of the Yin and Yang of German negation:
a very nice, simple, straight-forward rule.
And an absurd sounding, pink assumption we need for the rule to work.

The rule:  Nicht ALWAYS precedes what it negates. no exceptions.
The assumption: The side sentence structure is the REAL, normal German sentence structure. 

Most of you probably have a hard time believing that these two things are all we need to get a grasp on the position of nicht. And that’s right. But not rules. What we need is an understanding of the core dynamic of a German sentence and we need to trust our … here it comes… intuition. Yup, intuition.
You see, the thing with the position of nicht is the same as with word order. There are several options for pretty much any given sentence. Some sound neutral, some carry special emphasis and some have so much tension that they sound wrong.
That’s what we’ll talk about today.

  • Where is the natural spot for nicht (which would be what most sources call “sentence negation”) and what happens if we move it out of there.

I’m not promising you that you’ll get every single nicht right after reading this. But I am pretty sure that you’ll feel like you’ve understood what’s going on and you understand what’s going on when you see a “weird” negation.
If you haven’t read part one yet or you don’t really remember it, then please check that out first.

The amazing position of “nicht” – Part One

Otherwise, I’d say, let’s jump right in.

In the intro I mentioned that the position of nicht has a lot to do with German word order. There’s a whole three part series on that, but we’ll go over the most important points together.

German Sentences Exposed

Under the hood, a German sentence consists of two parts. The first part sets up a scene. We (usually) get a protagonist and time and location and possibly a bunch of references to stuff that’s already established in the conversation.
The second part is what is “happening” in that setting. That’s the payload so to speak, this is the bit of info that actually made us say the sentence to begin with. This includes the verb and all elements that are “defining” for it in that sentence.
Let’s look at an example. Oh and of course will use the verb at the end-structure (if you don’t know why… READ PART ONE ;). 

  • … ,dass ich gestern Abend zuhause einen Film geguckt habe.
  • …, that I watched a movie at home last night.

Imagine this as a shot as a movie scene. The camera shows me, unkempt, in my underwear on the couch. Behind me, we can see the windows and that it is dark outside. Cut. Now the camera is behind me showing the back of my head and the screen with a scene of the movie The Notebook … erm… I mean Fast and Furious. Of course, don’t watch the Notebook in Brovember. Or any Vember for that matter.
Anyways, between those two “halves” there sometimes are one or a few elements for which it is up to interpretation whether they’re part of the main message or just tag-ons to the scenery.
So it’s actually a two side structure with a squishy center. Kind of like my body at the moment. My shoulders and my legs are well defined but the belly can lean either way, depending on my positi… anyways.

setting and references in between stuffthe big news 

Here’s an example that’ll make the whole dynamic really obvious.

  1. … , dass ich gestern im Zoo Maria getroffen habe. (…, that I met Maria at the zoo yesterday.)
  2. … , dass ich sie gestern im Zoo getroffen habe.        (…, that I met her at the zoo yesterday.)
  3. …., dass ich dort gestern Maria getroffen habe.      (…, that I met Maria there yesterday.)

Do you see how the elements bounce around depending on whether they are new or just references? As soon as something is a reference (sie, dort) it has been part of the conversation already and it moves to the left because it is not part of the “news”.
In sentence number one, the person who I am meeting is part of the main news. In the second sentence however, she has already been mentioned, so it’s just news that I met her, and possibly where. And in the last one, we learn what I did at the zoo yesterday.
Gee, it must be kind of depressing for a learner to see the crazy hopping in German while in the English translations, everything nicely stays in its slot.
But yeah, that’s roughly how word order works in German and as I said, there’s a whole series about it (link below).
What matters for us today is this three part structure:

setting up the scene – vague stuff that can belong to either side – main news

Because that is the key to the most important thing since sliced bread… wait, this idiom doesn’t fit #idiomfails. Anyway, it’s the key to …

the neutral position of nicht

And the neutral position of nicht is… drum roll please… right before the big news.
And everything that comes before it is automatically scenery. That makes sense if you think about it. You set up the scene because you want to tell us that something DIDN’T happen in that setting. Let’s take a few examples.

  1. … , dass ich gestern Abend zum ersten Mal nicht Youtube geguckt habe.
    … that I didn’t watch Youtube last night for the first time.
  2. … , dass ich gestern in der Bar nicht fünf Bier getrunken habe.
    … , that I didn’t drink five beers at the bar yesterday.
  3. …, dass Maria heute mit ihrem Hund nicht in den Park geht.
    … that Maria doesn’t go to the park with her dog today.

In the first one, the story is that I did something for the first time last night, and the pay-off, the main info is that this thing was NOT watching Youtube.
In the second one, the scene is me at a bar, and I DIDN’T drink five beers. And the last one is about something Maria and her dog today and the news is that she DIDN’T go to the park with Bellyfrog Junior. Poor doggy.
Now, I’m sure you’re all wondering the same thing. And the answer is yes. The name of the dog really is Bellyfrog Junior. She named it after her grandmother, you know.
But you’re probably also wondering how the heck you as learners are supposed to know where the main message starts. Like… sure, it makes sense when I show it with colors but doing it alone.
And I know it seems like a daunting task and so far this must seem like a quite stupid way of explaining something. But please bear with me. What we’ll do now is move nicht left and right in these examples and see what happens. Don’t try to pin down rules, just take it in and see if it makes sense and sounds intuitive. I’m sure, you’ll be surprised :).

moving “nicht” right

By moving nicht right from the neutral position, we’re moving it into the block that is the news. And so, we’re essentially splicing off a part of that, making it part of the scene. Because remember… everything before nicht is scenery.
Let’s go over the examples one by one.

  1. …, dass ich gestern Abend zum ersten Mal Youtube nicht geguckt habe.

Youtube is now part of the setup so we’re basically telling the story of what happened between me and Youtube last night for the first time. And that story is, I didn’t watch it. The sentence is grammatically fine. It’s just not a very natural one. You see, when you tell the story about something you watched, that something is usually pretty strongly connected to the verb. The two together make for the news, not just the watching. Sure, the connection between those two is not as strong as the connection between a verb and its separable prefix, but still separating the two creates quite a bit of tension and therefore focus. And that focus is hard to justify. Like… what else could I have done with Youtube, if I didn’t watch it. Maybe I read it. Or maybe I invited it to dinner. You see, having Youtube as part of the scene and then have what I did with it not be to watch is just rare.
Let’s take the next one

2. …, dass ich gestern in der Bar fünf Bier nicht getrunken habe.

Again, contrary to what textbooks and most online sources imply if you follow their rules, this is a perfectly fine sentence. It tells a story about me and a certain five beers yesterday at the bar. Maybe the bar has a wide selection of beers and I tried all except those certain five beers. Or maybe I drank up ALL the beers at the bar, except those five. The point is, the sentence doesn’t negate those beers.
But usually, when we’re telling the story about us drinking something, the drink itself is an essential part of that news broadcast. By splitting it away from the verb, we’re introducing tension and that has to be justified by some unusual message.
And while here, it is not so hard to find such a message, it is pretty much impossible for the last example.

3. …, dass Maria heute mit ihrem Hund in den Park nicht geht.

This sentence establishes Maria and her dog. AND that they are directed toward the park in some way, because that is established by the Accusative in the phrase in den Park. All that is established scene, and the only thing negated is the “gehen”. So this sentence would only makes sense if you wanted to tell us that she didn’t “go” but, I don’t know, hovered. Or teleported.
Generally, the destination is VERY strongly connected to verbs of motion and splitting it away creates an extreme amount of tension. So most of the time people will call it “wrong” because the tension and focus is not justified.
So, what have we seen so far? When we move nicht to the right from the neutral position, into the chunk that makes up the news, we’re creating quite a bit of tension because we’re splitting up what naturally (I dare say “intuitively”) belongs together. And depending how strong that bond is, this can just suggest a special message (the beer example) or it can sound wrong. Like for a verb and its prefix for instance…

  • … , dass die Tür auf nicht geht.

This is not really wrong, but it is SUPER weird. Or art, if a poet does it.
Anyway, let’s direct our attention in the other direction and move nicht left.

moving “nicht” left

Remember that we learned that some sentences have these undefined elements in the center? These elements that can be either scene or main message, no one knows or cares? Well, if we have one of those elements and we move nicht left, past it, then this element becomes part of the main message.
Let’s look at our park example, because there, we do have such an element, as we can see in the non negated version

  1. … , dass Maria heute mit ihrem Hund in den Park geht.

We can understand the sentence as telling us what she does (“going to the park with her dog“) or we can understand it as telling us what she does with her dog (“go to the park“). It doesn’t really make a difference information-wise. And so it doesn’t really make a difference which version we’re negating, or in other words, it doesn’t matter whether nicht is before or after the dog.

3. …, dass Maria heute mit ihrem Hund nicht in den Park geht.
…, dass Maria heute nicht mit ihrem Hund in den Park geht.

BOTH version sound neutral. Now some of you are probably like “But Emanuel, isn’t the second version what is called element negation? Like… we’re negating the dog part specifically?”
But the answer is no. This is NOT element negation because there isn’t enough tension, and thus not enough focus on one element. That’s a good example why this whole sentence negation vs. element negation stuff isn’t really all that great, IMO.
If we wanted to put focus on the dog-part, we’d have to do that using our voice. Or red caps. Like Trump.

3. … , dass Maria heute nicht MIT IHREM HUND in den Park geht (sondern mit ihrer Kuh).

So, if we have one or several unclear elements then the position of nicht doesn’t really matter in that area. But as soon as we move it into what is clearly the scene, THAT’S when we create focus.

2. … , dass ich gestern nicht in der Bar fünf Bier getrunken habe.

Technically, we could interpret the whole part after nicht as the news. But the fact that there’s a number (five) suggests that THE AMOUNT is our story, and the location where it takes place is part of the scene. If we take out the number then the bar becomes more newsworthy… like… “drinking beer at the bar”… that’s a nice description for an evening activity.
Anyway, by moving nicht in front of the bar-part in the original example, we’re creating a focus on this element. Because it was part of the scene. And whenever we have nicht in front of an element of the scene, we create so much focus that this element specifically is now the target of the negation, making THIS negation the main point of the sentence. While the rest kind of becomes scene.
Here it is again with color:

2 … , dass ich gestern nicht in der Bar fünf Bier getrunken habe.

I did drink five beers yesterday, I just didn’t do it at the bar. And
Now, in this example, nicht isn’t THAT far from the neutral position yet. So it doesn’t create crazy tension. That’s why usually native speakers would give the bar a little extra nudge through aural emphasis. But the further you move nicht to the left, the stronger the tension and the more clear the focus on that single element.

2 …., dass ich nicht gestern in der Bar fünf Bier getrunken habe.

I did drink five beers at the bar. But it wasn’t yesterday.
Now, for completion, let’s also move nicht to the left in the Youtube example…

  1. … , dass ich heute nicht zum ersten Mal Youtube geguckt habe.

This sentence is a tricky one. Technically, we could see the whole chunk after nicht, watching Youtube for the first time, as the news. That’s what I didn’t do today. Maybe I did it years ago, maybe I haven’t done it yet -#youtubevirgin.
But the more natural way, is to consider for the first time as part of the scene. So without the negation, the sentence would tell us what I did today for the first time…. watching Youtube. The neutral position for nicht would be before Youtube then, and so by putting nicht in front of for the first time, we’ve moved it into scene-land. And that creates tension and special focus on the first time. That’s what’s being negated now, but I did watch Youtube before.

Cool, now, let’s do a little recap.
Each sentence consists of a setup, usually the protagonist, references to stuff that has been part of the conversation and time and place, followed by the news. That news can be just a verb or a verb and its object or a longer chunk. It’s different from sentence to sentence and really the only way to approach this of it is by using … common sense. The neutral position of nicht is right before the news. And if we move it away from there, we’re creating tension that might lead to one specific element becoming the focus of the negation or … to a sentence that sounds weird or wrong.
And that’s basically it.
I know you’re now all like “EMANUEL, are you for real?!?! That’s your explanation? We have a gazillion questions!!!”
But as far as fundamentals go, there isn’t really much more to explain. All we can do now is look at examples. And that’s what we’ll do in the third part of this series – a big, fat exercise, to be published in about three years.
Nah, kidding. I won’t make you wait that long this time :).
But for today, we’ve done enough. Don’t stress out if you walk away from this not feeling like “Yeah, I got all the rules.”. There are no real rules. That’s one take-away. And the other is this dynamic of neutral position and moving nicht away from it. If you feel like you’ve understood this as a concept, then perfect!
But of course that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have questions. I’m pretty sure you do, so please let me know ALL of them in the comments. That’ll help me make the exercise more on point, so to speak. And also, I’m curious to hear your thoughts. Was it what you expected (probably not ;)? Did that make sense to you? Do you think, with a little bit of practice, it can make you feel “safe” in the world of negation? As most importantly… WAS IT LIT??
Let me know all your feedback and criticism in the comments, bros.
I’m out for now… erm… keep dabbin’ on ‘dem textbooks, have a great week and see you next time.

If you want to practice, you can find the exercise right here:

The Position of Nicht – Epic Work Out 

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1 month ago

In English is possible to have a negated verb (the act of not doing something) in a “multi-verb structure” e.g.

“…, that I want to *not watch* youtube.” and
“…, that I have today *not watched* youtube”
“…, that I want not to watch youtube” or
“…, that I don’t want to watch youtube” and
“…, that I have not today watched youtube”

So, having a way for “not watching”. How is it possible to translate this into German if nicht can’t move into the verb slot? I assume these would be wrong

“…, dass ich youtube will nicht gucken.”
“…, dass ich heute YouTube habe nicht geguckt”

1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Oops, of course I have the verbs the wrong way, entschuldigen.

Perhaps a clearer example in English is with to be allowed:
“I am not allowed to watch youtube” vs
“I am allowed to not watch youtube”.

The second one would be if everyone was expected to watch youtube, but I didn’t have to.

So, in English the “not” can mean “not the act of doing”, or “the act of not doing”. Perhaps German wouldn’t use nicht for that?

e.g. “to not watch” would mean to deliberately not watch, and is almost a verb in its own right.

1 month ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Yes, that’s exactly the sort of thing I’m asking. Thanks

4 months ago

Hello Emanuel, nice post, as always.

But I did got one question, about the examples you gave in the first post about nicht position

  • Ich rede mit Maria im Zoo nicht…. super correct :)
  • Ich bin mit Maria im Zoo nicht…. SUPER WRONG :[
  • Ich habe immer noch nicht den neuen Song von Rhianna gehört…. super correct :)
  • Ich habe immer noch nicht ihn gehört…. SUPER WRONG :[

I think I got why the second one of the second example is wrong. Since we use “ihn”, the element was already established and so it is part of the scenery now (right?).

But for the first example, I can’t see how only changing the verb could have such a difference.

6 months ago

This topic has gone wooooshing right over my head. I am very new to learning German. I am certain, if I continue, it will sink in.
Thomas, this is the most wonderful service you do. I have dabbled in learning German since living in Germany 1997 and 1998, but the classes and books seam boring. Your work is a delight.

7 months ago

I don’t understand why sentence #3 is wrong: “in den Park nicht geht” makes sense to me. She didn’t go to the park.

7 months ago
Reply to  michele

After doing the exercise, is it because it splits apart the location and the act of going?

1 year ago

When I read your word order series, I understand that if I want to put emphasis on certain info to the end of the sentence.

Nicht puts emphasis on the info it precedes while it can be in the middle or to the left side of the sentence.

Actually I am struggling a bit to combine these two knowledges. Do you think these two set of sentences below carry the same emphasis and meaning or they are different?

  1. …dass Maria heute nicht mit ihrem Hund in den Park geht
  2. …dass Maria heute in den park nicht mit ihrem Hund geht.


  1. …dass ich gestern nicht in der Bar fünf Bier getrunken habe
  2. …dass ich gestern fünf Bier nicht in der Bar getrunken habe

Thank you very much.

1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

That helps a lot. Thanks Emanuel.

1 year ago

I started looking into German grammar a few days ago but I’ve been reading German novels for the last two months or so. My first reaction was “well I didn’t know all this stuff about “der/die/das” and whatnot but I wasn’t doing so bad”. Your articles are by far more useful than any German textbook I’ve picked up.
This is going to be quite a long comment, it’s just I think I got the concept but I’m not so sure about its application.
Please, correct me if I’m wrong (most of it is speculation on my part)

1- (that) Thomas didn’t WATCH Youtube today for the first time.

  • dass Thomas heute zum ersten Mal Youtube nicht geguckt habe.

(not always wrong but I have to create an insanely convoluted scenario to make it work, something like “Thomas started working for Google and so he didn’t watch Youtube because he was actually busy writing the algorithm for Youtube”)

2- (that) Thomas didn’t watch Youtube TODAY for the first time.

  • dass Thomas nicht heute zum ersten Mal Youtube geguckt habe.

(because Thomas started watching Youtube a month ago so today was not the first time; it was actually 30 days ago.)

3- (that) Thomas didn’t watch Youtube today for the FIRST time.

  • dass Thomas heute nicht zum ersten Mal Youtube geguckt habe.

(implying that it’s his second or third or 76986th time watching Youtube)

4- (that) Thomas didn’t watch Youtube today for the first time.

  • dass Thomas heute zum ersten Mal nicht Youtube geguckt habe.

(there isn’t any part of the sentence that gets more emphasis)

5- (that) Thomas didn’t watch YOUTUBE today for the first time

  • dass Thomas heute nicht zum ersten Mal YOUTUBE geguckt habe.

(maybe today was the first time he watched Netflix)

On the other hand if I changed entirely the meaning of the sentence:

1-(that) today, for the first time, Thomas didn’t watch Youtube.

  • dass Thomas zum ersten Mal heute nicht Youtube geguckt habe.

2-(that) today, not for the first time, Thomas watched Youtube.

  • dass Thomas heute, nicht zum ersten Mal, Youtube geguckt habe.


  • dass Thomas zum ersten Mal nicht heuteYoutube geguckt habe.
  • dass Thomas nicht zum ersten Mal heute Youtube geguckt habe.

are wrong.

1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

That was really helpful. Thanks!
1 year ago

At this stage in my German I can’t tell if your explanations are actually fully correct or not, but I must say that your notion of “the scenery” and “the payload” is quite beautiful in their application to sentence meaning and structure. THIS IS WHY some of us love learning languages (our own or other ones): somehow language REALLY IS the model of “our world/our existence/our Gestalt”. Thanks so much for this beautiful writing.

Al D. Schritte
Al D. Schritte
2 years ago

Dankeschön. Reading your article, one idea that came to mind was using “but” to identify the location of “nicht”. E.g I have read the article BUT not recently. = Ich habe den Artikel nicht neulich gelesen. So in English, cramming all the positive stuff before BUT NOT should result in the same position of “not”. I’m sort of paraphrasing your ideas in my own way. Does it seem reliable to you? Michael

2 years ago

you are the best in explaining this Zeug, keep it up and make your guide.

I will buy it whenever its available, check up A Guide to Japanese Grammar by Tae Kim. Maybe it can give you ideas on how to set up the guide, it has your same approach but with less funny (and also let say… neutral) jokes.


2 years ago

Thank you, Emanuel, for this great and of course FUN article on “the position of nicht”. Absolutely loved it.
The only question I have for now (and I’m not saying I’m all enlightened about the subject, No! I’m still f*cking confused because I need to see this in action by practicing more) is that you explained all this cool stuff by making that absurd sounding, pink pre-assumption of yours.
But we all know that in reality, not all sentences are side sentences (or in our case, “natural” sentences). Many sentences have got their verbs in the second position whether it is natural or not. So, how can we split those sentences into “scenery” and “the big news” and ultimately find the correct position for “nicht”?
Thank you again, and I’m waiting for your “enlightening” answer ;)

2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Well, I have read the first part (but not the series on word order). And the overall conclusion that I made after reading these two parts, is that “nicht” always negates the big news in a neutral sentence (unless we really want to put a special focus on another part of it) and I understand that and am totally OK with it.
But what I’m questioning here is actually two things:
1. Do we always have to break the sentences into “scenery” and “main news” when we’re trying to find the correct position for “nicht”?
2. If so, how should we break the main sentences (the ones which have the verb in their second position) into these parts and then find the correct position for “nicht” accordingly?

Paul Ed
Paul Ed
3 years ago

Hi Emanuel

Duolingo is telling me the following is the correct word order:

Er mag seinen eigenen Bruder nicht

when I tried to say:

Er mag nicht seinen eigenen Bruder

Am I missing something?

A “moderator” on that site (I dont know what that means) provided the following explanation:
“Because that is not the way you negate sentences in German. The “nicht” usually goes to the end of the sentence (but still in front of any infinitives and/or participles that might be there already).
Only in very specific contexts, when you want to negate parts of the sentence, the “nicht” can stand directly in front of these parts. But this is not the case here.”

Given that kein = nicht+ein, and therefore always comes before the object, I dont understand this explanation.


Paul Ed
Paul Ed
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Perfect. Your explanations are always so helpful, and make me feel at ease when I think I am going insane.

2 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Why the moderator doesn’t know what he is talking about? From your post I understood that the moderator is right, but the rule is just more complicated abd better than yours.

Paul Ed
Paul Ed
3 years ago

Hi Emanuel
Thanks for your entire website, and in particular this explanation of nicht.
My question is, when moving from the side sentence to a main sentence formation, what happens to nicht if the “news” (or part of it) is in the Box 1 position? (or, for example, if you were answering a question with only a phrase rather than a full sentence – can you start with nicht?)
cheers, Paul

Paul Ed
Paul Ed
3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Vielen Dank

3 years ago

Your posts are so enjoyable. Total addictive substance for my brains .

3 years ago

I thought I had this too, but then duoLingo tossed the following example on my lap. “Sie konnten uns nicht kommen hören.”. My immediate question was why it isn’t “Sie konnten uns kommen nicht hören.”. A spirited discussion followed with a German speaking friend, who insisted that the duolingo version is correct but couldn’t really say why. How does it fit into your neutral position scheme above ? Can you explain it ?

Susan Hauser
Susan Hauser
3 years ago

Gosh – that was soooo helpful. I think I maybe…. kinda…. possibly…. get it! Woohoo!

3 years ago

Had to go back and read part one, but this actually makes a lot of sense. For some odd reason, the side-sentence structure’s always made a lot of sense to me, especially as secondary verb elements are usually at the end anyway. Textbooks aren’t helpful with their ‘sentence negation’ and ‘element negation’ thing.

I see how moving nicht can emphasise a specific part of your sentence, the same way that putting, say, the object first draws attention to it. What I’m wondering, is about the importance of the location of the word ‘bitte’ when making requests.

This is Memrise’s fault. I like to use it to get a general feel for how longer sentences go together, and I’ve noticed certain oddities with the word ‘bitte’. Is it important where it goes in the sentence? My urge is always to put it right at the end, but Memrise (who I don’t entirely trust, to be honest) often have it somewhere in the middle… and not in a consistent location far as I can see.


1· Ich hätte gern eine Tasse Tee BITTE.

(This seems fine to me. I mean, I have a strong urge to put a comma before ‘bitte’, but not actually sure if one’s needed.)

2· Kann ich BITTE die Rechnung haben?

(Also makes sense. I assume ‘bitte’ is in that location because the sentence ends in a verb? Translated into English with ‘please’ in a similar location, it would sound a bit… exasperated — but sure, I don’t care about sounding a bit cross.)

3· Können Sie BITTE langsamer sprechen?

(Seeing a theme — verb at the end alters the position of ‘bitte’. And in this case, I think I’d want to sound exasperated anyway. No probs.)

4· Können Sie das BITTE wiederholen?

5· Können Sie mich BITTE zu diesem Hotel fahren?

(And then THIS… I just… what?)

So… Is there any particular reason ‘bitte’ comes after ‘das’ in 4? Could it not be ‘Können Sie BITTE das wiederholen?’ Would it make any sort of difference to the meaning of the sentence? And could 5 be ‘Können Sie BITTE mich zu diesem Hotel fahren?’

Sorry. I’m sure this is a stupid and basically pointless question (who cares about ‘please’? Let’s just DEMAND everything!), but I can’t find a thread about it anywhere and this keeps me up at night (I live a sad, lonely life…).

3 years ago

To all of those who contribute so that others can have a share in this great webpage, a big thank you. No money could ever pay for the help you guys put forth.

Mantasha Yunus
Mantasha Yunus
3 years ago

Thank you so much for the exemption of my membership fee.

3 years ago

I found it both entertaining and informative, which made it a lot more fun than reading the grammar books. For me it boils down to a single concept. Put “nicht “ immediately before the phrase that is being negated. I hope I got that right. Otherwise I need to read again.

3 years ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Sorry, gotta correct your typos here because it’s German: *Dass Maria heute nicht mit ihrem Hund in den Park geht.

1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thank you so much for your lovely and helpful article! Very interesting read and a lot of things made sense to me BUT honestly I still struggle with this part despite reading your explanation over and over again. I don’t quite understand how to differentiate when the “nicht” spans all the way to the end of the sentence and when it actually creates a special emphasis.

…, dass Maria heute nicht mit ihrem Hund in den Park geht.
… , dass ich gestern nicht in der Bar fünf Bier getrunken habe.
… , dass ich heute nicht zum ersten Mal Youtube geguckt habe.

Appreciate if you can help me a bit on this one here :)

1 year ago
Reply to  Emanuel

Thanks Emanuel! Definitely very helpful. Your reply has shed some light. I also did your work out sheet on position of nicht and I think I’m getting the hang of it now. Learning to trust my feeling and intuition ;)

3 years ago

A very nice way to think about “nicht” position. As I practice on Duolingo and Memrise, I’ll watch for how they use the “neutral position” in their example and see if this makes it all “click”.