Negation

Negation: Nicht and kein

In German, we can negate sentence elements with the words nicht and kein. It is important to know when to use nicht and when to use kein.

Activity 1

Let’s explore examples with these negation words using Das Digitale Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache (DWDS), a large electronic collection of German texts known as a corpus.  Read the corpus examples below. Each example sentence uses either nicht or kein.

A.

B.

Which rules best describe the examples in A?

Activity 2

Let`s explore these negation words by using the DWDS corpus. Below is an image that shows concordances of the negation words nicht and kein from the newspaper Die Zeit.  If you find the text hard to read, a direct link to the DWDS corpus is provided below the image.

DWDS search results for “kein/nicht” retrieved June 22, 2022.
DWDS search results for “kein/nicht” retrieved June 22, 2022.

Read the examples and pay attention to the sentence structure. After that please continue to the next activity.

Activity 3

Now, fill in the blanks with the correct negation word.

Activity 4

Next, click on the correct sentences with the negation words nicht/kein.

Activity 5

After reading the examples above, you probably recognized that kein can have different forms.

A.

Review the examples below and click on all forms of kein.

B.

Which rules best describe the examples in A?

Activity 6

On your own. Write 5 sentences with the negation words nicht and kein. If you use kein, please make sure to use the correct form of kein.

For example:

Ich esse keinen Kuchen.
Ich bin kein Arzt.
Ich finde den Film nicht gut.