What is the exact difference between kein and nicht?

Hello, I'm so confused about the usages of kein and nicht. What is the exact difference between the two? I googled it but the answers I found did not satisfy me because there is no consensus on the subject. Anyone who could explain it with a strong discourse and good examples? Thank you.

Jan 4, 2016 8:36 PM
Comments · 4

"Kein" is for nouns.
This makes it like "no" in English:
Ich habe kein Auto (n)

<em>....."I have no car"</em>
Sie ist keine Ärztin (f)

<em>....."She is no doctor"</em>
Ich will keinen Hund (m)

<em>...."I want no dog"</em>


Some nouns may be a bit tricky to identify as such, because they are derived from verbs or adjectives:

In meiner Abteilung arbeitet kein Schwarzer (m)

<em>...."no black (male person) works in my department"</em>
Man hörte den ganzen Tag kein Läuten (n) der Glocke

....No ringing of the bell could be heard all day.

January 4, 2016

"Nicht" negates a verb, or an adjective, or an adverb.

This makes it like "not" in English:

Ich bin nicht blind

....I'm not blind 

Er war nicht ernsthaft verletzt (adverb)

....He was not seriously injured

Hier rauche nicht

<em>...."I smoke not"</em>

This translation, and all other ones I put in inverted commas, are not correct English, but done very crudely. So as to better demonstrate how the German way of negation works.

January 4, 2016

From my somewhat limited knowledge of German, as far as I understand "nicht" is simply "not" and is pretty much an exact equivalent. "Kein" however can be thought of as "not any". "Ich habe kein Geld" means "I have no (not any) money", you could also say "I do not have any money" but it only serves to confuse the translation centres of our brain lol


It's just that German has a different way of expressing 'none' or 'not any' than English. Another example is the Rammstein song "Ich habe keine Lust" which means "I have no feeling/energy/drive"

January 4, 2016

Hi Heather, this is from Rocket Languages German forum that I'm part of....


'Nicht' is 'not' in English and is used as such. "I am not interested" = "ich bin nicht interessiert" 'Kein' is 'no' in English and is used as such. "I have no interest" = "ich habe kein Interesse"


That is just one explanation, this is another.....

"I think that "nicht" has the connotation of being the negative state of something, whereas "kein" refers to the lack of having any of something. If you are talking about something that can be counted, and you don't have any, then "kein" would be used. If you are talking about whether some state is true or false,and it is false, then use "nicht". Paul, please correct me if I'm wrong. Ich weiß nicht ob dieses ist richtig oder falsch. Ich habe kein Idee ob dieses ist richtg oder falsch"


This explanation turns out to be right by the way



January 4, 2016