Keine oder nicht? I'm on another well-known language learning site, and in one of the lessons it's saying that the sentence 'Wir sind keine Frauen.' translates to 'We are not women'. I am confused as to why keine and not nicht? The dictionary says that nicht is not and keine is no, so why in this instance is it saying keine means not? The explanation given by the site says: 'Simply put, "kein" is composed of "k + ein" and placed where the indefinite article would be in a sentence. For instance, look at the positive and negative statement about each noun: "ein Mann" (a man) versus "kein Mann" (not a/not one man), and "eine Frau" versus "keine Frau." "Kein" is also used for negating nouns that have no article: "Man hat Brot" (one has bread) versus "Man hat kein Brot" (one has no bread).' But that obviously doesn't make sense if the translation in English is as they say it is, you wouldn't use the indefinite article to describe the plural of 'woman', in English or German. You would never say 'a women'
Nov 26, 2014 1:09 PM
Answers · 3
Bad example chosen by the learning site. "Kein" is closer to English "no" in that meaning, so "we are no women" would be a more literal translation. "Wir sind nicht Frauen" is the literal translation of "We are not women". But it often happens that one language prefers one particular construction and the other language prefers another, so one usually chooses the more natural translation instead of insisting on the literal one. In general, the explanation given is correct, though. Whenever you catch yourself writing "nicht ein", you can and usually should replace it with "kein".
November 26, 2014
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Learning Language