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Lesson Transcript

Hi everybody! Anja here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common German questions.
The question for this lesson is: What’s the difference between kein or keine and nicht?
Kein or keine and nicht are used to make negative sentences. So how do you know which one to use? Let’s go over them together.
Nicht is used in sentences with definite articles, like “the” in English. For example, Ich mag das Essen nicht. “I don’t like the food.” Nicht is also placed before verbs in sentences such as Ich kann nicht kochen. Meaning “I can’t cook.” Here, the word nicht comes before the word kochen meaning “to cook.”
Kein and keine areused in sentences with indefinite articles, like the English “a” or “an” or when there’s no article at all. For example, Ich spreche kein Deutsch. “I don’t speak German.”
Let’s do some examples so you can learn how to use Kein/keine and nicht correctly.
Let’s start with nicht. Ich kann das Buch nicht finden, das ich gestern gekauft hatte, “I can’t find the book I bought yesterday.” In this sentence, we have das Buch. Das is the definite article “the” so we need to use nicht.
Now, let’s do an example with kein/e. Ich kann keine Bücher mehr sehen. This expression literally means, “I can’t see any books anymore,” but is actually an idiom meaning, “I have had enough of studying.” There’s no article, so we need to use kein/e. You can use this expression to talk about anything you’re tired of doing. Another example would be, Ich kann keine Nudeln mehr sehen. “I can’t see pasta anymore,” which you may use if you’ve been eating the same meal every day for a week.
Let’s do one last example using both nicht and kein/e. Ich würde nicht spazieren gehen wenn ich keinen Hund hätte. “I wouldn’t go for a walk if I didn’t have a dog.” Here, nicht is used before the verb spazieren meaning “walk” and keinen, the conjugated form of kein/e in the male accusative case, is used in reference to the noun with the indefinite article, hund, meaning “a dog.”
How was this lesson?
Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments and I’ll try to answer them!
Tschüss, bis zum nächsten Mal! “Bye, see you next time!”