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In English I'm often using the word still to emphasize I'm in a continuing situation.

For example

I still haven't done my Christmas shopping.
It is still raining here.
I hope the film will still be showing.

I understand that in German this is often translated as "noch immer", or "immer noch" or just "noch".

My question is how can I know when to use either noch/noch immer preferably with a few examples like the ones above.

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As an irrelevant note, I'd say "I haven't done my Christmas shopping yet" instead. –  user508 Dec 20 '11 at 12:31
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Or "I'm still doing my Christmas shopping." The two alternatives mentioned already don't sound like a continuing situation, but rather one that hasn't started yet. –  diN0bot Dec 21 '11 at 16:36
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No reason to worry - still 3 days left. –  user unknown Dec 21 '11 at 17:10
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2 Answers 2

up vote 13 down vote accepted

Generally, the three "noch" / "noch immer" / "immer noch" are interchangeable without hardly any shift in meaning. "Noch immer" and "immer noch" are entirely synonym.


Using "immer" with "noch" implies either surprise or doubt that the situation continues:

Ich habe noch nicht alle Weihnachtseinkäufe gemacht. (But that's ok, there's still time.)

Ich habe immer noch nicht alle Weihnachtseinkäufe gemacht. (It's annoying, I was hoping to have finished them by now.)

-

Es regnet hier noch. (I'd better take along my umbrella.)

Es regnet hier immer noch. (I want sun!)

-

Hast Du noch nicht Deine Hausaufgaben fertig? (OK, then take some more time)

Hast Du immer noch nicht Deine Hausaufgaben fertig? (Are you actually working, or just playing? Get to work!)

In these cases, you would stress "immer": "IMMER noch (nicht)!"

Ich hoffe, dass sie den Film dann noch zeigen. (Let's look at the movie schedule to make sure)

Ich hoffe, dass sie den Film dann immer noch zeigen. (But honestly, I doubt it.)


The difference between "noch immer " and "immer noch" is stylistic. I would expect to see

Es regnet noch immer.

written and hear

Es regnet immer noch.

spoken.

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Ahh thanks so much! But about the stylistic difference between immer noch and noch immer, will people correct me if I make a mistake there? –  mikeyP Dec 20 '11 at 12:38
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@mikeyP It is not a mistake, it is really just flavour, just make sure that the emphasis is always on "immer" and not on "noch". –  Phira Dec 20 '11 at 12:46
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No, this can't be: we talked about the difference between "immer noch" and "noch immer" in an earlier discussion. "Er liebt sie immer noch" means he loves her still, while "er liebt sie noch immer" means he loves her still despite the way she treats him! It's a very different phrase. –  Marty Green Dec 20 '11 at 13:16
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In that thread I only see a question about "noch immer" and "immer noch", there's no answer. The answer I can give you is the same I gave in this thread. –  elena Dec 20 '11 at 13:24
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@MartyGreen about the difference between 'noch' and 'noch immer'. not about the difference between 'immer noch' and 'noch immer', at least any answer to that is pending, if I read that correctly. Apart from that, I was not aware of that thread. –  Thomas Dec 20 '11 at 19:46
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The meaning of the three terms "noch", "immer noch" and "noch immer" differ, so when changing from one to the other you might get a different meaning.

Generally the combinations of "immer noch" and "noch immer" imply that the situation was expected to change and/or that one is not happy with it. See the examples given by @elena.


Although most of the time "immer noch" and "noch immer" can be used interchangeably , those two can have a slightly different touch depending on the context (or the lack of it).

If you have some context in the same sentence or maybe a preceding one the two are interchangeable.

Obwohl er sie schlecht behandelt hat, liebt sie ihn noch immer/immer noch.

Both work.

But if it comes up on it's own, "noch immer" has a negative connotation.

Sie liebt Ihn noch immer.

Does imply one hoped this wouldn't not be the case (e.g. because he is a bad person).

Sie liebt Ihn immer noch.

This on the other hand would be said if there is some doubt about it, but one hopes it is the case (e.g. a couple has been together for a long time or lived through some difficult times in their relationship)

It gets a bit clearer if a question is asked.

Liebst du mich noch? Liebst du mich immer noch? Liebst du mich noch immer?

The third one does not work at all.

The above mentioned differences do not necessarily apply to every situation. If one is talking about the weather they are interchangeable.

Es schneit noch immer/immer noch.


Depending on what you're talking about, the sentence can change. If we ask the question "Are you still there?" as an example, you can be talking about the place "Are you still THERE?" or about the presence of the person "ARE you still there?"

In German the question is built differently depending on what you are talking about. If you want to know about the presence of the person it'd be:

Bist du noch da?

If you expected the person to leave:

Bist du immer noch da?

When talking about the place it would be:

Bist du da immer noch?

Another example would be the working place. If you just want to know if somebody is still working at the same place one would ask:

Arbeitest du noch da?

But if the person talked about leaving that particular company, one of the following questions would be used:

Arbeitest du [etwa] immer noch da? Arbeitest du da noch immer?

"Da" is standing for a known place and would be translated with there.


One thing that applies to all of the above examples is that you can tell by the word order what would be empasized when speaking about it. That's also why I would say "noch immer" can have a negative touch if it is used without context.

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What a complete answer, well done. –  user508 Dec 21 '11 at 6:51
    
It is normal here to edit other people's posts if we think it helps. I edited your post to make it easier to read, but reserved the original meaning. You can revert it to your old version if you disagree. –  user508 Dec 21 '11 at 14:08
    
"Liebst du mich noch immer?" Why would that not work at all? Sounds perfectly correct to me, even if it sounds a bit more like written than like spoken language. –  balpha Mar 11 '12 at 9:59
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