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I thought this question was dealt within a previous discussion, but it has been pointed out to me that it remains somewhat open. My impression was that if you say "er liebt sie immer noch" you were simply talking about a couple that had been in love for a very long time, whereas if you said "er liebt sie noch immer" there was an additional implication to the effect of "despite the way she treats him, he still loves her". Am I totally missing the nuance here?

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I think this should be merged with the other one, the other question is about "noch immer", "immer noch" and "noch". This one is a subset of it. –  user508 Dec 20 '11 at 21:14

4 Answers 4

up vote 6 down vote accepted

First of all it is important to point out that we are talking about a nuance here. So AFAIK there is no written rule about it.

I think you're right with you're assumption that "noch immer" can have a slightly negative touch.


If a context or an opinion on the subject is given in the same sentence or a preceding one there is no difference between the two.

Obwohl es nötig wäre, regnet es noch immer nicht.

Obwohl es nötig wäre, regnet es immer noch nicht.

In this example the person wants it to rain (possibly because the ground is to dry), but it does not. So it is clear that the person hopes for a change, thus it "immer noch" and "noch immer" both have a negative nuance to it.


If the two are used in a sentence without much context, as could be the case in a conversation, the nuance can slightly differ. But IMHO only if you're talking about thing where you doubted it would stay the same, but you hoped for it (ie. the sun shining, or somebody loving someone).

Die Sonne scheint immer noch.

Could be understood as "The sun is still shining, as I hoped". So the person is happy with the situation and maybe surprised it didn't change to the worse.

Die Sonne scheint noch immer.

This on the other hand could be understood as "The sun is still shinging, although I hoped for rain/snow". In this case one is rather disappointed the situation did not change.

A better Example would be love:

Er liebt sie immer noch.

Er liebt sie noch immer.


But if one is talking about something negative (ie. bad weather), or it is clear that one is not happy with the current situation "immer noch" and "noch immer" don't have this different nuance.

Es regnet immer noch.

Es regnet noch immer.

Both imply that the person wanted the situation to change for the better.


In the End the important thing is what you would stress when speaking to tell if "noch immer" or "immer noch" express dissatisfaction or rather surprised agreement with a situation.


It may be that this varies in the different language regions. In Swiss german "immer noch" is commonly used, while "noch immer" is not that common. The two are emphasized differently as well (here in Switzerland):

Es regnet NOCH immer.

Es regnet IMMER noch.

So the local dialect may be a reason why for some people there is a nuance while other people don't see any.

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I agree with the last observation of Lukas. The pronunciation of the words is influential here. I believe that the pejorative version has an additional stress on the first word, so "IMMER noch" or "NOCH immer" have negative nuances, while the neuter versions have no such hard stress. –  shuhalo Nov 30 '12 at 20:30
    
I'm not so sure about that negative thing. I never would have interpreted “Die Sonne scheint noch immer.” as a possible hope for less sunshine, the same for the other way around (“Er liebt sie immer noch, obwohl sie ihn wie den letzten Dreck behandelt hat”). –  cgnieder Dec 2 '12 at 19:36

same 800 km further north - "noch immer" is not really used (anymore), it does have an "old" ring to it. IF used, it leans towards "despite".

"Immer noch" is usually used as "still continuing".

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I think "immer noch" has a tendency to "has not stopped", whereas "noch" sounds a bit like "still, but may change in future".

Ich arbeite noch. - "I am still working (although I am going to stop working soon)."

Ich arbeite immer noch. - "I am still working (since this morning)" / "I have not stopped working."

Therefore, you could say "Ich liebe dich immer noch" to loved one, but "Ich liebe dich noch" sounds a bit like a threat.

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There is no difference in semantics only in phonetics.

  • I have desire burning for you.

  • I have a burning desire for you.

Just a more elaborate way of saying things. Also sounds more old fashioned to say:

  • Er liebte sie immer noch. <-- past tense --> he still loved her
  • Er liebt sie noch immer. <-- present progressive --> he loves her - still (He has loved her and is still loving her).

  • Er liebt sie immer noch. <-- present fact --> he still loves her. (I just checked and yes, he still loves her).

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Nice examples! Well done. –  Takkat Dec 2 '12 at 8:38

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