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In German there are special numerals ("Gattungszahlwort") used to count how many kinds exist:

  • keinerlei "Das macht doch keinerlei Umstände"
  • einerlei "Es ist völlig einerlei, wie wir das machen."
  • zweierlei "Hier wird mit zweierlei Maß gemessen"
  • dreierlei "Sie können aus dreierlei Sorten auswählen"
    ...
  • hunderterlei "Ich muss bis heute Abend noch hunderterlei Sachen erledigen"
  • vielerlei "In vielerlei Hinsicht ist diese Erklärung nicht zutreffend"
  • allerlei "In ihrem Laden verkauft sie auch allerlei Spielzeug"

As there is no dispute when to use small numerals starting from "zweierlei" I am uncertain on how to use the others.

  • What do we mean when using "keinerlei" vs. "kein"?
  • Is there still a usage of "einerlei" as a numeral, or put in other words, is its present usage in the meaning of "irrespective, all the same" still a numeral?
  • What difference make "hunderterlei, vielerlei, allerlei"?
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1  
It's not how many of a kind, but rather how many kinds. –  starblue Mar 5 '12 at 20:29
    
Da ist keinerlei Unterschied zwischen allerlei und vielerlei, außer vielleicht, dass es nur Leipziger Allerlei gibt. :) –  user unknown Mar 6 '12 at 2:45

1 Answer 1

up vote 7 down vote accepted

What do we mean when using "keinerlei" vs. "kein"?

There is no real difference. "keinerlei" stresses a little bit that there was really no problem etc.

Is there still a usage of "einerlei" as a numeral, or put in other words, is its present usage in the meaning of "irrespective, all the same" still a numeral?

Its only used as "all the same"

What difference make "hunderterlei, vielerlei, allerlei"?

Not much. "allerlei" and "vielerlei" could be translated with "various ...", while "hunderterlei" and "tausenderlei" could be translated with "a lot of different ...". The literal meaning is still present, e.g. if you have just ten or twenty different versions, you wouldn't use "hunderterlei".

All these words are not really outdated, but have a slightly old-fashioned touch.

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2  
Well, all these *lei words stand basically for some sort of collection or type of things - like saying "Wir haben zweierlei Sorten Brot" does not mean "we only have two breads" but "two kinds of bread" - so usually this *lei is used in conjunction with "kind of". And that makes the difference to simply counting things. –  RBloeth Mar 5 '12 at 13:06
    
@RBloeth: You should make this an answer. –  user unknown Mar 6 '12 at 2:46

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