Take the 2-minute tour ×
German Language Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for speakers of German wanting to discuss the finer points of the language and translation. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the grammatical difference between these two sentences:

  • Die Lehrer essen nicht größere Eier.
  • Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

Why the ending -n in the second sentence?

share|improve this question
1  
Nicht must be at the end in the first sentence. For example: "Nein, meine Suppe ess' ich nicht!" –  starblue Dec 25 '12 at 0:02
    
Related: “Nicht” vs “Kein” –  Em1 Dec 25 '12 at 9:54
add comment

3 Answers

1) Die Lehrer essen größere Eier nicht.
2) Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

Both, größere and größeren, are plural accusative flexions of the comparative adjective größer. If you take a look at the flexion tables for größer, you'll see that größere is used in the plural accusative case when there is no article before the adjective (see under 'Ohne Artikel') – which applies to sentence 1). Größeren is used in the accusative case if it is preceded by an indefinite article (see under 'Unbestimmter Artikel'.)

The -en ending in sentence 2) is due to the declension pattern that applies to attributive adjectives that are preceded by
a) the indefinite article ein,
b) the negative pronoun kein/keine (=negation of 'ein'), or
c) a possessive pronoun (mein/meine, dein/deine, sein/seine, …)

This declension pattern is also known as the third type or 'mixed' declension. See Wikipedia on German declension: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declension#Attributive_adjectives

share|improve this answer
add comment

The first sentence seems also a bit wrong to me, and perhaps there must be also an addition by putting some kind of explaination to be correct, example:

Your (wrong) sentence:

Die Lehrer essen nicht größere Eier.

Should be:

Die Lehrer essen nicht die größeren Eier, da sie sonst keinen Platz mehr im Mund zum reden haben.

So you will use this first sentence mostly in cases when you add an explaination or consequence.

Your second sentence:

Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

It is correct, you say that mostly if they never do at all, maybe because they are always talking and their mouth always busy. Or "A snake don't eat an elephant."

  • Try to use "nicht" for cases of "would be possible, but..."
  • Use "kein/e" for cases of facts.

Example:

  • Benzin ins Feuer schütten ist KEINE Lösung, das Feuer würde größer werden.
  • Erde auf das Feuer schütten ist NICHT die beste Lösung, mit Wasser geht es schneller aus.
share|improve this answer
add comment

The difference is that the first sentence is wrong. You always negate sentences like that by using "keine/n".

Ich habe einen Hund. -> Ich habe keinen Hund.
Ich mag Katzen. -> Ich mag keine Katzen.
Ich singe ein Lied. -> Ich singe kein Lied.

The -n in the second sentence is there because it's accusative.

(You can use "nicht" in the first case by putting it at the end of the sentence: "Die Lehrer essen größere Eier nicht." But that's very archaic and stresses the negation. It should be used only in poems and other literary work.)

share|improve this answer
    
Why isn't "größere Eier" in accusative in your example? –  Alexandru Dec 24 '12 at 21:53
    
It's accusative in both cases. You see, adjectives in German are inflected in 2 different fashions, which are called "weak" and "strong". If an adjective (größere) follows a pronoun (keine) it is usually inflected in the weak fashion. The accusative of größere is "größere" in the strong inflection, but "größeren" in the weak inflection. Check the Wikipedia article on "German declension". It explains it pretty well. –  alexraasch Dec 24 '12 at 22:11
1  
"Ich mag Katzen nicht." would also be correct. –  starblue Dec 24 '12 at 23:59
3  
a) The word 'nicht' (Negationswort) means 'not'. It negates the predicate (verb): Sie |essen| XY |nicht|. – They |do not eat| XY. —— b) The negative pronouns (Negationspronomen) 'kein' (singular) and 'keine' (plural) negate the object of the sentence, 'größere Eier'. Sie essen |keine XY|. — They eat |no(ne of) XY|. —— In this particular instance, b) is the common way. However, negation in German is a large field, e.g., if you take the sentence 'they haven't eaten the larger eggs,' suddenly a) is the more idiomatic way: 'Sie haben die größeren Eier nicht gegessen.' –  TehMacDawg Dec 26 '12 at 12:51
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.