I stumbled upon this while looking up the usage of doch in "Hammer's German Grammar and Usage" (fourth ed), and the subsequent examples are from there. I am familiar with the use of doch for affirmative answers:

Bist du nicht zufrieden? -Doch!

Aren't you satisfied? -Yes, I am.

Kommt er bald? - Doch!

Is he coming soon? - Oh, yes

But the book also gives the following example:

Mutti, kann ich ein Stück Schokolade haben? --Nein doch, du hast jetzt genug gegessen.

Mummy, can I have a piece of chocolate? -Certainly not, you've had enough to eat

And the explanation accompanying it "When used with nein or nicht, doch emphasises a negative reply."

However, when I tried to make up example sentences to myself and ask native speakers about this usage, it did not sound idiomatic to them. Especially after considering the punctuation.

Does anyone have any further information on this? As a related question, how would one express the same sentiment (as the one meant by nein doch)? Perhaps by intensifying nein? Or something like keine Chance or Absolut nicht! ?

EDIT: added the translations provided in the book, in response to the comments about the second sentence.

EDIT The examples referenced above:

A: Kann ich dein T-Shirt leihen?

B: Nein doch. Das letzte Mal hast du Kaffee über meinen Pulli verschüttet.

A: Das Hemd ist ziemlich teuer.

B: Nicht doch. Es ist Seidenhemd und kostet nur 50 Euro.

  • 6
    In "Kommt er bald? - Doch!" ist das "doch" falsch, man würde "ja" oder "nein" verwenden.
    – Robert
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:00
  • @Robert... maybe the author was thinking about something like "doch, doch keine Sorge", which basically answers to the unspoken assumption that he doesn't come. But I agree. As it stands, especially with the "!" it strikes me as wrong.
    – Emanuel
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:03
  • Maybe it's a variation of "Ja doch" which is a common phrase to answer "yes" to an impatient inquiry.
    – Emanuel
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:04
  • @Emanuel I think Robert maybe right; I've added the translations provided in the book, and though your suggestion is the most sensible, it seems that the author did not intend it in that way.
    – Gal
    Oct 28, 2014 at 20:54
  • possible duplicate of Verwendung von Nein nach negativen Fragen
    – Vogel612
    Oct 28, 2014 at 21:12

1 Answer 1


German has a three-form-system of answers:

ja, doch, nein


According to Duden, doch can be used to counter negative implications in questions. (http://www.duden.de/rechtschreibung/doch_Adverb#Bedeutung3)

I would only accept the first sentence as a common use of "doch". In the third it might be used, but I would interpret it as being used as a modal particle.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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