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I was curious if these sentences meant the same thing and if they were both valid. The first sentence I made myself, the second is what I heard.

Does the meaning change with the different placement of nicht?

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du mit mir nicht kommen kannst.
Es tut mir Leid, dass Du nicht mit mir kommen kannst.

  • 1
    The first version sounds weird/wrong. Also, this phrasing with "mit mir kommen" does not sound all to idiomatic to my ears but rather like an English speaker translating "come with me" – Emanuel Mar 18 '15 at 22:44
  • I was under the impression that my wording on the first sentence would be wrong. However, I've seen and heard mit mir kommen" in various sentences a lot. I'm confused as to why it could be wrong. :( – Autumn Mar 18 '15 at 22:48
  • It sounds weird, but it's possible. Look at my answer. – exhausend Mar 18 '15 at 22:49
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    Well, by wrong I mean "not idiomatic". I would never say that. I would use "mitkommen" without any "mir" anywhere. That doesn't mean that no German speaker ever uses it. I do know that "Mit jemandem kommen" is at least used in literature. – Emanuel Mar 18 '15 at 22:54
  • See, now that's helpful. Give me an example of a more commonly used phrased. :) I have learned mitkommen as well and am glad to know that's more common. Thank you! :) also please, if you ever see me post a sentence using a rare phrasing please let me know. – Autumn Mar 18 '15 at 23:00
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Es tut mir Leid, dass Du mit mir nicht kommen kannst.

What I understand is that this sentence really underlines "mit mir" (with me). The person is really sorry that the other can't come with him. So the other person has to go with someone else he doesn't like for example.

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du nicht mit mir kommen kannst.

This is the general form for saying, that you cannot come with me. It is neutral compared to the first one.

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    The first example gives "kommen" a strange emphasis as the statement would be that "you" can't do it with "me" (but perhaps with someone else) – with exactly that sexual undertone. Thus, unless you want to translate the English slang expression "cum", you wouldn't want to prefer that alternative to the second one, which is the proper way to say "I'm sorry you can't come with me". – Martin Schwehla Mar 18 '15 at 23:16
  • @Martin Schwehla It might be a bit far-fetched but it makes absolutely sense. I hadn't thought about this statement of the sentence. – exhausend Mar 19 '15 at 10:01
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There are three different verbs to think of here:

  1. mit jemandem kommen=come with somebody The mit jemandem is an obligatory object here.
  2. kommen=come, arrive, … Has no obligatory objects.
  3. kommen=cum, get to orgasm Has no obligatory objects.

Negation usually encompasses a verb with all its obligatory objects. So for the first verb the usually negated sentence is your second proposal:

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du nicht mit mir kommen kannst.

Observe, that verb and obligatory object stay together and are not separated by nicht.

On the other hand, if nicht separates the kommen and mit mir as in your second proposal

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du mit mir nicht kommen kannst.

then there are several possible meanings associated with that:

  • It's still the first verb, but there is heavy emphasis on the object mit mir. With somebody else the addressee might come.
  • It's the second verb and mit mir is a modal adverbial. This is rather strange because there is only minimal difference to the first verb.
  • It's the third verb and mit mir is a modal adverbial. This is perfectly fine considering the grammar.

As the first verb is rather uncommon in spoken language (except maybe for high registers) and the second sound strange here, most people will guess the third meaning (at least if they know that meaning of kommen).

Beware: For all possible verbs, the position of nicht sets an emphasis that may alternatively be conveyed by stressing the respective words.

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I would translate the sentences as followed:

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du mit mir nicht kommen kannst.

I'm sorry that you can't cum with me.

Es tut mir Leid, dass Du nicht mit mir kommen kannst.

I'm sorry that you can't come with me.

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The given explanations may or may not be grammatically correct but they are purely academic. No native german speaker would ever say "Es tut mir Leid, dass Du mit mir nicht kommen kannst." The "nicht" needs to go before "mit mir", everything else is plain wrong (in the sense of "nobody uses it that way").

Also, this wrong order of words is not suitable for putting a special stress on the "mit mir". It does not work that way it German. The only thing you can do to empasize when speaking is to raise your voice a bit for the "mir" part. If you wanted to stress the "mir" part in written language you would need to use a different construct alltogether, such as "statt dessen (instead)": Es tut mir Leid, dass Du nicht statt dessen mit mir kommen kannst.

Oh - in a sexual context you would probably want to use "zusammen mit mir" (together with me) rather than "instead". :-) Other tahn that, all of the above applies there, too.

  • how does "statt dessen" or "zusammen" put stress on mir? Depending on the context, it might change the meaning, especially "statt dessen". – fifaltra Mar 19 '15 at 13:19
  • in the sense of "oh you had to go with xy? I am sorry that you could not come with me instead". That stresses the me part.Or "I am happy that you came together with me". – bluewater Mar 19 '15 at 13:44

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