4

I would translate:

What can and can’t I do after this day?

Was darf und darf ich nicht nach diesem Tag machen?

I think it is grammatically correct but I’m not so sure that’s the way native speakers would expect to see it. A Google search for was darf und darf ich nicht gives me only three results, compared to the million+ results for the English sentence.

I want to put this sentence in a legal context:

What can and can’t I do after being notified my employer is insolvent?

Is there a better/more common way of saying this?

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  • 2
    We need more context. Dürfen, können and sollen may all apply here.
    – Janka
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:25

4 Answers 4

5

As others have pointed out, the double question (including a negation) may not be necessary or the best way to phrase this. That said, idiomatic ways to do it would be

Was kann ich tun, wenn XYZ, und was nicht?

Was sollte ich tun oder lassen, wenn XYZ?

4

It is indeed not wrong what you wrote there but in my opinion, it is more common to directly translate "What can and can't I do after this day?" to "Was kann und kann ich nicht tun nach diesem Tag?".

However, this sounds a bit odd and in German, one often skips the "and can't" and simply says "Was kann ich tun nach diesem Tag?" which could mean "What opportunities do I have after what happened today?".

In your context, "What can and can't I do after being notified my employer is insolvent?" could be (extensively) translated to:

  1. Was kann ich tun, nachdem ich benachrichtigt worden bin, dass mein Arbeitgeber insolvent ist?
  2. Welche Möglichkeiten bieten sich mir, nachdem ich benachrichtigt worden bin, dass mein Arbeitgeber insolvent ist? (freely translated, it highly depends on the context; it means "What opportunities do I have ...")

I hope this helps you.

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  • 1
    'Was kann und kann ich nicht tun nach diesem Tag?' Shouldn't 'tun' be at the end of the sentence?
    – garci560
    Jun 23, 2017 at 12:29
  • In my opinion, both versions are correct although putting "tun" at the end of that sentence sounds uncommon but it really depends on the person. A nice way to bypass this problem is to use a subordinate clause: "Was kann ich tun, nachdem was heute passiert ist?" which translates to "What can I do after what happened today?".
    – Kuma
    Jun 23, 2017 at 13:22
  • @kuma "tun" at the end of the sentence is what I'd normally expect.
    – Gerhard
    Jun 23, 2017 at 23:53
  • @Gerhard: As I pointed out, it really is up to the person that is using it since neither version is incorrect.
    – Kuma
    Jun 24, 2017 at 10:34
  • @Kuma: I do not know anyone who would use this construction, and to me it sounds rather wrong. I would definitely have used the "Verbklammer", and while I normally prefer a descriptive approach to language, I think it is important to point out to non-native speakers that your suggestion is highly uncommon.
    – Gerhard
    Jun 24, 2017 at 10:45
2

I'd probably prefer "Was darf ich und was darf ich nicht nach diesem Tag machen?".

"Was darf und darf ich nicht nach diesem Tag machen?" is grammatically correct, but sounds weird due to the doubled "darf and darf" that adds some ambiguity. This structure (repetition of a verb) is also often used to emphasize the "absoluteness" of the verb (I don't know a better description - but it's the same in English, e.g. in "I tried and tried (but it was no use)") , leading to the different meaning "What can I absolutely not do after this day?". In English, there is no such confusion because one "can" already unambiguously got the negation attached to it.

If you want to avoid this issue altogether, the less literal but very fitting translation "Was sind meine Rechte und Pflichten ("rights and duties") nach diesem Tag?" is commonly used in a legal context.

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  • How do you feel about a sentence "Was darf ich nach diesem Tag machen, und was nicht?" Jun 23, 2017 at 19:21
  • Seems fine too. :)
    – Annatar
    Jun 24, 2017 at 18:24
0

What can and can't I do after being notified my employer is insolvent?

could be simplified to

Was tun bei Insolvenz des Arbeitgebers?

The following text can also explain what one can not do in case of insolvency, this mustn't be part of the initial sentence.

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