I'd just like to know, I have just finished learning the position of "nicht" in the present tense, but is the position of "nicht" in the past tense as same as in the present tense?


Ich ging nicht nach Hause. <=> Ich gehe nicht nach Hause.
Ich arbeitete gestern nicht. <=> Ich arbeite heute nicht.
Ich kochte nicht gern. <=> Ich koche nicht gern.
Das Flugzeug flog nicht ab. <=> Das Flugzeug fliegt nicht ab.

  • 3
    What do you call "the same position"? Can you give examples of the same and not the same positions please.
    – Eller
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 5:27
  • We could give examples, but you want to know something, and so it's your job to give examples. What do you think is correct? Where exactly are you unsure? Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 6:18
  • This question seems to assume that nicht has a certain fixed (or "correct") position in sentences. It hasn't - That position can vary according to what exactly should be negated. ("Ich arbeitete gestern nicht" vs. "Ich arbeitete nicht gestern" vs. "Nicht ich arbeitete gestern(. Sondern x)") - All correct positions.
    – tofro
    Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 10:37

1 Answer 1


Welcome on this site.

Last week there were two questions (this and this) about the position of the word "nicht" on this site:

It's much more complex than you think...


The position in the two tenses not using an auxiliary verb (present and imperfect) is the same, unless a verb is used with an infinitive (e.g. "wollen" - "to want to").

So the answer to your question is: Yes, the positions are the same.

In the tenses using an auxiliary verb (future, perfect, ...) the position of the word "nicht" is also the same - however it is different from the tenses without auxiliary verb.

So when asking for the position of the "nicht" the question is: Is this tense using an auxiliary verb or not?

(Present and imperfect both do not use an auxiliary verb so the position of the "nicht" is the same.)

  • an auxiliary verb is not always present. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 8:20
  • @AqshaIsham I edited the last part of my answer. Commented Dec 18, 2017 at 9:23
  • The term preterite should be preferred over imperfect because that tense in German is simply used for the past and not for actions which are still ongoing, as in languages with a true imperfect (like Latin or romance languages).
    – RHa
    Commented Dec 19, 2017 at 9:27

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