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I am trying to translate the following sentence

No, she does not want a different one.

My first intuition as an English speaker is

Nein, sie will nicht anderes einen

Basically I translate word for word except I put the adverb nicht after the verb.

However the correct answer given in duolingo is

Nein einen anderen will sie nicht

My question is that is my answer also correct? Can you switch the object order with subject because the ending of the noun already signals the object (via accusative case)? And why is will sie nicht correct instead of will nicht sie ?

  • Does duolingo not provide more context? Another flight, another table in the restaurant, another guy,... may ask for different precise translations, even if your final example is a quite generic one apart from the missing comma: *Nein, * – guidot Sep 2 '18 at 15:30
  • For a qualified answer, context is necessary. What is this sentence about? Somebody in a shop insisting on a specific product, not a surrogate? A good translates will take into account the situation where this sentence is used. – Christian Geiselmann Sep 3 '18 at 14:40
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German does not have SVO word worder. It's V2 in declarative clauses and SOV in dependent clauses. V2 includes SVO, but it's not limited to that.

You may use OVS word order in declarative clauses whenever you wish. It does not depend on the case being distinguishable. If there's ambiguity, its up to you to add information to make things clear — or leave them unclear by purpose. It doesn't have to be an accusative object either.

Markus antwortete ich: „Dann eben nicht!“

Here, Markus is an unmarked leading dative object. It's clear from context (ich is nominative) who's the subject.

Der Lüge verdächtige ich dich!

Thats a leading genitive object, verb second, subject, accusative object.

Ein Hund ist er!

That's a leading Prädikativ ("nominative object"), the copula sein, and the subject.


About the nicht, the closest to English you can get is as follows.

No, she does not want a different one.

Nein, sie will einen anderen nicht.

Nein, einen anderen will sie nicht.

These are both possible but the first one sounds unnatural if sie isn't emphasized in speech. Remember the rule about word ordering and emphasis? The first item gets the most emphasis, the last second most. The last is nicht. But the thing you want to express isn't sie–nicht but einen anderen–nicht. That's why einen anderen should be emphasized and therefore, has to lead the clause.

Nein, einen anderen will nicht sie.

This is also possible but it negates sie instead of the whole clause. People would ask "Then, who wants a different one, if not she?"

Nicht negates the following item. If it's at the end of a clause, it negates the whole clause.

If you want to put it plain, without special emphasis, use the pronoun kein. It's especially made for that purpose.

Nein, sie will keinen anderen.

Nein, keinen anderen will sie.

Here, the emphasis is split almost equally sie—keinen anderen, with only a slight advantage on sie resp. keinen anderen.

  • You could add that all this assumes that the grammatical gender of the other is male. – Carsten S Sep 3 '18 at 16:25
  • I have just taken this as given from the question. But it was the Duolingo translation, so yes, one has to honor the gender. I frown a bit because it makes the answer harder to read to include all genders. – Janka Sep 3 '18 at 19:31
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I'll try to answer your questions with some examples. The English expression a different one does not work without the one at the end, so it is fixed and could be translated to ein Anderer. A more literal translation would be: Nein, sie möchte keinen Anderen. or Nein, einen Anderen möchte sie nicht. einen is the article and it always has the position in front of the noun. Therefore your translation does not work in German. Moreover anderes is neuter, which is rather unlikly, if we assume that she wants another man. You could translate Nein, sie will nicht einen Anderen. More fluently is to pull together will nicht einen to will keinen. To your last point: Grammaticaly correct, but the emphasis differs. If you put sie at the end you put strong emphasis on it, because it is not the usual order in the sentence. As in English: No, a different one she does not want.

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