How would one translate the "to be" in "to be or not to be"?
Is "Sein oder nicht sein?" correct?
Does "dasein" have a meaning similar to the "to be"?

1 Answer 1


The Shakespeare words

To be or not to be.

are usually translated into

Sein oder Nichtsein.

That made-up noun Nichtsein is there for reasons of style. German speakers adore nouns. It would be as valid to write nicht sein and make the whole sentence a verb phrase as in English. The meaning is almost identical, but unique compound nouns as Nichtsein label abstract concepts better than verb phrases.

Same with the noun das Dasein. There is a nearly equivalent verb phrase da sein and you can play with the slightly different meaning:

Das Dasein besteht aus mehr als da (zu) sein.

Existence consists of more than being there.

The zu is needed by grammar but you may want to leave it out for effect.

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