A recent Slow German Podcast had the following sentence:

Natürlich blieb Einstein kein Angestellter am Patentamt.

It seems to me that it might be better to say it this way:

Natürlich blieb Einstein einen Angestellter des Patentamt nicht.

The first sentence says that Einstein was staying as not an employee -- he was not an employee and he was staying that way. The second sentence says that Einstein was not staying as an employee, which is the correct meaning -- he was an employee but he would not stay one. Opinions, please?

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    This is not a matter of opinion. Your emendation is simply wrong on several levels. – Kilian Foth Sep 27 '19 at 7:10
  • Note "bleiben" does not exclusively mean "stay" (especially not here). You might want to look up a few more meanings. – tofro Sep 27 '19 at 16:20

Germans negate differently than the English, in case of the indefinite article.

Hast Du ein Auto? Do you have a car
Nein, ich habe kein Auto. No, I do not have a car. (literally: I have no car).

Bist Du (ein) Lehrer? Are you a teacher?
Nein, ich bin kein Lehrer. No, I'm not a teacher

Compare this to:

Bist Du der Lehrer? Are you the teacher? Nein, ich bin nicht der Lehrer. Tatsächlich bin ich gar kein Lehrer. No, I'm not the teacher. As a matter of fact I'm not a teacher at all.

You may have asked for opinions, but objectively, your first sentence is correct and your second example is not.

You can formulate the sentence with nicht however, if you want to make clear, that he didn't stay in the Patentamt, but at another place. Please note the position of nicht. Also, it takes the nominative case, not the accusative.

Natürlich blieb Einstein nicht ein Angestellter des Patentamtamts, sondern der Universität.

Of course, Einstein didn't stay as an employee in the patent office, but in the university.

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  • 1
    Der letzte Satz ist falsch, denn er blieb ja nicht ein Angestellter der Universität, sondern wurde es erst - soweit ich oberflächlich informiert bin. – user unknown Sep 27 '19 at 17:36
  • Ich habe es in größerem zeitlichen Rahmen betrachtet, aber du hast natürlich Recht, wenn man es genau auf den Zeitpunkt auslegt. Grammatikalisch ist der Satz allerdings korrekt. – infinitezero Sep 27 '19 at 18:07

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