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On Duolingo i was asked to translate "I do not like oranges, but I like apples."

So my answer was

Ich mag Orangen nicht, aber ich mag Äpfel.

But it was false for some reason, and the correct one is:

Ich mag keine Orangen, aber ich mag Äpfel.

So what is the difference between the two ?

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    It's not wrong. – äüö Jan 29 at 7:16
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    Beside the nuance in meaning there is another "trap" in languages like German: people tend to skip the word "nicht" while reading/ listening. That leads to my personal taste to prefer "keine" in your case. – Shegit Brahm Jan 29 at 7:16
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    @äüö: What makes you sure you can edit most spelling errors away? Do you know that the algorithm on Duolingo ignores them? (and it makes half the answers strange because they refer to) – Shegit Brahm Jan 29 at 7:17
  • @ShegitBrahm: I understood the only thing he wanted to ask was why someone judged his translation as wrong referring to the content, which means "mag ... nicht" vs "mag keine ...". I thought the typos were another mistake when he wrote the question here. – äüö Jan 30 at 15:35
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1) As substantive Orangen has to start with a capital letter. This is an error.

2) The difference between mag Orangen nicht und mag keine Orangen is between minor to non-existing. If find the keine variant somewhat nicer, but this can't be the reason for a rejection.

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  • I agree that the difference is only in style. The only reason why any teacher would consider your version wrong (apart from the missing capitalization) that I can think of is that in the second version both parts have a matching structure. Another possibility would be *Orangen mag ich nicht, Äpfel aber schon. – Volker Landgraf Jan 28 at 14:53
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    Einer Anregung von @userunknown folgend möchte ich guidot fragen, warum Du die -meiner Ansicht nach absolut berechtigte - Frage zwar beantwortet, nicht aber hochgewertet hast. (Der zu diesem Zeitpunkt einzige upvote stammt von mir.) – Volker Landgraf Jan 28 at 14:55
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    You are giving Duolingo too much credit, it is possible that they had just one “correct” answer for that question. – Carsten S Jan 28 at 19:32
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  1. Ich mag keine Orangen, aber ich mag Äpfel.
  2. Ich mag Orangen nicht, aber ich mag Äpfel.

In fact, both sentences are correct translations of the English sentence "I do not like oranges, but I like apples." It depends on the context and one's personal preference which sentence is used.

The first sentence is unmarked in that it simply enumerates two information: (1) you don't like something; (2) you like something else. The connector aber indicates that both information are in contrast. Consider the following example dialogue:

A: „Was soll in den Obstsalat?“
B: „Hm, also ich mag keine Orangen, aber ich mag Äpfel. Und Kirschen ...“

The second sentence emphasizes this contrast a bit more, and it is typically used when the thing you don't like was already mentioned before:

A: „Wollen Sie vielleicht ein Netz Orangen?“
B: „Tut mir leid, ich mag Orangen nicht, aber ich mag Äpfel.“
A: „O, da kann ich diese hier empfehlen ...“

Or when you were explicitly asked what you do not with an emphasis on the word nicht:

A: „Was mögen Sie nicht?“
B: „Ich mag Orangen nicht, aber ich mag Äpfel.“

Anyhow, using the first sentence in the last two dialogues would be correct, too.

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Apart from very fine nuances that have already been pointed out, (1) may also be used to express "temporary disliking" in specific contexts (with some adjustment):

  • Was magst du jetzt gerne essen?
  • Ich mag keine Orangen, aber (ein paar) Äpfel möchte ich gerne.

This does not work for (2).

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