What is the grammatical difference between these two sentences:

  • Die Lehrer essen nicht größere Eier.
  • Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

Why the ending -n in the second sentence?

  • 1
    Nicht must be at the end in the first sentence. For example: "Nein, meine Suppe ess' ich nicht!"
    – starblue
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 0:02
  • 1
    Related: “Nicht” vs “Kein”
    – Em1
    Commented Dec 25, 2012 at 9:54

3 Answers 3


The difference is that the first sentence is wrong. You always negate sentences like that by using "keine/n".

Ich habe einen Hund. -> Ich habe keinen Hund.
Ich mag Katzen. -> Ich mag keine Katzen.
Ich singe ein Lied. -> Ich singe kein Lied.

The -n in the second sentence is there because it's accusative.

(You can use "nicht" in the first case by putting it at the end of the sentence: "Die Lehrer essen größere Eier nicht." But that's very archaic and stresses the negation. It should be used only in poems and other literary work.)

  • Why isn't "größere Eier" in accusative in your example?
    – Alexandru
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 21:53
  • It's accusative in both cases. You see, adjectives in German are inflected in 2 different fashions, which are called "weak" and "strong". If an adjective (größere) follows a pronoun (keine) it is usually inflected in the weak fashion. The accusative of größere is "größere" in the strong inflection, but "größeren" in the weak inflection. Check the Wikipedia article on "German declension". It explains it pretty well.
    – alexkelbo
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 22:11
  • 1
    "Ich mag Katzen nicht." would also be correct.
    – starblue
    Commented Dec 24, 2012 at 23:59
  • 5
    a) The word 'nicht' (Negationswort) means 'not'. It negates the predicate (verb): Sie |essen| XY |nicht|. – They |do not eat| XY. —— b) The negative pronouns (Negationspronomen) 'kein' (singular) and 'keine' (plural) negate the object of the sentence, 'größere Eier'. Sie essen |keine XY|. — They eat |no(ne of) XY|. —— In this particular instance, b) is the common way. However, negation in German is a large field, e.g., if you take the sentence 'they haven't eaten the larger eggs,' suddenly a) is the more idiomatic way: 'Sie haben die größeren Eier nicht gegessen.'
    – TehMacDawg
    Commented Dec 26, 2012 at 12:51
  • "But that's very archaic and stresses the negation. It should be used only in poems and other literary work." - I disagree. There is nothing archaic about "Ich putze heute nicht." or "Ich sehe dich nicht.", not even about "Ich esse meine Suppe nicht." (how would you phrase that latter statement in a less "archaic" manner?). Commented Jun 4, 2023 at 21:00

1) Die Lehrer essen größere Eier nicht.
2) Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

Both, größere and größeren, are plural accusative flexions of the comparative adjective größer. If you take a look at the flexion tables for größer, you'll see that größere is used in the plural accusative case when there is no article before the adjective (see under 'Ohne Artikel') – which applies to sentence 1). Größeren is used in the accusative case if it is preceded by an indefinite article (see under 'Unbestimmter Artikel'.)

The -en ending in sentence 2) is due to the declension pattern that applies to attributive adjectives that are preceded by
a) the indefinite article ein,
b) the negative pronoun kein/keine (=negation of 'ein'), or
c) a possessive pronoun (mein/meine, dein/deine, sein/seine, …)

This declension pattern is also known as the third type or 'mixed' declension. See Wikipedia on German declension: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_declension#Attributive_adjectives


The first sentence seems also a bit wrong to me, and perhaps there must be also an addition by putting some kind of explaination to be correct, example:

Your (wrong) sentence:

Die Lehrer essen nicht größere Eier.

Should be:

Die Lehrer essen nicht die größeren Eier, da sie sonst keinen Platz mehr im Mund zum reden haben.

So you will use this first sentence mostly in cases when you add an explaination or consequence.

Your second sentence:

Die Lehrer essen keine größeren Eier.

It is correct, you say that mostly if they never do at all, maybe because they are always talking and their mouth always busy. Or "A snake don't eat an elephant."

  • Try to use "nicht" for cases of "would be possible, but..."
  • Use "kein/e" for cases of facts.


  • Benzin ins Feuer schütten ist KEINE Lösung, das Feuer würde größer werden.
  • Erde auf das Feuer schütten ist NICHT die beste Lösung, mit Wasser geht es schneller aus.

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