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Today I learned of a new way to negate sentences by keeping the nicht at the end.

Beispiel:

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht.

Means same as:

Lisa bringt nicht morgen ihrem Vater das Geld.

Even if the basic idea between the sentence are same, is there any difference in the 'feeling' given by each sentence/ what circumstance would one construction be preferred over the other?

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    In German we always write all nouns with an uppercase first letter. And we always write a period (full stop) at the end of a statement. I corrected both mistakes in your posting. Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 11:15
  • Hint for you: There is a slang version of the [ nicht at the end ] - f.e. "Du bist skilled in dem game - NICHT"
    – user31220
    Commented Dec 22, 2021 at 9:59

2 Answers 2

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Yes, there are differences in the meaning. There are even more places where nicht can be positioned, but most of them require a clause that starts with sondern. When not at the end of a sentence, the word nicht negates the part of speech that follows it:

Nicht Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld, sondern Klaus.
It's not Lisa who will bring her father the money tomorrow, but Klaus.

Lisa bringt nicht morgen ihrem Vater das Geld, sondern übermorgen.
Lisa doesn't bring her father the money tomorrow, but the day after tomorrow.

Lisa bringt morgen nicht ihrem Vater das Geld, sondern ihrer Tante.
Lisa brings the money tomorrow not to her father but to her aunt.

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater nicht das Geld, sondern eine Torte.
Lisa brings her father tomorrow not the money, but a cake.

You can also build sentences without sondern:

Lisa bringt nicht morgen ihrem Vater das Geld.
Lisa bringt morgen nicht ihrem Vater das Geld.
Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater nicht das Geld.

These sentences mean the same as above, just without the clause that starts with sondern/but.

If you put nicht before position 1 (i.e. when the sentence starts with the word nicht), the sondern part is mandatory:

correct: Nicht Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld, sondern Klaus.
wrong: Nicht Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld.

Having the word nicht at the end is possible, but not a good style. It negates the whole sentence without negating a specific part of speech. And therefore you can't combine a final nicht with sondern:

weak style: Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht.
wrong: Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht, sondern Klaus/übermorgen/ihrer Tante/eine Torte.

Another possibility of negation is this:

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater kein Geld.
Lisa will bring no money to her father tomorrow.

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    I probably wouldn't say that putting nicht at the end is always bad style; there are times when you do want to negate an entire sentence. Sometimes you want to negate the verb, which in German is nearly the same as negating the sentence, and nicht goes at the end in that case as well. Perhaps: Lisa bringt das Geld morgen zu ihrem Vater nicht, sondern schickt es ihm.
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 13:13
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    I agree with RDBury here. Nicht seems fine at the end of a sentence, as in Das glaube ich nicht., Es regnet nicht.
    – guidot
    Commented Dec 18, 2021 at 23:21
  • I totally agree with RDBury. I want to add, that in German youth language, I often hear a special case, where you negate a sentence right after speaking it not-negated: Lisa bringt das Geld morgen zu ihrem Vater. Nicht. For me, this adds a funny, maybe ironic touch to the sentence. But I wouldn't recommened this to foreign speakers.
    – Micha
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 2:33
  • @Micha: These are called "Not jokes" in English. I'm pretty sure they would be considered dated and unfunny in English, especially since the movie Borat made fun of them. They used to be a thing though. Putting "not" at the end of a sentence is never correct in English; so they require some comedic license. Perhaps they still work in German.
    – RDBury
    Commented Dec 19, 2021 at 7:41
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First off: your assumption that the meaning of the two sentences is the same is not quite true. Depending on where you put the "nicht" you negate certain parts of the sentence. To say

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht.

does in fact mean she won't bring it not tomorrow, but allows for the possibility that she will bring it at another time. Note: the possibility! She might as well bring it not at all, she might bring it to a different person, or she might bring him something else. In fact there are three parts of the statement:

  • she will bring money
  • she will bring it to her father
  • she will bring it tomorrow

If all three come true then the whole statement is true, if one fails the whole statement would be false. The latter is what the "nicht" put in last place says. This might be further clarified by a sentence starting with "sondern", "und" or "aber" or a few other words:

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht, sondern ...

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht - und übermorgen auch nicht.

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht, aber dafür etwas anderes.

In the second sentence only the "morgen" is negated and the rest is uncontested. That does not only allow for but implies she will bring the money to her father - just not tomorrow.

@Hubert Schölnast: I fail to see why

Lisa bringt morgen ihrem Vater das Geld nicht.

should be "weak style". In reference to

"Having the word nicht at the end is possible, but not a good style."

i'd say:

Ich glaube das nicht.

or, maybe:

Ich glaube das unter den gegebenen Umständen heute nicht.

I am aware of leaving the possibility of believing it tomorrow open with the latter, but that might as well be the intended effect. It certainly is neither wrong nor "weak style".

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