{\rtf1\ansi\ansicpg1252 {\fonttbl\f0\fnil\fcharset0 ArialMT;} {\colortbl;\red255\green255\blue255;\red51\green51\blue51;\red255\green255\blue255;} \deftab720 \pard\pardeftab720\partightenfactor0 \f0\fs26 \cf2 \cb3 \expnd0\expndtw0\kerning0 \outl0\strokewidth0 \strokec2 }
Connect
To Top

German Lesson Plan for Teaching Sentence Negation with Nicht

When teaching first year German students German negation, begin by discussing sentence negation in English. Explain that sentences in English can be negated by inserting the adverb not after the first auxiliary verb of the verb phrase functioning as the predicate or by adding the quantifier no to a noun phrase. The do operator is also inserted for verb phrases that contain single verbs. For example, the following sentences are example of positive and negated sentences in English:

  • The puppy ate the cheese. (positive)
  • The puppy did not eat the cheese. (negated)
  • Could you play the music loudly? (positive)
  • Could you not play the music loudly? (negated)
  • I have time today. (positive)
  • I have no time today. (negated)

Negation with Nicht in German

Continue by introducing sentence negation in German. Explain the sentences in German can be similarly negated by inserting the adverb nicht into German sentences. For example, the following sentences are examples of positive and negated sentences in German:

  • Sie rauchen. “They smoke.” (positive)
  • Sie rauchen nicht. “They do not smoke.” (negated)
  • Die Kinder essen das Gemüse. “The children eat the vegetables.” (positive)
  • Die Kinder essen das Gemüse nicht. “The children do not eat the vegetables. (negated)
  • Wir studieren in der Bibliothek. “We study in the library.” (positive)
  • Wir studieren nicht in der Bibliothek. “We do not study in the library.” (negated)

After introducing the concept of nicht negation, the German teacher should next present the rules of the placement of the adverb nicht in different types of sentences.

Nicht Negation Rules for Simple Sentences

First explain the rules for negating simple sentences with the adverb nicht. If the simple sentence contains only a subject and a verb, then place the nicht at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Der Welpe schnarcht. “The puppy snores.” (positive)
  • Der Welpe schnarcht nicht. “The puppy does not snore.” (negated)
  • Die Familie liest. “The family reads.” (positive)
  • Die Familie liest nicht. “The family does not read.” (negated)

If the simple sentence contains a subject, a verb, and one or more direct or indirect objects, then also place the nicht at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Ich aß das Plätzchen. “I ate the cookie.” (positive)
  • Ich aß das Plätzchen nicht. “I did not eat the cookie.” (negated)
  • Mein Ehemann kaufte mich ein Auto. “My husband bought me a car.” (positive)
  • Mein Ehemann kaufte mich ein Auto nicht. “My husband did not buy me a car.” (negated)

Nicht Negation Rules for Sentences with Prepositional Phrases

Next explain the rules for negating sentences that contain prepositional phrases. If the sentence is formed by a simple sentence with only a subject and a verb followed by a prepositional phrase, then place the nicht after the verb but before the prepositional phrase. For example:

  • Sie kauft am Markt. “She shops at the market.” (positive)
  • Sie kauft nicht am Markt. “She does not shop at the market.” (negated)
  • Ich gehe heute zum Krankenhaus. “I go to the hospital today.” (positive)
  • Ich gehe heute nicht zum Krankenhaus. “I do not go to the hospital today.” (negated)

If the sentence is a simple sentence that contains one or more objects followed by a prepositional phrase, then place the nicht after the last object but before the prepositional phrase. For example:

  • Der Junge trank die Milch in der Küche. “The boy drank the milk in the kitchen.” (positive)
  • Der Junge trank die Milch nicht in der Küche. “The boy did not drink the milk in the kitchen.” (negated)
  • Er stiehlt Nahrung von das Restaurant. “He steals food from the restaurant.” (positive)
  • Er stiehlt Nahrung nicht von das Restaurant. “He does not steal food from the restaurant.” (negated)

Nicht Negation Rules for Past Participles, Infinitives, and Separable Prefix Verbs

Then explain the rules for negating sentences that contain past participles, infinitives, and separable prefix verbs. Place the nicht directly before the past participle, infinitive, or separable prefix verb. For example:

  • Die Studentin hat den Versuch geschrieben. “The student has written the essay.” (positive)
  • Die Studentin hat den Versuch nicht geschrieben. “The student has not written the essay. (negated)
  • Ich kann Spanischen sprechen. “I can speak Spanish.” (positive)
  • Ich kann Spanischen nicht sprechen. “I cannot speak Spanish.” (negated)
  • Sie kamen gestern an. “They arrived yesterday.” (positive)
  • Sie kamen gestern nicht an. “The did not arrive yesterday.” (negated)

Nicht Negation Rules for Predicate Adjectives

Next explain the rules for negating the adjective in sentences with predicate adjectives. Predicate adjectives are adjectives that follow the copular verb sein “to be” and describe the subject. To negate the predicate adjective, place the nicht directly before the adjective. For example:

  • Ich bin klein. “I am small.” (positive)
  • Ich bin nicht klein. “I am not small.” (negated)
  • Du bist intelligent. “You are smart.” (positive)
  • Du bist nicht intelligent. “You are not smart.” (negated)

Nicht Negation Rules for Adverbs and Adverbials

Finally explain the rules for negating adverbs and adverbials. To negate an adverb or adverbial, place the nicht directly before the adverb or adverbial. For example:

  • Ich esse gerne Obst. “I eat fruit gladly.” (positive)
  • Ich esse nicht gerne Obst. “I eat fruit not gladly.” (negated)
  • Er kommt heute. “He comes today.” (positive)
  • Er kommt nicht heute. “He comes not today.” (negated)

Negation Practice Exercise

Use the following exercise to practice negating sentences in German. First have the students form positive sentences with the given words. Then have the students negate the sentences.

Die Worte

  • das Kind / essen / die Banane
  • wir / fahren / morgen / nach München
  • du / gehen / ins Kino.
  • der Lehrer / schreiben / meine Mutter / ein Breif
  • ich / sein / dünn

Die Positivsätze

  • Das Kind isst die Banane.
  • Wir fahren morgen nach München.
  • Du gehst ins Kino.
  • Der Lehrer schreibt meiner Mutter einen Brief.
  • Ich bin dünn.

Die Verneinten Sätze

  • Das Kind ist die Banane nicht.
  • Wir fahren morgen nicht nach München.
  • Du gehst nicht ins Kino.
  • Der Lehrer schreibt meiner Mutter einen Brief nicht.
  • Ich bin nicht dünn.

Note: I have studied German as a foreign language. Please feel free to correct any mistakes that I have made in my German.

References

Swick, Edward. 2009. The everything learning German book: Speak, write, and understand basic German in no time, 2nd ed. Adams Media: Avon, Massachusetts.

More in German Language

  • German Vocabulary Lesson: German Family Tree

    German is a West Germanic language that is related to other Germanic languages such as English, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, and Swedish....

    Heather JohnsonJune 24, 2014
  • Wortstellung: Word Order in German

    In English, the function of words is primarily determined by word order or syntax. For example, the subject of an English...

    Heather JohnsonJune 10, 2014

Pin It on Pinterest