Difference Between Kein and Nicht

Kein vs Nicht

Learning German can be a difficult task for English speaking people. Even if you know that Nein is the word that is used to say no in German, you might be puzzled to see an adverb Nicht and an adjective Kein being used in German, to express negation. People remain confused between Nicht and Kein until they have a good grasp of German grammar. This article attempts to remove some of this confusion to help readers which one to choose between Kein and Nicht when using negation in German.

It is clear to students that there are several ways of negation in German language. Thus, they have the options of Kein and Nicht, in addition to Nein, when saying no in German. The thing to remember is that Nicht is equivalent to what is meant by not in English language but Nein is one German word that can take on several meanings such as not, no, neither, none, and so on. It all depends upon the context it has been used. Even though it sounds difficult for students learning German, there are simple rules for using these words.

Uses of Nicht

When there is a noun that needs to be negated, and it is a definite article, it is Nicht that tends to be used. It is also used when the noun getting negated has a pronoun that is possessive in nature. When a verb has to be negated, Nicht remains the preferred choice. Nicht is used even in cases of adverb being negated.

Uses of Kein

If the noun is an indefinite article and needs negation, Kein in one of its forms is used. Kein is also used when the noun does not have an article. Kein is mostly used with nouns though the ending of the word is different depending upon whether the noun is a singular or a plural.

What is the difference between Kein and Nicht?

• Nicht is used with verbs and adjectives, whereas Kein is used with nouns.

• While Kein is used to reflect No, Nicht is used to reflect Not and Don’t.

• When the noun to be negated is a definite article, Kein is used while Nicht is used when the noun is an indefinite article.