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Where not to put IKKE? Posted by on Jul 31, 2017 in grammar

(Photo courtesy of Jeremy Segrott at Flickr, CC License.)

Ikke (not) phrases are often called negative phrases – even if some of them have a very positive meaning: Vi vil ikke have mere vold! (We don’t want any more violence!) Sometimes, though, even the most positive negative sentence can drive a poor language-learner mad: Where do(n’t) I put ikke?

 

Let’s take some simple summer phrases…

  • Solen skinner. (The sun is shining.)
  • Vi spiser jordbær hver dag. (We eat strawberries every day.)

…and put them in denial:

  • Solen skinner ikke. (The sun isn’t shining.)
  • Vi spiser ikke jordbær hver dag. (We don’t eat strawberries every day.)

So, basically, you just put ikke behind the main verb.

But how about questions? That’s where it’s getting – interesting:

  • Du kommer ikke. (You don’t come.) Kommer du ikke? (Don’t you come?)
  • De sælger ikke cola. (They don’t sell cola.) Sælger de ikke cola? (Don’t they sell cola?)

See? The main verb jumps up front, while ikke politely stays in the line…

Fortunately, most Danes will understand you even if you place ikke a little off. Otherwise, I think that Dependent Clauses would make students run away screaming! 🙂 (There are 2 DC’s in the phrase I think THAT she told me WHEN she would get back.) Behold the marvel:

  • Det regner ikke hele sommeren. (It doesn’t rain all summer long.) Jeg ved at det ikke regner hele sommeren! (I know that it doesn’t rain all summer long! – Yes, some people would put a comma after ved – which is optional here…)
  • Bremserne virker ikke. (The brakes don’t work.) Vi tror at bremserne ikke virker. (We believe that the brakes don’t work.)

In case you wonder, the flipflop (virker ikke > ikke virker etc.) has a lot to do with inversion – a strange twist in Danish grammar – but that’s for another blog post!

Now, place ikke the right place in these three sentences:

Vi __ mangler __ gode ideer. (We don’t lack good ideas.)

__ mangler __ vi __ gode ideer?

Jeg ved at __ vi __ mangler __ gode ideer.

Yes, that’s right! 🙂 Not bad (ikke dårligt)!

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About the Author:Bjørn A. Bojesen

I was born in Denmark, but spent large parts of my childhood and study years in Norway. I later returned to Denmark, where I finished my MA in Scandinavian Studies. Having relatives in Sweden as well, I feel very Scandinavian! I enjoy reading and travelling, and sharing stories with you! You’re always welcome to share your thoughts with me and the other readers.


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