German Language Blog

“I have no …” – Negations with “kein/keine/keinen/etc.” Posted by on Oct 18, 2010 in Grammar, Language

When someone is asking you in German for a particular noun, for example, when you are asked if you have or posses something, e.g. time, a brother, a sister, children, a pen, etc., you have to use a declined form of the word kein in order to negate your statement.

For example, when I ask you the following questions:

1. Hast du Zeit? – Do you have time?

2. Hast du Hunger. – Are you hungry? (lit. Do you have hunger?)

3. Hast du eine Schwester? – Do you have a sister?

4. Haben sie einen Sohn? – Do you have a son?

5. Haben Sie Kinder? – Do you have children?

6. Hast du einen Stift? – Do you have a pen?

The correct German responses would be:

1. Nein, ich habe keine Zeit. – No, I have no time. / No, I don’t have time.

2. Nein, ich habe keinen Hunger. – No, I am not hungry. (lit. No, I have no hunger.)

3. Nein, Ich habe keine Schwester. – No, I have no sister. / No, I don’t have a sister.

4. Nein, ich habe keinen Sohn. – No, I have no son. / No, I don’t have a son.

5. Nein, ich habe keine Kinder. – No, I have no children. / No, I don’t have children.

6. Nein, ich habe keinen Stift. – No, I have no pen. / No, I don’t have a pen.

In the singular kein is declined like the indefinite articles.

In the plural kein is declined like the definite articles.










































So, all you have to do is to add the letter k to the indefinite articles and you will always obtain the corresponding negation word.

Please note, that you can only negate you statement with kein when the noun you are talking about is either used without articles or with indefinite articles.

Without articles:

Sie isst Äpfel. – She eats apples.

Sie isst keine Äpfel. – She doesn’t eat apples. (lit. She eats no apples.)

Er trinkt Kaffee. – He drinks coffee.

Er trink keinen Kaffee. – He doesn’t drink coffee. (lit. He drinks no coffee.)

With indefinite articles:

Sie isst einen Apfel. – She is eating an apple.

Sie isst keinen Apfel. – She isn’t eating an apple. (lit. She is eating no apple.)

Er trinkt eine Tasse Kaffee. – He is drinking a cup of coffee.

Er trink keine Tasse Kaffee. – He isn’t drinking a cup of coffee. (lit. He is drinking no cup of coffee.)

Tags: , , ,
Keep learning German with us!

Build vocabulary, practice pronunciation, and more with Transparent Language Online. Available anytime, anywhere, on any device.

Try it Free Find it at your Library
Share this:
Pin it

About the Author: Sandra Rösner

Hello everybody! I studied English and American Studies, Communication Science, and Political Science at the University of Greifswald. Since I have been learning English as a second language myself for almost 20 years now I know how difficult it is to learn a language other than your native one. Thus, I am always willing to keep my explanations about German grammar comprehensible and short. Further, I am inclined to encourage you to speak German in every situation. Regards, Sandra


  1. As’ad halim:

    Es braucht so. . .

  2. George:

    I can’t praise ‘transparent language ‘ enough .. You have helped me enormously with my German studies. The only negative is why you call some verbs an ‘expression’ .

  3. Jupitar:

    German is a godsend in it use of ‘kein’ and its various forms. It translates from English as ‘no’, ‘not a’, and ‘not any’. Don’t be scared by the endings, once you learn them, you will see that this word covers many English uses, so that the (English speaking) learner of German sees that they dont have to bother much thinking about the subtilties between the English uses, because in German these subtilties simply don’t exist.

  4. Lavanya:

    I can’t understand difference between kein and keine

    • Sandra:

      @Lavanya The difference is in the grammatical gender, the number (and also in the grammatical case.)

      der Mann (masculine; the man) – kein Mann (no man)
      die Frau (femeine; the woman) – keine Frau (no woman)
      das Kind (neuter; the child) – kein Kind (no child)

      die Männer (the men) – keine Männer (no men)
      die Frauen (the women) – keine Frauen (no women)
      die Kinder (the children) – keine Kinder (no children)

  5. Wassim:

    Thank you for this clear and simple explanation.

  6. Lubna Alhindy:

    Can any body tell us about the use of einen and keinen

  7. Karina:

    I still don’t get it, What is the difference of keine and keinen?

  8. Daryl:

    Thank you so much this really helped me a lot <3. God bless 🙂

  9. Bharati:

    Danke Sandra. You make it easier. I habe eine problem mit accusative und dative. Halfst du mich?

  10. Menna Sameer:


  11. Jeanette B.:

    Mich hat keiner gefragt.
    Nobody has asked me.

    Why is it keiner, and not keine?

    I’m an older person and learning the declensions is maddening, as an English speaker. Can you explain to me how I can know, as clearly as I know my native English, why this should be keiner and not keine? I am really struggling with this. Is it simply a matter of memorizing the genders of the words, and then whether they are Nominative, Accusative, Dative and Genitive? I think German must be the most difficult language to learn, but I am determined to stick with it. I just need help and encouragement.

  12. krmblbn:

    It helps a lot, thanks but one thing I don’t really get;
    It’s written up there “Er trinkt Kaffee / Er trink keinen Kaffee”, so III.person singular suffix omitted (Er trink keinen…) in the verb when sentence negatively formed?

    Thank you in advance

  13. Villa:

    Which verbs is the kein form used with? I thought it was just with the verb haben, but it seems there are others such as sein and essen.