Kein in the beginning of the sentence

Could use clarify if I can use the negation kein in the beginning of the sentence in German? For example can I say ‘Kein Auto hat er.’ or ‘Keinen Fehrnseher brauche ich.’

I asked ChatGPT:

Yes, you can use “kein” at the beginning of a sentence in German. “Kein” is a negative indefinite article that is used to express negation or the absence of something. When you use it at the beginning of a sentence, it sets the tone for a negative statement or a statement of negation. For example:

  1. Kein Problem! (No problem!)
  2. Kein Mensch kann das tun. (No one can do that.)
  3. Kein Auto steht vor dem Haus. (There is no car in front of the house.)

In these examples, “kein” is used at the beginning of the sentences to convey a negative or negating meaning.

10 examples:

  1. Kein Zweifel, das war die richtige Entscheidung. (No doubt, that was the right decision.)
  2. Kein Grund zur Sorge, alles ist in Ordnung. (No reason to worry, everything is fine.)
  3. Kein Interesse an diesem Film? (No interest in this movie?)
  4. Kein Buch auf dem Tisch gehört mir. (No book on the table belongs to me.)
  5. Kein Tag vergeht ohne Herausforderungen. (Not a day goes by without challenges.)
  6. Kein Kaffee für mich, danke. (No coffee for me, thanks.)
  7. Kein Mensch ist perfekt. (No one is perfect.)
  8. Kein Geld, keine Möglichkeiten. (No money, no opportunities.)
  9. Kein Anruf von ihm seit Tagen. (No call from him for days.)
  10. Kein Lächeln auf ihrem Gesicht heute. (No smile on her face today.)

Let’s see if someone else can confirm it and/or add something about it.


In those sentences you asked for, it works if you want to stress it. “Kein Auto hat er, sondern ein Motorrad”. “Keinen Fernseher brauche ich, sondern nur ein gutes Buch”.

Those examples ChatGPT gave are different, but I can’t explain why.


The examples you gave are both direct objects, which are usually not at the beginning of the sentence except if you’re trying to stress it for effect.

In general, there is nothing to say that “kein” can’t be at the beginning of the sentence - although usually it’s part of the subject, not the object. Some of Davide’s ChatGPT examples are like this: “Kein Mensch braucht …” etc.

It’s also frequently used in sentence fragments, especially in fixed expressions such as “keine Angst!”, “kein Grund zur Sorge”, “kein Zweifel”. Davide’s ChatGPT has quite a few examples of this. Notice also that e.g. example 3 “[Hast du] kein Interesse an diesem Film?” is a fragment - it’s not a full sentence with a subject and a predicate (which I’ve added in square brackets and italics). Similarly for some of the other examples, for instance “[Es kommt] kein Anruf von ihm seit Tagen”. I think these kinds of fragments with “kein” are a bit more common in German than in English, although it’s a subtle difference.

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