When to use KEEN vs NET in Luxembourgish

In this lesson I will talk about a typical problem of Luxembourgish learners: NEGATIONS

When do you say net and when do you say keen

Let’s start with an easy summary of the difference between net and keen. They are both used to negate sentences in Luxembourgish but they are used in different ways. Net is the equivalent of not. Keen can be translated into: no, not any, not a, none, nobody.

Net negates:

adjectives, verbs, nouns with a definite article and nouns with a possessive pronoun

Keen negates:

nouns with an indefinite article and nouns with no article. 


The Position of net

The position of net is not always so clear-cut. However, generally speaking, net will precede adjectives, adverbs and either precede or follow verbs. BUT

net follows adverbs of time (which have a chronological logic)


Mir ginn haut akafen. We go shopping today.
Mir ginn haut net akafen. We don’t go shopping today.

Ech ruffen dech muer den Owend un. I’m calling you tomorrow evening.
Ech ruffen dech muer den Owend net un. I’m not calling you tomorrow evening.

You can listen to this lesson on the “Luxembourgish with Anne podcast via iTunes or watch the video on youtube.

Net used in a sentence

1 The verb is to be negated


Ech ginn akafen. I go shopping.
Ech ginn net akafen. I don’t go shopping.

The adverb is to be negated 


Meng Fra liest gär Bicher. My wife likes reading books.
Meng Fra liest net gär Bicher. My wife doesn’t like reading books.

3 The adjective is to be negated


D’Wieder ass schéin. The weather is nice.
D’Wieder ass net schéin. The weather is not nice.

D’Zalot gesäit lecker aus. The salad looks delicious.
D’Zalot gesäit net lecker aus. The salad doesn’t look delicious.

4 The noun to be negated has a definite article


Dat ass d’Haus vu menger Boma. That’s the house of my grandmother.
Dat ass net d’Haus vu menger Boma. That’s not the house of my grandmother.

Hie keeft d’Brout am Supermarché. He buys the bread at the supermarket.
Hie keeft d’Brout net am Supermarché. He does not buy the bread at the supermarket.

5 The noun to be negated has a possessive pronoun


Dat ass mäi Vëlo. That’s my bike.
Dat ass net mäi Vëlo. That’s not my bike.


1 The noun to be negated has an indefinite article.


Ech wëll en Dessert iessen. I want to eat a dessert.
Ech wëll keen Dessert iessen. I don’t want to eat a dessert.

Hien huet eng Duechter. He has a daughter.
Hien huet keng Duechter. He doesn’t have a daughter

The word keen (masculine & neuter nouns) / keng (feminine nouns) is positioned where the indefinite article would be.

Now the Luxembourgish indefinite articles en and eng have no plural, but in the plural keen is declined to keng:

Ech hu keng Kanner. I have no children.

2 The noun to be negated has no article


Ech hunn Zäit dofir. I have time for that.
Ech hu keng Zäit dofir. I don’t have time for that.


Sometimes you can use both net and keen.


Ech spille keen Tennis. I don’t play tennis.

But you can as well here native speakers say:

Ech spillen net Tennis.

You can say and hear both, but in my opinion it is more common to say: Ech spille keen Tennis. Which makes sense because it is in front of a noun. On the other hand this sentence has a verb and then a noun. So you can negate the verb with net and as well the noun with keen.

Other example:

Ech schwätze kee Lëtzebuergesch. OR you can negate the verb with net:
Ech schwätzen net Lëtzebuergesch.


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