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In German, there is a phrase called "doch nicht". It means that after a person made a decision, they changed their mind afterwards or were forced to change their decision by external influences.

The German sentence that I have in mind is:

Da Luke einen Arzttermin hat, kann er nun doch nicht ins Kino gehen.

I would translate this to English as follows:

As Luke has an appointment at the doctor, he can't go to the cinema.

However, I feel there is loss of information. The German sentence highlights that Luke previously intended to go to the cinema, or even told other people that he would go. But then, the appointment got in his way. Maybe he forgot that he had the appointment and remembered when looking into his calendar.
The English translation however lacks this piece of information, it sounds like Luke always knew he couldn't goto the cinema because of his appointment.

What would be a good word to express this?


Edit: Let me add an additional example.

Anne kommt doch nicht zum Abendessen.

Anne is not coming for dinner.

The German sentence highlights that Anne previously said she would come for dinner, but now she can't come (without specifying a reason).
The English sentence lacks that information, it does not imply that Anne originally said that she would come.

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    "He's had to cancel his trip to the cinema"? Commented Mar 12 at 11:48
  • Does "doch nicht" in the "dinner" example definitely imply that Anne herself had originally intended / expected to come, and had made this known? It's at least possible that Anne isn't coming to dinner after all might be used in a context where Anne didn't even know there was a dinner party in the offing (it could be that only the speaker and/or addressee previously thought she would come). Commented Mar 12 at 13:37
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    I would say "doch nicht" can both mean that a) Anne herself at first said she would come, or b) the speaker assumed very strongly that she would come and probably also told other people that she would come, even if she didn't say so herself.
    – BenjyTec
    Commented Mar 12 at 13:47

7 Answers 7

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German:
Da Luke einen Arzttermin hat, kann er nun doch nicht ins Kino gehen
Anne kommt doch nicht zum Abendessen
English:
Luke has a doctor's appointment, so he can't go to the cinema after all
Anne is not coming for dinner after all

The final two words strongly imply that Luke originally intended to go to the cinema, and Anne intended to come to dinner.

Note that it's at least possible for the second example to be used in a context where Anne never even knew there was a dinner party in the offing, let alone accepted an invite. Perhaps only the speaker and/or addressee previously thought that Anne was coming, but they now know different.

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    This feels like it is getting very close to the meaning of the German phrase, thanks for your answer!
    – BenjyTec
    Commented Mar 12 at 12:36
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    I cannot tell a lie. I just fed your German text into Google Translate! But I think it's a good question, and after all is an "unusual, but useful" idiomatic expression. It was asked about here on ELL years ago, but it seems to me linking it to German "doch nicht" probably justifies keeping this question open rather than closing it as a duplicate of that earlier post. Commented Mar 12 at 12:44
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    After all fits the 'Anne' example perfectly. Commented Mar 12 at 12:45
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    @TimR: The first example context isn't very good, but I take your point. Which point I made myself in a later comment under the question. I'll edit to include the second example and the substance of my comment. Commented Mar 12 at 18:19
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    You could also say anymore, if Luke had previously expressed that he could go to the cinema before he knew about his doctor's appointment.
    – elutionary
    Commented Mar 12 at 20:11
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In English you could say:

Now that Luke's car has broken down, he can no longer take all of us to the beach.

I've changed the scenario because a doctor's appointment is usually planned, and you're looking for an example of something that has arisen, causing a change of plans.

P.S. no longer can be used to say that a particular one-time plan or intention is not going to happen now because something has changed, ("She's come down with the flu and is no longer coming to dinner tomorrow") or it can be used with a habitual, regular, long-term practice that is ceasing ("That shop no longer sells cigarettes").

P.P.S. In response to comments about ambiguity of statements with no longer: Whether Luke had volunteered his car for a single outing, or had been taking his friends to the beach weekly for the entire summer, the ambiguity does not reside with no longer any more than it would with the verb can't:

Now that Luke's car has broken down, he can't take us to the beach.

The ambiguity resides in how the impediment has been presented and in the way the activity has been phrased: "take us to the beach".

Now that Luke's car has broken down for good, he can no longer take us on our weekly trips to the beach.

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  • Even with the antecedent (Now that Luke's car has broken down) and the modal can, your example is ambiguous. My first thought was that Luke's already been taking us to the beach in his car for several days - partly because more than once I've found myself needing transport to get to the beach, where I'd been expecting just a short walk from a holiday villa. But partly because no longer usually implies ceasing to do something you were previously doing, rather than expecting / intending to do. Commented Mar 12 at 18:44
  • ...that difference doesn't really arise with OP's second example, where Anne no longer comes to dinner and Anne is no longer coming to dinner precisely disambiguate the two senses. So far as I can tell, no such ambiguity seems to be relevant to after all. Commented Mar 12 at 18:47
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    Anne is no longer coming to dinner today indicates that coming to dinner today had indeed been the intention. Whereas Anne is not coming to dinner today after all, while it can be used to indicate a change of intention, can also be used to indicate a mistaken understanding. Anne is not coming to dinner today after all. --Why not? Because I had the date wrong on my calendar.She's coming next week! So no longer does not require explanation/disambiguation, whereas after all does.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 12 at 19:05
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    no longer doesn't entail "ceasing to do something. All that it entails is that what was intention or plan is not going forward or that what was habitual action is ceasing. The auditor knows which it is. Whereas with after all the auditor doesn't know if it's Anne's change of mind or the speaker's error.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 12 at 19:11
  • @TimR Re "misunderstanding": But that's the case with the German "doch" as well! "Sie kann [anders als ich vorhin gesagt habe] doch nicht zum Essen kommen, ich hatte sie am Telefon missverstanden" (that's why I'm taking her plate off the table). It actually fits quite perfectly. Commented Mar 13 at 18:26
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Several other posters have given English phrases that express the idea you want.

Let me just add: In English when we say that someone "changed his mind", we mean that he previously believed something to be true or wanted to do something, but now he is convinced that this idea is false or that this plan was a bad idea. Like you might say, "Bob was going to vote Republican, but then he changed his mind and decided to vote Democrat." Or, "Bob planned to marry Sally, but after he met her family he changed his mind." To put it another way, it refers to a change of someone's beliefs or opinions.

So you wouldn't say, "Bob planned to go to the cinema, but he changed his mind when he got a doctor's appointment that conflicted." There's no belief or opinion that he's changed. What's changed is the circumstances. If he had previously planned to miss the doctor's appointment so that he could see the movie, and then decided no, the doctor visit is more important, you could say he changed his mind. But if the doctor appointment came up and he never had any thought of missing it to see the movie, you wouldn't say he changed his mind about it.

You might say he "changed his plans" or something more specific, like "realized there was a conflict".

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  • I indeed wasn't aware of that difference, thanks for point that out!
    – BenjyTec
    Commented Mar 12 at 12:52
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    This may only be true in your local context. In Australian/British English it's fairly common to say someone changed their mind when altering plans
    – jla
    Commented Mar 12 at 23:33
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    @jla It's common, but not IME for alterations that were forced by a change of circumstances, like the appointment example. Commented Mar 13 at 11:08
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    It's not uncommon in AmE to say changed your mind to mean you changed your plans. As you point out, one would probably not say they changed their mind if the reason was a conflicting doctor's appointment but you could say you changed your mind for many other situations. I was going to drive to the store but it was raining so hard I changed my mind. Nothing odd about that sentence at all.
    – EllieK
    Commented Mar 13 at 18:31
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    @elliek What I was trying to say was, saying "changed my mind" means I changed my opinion, or I changed my plans in the sense of making a different decision. Yes, you might say "changed my mind" in the rain case because that's a subjective decision. It would certainly be possible to make the trip in the rain. But you wouldn't say, "I planned to go to Kroger Supermarket, but then I learned that Kroger has closed that store so I changed my mind and went to Safeway." You wouldn't say you changed your mind in that case because circumstances mean you have no choice. ...
    – Jay
    Commented Mar 14 at 1:11
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Besides the suggestion of after all, which is a good one, I'd add it turns out.

Luke has an appointment at the doctor, so it turns out he can't go to the cinema.

It turns out Anne is not coming for dinner.

Now that Luke's car has broken down, it turns out he can't take us to the beach.

It's a bit more longwinded (and perhaps a bit more emphatic) than the German. To truly emphasize the change in expectations over time, you can use this phrase and after all together:

It turns out Anne is not coming for dinner after all. [We had really been looking forward to her coming, so this is a considerable change in plans or disappointment.]

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  • Thanks for this good suggestion! I upvoted it, especially the combination of "turns out" and "after all" emphasizes the situation similarly to German.
    – BenjyTec
    Commented Mar 13 at 12:35
  • Hmmm... "it turns out" can be used just to mean new information was learned. i.e. it doesn't necessarily imply Anne had planned to come for dinner, just that we didn't know whether she would until now.
    – komodosp
    Commented Mar 14 at 12:38
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I am adding my answer because in conversational German the phrase "Doch nicht!" is very common to express that someone changed their own mind, like in the following example:

Ich nehme noch ein Stück Kuchen. Nee, doch nicht.

I'll have another piece of cake. On second thought - no.

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I would translate it like:

As Luke has an appointment at the doctor, he now can't go to the cinema.

Suggesting that the cinema visit was the original planned appointment, then later came the doctor's appointment and he can no longer keep the cinema appointment.

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Luke can't go to the cinema because it clashes with his doctor's appointment

Cambridge Dictionary says:

clash

If two events clash, they happen at the same time in a way that is not convenient:

  • clash with: Her party clashes with my brother's wedding, so I won't be able to go.

You could switch clauses and say

Since Luke has a doctor's appointment, he can't make it to the cinema.

C.Dictionary

since (conjunction)
because; as:

  • Since we've got a few minutes to wait for the train, let's have a cup of coffee.
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  • But nothing about "clashing" gives any indication as to whether there was ever a point in past time when the subject thought he would go to the cinema. Even if he wanted to go, he may always have known about the clash, and thus never expected to go. And the exact point of the OP's question is how to succinctly convey that "change of plan / dashed hopes" aspect. Commented Mar 12 at 12:37
  • @FumbleFingers when I saw your answer, I upvoted. "After all" is a better solution.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Mar 12 at 12:38
  • I know SO is getting pretty hot on rooting out AI-generated answers, but I don't know if there are any rules regarding use of Google Translate. Do you think this is a context where I should mark the answer as "Community Wiki"? Commented Mar 12 at 13:26

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