Etwas ist noch immer nicht in Ordnung.

English Translation

Something is still not right.


Wouldn’t “immer noch nicht” sound more natural?

This is also correct grammar, and would probably be preferred in casual speech, as “noch immer” does indeed sound more formal.

But! To my ear there is a slight shift in meaning:
In the sentence here, “noch immer” is a unit, and “nicht in Ordnung” is another. In your suggestion, “noch nicht” is the unit (= “not yet”), and “immer” is an intensifier.

In the former, “Etwas ist nicht in Ordnung” is a state, and the “noch immer” expresses the observation that yep, nothing has changed since the last time we looked, it’s still the case that something is not right.

In the latter, “immer noch nicht” expresses the expectation/hope/wish that things change. You’re waiting for things to get right, but that still hasn’t happened yet - even though time has passed, or things have been tried to fix it. Like, damn that didn’t work either, what else can I try?

So given that the german sentence is supposed to be a translation of the english one, I think your suggestion is better, because it conveys better what (I think) the english one tries to convey.
But despite the nuances, “noch immer” is of course usable in this situation. You just get less of the “roll eyes”-feeling.

English Translation

Something is still not right.

I was not expecting my suggestion to be the more formal option here. I am trying to learn German as it is actually spoken, so this is very, very interesting!

I agree with your analysis, I feel the same way.

It’s also nice to see I’m not the only one thinking in terms of ‘units’…

Thanks @pitti42 !

Uh, then I didn’t make it clear enough. “noch immer” in the original sentence is the more formal option, and your suggestion “immer noch nicht” is the more natural one.

So I went back and read your reply again and sure enough… it was perfectly clear. Still, I did manage to misread it, somehow… :slight_smile:

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