Таким людям, как я, не место в этом мире.

I wonder why "не" instead of "нет" precedes the noun "место" in this expression -- not to mention the lack of the genitive "места". Compared to:

Таким людям, как я, нет места в этом мире.

  • 2
    не место means don't belong in and usually have disapproving connotation, i.e. a person is so bad that they don't deserve being here, нет места - can't find a place having a melancholic connotation, that of disillusionment and despair, there's no Genitive in the first phrase since не functions differently than нет – Баян Купи-ка Dec 4 at 10:12
up vote 7 down vote accepted

These sentences have different meanings:

Таким людям, как я, нет места в этом мире.
People like me have no place in this world.

While:

Таким людям, как я, не место в этом мире.
People like me are not suitable for this world.

"мне здесь не место" means "I shouldn't be here (and maybe better should be elsewhere)"

You can say both way. While нет места can be said also as literally meaning "there is no space", не место always means nobody happy to see you or you should not be here not because of lack of space.

Both expressions are valid, with different meaning:

  • Мне здесь нет места. - There is no place/room for me here.
  • Мне здесь не место. - I shouldn't be here. / This place is not for me.

As to the grammar, here is my unvalidated theory: место is used as a predicative (предикатив). As predicatives are not inflected, место has also lost its inflection in this role:

  • Мне здесь не хорошо.
  • Мне здесь не спится.
  • Мне здесь не место.
  • 1
    also e.g. вам здесь не дом отдыха – Баян Купи-ка Dec 4 at 10:17
  • Мне здесь не спится is probably unrelated because it's just an impersonal sentence with a conventional predicate – Баян Купи-ка Dec 5 at 14:20

Can't help with the theory of this phenomenon, but here's an intuitive answer.

First, why не instead of нет. In English one can say both there is not a place where not negates is, and there is no place where no -- at least, in my understanding -- negates place. Similarly, нет in нет места sorta means не есть (where есть is a form of быть -- see here) or не существует. In other words, нет is not a negation of места, but a negation of a verb существует that is hidden in this нет, so what you are really saying is не существует места. On the other hand, не in не место negates место itself.

Second, why место instead of места. Now that не negates место is established, there's no reason for место to change cases. Drop не and you'll see it:

Таким людям, как я, место в этом мире.

Adding не shouldn't change anything as far as cases go -- when you add не into Курица - птица to say Курица не птица you don't switch cases too.

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