Confusing Words Language Tips

missa nett and daufa nett

How do you say that something ‘must not’ be done in Pennsylvania Dutch? It’s ‘missa nett’…, right? Actually, it’s ‘daufa nett’. Why?

The word missa means must in English. But how do you say something must not be done (as in, it’s not allowed) in Pennsylvania Dutch? Missa nett…, right?

Using missa with nett

The word missa is often mistakenly used along with nett to say “must not” — as in, it’s not allowed; it’s something we cannot do.

Let’s look at an example.

You want to say (EN)If you sayHow it sounds to a Deitsh speaker
We must not steal.Miah missa nett shtayla.It’s not required that we steal. It would probably be okay, but we don’t have to.
⛔ Wrong way
You want to say (EN)If you sayHow it sounds to a Deitsh speaker
We must not steal.Miah daufa nett shtayla.We must not steal. Stealing is not allowed.
✅ Correct way

Use daufa nett instead

To a native speaker, missa nett is like saying it probably would be ok, but we don’t have to. In other words, it’s not something that’s required.

Instead, you should use: daufa nett

👍🏻 Miah daufa nett shtayla. (PG meaning: We must not steal.)

In this case, daufa means allowed. So daufa nett means “not allowed”.

How to correctly use missa nett

There are some correct ways of using missa nett:

Miah missa nett peiyneera, avvah miah kenna vann miah vella. (We don’t have to; it’s not required.)

Miah missa nimmi unsah placements counta. (We’re no longer required.)

In the above examples, you would be saying: we’re not required to…

Using missa by itself

Good news: When used by itself, missa does mean “we must”; as in something we are required or that we have to do.


Miah missa du vass Jehova havva vill.

Miah missa ice cream havva.

Miah missa anri leit lanna veyyich Jehova.

Miah missa bayda.


  1. Must = missa (as in has to be done)
  2. Must not = daufa nett (as in not allowed)
  3. Not required = missa nett (as in doesn’t have to be done)