"The man is at home."
Translation:A férfi otthon van.
I thought that the "van" would be optional in a sentence like this (unless wanting to emphasise that the man IS at home, rather than isn't) ?
In this case, we put emphasis that the man IS at home, and we don't want to specify what he is doing there. "A férfi otthon ül" (the man is sitting at home) could be the opposite. This optional use of "van" is not quite consequent. There are certain cases when you could leave it out but it would leave a strange "hole" in the sentence. "A férfi otthon" leaves the question hanging in the air about his action. Therefore we put the "van" there to complete the sentence.
It's comments like this that really help me understand this awesomely complex language :D
I don't understand the word order. I thought it was supposed to be very flexible.
Indeed. I wrote "A férfi van otthon" and was told I'm wrong? Does it really sound bad from the point of view of a native speaker?
Although the word order is flexible, each order has a slightly different meaning.
"A férfi van otthon" would only have sense if you wanted to emphasize that that person staying at home is no other than the man. So in a conversation like this: "-Is everyone at home? -No, only the man is at home." So you would still need to add the word "just". So your sentence would look like this: "Csak a férfi van otthon." What you wrote is still grammatically correct, but a bit weird.
otthon is an adverb which means "at home"? is it made of some other word using some grammatical case? could anyone explain it to me?
Yes. It is both an adverb and a noun, same as in English. It is a compound of the stem hon (meaning home/homeland) and the corresponding prepositions. In the static verb form:
- ott + hon = there at home
- itt + hon = here at home
to adress the direction "to" the stem changes into haza:
- haza = to home
- oda + haza = to that home
- ide + haza = to this home
To address the direction "from", the first form is kept and suffixed the usual way:
- otthon + ról = from that home
- itthon + ról = from this home
As a noun, you can use otthon for home, and haza for native land, eg. idősotthon / idősek otthona = elders' home