"Nincs" used when we negate "van" and the emphasis is on the denial of the existence. "Nem (...) van" is used to deny something else, location for instance, but not the existence.
Nincs itt = He IS NOT here.
Nem itt van = He is not HERE.
I just hope it helps... I did not think it is this hard to explain :D :D :D
This explanation is different to the one I found after googling: https://hunlang.wordpress.com/2010/06/03/word-order-nem-van-or-nincs/
Az autó a garázsban van -> The car is not in the garage.
Az autó nincs a garázsban -> There is no car in the garage.
Is this explanation wrong, or are there different rules when talking about people as opposed to objects? Or something else that I'm missing?
Az autó a garázsban van -> The car is in the garage.
The examples on the page are not quite correct either unfortunately. (I did not read the entire page)
Az autó nincs a garázsban -> (I have been looking for the car, but... ) The car is not in the garage.
Nincs autó a garázsban -> (You can park your car in the garage because... ) There is no car in the garage.
Az autó nem a garázsban van. -> (Get the wrench from the car, but... ) The car is not in the garage (rather behind the house).
I hope these contexts help a bit. Nincs = nem van. But in some cases both can be used and they will mean slightly different things. Word order matters for emphasis. And as for people vs objects... Does not matter in this case. I could give you the same examples with "Peter" as well.
Indeed, the best way to think "nincs" as an irregular form of "nem van", where we negate directly the existence of our subject. In other cases, where we negate its quality, quantity, location, etc., the "nem" (no) refers to other words in the structure and we use "nem ... van".
"There is no spoon, Neo" = "Nincs kanál, Neo". VS "There is no spoon, Neo, but a fork" = "Nem kanál van, Neo, hanem villa".
Welcome to the Matrix of Hungarian language ;) :D (In the second example we negate the type of existing cutlery while in the first we negate the mere existence of the cutlery.)
Joking about something that causes suffering to actual people in the real world is bad. If people bully somebody about their weight, and then I make a joke about their weight when I know about the bullying, I can't be surprised if that person is hurt by my joke. Appending "just joking" doesn't make everything OK and free of consequences; many toxic, passive-aggressive relationships are filled with "just joking" moments.
I always read the comments and try to update my cards with what I believe to be the clearest descriptions:
van = 'something exist somewhere' eg A nő van otthon = 'the woman (something)' + exists in the location of + home
nincs = 'something doesn't exist somewhere' eg A nő nincs otthon = 'the woman (something)' + doesn't exist in the location of + home
And then I finally translate that into clear English.
ő is a 'placeholder for existence': ő nő = 'the existence is a woman' which is then reduced to 'this is a woman'. "...pedig ő egy fiú" = "but is something other than the existence of a boy" ---> ...but is not a boy.
I'm just a beginner, go easy on me ;)
I think that "the woman is not home" is a non-standard variant and considered wrong in this case, but I am not native English speaker so I am not sure. For me this would mean "the woman is not [a] home [where you live, but a living person]" and in that case it would be "a nő nem otthon [ahol élsz, hanem élő személy]"—but this is a sentence with an extremely rare occurrence :D
Please a native English speaker check this out.
I am a native English speaker. As you are an admitted non-native English speaker, perhaps you should leave questions of "non-standard variant" to those who are. We often say "I am home", but it has a slightly different usage compared to "I am at home", sometimes. The same applies to "the woman is not home", the dog is not at home, the boy is not home/not at home. Since the phrase in question gives no context, both answers should be deemed correct. But I do appreciate your many helpful comments clarifying Hungarian usage.