Translation:The bus is not in the front but in the back.
What's the difference between 'elöl' and 'elől'? Is one wrong? Are they both correct and interchangeable? Or is there a slight difference in meaning and usage? I searched for the answer online, but couldn't find any definitive answers (at least nothing I could understand with any confidence, since it was all in Hungarian).
"Elöl" means "in the front" - a location.
"Elől" means "From in front of (something). As in from a position relative to some entity.
I stand in the front - ELÖL állok. I could be standing on the bus, in the front section.
I take the empty plate from in front of the guest - Elveszem a tányért a vendég ELŐL.. The plate is in front of the guest and I am taking it from that position.
Előtt - is a postposition. In front of (something).
A ház előtt - In front of the house (there is a car).
Elé - To in front of (something).
Az ajtó elé - To the position of being in front of the door.
So, I guess, "elől" gets the long "ő" because it is derived from "előtt".
Whereas "elöl" stands on its on as a description of an absolute position. It is NOT a postposition like the others above. But you can play with it, too: "Elölről" would mean "from the front position".
Does this help?
Yes, as you see, "elöl" is a different category. It is not a postposition like the others. It belongs in this group: Elöl, hátul, oldalt, kint, bent, fent, lent. It answers to a simple "where" question:
"Hol vagy?" - "Where are you?"
"Elöl (vagyok)" - "(I am) in the front"
What does "in front" exactly mean? I only know it from the construction "in front of [something]", which means it's outside of the area in question. Elöl refers to a position inside of the area, though, so I would translate it as "in the front". Maybe an example would be good.
- A ház előtt vagyok. - I am in front of the house. Outside of it.
- A házban vagyok, elöl. - I am in the house, in the front. Inside the house.