"Én nem találok vacsorát."

Translation:I cannot find dinner.

July 4, 2016

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it makes no sense in English to use find in this tense...


You are right, I've reported it as well.


You are unpacking on holiday. You are filling the fridge - there's beer and milk and breakfast stuff - but where is the pre-cooked meal for tonight? You look again - but no, you cannot find dinner.


caveman hunter...


He should have bought the bread instead of the book. Actions have consequences.


Put yourself in the shoes of the question-setters. They have very limited vocabulary to work with when making up questions for beginners. Those among you who are/have been language teachers will understand what I mean. This sentence makes logical sense and could be used in certain contexts (like an impoverished person begging for food in restaurants).


I am sure many of us understand what you mean and share your opinion. Insisting on realistic situations is not always necessary. Let's play and have fun. In this way our learning will be easier.


Are there Hungarian words for "can" and "cannot"? How would you translate "I do not walk" & "I cannot walk"?


I do not walk or I am not walking = nem setalok (with accents that I can't type in this forum on the e and a in setalok) and I cannot walk = nem tudok setalni (again, imagine the accents on the e and a in setalni)


This makes so much sense! Thank you!


No worries, glad I could help!


As for me "I cannot walk" stands for "I am not able to walk" too. How would you translate it in this case? Nem tudok setalni would also mean I do not know how to walk.


For showing a potential action, you can use the verbal suffix -hat/-het: Nem sétálhatok - I am not able to walk.

Though sétál isn't exactly the meaning of "to walk" that you'd use here. Sétál is more around "stroll" or "going for a walk". The more general verb is megy (becomes mehet), or gyalogol (becomes gyalogolhat) for explicit footwalking.


I don't think it would mean "I don't know how to walk". It just expresses lack of ability.


Would "I am not looking for dinner" work?


That would be "Nem keresek vacsorát."


Should I don't find any dinner also be accept?


That's probably better for "Nem találok semmi vacsorát."


I think there are some inconsistencies in the course. I don't see any children, is taught as én nem látok gyereket.


Yes, the course is still full of inconsistencies.

In that case it would be good to report this one.


I think these sentences are actually different since "child" is countable and "dinner" isn't, same for the Hungarian equivalents. So, while "vacsorát hoztam" sounds normal for "I brought dinner", "gyereket látok" sounds super awkward, as if you treated children as some dollop that would be hard to quantify. The same way, "semmi vacsorát" sounds okay for "no dinner at all" whereas "semmi gyereket" sounds straight up ridiculous.


As a native Hungarian " Nem találok semmi vacsorát" sounds very awkward, possible incorrect

I would say Nem találok semmit enni - i cannot find anything to eat


Egyáltalán nem találok vacsorát - i cannot find dinner at all


The problem here might be that semmi is already a pronoun, but Shamarth is trying to use it as an adjective for the noun vacsora. How do you feel about "semmilyen vacsorát" instead?


yes! you can say "Nem találok semmilyen vacsorát" or "Nem találok semmiféle vacsorát". And now that I think about it "semmi" does act like (is?) a noun and not compatible with "vacsora", whereas "semmilyen" and "semmiféle" act like adjectives modifying "vacsora".

So those might be the best direct translations for "I cannot find any dinner".

Similarly : I don't see any children = én nem látok semmiféle/ semmilyen gyereket.


Ah yes, wonderful. :)

Semmi is an indefinite pronoun. That means it represents a noun (or rather, the absence of a noun) instead of being a noun itself. Called "határozatlan névmás" in Hungarian, if you want to look it up. :´)

Similarly, semmilyen and semmifelé are "indefinite adjectives".


To compensate confirmation bias, let me say (as another native and I'm quite sure Shamarth is native as well) "semmi vacsorát" sounds fine for me grammatically, I think it's simply a rare thing to say, just like "semmiféle vacsorát" or "semmilyen vacsorát".

And it has clearly nothing to do with the structure. (Fun fact, névmás doesn't match the term "pronoun" but to my knowledge, it matches "Pronomen" in German, that is, a névmás can replace adjectives as well.) Semmi baj, aggodalomra semmi ok, semmi kérdés, semmi kétség/kétely, these are all common things to say, and for me, a sentence like semmi sikerélményt nem ad a Duolingo would sound perfectly fine and even more clearly different than an analogous sentence with "semmilyen" or "semmiféle". More about measuring the amount and getting zero than looking for different kinds and not finding any.


Márton, it seems to me like Hungarian has some soft edges in its grammar, and different dialects consider different things natural.

Looking up semmi in the dictionary, I see that it is indeed listed as both "főnévi névmás" and "melléknévi névmás". That's interesting to know, thank you.

Though that leads me to another question: would you treat mi the same? Does asking "Mi vacsorát találtál?" sound okay to you or would that be too much leeway? Looking into the same dictionary, it's called "strange, uncommon". (Definition II. II. 1.)

I'm German, and I had to think about it for a while before I realised what you might be referring to. It's about combinations of what seems to be an indefinite pronoun (i.e. something from the group of "nothing" or "somebody") with a nominalised adjective or another pronoun. Like:

  • nichts Gutes - nothing good
  • etwas Wichtiges - something important
  • jemand Älteres - someone older
  • niemand anderes - no one else

The German dictionary simply calls those "attributive pronouns".

I wonder what's going on with the English translations as well. English normally doesn't do nominalised adjectives, so apparently those are actual adjectives, which appear behind the objects they refer to. I guess indefinite pronouns just do that. Interesting. The same happens in Spanish, so I think that's a more general European phenomenon.

There's something else about the pronoun family around mi that sparked some discussion further down the tree. It's about "az ... ami" constructions when talking about a concrete object. For instance as in:

  • Azon a hídon mentünk át, amin nem volt sok ember. - We went across the bridge on which not many people were.

Sentences like this are used frequently in this course, but some say that ami shouldn't be used when talking about a concrete object and amelyik should be used instead. Feel free to share what you think.


Well, except that I intentionally provided examples that aren't just nominalized adjectives, including a wide variety of phrases. :) I wanted to avoid "semmi különös/érdekes/{insert basically any adjective here}" situations because that's something else. "Aggodalomra semmi ok", like "No reason to worry", is hardly related to adjectives when "ok" is nothing like an adjective. (Now that I thought about it, "semmi éhség" felt legit as well and Google does give a couple of results with it. Just another random example.)

Regarding "mi", there are quite a few fixed phrases with it (mi újság, mi okom lenne kételkedni a szavaidban, mi baj történhetne) that share a couple of properties - they can typically be answered with "semmi", they mostly refer to something abstract and uncountable and they suggest amount measuring without expecting an amount as a response. Mi újság is already on the fence with the last criterion, and "mi minden" is an interesting one too... Like you can ask mi minden történt and it's like "list me all the things that happened (while I wasn't here or sth)"... Anyways, for me, mi+uncountable noun feels less productive than semmi+uncountable noun, I wouldn't start to create new phrases.

For "az, ami", honestly, I think context and intonation can really make a difference and it's not all black and white. One thing is sure, amelyik strongly hints making a choice while ami doesn't, though I don't find it inappropriate for making choices either. On the other hand, ami may be used in cases where you don't "filter" the noun, you just say "fun facts"for something concrete: "Mexikóváros, ami Mexikó legnépesebb városa, ..." of course you don't use demonstrative pronouns in this case but I still can't say that a sentence like "A híd, amelyiken átmentünk, ..." would be inappropriate, even though there is no demonstrative pronoun - at the end of the day, there are multiple bridges, the subclause does "perform" some kind of further filtering on the part of speech it refers to... Not sure if this helped but I hope it makes some sense. :)


That was very informative, thank you. :)


I think that would be a better translation.


Hungarian doesn't necessarily use "any" the same way English does. It's more so implied. If you want to emphasize it with "at all" then that would be "Én egyáltalán nem találok vacsorát."


Does this mean "I am not making dinner".


No. It means that I can't find anything to eat.


Thanks, that makes much more sense


It's just another sentence that I won't ever use in real life :(


Agreed. Why use a simple and clear example if one can come up with something that generates a lively discussion. It makes me wonder how this course could have passed a peer review. It is not about funny sentences , it is about bad examples. Why not use “I cannot find an apple.” for example. Will that not serve the same purpose?


Is there a separate construction for the progressive? It marked me wrong for "I'm not finding dinner."


It is accepted now, but this "progressive" verb tense feels awkward in English, except, perhaps, as intimated above (in the comment by "birdfishy").


This is another example where literal translation is not enough -- natural English would be to say "I can't find (any) dinner". Compare "I can't see anything" which is more natural than "I don't see anything"


"I don't see anything" is also natural. If someone says, "Hey, look over there, what's going on?" "I don't see anything."


Which part of találok corresponds to "can" and which "find"?


There is no one to one correspondence: találok is simply the first person present indefinite form of the verb. In English, the correct translation of the verb in isolation is "I find". If I'm understanding the Hungarian right, "nem találok" can mean either "I don't find" or "I can't find", depending on context.

In a sentence like this one, "I can't find dinner" is by far more natural than "I don't find dinner." "I don't find dinner" is not wrong but it carries an implication of permanent negation - I don't find dinner, ever, that's somebody else's job. Similarly, "I don't smoke" or "I don't believe in Santa Claus".

"I can't find dinner" means that I'm looking for it right now but am unable to locate it, which I think is what the Hungarian is getting at.


what is the difference between találni and megtalálni?


Meg as igekötő (in front of a verb) indicates completed action:


Megcsináltam - i have done it ( completed)

Csináltam - it is implied that I did not finish it:

Csináltam (de nem fejeztem be.) I was doing it but did not finish it

With an object it works a bit differently

Megcsináltam a tortát - i have finished the cake

Csináltam egy tortát - I made a cake

Both indicates completed action, the first one a specific cake, the 2nd any cake

Csinalom - I am doing it

Megcsinalom = meg fogom csinálni - i will do it


With találni - megtalálni a bit different

Megtaláltam - i have found it

Because to find something is not continuous Találtam alone does not makes sense

With an object:

Megtaláltam a kulcsot - i have found the key

Találtam egy kulcsot - i found a key

Mi ez? Találtam. What is this? I found it. ( object is implied)

Találom - again does not makes sense

Nem találom - i am not finding it This makes sense - not finding something is a continuous action, finding it is a moment in time.

Megtalálom = meg fogom találni - I will find it

Phew! Explaining your mother tongue is hard! But also fun, a process of discovery where you have to go through different examples in your head and explain it.

One more: You can use találni as think:

Úgy találom hogy ő nagyon okos. = Úgy gondolom hogy ő nagyon okos. I find/think that (s)he is very smart.


As far as I understand it: in rough terms, találok = I am finding, megtalálok = I find. Meg- changes the aspect of the verb.

I don't think in English there's any way to distinguish between the two in the infinitive, but I'm not sure if that's the case in Hungarian - someone who knows more about Hungarian may correct me...


This isn't exactly aspect, although close enough. It's about telicity - more "is it complete" than "is it finished (as in stopped)". If a verb is telic, you can't resume and continue the action.
For talál and megtalál this difference is rather conventional since you can't "half find" something anyway - this verb is binary by nature and therefore the difference between perfect-imperfect and telic-atelic is a bit obscure... still, it explains _találtam _ vs _megtaláltam _ - definite things imply you were looking for them (therefore expressing complete success is a must - telic) while indefinite things imply you just bumped into them without any purpose (there's no success without a goal - atelic).


How would you say ''Im not looking for a dinner?'' Whats the difference?


looking for something is like searching for something, right? I think it would be "Nem keresek vacsorát" if anything


Not looking for something is different from not finding it or being unable to find it. The latter implies that you are (or were) looking.


I don't see how that would contradict with what I said. So there's my answer.


Never mind! I didn't read the comments just above yours so I didn't see the context.


It would probably translate the same in Hungarian, but what would that sentence even mean?


Why dont we use tud here?


Tud mainly expresses ability. "Én nem találok vacsorát." draws an actual (not a hypothetical) scenario - you are indeed looking for dinner and you just don't succeed with it. In English, it's natural to use "can" in this situation and it's not really about ability - in Hungarian, it's still about ability and therefore it would sound a strange kind of hypothetical.

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