"It was not there."
Translation:Nem volt ott.
No, it's fine, but it has a different shade of meaning. "Ott nem volt" emphasizes "ott". Imagine a situation like this:
- I can't find the remote control.
- Have you tried looking it behind the sofa?
- Yes, but it was not there. -> in this case in Hungarian it's better to use your word order, indicating/emphasizing *ott*
The gist of what I've been told in the past is that you tend to negate the verb rather than something else, unless it is followed by a "hanem" clause (or similar), contrasting that something else. The reasoning being that if the boy is not kicking the ball, it generally means that he is not kicking, unless the sentence goes on to suggest that he was kicking something else. In the case of being, or, from a couple of lessons back, being born, we don't need a second clause in order to know that it is not the verb that is being negated; there is no suggestion that it doesn't exist nor that János had not been born. So, given all that, isn't it more correct to associate the "nem" with "ott" or whatever our something else might be, rather than with the verb?