"It was not there."

Translation:Nem volt ott.

July 5, 2016

This discussion is locked.


What's the difference between the preferred translation and nem ott volt (my incorrect answer)?


Nem ott volt ~ It was somewhere else, I don't name that place but it's definitely "not there".


Does it sound strange/wrong to say "Ott nem volt"?


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*


It puts the emphasis on "ott" "Ott nem volt (de máshol igen)"


What does "voltam" mean then? I thought it was "I was" but I have neither grammar nor conjugation...


Voltam means "I was", yes. Here is the past-tense conjugation for van. It's a regular past-tense conjugation; it just has a stem change:

  • én voltam
  • te voltál
  • ő volt
  • mi voltunk
  • ti voltatok
  • ők voltak


What about "nem volt ott", is that also a valid option? (currently not accepted)


Currently the preferred translation. :)


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?


Greg, no, that assumption doesn't really work. We're not focussing on the place here, we don't want to know where it was or where it is. We just want to state that it was not at the place we expected at that time. From our point of view it failed to exist, so to say.


I'll need to let that set for a while :)


Or maybe an explanation that has more to do with English:

  • Nem volt ott. - It wasn't there. (without special emphasis)
  • Nem ott volt. - It wasn't there. (But I can confidently say that it was somewhere else.)


This statement reminded me of something I might say when looking for my mobile phone. "Did you look on the bedside table?" "It wasn't there". (But I can confidently say that it was somewhere else - always in the last place you look!).


It means "ez" so the correct sentence would be ez nem itt volt


and "there" means "ott", so you need "ez nem ott volt" /ez nem volt ott


Why would "Volt nem ott" not be acceptable? I constantly hear that word order isn't that important, but it seems to be.


Whoever tells you word order isn't that important, tell them to not spread misinformation. Word order is indeed important, especially that the oddness of "volt nem ott" would be pretty impossible to translate.

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