"Are politicians rich?"
Translation:A politikusok gazdagok?
More accurately, if it belongs to the predicate. In "Gazdagok a politikusok", "gazdagok" doesn't come after "politikusok" but neither does it belong to it syntactically, which you can tell by the fact there is an article between them. When you make the sentence about the past, the verbal part of the predicate suddenly shows up - "Gazdagok voltak a politikusok."
Yep, the tricky thing is: the rule is not about if the adjective is before or after the noun. We often say it this way because it is an easier explanation. The real rule is: is it an attributive adjective or predicative adjective.
A politikusok gazdagok. and Gazdagok a politikusok. is the same thing grammatically, just the word order is rearranged.
From the tips¬es:
Like in English, the adjective precedes the noun it modifies. (This is called an attributive adjective.) In this case, the adjective is not pluralized. A piros alma = The red apple.
A piros almák = The red apples.
Ezek piros almák =These are red apples.
Sometimes you see an adjective that comes after the noun. In English, the adjective usually comes after is/are. However, in the Hungarian translation van or vannak is dropped. (This is called a predicative adjective.) In this case the adjective has to be plural when the subject is plural.
Az alma piros = The apple is red.
Az almák pirosak = The apples are red.
Ezek az almák pirosak =These apples are red.
A német házak szépek. = German houses are beautiful.
The easiest and most accurate way is, honestly, by heart. The overwhelming majority of adjectives gets -ak (as you can see, gazdag is an exception - so are all nationalities as far as I know. This may indicate these words used to be nouns, who knows). On the other hand, most nouns get -ok but there is a large number of exceptions, especially for old words with multiple different stems. A new noun would always receive -ok so for supposedly younger words, it's a good bet.
Yes, this happens whenever a careless, often unintentional oversimplification is spread.
When people said before the noun, they didn't mean anywhere before, they meant right in front. In "Gazdagok a politikusok", "gazdagok" is a completely separate part of speech that simply happens to be somewhere before "politikusok". It doesn't actually belong to "a politikusok", it belongs to the predicate, one could say to the invisible "van" right after "gazdagok".
The actual distinction is between the adjective being predicative (belongs to the verb) and the adjective being attributive (belongs to the noun) - and it's just a "symptom" of an attributive adjective that it's right in front of the noun (or another attributive adjective of course, as in "a hosszú piros autó").