"Mi van az alatt az autó alatt?"

Translation:What is under that car?

July 11, 2016

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I would be absolutely blown out of the water if not for these comments, both those who manage to explain the inexplicable and those as lost as I am who just keep on asking.


Plus the really good laughs. I have been taking language courses for 36 years now and never laughed as much as with this Hungarian one. Like the comments under zokni és szandál?


I don't understand this sentence. There is "alatt" "under" two times in this sentence.


If you're saying "(Under) this/that/these/those ..." (Where "Under" can be replaced by any preposition), you say the preposition twice; once after the demonstrative pronoun (e.g. "That"), and again after the noun. If the preposition starts with a vowel, you don't need to do anything:

  • Az alatt a fa alatt - Under that tree
  • Ez előtt a ház előtt - In front of this house

If, however, the preposition starts with a consonant, "Az" and "Ez" lose their final -z:

  • E mellett a folyó mellett - Next to this river
  • A mögött a hegy mögött - Behind that mountain

Note that "Azok" and "Ezek" remain unchanged, whether the preposition starts with a vowel or not:

  • Azok belül a négyzetek belül - Within those squares
  • Ezek után az emberek után - After these people


OMG that's so messed up. no wonder Hungarians sound like an assault rifle when they speak.

  • 1583

Oh wow!!!

Thanks for the explanation.

The uniqueness of the Hungarian language.

I do not think I have seen something similar in the languages I am familiar with. It's going to be more interesting than I thought.


Thank you for your explanation.


AdamYoung97: What if, for example, I were to phrase, "az a fa allat," for "under that tree" or "ez a haz mellet" for "next to this house" -- would that be offensive to a native Hungarian's ear?


Yes, they both sound wrong. "Ez a ház mellett" is incorrect but you can say "e ház mellett" instead. Unfortunately this doesn't work for the other one, so "az alatt a fa alatt" is the way to go, as Adam mentioned above.


Thank you, but that drives me again crazy. What a language!


All of these are great, except for Azok belül a négyzetek belül - Within those squares. That should be Azokon a négyzeteken belül


I am into the third section - and I have never seen "belül" yet.


"Azok belül a négyzetek belül." sounds wrong for me. I say: "Azokon a négyzeteken belül."


That is why I love the Hungarian language. It is just so d.....d consistent and rule-based, language of chess players. It is quite simply orgasmic to anyone who has a grammar fetish.


Jeez! But thanks :)


Really useful discussion here. Thanks, everyone.


In contrast to the excellent and complex conversation regarding the twice appearing "alatt" - I thank you all for it - I have just this to add: "What is underneath the car" is an equally good translation, in my view. I've submitted it for consideration. Curious if our little feathered teacher (Professzor Bagoly) will accept it.


I don't understand why 'What is that under the car?' is wrong. Can anyone explain?


This may be what those double case endings / postpositions are for :)

Once you see az alatt, you know it must be "under that ....", so az alatt az autó alatt can only mean "under that car" and not "that under the car" (which, I think, would be az, ami az autó alatt van "that which is under the car").


Oh, I think I understand your question now. The reason we can tell (from the hungarian sentence) is az alatt means under that.

Remember that suffixes apply to both the demonstrative ez,az as well as the noun: abban az autóban, "in that car", and alatt is similar. So az alatt az autó alatt as a whole can only mean "under that car". If the az alatt and az autó alatt were somehow separate, then the sentence would be more like "what is under that under the car" which doesn't make as much sense.

I think the way to write what you've written is more like Mi az van az autó alatt but I am not sure if that is correct/natural.


Thanks Joe... just coming back to this after ploughing ahead, and I get it now, although this unit as a whole is quite tricky still.


Because in this case we are referring to "that car" (maybe we are pointing to the specific car) whereas in your sentence "that" refers to something specific underneath the car (maybe pointing at some object under the car)


Thanks for the explanation of the two alatts! Also, I'm wondering why the translations , What is under that car and not , what is under the car.

  • az autó = the car
  • az az autó = that car

and similarly

  • az autó alatt = under the car
  • az alatt az autó alatt = under that car

In each case, the first az in the sentences with two of them is the demonstrative "that" (and the second one with the definite article "the", which English does not use in such a situation).


Köszönöm szépen!

  • 1583

That's it!!! Clear as water (as the Spanish saying goes)


Tx exelent explanation


What about just "az az autó alatt"?


That would be wrong -- in a similar way to saying "that big desks".

In English, you have to pluralise not only "desk" but also "that", and it becomes "those big desks".

And in Hungarian, you have to put the postposition alatt not only after az autó but also after az, and it becomes az alatt az autó alatt.

If you only do half the work (only one postposition), it would be a bit as if you did only half the work of pluralising in English.


Perhaps the Hungarians say it twice because they REALLY want to emphasize where things are ;)


My wife (a native Hungarian) said she would never say this sentence. She'd just say, "Mi van az az autó alatt?". I take it both are acceptable and maybe this example is like a "academic" way, whereas my wife's example is more colloquial?


Sorry now I understood the point


Thanks to all of you.


Why is it that car


Why is it that car

Because of the first az.

az autó alatt = under "the" car

az alatt az autó alatt = under "that" car

Similarly: az autó "the car" but az az autó = "that car"


This may be a colloquial thing, but as a native English speaker I would certainly say "What LIVES under that car?".


What IS THERE under the car, should be accepted. You have to answer There is, isn't it? So, when you are doing the question, you shoud ask: What is there under the car. IT IS CORRECT, isn't it? Thanks

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