"There are not small cars in the bag, but apples."

Translation:A táskában nem kicsi autók vannak, hanem almák.

July 22, 2016

This discussion is locked.


Can "nincsenek" be used instead of "nem...vannak"?


It is logically a little bit problematic, but it would pass I guess. Because the basic structure of this sentence is "Not A but B". "Not cars but apples". The "small cars" is what is being denied here. There is something in the bag, what is it? It is not cars but apples.
So, how do you follow this logic when the word "nincsenek" means "there are no"? "There are no, but apples". "There are no small cars but apples" See the problem? The word "nincsenek" fuses together parts of the sentence that should be kept separate.
So that's the strict logic of it. But the living language does not necessarily care about logic.


That's what I figured was the case. Thanks for the response! ^_^


That's great! Jó tanulást!


nem...van(nak)=they are not here (but somewhere else)

nincs(enek)=there are none whatsoever

is that it?


Yes, something like that but not completely.
Basically, "nincs" covers a bigger portion of the statement than "nem" does. "Nem" is a part of the meaning of "nincs".

If you say "There is no apple", the translation is "Nincs alma". So, "nincs" covers all of "there is no". "Nem van", literally.

Or if you say "It is not here", the translation is "Nincs itt". So, "nincs" covers all of "It is not". "Nem van", literally.

But we do not say "nem van", we say "nincs".

So, what do you do when, in English, you want to negate only a portion of that structure?

Or, if you would want to insert something into that structure, "nem van":

"Itt nincs alma" is logically "Itt nem van alma". - "Here not is apple". "Nincs" meaning "not is" . "Nem" is referring to "van", it is negating the inherent verb of existence. Because that is what is positioned immediately after "nem", even if it is built into the word "nincs" itself.

So, when you want the "nem" to refer to the "alma" instead, what do you do? You want to say "not apple (but something else instead)". What can you do? You only need the "nem" part of "nem van", and you want to pair it with "alma". You want to say "nem alma" - "not apple".

Then you have no choice but to use the equivalent two-word structure of "nem van". You break the package, and use the parts separately as needed. So now you can insert "apple" where it belongs: "nem alma van". So now you are denying the apple, not the existence.

So, that is why "nincs" has no place in a comparative sentence like the above. The only way I could be made to accept the use of "nincs" is if the contrasting clause also includes a verb of existence:

"Itt nincsenek autók, hanem almák vannak".
"There are no cars here but (there) are apples".
I wouldn't go as far as to say that it is correct, but I would be willing to overlook it. Hopefully it does not sound normal in English, either.

But then I have to add that you will surely hear people use "nincs" in such a sentence in real life. That's just life, nothing is perfect.

One more important thing: "Nincs" is only used in the third person. With other persons you use the two word phrase, because the word "van" needs to be conjutaged:

  • (Én) nem vagyok.
  • (Te) nem vagy.
  • (Ő) nincs.
  • (Mi) nem vagyunk.
  • (Ti) nem vagytok.
  • (Ők) nincsenek.


First I wanted to ask, why my answer:Nincenek kicsi autók a táskában, hanem almák, was not correct. then I red all your very helpful comments about the sentence. I am getting more and more the impression, that it is nearly impossible for a foreigner, to learn Hungarian well. It is not getting easier, but always more confusing.


Yeah, I tried to cover the reason why "nincsenek" cannot be used in a sentence like this.

But almost anyone can learn any language. You just have to accept the fact that it is not only the new words that you have to learn but potentially a whole different logic behind the language. If you speak a language that is part of a big family, you get used to the similar logic, the similar rules, and you may think that all languages are like that. Then you meet a language like Hungarian, and you get shocked. Imagine the other way around. All of these most popular languages work on an alien logic to Hungarians.
But it is not impossible. Not at all. Many foreigners learn nearly perfect Hungarian that you wouldn't believe it. But you have to let go of the logic and cliches of your own language and immerse yourself in the whole new way of thinking that is Hungarian. Hopefully it will be an awesome experience once you work yourself past the initial shock. Like all languages, Hungarian has some amazing features that you will find really enjoyable.
Many of the comments here are way past what you should be faced with as a beginner. But you can come back later after a few more weeks or months, and you will be surprised how much more sense they make then. Good luck to you!


nem kicsi autók hanem almák a táskában vannak. could this be accepted?


What is the difference between kis and kicsi?

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