"Are the young artists poor?"

Translation:A fiatal művészek szegények?

July 25, 2016

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Is Szegények a fiatal művészek correct too?


How can you tell that this sentence is not a statement: "The young artists are poor" without referencing the question mark? Are these two sentences identical except for the punctuation?


O0a4, that's the case. Whether a Hungarian sentence is a statement or a yes-or-no question has no influence on the word order, so all you can go by in text is the punctuation.


Is there a common preferred word order in everyday usage for questions vs. statements? If Hungarians typically use a certain pattern for these things it would be nice to know. I do wish to approach fluency someday.


Duyc, there isn't really a fixed or preferred word order. At least not a form-based one that you know from English. Instead, Hungarian generally follows the order

  • topic - focus - verb - rest

The "topic" is basically the setting. What are you going to make a statement about? That is usually a person, but can also be a place or an event. Think "regarding ..."

The "focus" is the new fact that you want to express. What is the information you want to communicate?


  • Péter egy szép madarat lát. - Péter sees a beautiful bird. We want to talk about something that regards Péter, so we put him in the topic position. And what we want to convey here is the thing that he sees: it's a beautiful bird. So that bird is placed in front of the verb, in the focus position.

  • A szép madarat Péter látja. - The beautiful bird is seen by Péter. Here we're talking about something that concerns the bird, and what we want to express is that Péter is the one who sees it, not anyone else.

In the sentence above, "A fiatal művésznők szegények?", there is no verb, so we don't really have a focus. Instead, the young artists are the topic here and we're making a simple statement about them. You could also switch the concepts and say "Szényegek a fiatal művésznők?" without any major change in connotation, just more emphasis on "poor".


Replying to RyagonIV here (but there's no REPLY link there).

Thanks for this excellent explanation. I've heard it before many times, or at least many other attempts to explain this concept, but this is the first time that I've gotten a glimmer of understanding of how I might construct a sentence using this construction. Thank you!


I wrote: "A fiatal művészek szegény vannak?" and it says the answer should be "művésznők". But the English sentence doesn't indicate that they are women.

(Note: I know that I should have used the plural form of "szegény" and also that "vannak" wasn't necessary - I am not confused about those corrections.)



Yes, művészek should be accepted as well. But probably that wasn't the reason your answer was rejected, and only the correction was wrong. I've seen that happen before.


A fiatal művészek szegények. This is the correct. In not all accident use vannak

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