"I like boys."
Translation:Szeretem a fiúkat.
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I am not sure exactly what that would mean, without proper context. Can you give one?
But you are right, "I like boys" and "Szeretem a fiúkat" do not necessarily match.
One context could be about someone's orientation, as in:
"Do you like boys or girls?" - "A fiúkat vagy a lányokat szereted?"
"I like boys" - "A fiúkat szeretem"
Another context could be just a general statement, like "I like apples":
"I like apples" - "Szeretem az almát" - singular
"I like boys" - "Szeretem a fiúkat" - this is in plural
"I like boys because they are strong" - "Szeretem a fiúkat, mert erősek".
Yes, understood. I was just having a really hard time coming up with a context where I would use "Fiúkat szeretek". The common statement for a general "I like apples, I like boys" is definitely "Szeretem az almát, szeretem a fiúkat". There is no question about that. With the definite article and the definite (transitive?) conjugation "-em".
If I can mention Spanish:
"Me gusta la manzana" - "Szeretem az almát" - "I like apples".
"Me gustan los niños" - Szeretem a fiúkat" - "I like boys".
Hungarian is acting like Spanish in this regard.
For the sentence "Fiúkat szeretek.", I don't know. The sentence is not incorrect, it is fine. It is just hard to put in context. This is the best I can come up with:
"Fiúkat szeretek tanítani, nem lányokat" - "I like to teach boys, not girls".
But that's a bit different.
The same way. If you find that strange, trust me, I feel you, I'm also struggling with it at other languages... also, don't forget that 80% of English sentences can be translated to completely different sounding Hungarian sentences. :P Languages don't feel pressurized to cover the undertones of other languages and make the same differences.
There kinda is, although it's not simple and there are exceptions. Also, people may have their own preferences at complicated patterns.
The main distinction lies between -at, -ot vs -et, -öt. The former are back vowel variants, the latter are front vowel variants, also, -öt is rounded vowel exclusive. To decide whether a suffixless word is considered front vowel or back vowel, you have to take the last part of the compound word (if it's compound, obviously) and take the last vowel that's not é or i/í. Back vowels are a á o ó u ú, the rest are front vowels.
Now, for adjectives, -at and -et make the overwhelming majority (I'm not even sure whether there are -öt adjectives, apart from nationalities that act more like nouns anyway). For plural or possessed nouns, the same applies. For singular nouns, -ot makes the majority but there are irregular stem changes and in those cases, -at is the common back vowel variant. Some singular nouns don't have stem changes and still get -at. And rounded front vowels (ö ő ü ű) typically get ö as linking vowel for accusative.
So yeah, this should be it for now, we will see how much it helps in practice. :D
I copy an explanation here
If the word ends in a vowel (and not a or e), then -t is simply added to the word
- fiú -> fiút
- nő -> nőt
You will meet words ending in -a and -e, which become -á and -é before they get the -t.
alma - almát
körte - körtét
In later skills, you'll see that usually if the word ends in a consonant, we have to add a vowel before the -t, so it can be -ot / -at / -et / -öt . The vowel is determined by vowel harmony, as with verbs! Words with front vowels in them get a front vowel before the -t, words with back vowels get a back vowel.
|back vowels||front vowels|
|a, á||e, é,|
|o, ó||i, í,|
|u, ú||ö, ő|
-for back vowels usually the accusative is an -ot
sajt ‘cheese’ -> sajtot
narancs 'orange' -> narancsot
-except for a few words that you have to memorise, they get -at:
ház ‘house’ -> házat
toll 'pen' -> tollat
-for front vowels usually the accusative is an -et:
szék ’chair’ -> széket
zöldség ’vegetable’ -> zöldséget
-except for words which have ö / ő / ü / ü in the last syllable, they get -öt
gyümölcs ’fruit’ -> gyümölcsöt
főnök ’boss’ -> főnököt
In some special cases, even if the word ends in a consonant, we simply add the -t, when the word ends in -r / -l / -n / - ny / - s / -sz / -z / -j / -ly.
bor ’wine’ -> bort
lány ’girl’ -> lányt
Note: this explanation above for the singular accusative
"Szeretem a fiúkat" has plural accusative: fiú+k+at
Plural accusative usually looks like this: Make the plural form, then add -at / -et . (I think I have never seen -ot or -öt in this situation)
So if I use "Szeretem" instead of "szeretek" I need to use "a" for "the" even though it is not in the English version of this sentence? I have been penalized many times for omitting or inserting an "a" when it wasn't supposed to be there. How am I to know when to insert a "the"?
Sorry about the delay with this.. it's fixed now and we accept both szeretek fiúkat and szeretem a fiúkat. It's important that the verb form -em appears with a.
And, confusingly, both can mean I like boys.. In the sentence szeretek fiúkat, the more precise meaning is something like there are boys that I like; with szeretem a fíukat, it's a generic statement I like boys in general.
In English, articles are pretty much generic vs specific. Generic counts as indefinite. In Hungarian, it's more like "I expect you to recognize it" vs "I don't expect you to recognize it". Since everyone knows what boys are, it falls into the first category, therefore definite. Therefore definite conjugation.
So variants with "a fiúkat" sound much more suitable for a general statement while "fiúkat" + indefinite conjugation versions sound much more like "I happen to like/love some boys".
If things were that easy! Here's a couple of things that should help. First, in the present tense, you should generalise the other way round: whenever the object has a(z) then the (first person singular) verb will have the -m ending.
The reason you have to look at the object is that some verbs are exceptional. They are called -ik-verbs, because they're third person singular ends in -ik, e.g. eszik ‘s/he is eating’ or iszik ‘s/he is drinking’. With these, in the first person singular you can use the -m ending even with indefinite objects, even though colloquially many speakers use -k just as straightforwardly (and we try to accept both in the course).
Finally, in the past tense, there's an additional quirk which makes things easier though: in the first person singular, there is only -m, and no -k, independently of what the object is like. You'll see this in a later skill.