"Who is writing a book?"

Translation:Ki ír könyvet?

July 28, 2016

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Why is it not "egy könyvet"?


That's possible too.

Usually similar sentences are more natural with "egy" included, while omitting it is still correct. Here it's the other way around: "könyvet ír" -- "to write a book" is a phrase that is used without "egy" most of the time, but it isn't incorrect if you include the article.


That sounds a bit unnatural for me in this sentence.

"A book" refers to a group in English, so you could write "books" and it would mean the same thing. In Hungarian the thing is similar so you can write "könyv(et)" and "könyvek(et)". The difference is that in English you have to put the indefinite article (a/an) before the word that refers to a group, in Hungarian it'd sound strange/unnatural or in some cases would mean a completely different thing.

Just to set an example: "A spider is not an insect" which means "Spiders are not insects". In Hungarian if you translate it with "egy" ("Egy pók nem (egy) rovar") it would mean that "There's one/a spider which is not an insect" in other words "Spiders are mostly insects but there's one which is not".

I'd say it's a rule in Hungarian that if you want to refer to a group you can't use "egy".


Thanks, these examples make a lot of sense! So to fully understand the logic of this: "A spider is not an insect" and "Spiders are not insects" would both translate to "Pók nem rovar" and both sentences would be interpreted as refering to all spiders as a group which means that in Hungarian you don't need to use plural words to express this. Is this correct? Or would there be a different meaning if I used plural?


Both "A spider is not an insect" and "Spiders are not insects" would translate as "A pók nem rovar" [literally: "The spider is not insect"] or "A pókok nem rovarok" [literally: "The spiders are not insects"]. You can use plural form but only with definite article. As my English teacher said once Hungarian and English has both types of articles, but they use them a bit differently. The best way is to understand it in Hungarian is to approach it from a different way: "egy" (the indefinite article) is also means "one" (the number), so if you can say your statement in English with "one" (or "There's one..") instead of "a/an" and it would mean the same thing then you can use it.


I still don't get it. In the example I've got, it's a single book, not a collective or mass noun. I still don't understand why it's not "egy könyvet."


Makes two of us.

I have some hungarian friends, every time I ask them to explain something when it seems illogical they usually conclude that it's a 'feeling' thing for hungarians how to use words in specific situations.

So I'm kinda giving up on ever really getting it and just go as far as logic takes me. For all the rest they will have to excuse me :)

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