"Éva egy parkban sétál, László meg a tengerben úszik."
Translation:Éva is walking in a park, and László is swimming in the sea.
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It's emphasises a contrast, much like pedig, and they are pretty much interchangeable for this use. I'd say that pedig is more a contrasting partcle, like "on the other hand" or "whereas", while meg is rather used for listing, like "and" or "plus".
In other instances meg- is a verbal prefix, so there might some mixups happen later.
It's the difference between "The" = "A / Az" (definite article) and "a/an" = "egy" (indefinite article). You use "The" = "A / Az" (definite article) when you know exactly which thing (sea, park..), and you use "a/an" = "egy" (indefinite article), when you don't know which one but on of the thing (one of the parks, one of the seas)
It does. :)
One usage is as a verbal prefix meg- whose main function is to give the verb a more finite sense: látogat - to visit (every so often); meglátogat - to be visiting (right now, once, this one visit is important).
Since verbal prefixes can appear separated from the verb in certain circumstances, it makes it look like this meg is a separate word, but it really isn't.
Another usage, that one here, is a conjectional postposition. It works a lot like pedig in that it comes after the topic in the second clause and means "whereas" or "on the other hand". Also commonly translated as "and".
A third usage as a simple conjection can happen when you list stuff: "Kérem almát meg tojást meg tésztát." It works like "and" or "plus". This conjection also is used in calculations: "Egy meg három az négy" - "One plus three is four."
And then there's the little word még, which, depending on the circumstances, can be translated as "still" or "again". Or as "not yet" in "még nem"
Oh wow! Thanks for that very thorough explanation. I think much of my confusion is cleared up. Now, I just need to take time to really understand how it is being used when I encounter it. I do find the verbal prefixes that give a sense of something being finished or finite to be tricky to understand. ( I can see how they make the language so much richer in meaning .) At one point I had asked a native speaker that I know to explain "meg" and he just didn't know how to explain it (and his English is excellent), so thank you so much for making it so clear.
English usually uses the present progressive ("is doing") when you're talking about one specific instance of the action - you're doing it now, and then it's done. "I'm building a chair, and then the chair is built." "I'm swimming in the lake at the moment."
The simple present is often used when you're talking about states or habitual actions, things that not only apply to a single situation. "I build chairs because that's what I do for a living." "I swim in the lake every weekend."
Hungarian doesn't precisely make a difference like that, so translations can be mixed. But a similar mechanic exists there as well on the base of verbal prefixes. When the action has a clear end to it (telic action), you tend to use a verbal prefix. If not (atelic action), then not:
- Székeket építek. - I am building chairs. or I build chairs. (atelic)
- Megépítek egy széket. - I am bulding a chair. (telic; that one chair will be finished at some point, even if I'll continue building chairs after that)