"Péter is reading the old book."

Translation:Péter a régi könyvet olvassa.

August 4, 2016

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Any insights as to why this is incorrect? 'Peter a régi könyvet olvas.'



"A könyv" is a definite object ("THE book"), it requires the definite conjugation of the verb: "olvassa".

If the book is just "a book", "(egy) könyv", then we use the indefinite conjugation:

"Péter (egy) könyvet olvas".

The "egy" is optional here, as usual.


Thank you for the prompt and clear response vvsey! :)


Is there some reason, "A régi könyvet Peter olvassa" is incorrect for "Péter is reading the old book."


Very good question. The Hungarian sentence "A régi könyvet Péter olvassa" is not incorrect per se, but its word order relies on the assumption that in the English sentence the emphasis is on "Peter", whereas the English word order implicitly follows the principle of end focus, according to which in this sentence the expected focal item is "the old book".

In contrast, the word order in "A régi könyvet Péter olvassa" explicitly puts the emphasis on "Péter", assuming the meaning that it is Peter (rather than John) reading the old book. But the assumption of Peter being the focal unit is justified only if we are informed of the intonation of the English sentence, whereby "Peter" is uttered with emphasis.


Ah, I didn't think word order was as rigid in Hungarian, thanks.


Since Hungarian is an inflected language, its word order is not as rigid as that of English and of many other languages, but in many cases the different word orders in Hungarian express different emphasis, and in this regard there are semantic limits to the structural flexibility. There are rules establishing these limits, which will probably be explained in detail at a later stage of the Duo course.

The main points of the rule: to emphasise the verb, we put the verb at the start of the sentence; whereas in the case another sentence element is to be emphasised, it is put before the verb.

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"A régi könyvet Péter olvassa." is also correct.


How do you conjugate 'olvasni' (definite conjugation)? Is it irregular?


Hey there, native here :) Steve is right, it's a case of assimilation here. Here's the conjugation you asked:

  • Def.: A KÖNYVET olvasom, olvasod, olvassa, olvassuk, olvassátok, olvassák.

  • Indef.: (EGY) KÖNYVET olvasok, olvasol, olvas, olvasunk, olvastok, olvasnak

Hope it helps!


I was wondering the same. I thought the regular form for the third person singular was -ja ?


You're correct, it's -ja, but like most conjugations that start with j, the j assimilates to an S, Sz, Z, or Zs.


"Péter olvassa a régi könyvet" is marked wrong. Why? When I have written other sentences with the verb-last construction, they have been marked wrong. Is it because the sentence is emphasizing which book Péter is reading?


Because the sentence is written in English (as opposed to hearing someone say the sentence), it's impossible to know what is being emphasized.

Your translation is correct - and quite neutral - and should be accepted.

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