"Colorful ships are sailing on the shallow sea."
Translation:Színes hajók úsznak a sekély tengeren.
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No. Well, yes. It is, but you cannot just order the words however you want, there's method to the madness. :)
The item in front of the verb stem is the focus of the sentence. In this case it's "színes hajók". We're answering the question "What is sailing on the shallow sea?" - Well, colourful ships are sailing there, this is the important part that we want to tell.
Now, there's a slightly obscure rule in Hungarian. If you have a subject in the sentence that does not have a special marker - like a, egy, sok or any number - that subject really wants to be in focus. You can't leave it unstressed, so to say.
With your word order, which I guess was "Színes hajók a sekély tengeren úsznak", you're asking the question "What are colourful ships sailing on?" to which the logical answer is "What colourful ships?" (Okay, the comparison doesn't work too well in English, but alas.) The subject is very undefined here, so it sounds odd out of focus.
We never get a straight answer - we have had to pick these up along the way, because the tips don't explain anything. We get grief, and long-winded posts, from native speakers left and right here. I got burned the same way as the OP - Színes hajók a sekély tengeren úszik. We are taught one way, and then everything shifts. I just "finished" Choices 2 - so far the worst module I have ever tried to learn from.......and then I flip back and it's still not right.
I don't know what your answer was, your husband is most likely right, of course. If you notice an error in the course, please, use the "report a problem" button. There are two reasons for that: If a contributor stumbles into this discussion, they won't know what your answer was. 2. A contributor reading this might be rather unlikely, while problem reports always reach them sooner or later. :)
Fiaccola, in general the definite article in Hungarian is used in two cases. Either you're talking about a specific object - which are mostly the same cases as when you use "the" in English. Or you're making a general statement about the noun, basically saying that some property applies to all instances of that noun:
- A kávé keserű. - Coffee is bitter. Whenever there is coffee, it is bitter.
- A ló nem dolgozik az étteremben. - Horses don't work in restaurants. Whenever there's a horse, it won't work in a restaurant.
The above sentence doesn't make a general stetement about colourful ships. Not all colourful ships are going to sail that sea. Instead, we're talking about an unspecific number of ships, which won't use an article in Hungarian.