"Az a sofőr, aki a gyerekek között áll."

Translation:The one who is standing among the children is the driver.

October 18, 2016

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"That one who is standing between the children is the driver" - why this is wrong?


From my understanding, the Hungarian "az" acts here as an anchor for the subordinate "aki" clause; it is not equivalent to the English "that" in this instance, but, rather, makes up for the Hungarian habit of placing their adjectival clauses at the end of the sentence rather than, as English speakers do, immediately after the noun that they describe. So, there is no hint, in this Hungarian sentence, that the speaker is pointing out a driver.


Now this is really interesting.
It could indeed be like you correctly describe, an anchor etc.
But then this would be an incomplete sentence, without a verb/predicate in the main clause:
"The/that driver who is standing among the children."

But the other option is that "Az" stands for "that person is". Then the meaning of this sentence is:
"He who is standing among the children is the driver." Or:
"The driver is the person who is standing among the children."

And how can this be? It is possible because of the two alternative meanings of "az a sofőr". Just this phrase alone could mean one of two things:
"az a sofőr" - "that driver"
"az a sofőr" - "that is the driver" (with an omitted "van")

If we pick the first interpretation, there is no verb!

I think it is neither an anchor thing nor a pointing out thing. It could be a pointing out thing, it is just not necessarily so. And it could also be an anchor thing, it is just probably not.

Hmm... I just noticed I have dicussed this before (see the other threads), and I may be contradicting myself now. But I am too tired to re-read it all now. Anyway, this is somehow a border-line case that I will have to think about a little bit more.


Glad to know that you are human :)


Meaning all aliens are inherently perfect? Oh, how wrong you are! :)

Anyway, the trouble with this sentence is that it could be interpreted in so many ways, and I was probably not seeing all of them at the same time, either.

1 - That person over there is the driver. Can you see? The one standing among the children. She is the driver!
2 - The driver (of all the drivers) who is standing among the children. (This is an incomplete sentence.)
3 - The driver is.... (drum roll).... whoever is standing among the children.
4 - The person standing among the children is the driver, not the cook!

And there are possibly more interpretations.
Hungarian is complicated...


Wow. Those are some long comments. I just want to say here, that, as I work through these examples, I am developing a new feeling for a type of construction in a language I have just begun to learn. I don't expect a one-to-one correspondence with an English construction, any more than I expect consistently good translations from Google. I have to let it work on me. It is quite new, it's a real gain for me, and I'm grateful for this type of stuff.


Good luck with that! As with any language, there is an inherent logic behind these constructions. Consequently, it can be learned. Just keep an open mind, and be aware that the logic of your own language may misguide you. The order of words in some sentences may seem to perfectly fit the English logics, yet work very differently. The order may be the same but the relationships between words may not.


"who stands between the children" should be accepted, too.


Can someone explain the word order here please. Thanks.


The translation, more literally:

That (one) is the driver who is standing among the children.

The first "Az" covers the whole of "that (one)" or "that (person)".

You could also say:

"Az, aki a gyerekek között áll, a sofőr."

This one matches the English word order more closely.

You will not find a match for the verb "is", because it is omitted here, being in the third person. Remember:

(Én) sofőr vagyok.
(Te) sofőr vagy.
(Ő) sofőr. - there is no "van" here!

So, who is the driver? "Ki a sofőr?"
"Az a sofőr," (that person is the driver) "aki a gyerekek között áll." (who is standing among the children).


"That is the driver, (the one) who is standing among the children" sounds much more natural in English and seems like a more literal translation.


Yes, except this "az a sofőr" is something different. Actually, we could understand this sentence in two ways, one being more natural:

(1) "That person over there is the driver, who is standing among the children."
That is, we know who we are talking about. We are looking at that person among the children, and the new information is that he is the driver.

(2) "The driver is the person standing among the children."
That is, we may be looking at a lot of people and want to know which one of them is the driver. We want to identify the driver. And then someone identifies the driver as the one standing among the children.

The more natural interpretation of the sentence above is (2):

"Az a sofőr, aki a gyerekek között áll." - The driver is the one who is standing among the children.

This is typically not expressed with "that is the driver" in English, as far as I know.

I tried to explain this difference between English and Hungarian in a similar exercise, check it out if you like:


Actually, I think the English sentence "That is the driver, (the one) who is standing among the children" would be more commonly understood as your second meaning, although it could also mean the first.

I'm thinking maybe this is somehow related to restrictive vs. non-restrictive clauses, although I don't know exactly how. It seems like with the first meaning the clause is non-restrictive - that is, we don't need the "standing among the children part" for the sentence to work, it's just some extra information about the man but we're already looking at him so it's not strictly necessary. With the second meaning, though, we do need it, because it's telling us which person is the driver, so the clause is restrictive.

In English "who" can be used with either, but if you're not talking about a person, you should use "which" for non-restrictive and "that" for restrictive. My sense so far as been that both aki and ami can function in either way, but I'm still fuzzy on that.


I will have to disagree with you on "that is the driver", let me try it differently. Let's say we have some kind of competition. I don't know... let's say we have to pick apples. Who wins? Let's define it this way:

"The person who picks the most apples in 15 minutes wins the competition."

How do we say it in Hungarian?

"Az a személy nyeri a versenyt, aki a legtöbb almát szedi 15 perc alatt."

This "az a személy" should NOT be translated as "that person". We are not pointing at that person. Hey, we don't even know who it is yet. This "az" is just a reference point, an anchor point for the restrictive clause that follows. It just marks the element in the first clause that the restrictive clause will refer to.

There is no need for this in English as the referenced noun will be placed immediately before the restrictive clause:
referenced noun: "person"
restrictive clause: "who picks the most apples...".
"Person" is right in front of the restrictive clause:
"The person who picks the most apples...".

In Hungarian though, that referenced noun enjoys much more freedom. It can be way ahead of the restrictive clause. Therefore we mark it with a demonstrative:

"AZ A SZEMÉLY nyeri a versenyt, AKI ....".

This kind of restrictive structure has two elements in Hungarian.

"AZ a .... , AKI ....."

But the "az" is not an actual pointing at the chosen person/thing.

In English, there is simply no need for this two-part structure.

This is what I think you are missing from my explanation. Let's look at the sentence you wrote down:

"That is the driver, (the one) who is standing among the children"
The first "That is" is something different. It is an actual pointing at the person. Let me translate this sentence to Hungarian:

"Az a sofőr, (AZ), aki a gyerekek között áll."

My "(AZ)" corresponds to your "(the one)".

Except I have used a demonstrative ("az"), and you have not.

See, you yourself placed "the one" right in front of the restricting clause, and you have not used "that". The "that" that you did use in your sentence is something else, outside of this restrictive structure. I could extend it, and separate it from the sentence, to make it even clearer that it is not part of the structure:

"That person over there is the driver. The one who is standing among the children."

See, I am only talking about the "the one who" part. In Hungarian it is "az, aki" - the "az" being a demonstrative ("that"). And in Hungarian it can be separated and the two elements placed apart:

"AZ a sofőr, AKI...".

Hope I made it somewhat clearer now.

Otherwise yes, this is all about restrictive vs non-restrictive clauses. It is a bit complicated and fuzzy on both sides, I'm afraid. And combine it with the issue of "ami"/"amely"/"amelyik" in Hungarian.... Well, there is lots of discussion on those in the comments everywhere. Keep reading them!

[deactivated user]

    Nevermind the sentence with the taxis anf trams. This one right here is way more confusing.


    Nem nagyon jó az angolul. A válaszom, "It is the driver who is standing among the children", jobb, normálisabb, bár Duolingo mondta 'Helytelen'. Angol vagyok.

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