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  5. "Ezek a cápák a mély tengerek…

"Ezek a cápák a mély tengerekben vadásznak."

Translation:These sharks hunt in deep seas.

March 16, 2017



Could "These sharks in the deep seas are hunting" also be correct??

  • 2057

English is an SVO language. For details, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_order


But... what if the subject is "These sharks in the deep seas" and you just state what they are doing (hunting)? It is not something you would say every day, but it sounds okay to me.

The question is whether this translation fits the Hungarian sentence. I think that the Hungarian sentence should start with 'Vadásznak' if you want to say this. Because the verb needs to be emphasized, and not anything else.


One more note on this "these sharks in the deep seas" thing - my answer in the other branch of this thread was first. As I said there, it doesn't really work as a subject here. It is unnatural, and it will easily lead to confusion.
And the reason for that is that there is a verb after it. And the attractive force of the verb is much stronger. And so:

[These sharks in the deep seas] [are hunting]

will become

[These sharks] [in the deep seas are hunting].

In Hungarian:

[Ezek a cápák a mély tengerekben] [vadásznak] - is an unnatural structure. It wants to become:

[Ezek a cápák] [a mély tengerekben vadásznak].

The deep seas want to belong to the verb, they want to stand in front of the verb, and they want to be emphasized.

Where do these sharks hunt?
They hunt in the deep seas.

But! But!!

But if the "subject" is not immediately in front of the verb, or if there is no verb at all (the predicate is not a verb but, for example, an adjective), then the thing can work:

  • No verb:
    "Az alma a zsebemben piros." - The apple in my pocket is red.
    We don't ask "Where is the apple red?". We know that it is about an apple in my pocket being red. So, "a zsebemben" belongs to the subject.

  • "Subject" not immediately in front of the verb:
    "Ezek a cápák a mély tengerekben gyakran vadásznak." - These sharks in the deep seas often hunt.
    Clearly, or maybe not so clearly, "a mély tengerekben" belongs to the subject's circle. The emphasized position in front of the verb is taken by another word, an adverb, therefore the deep seas are less under the effect of the verb.
    But this is still a situation that can go either way, it can be emphasized so that everything except "ezek a cápák" willl belong to the verb. So, this solution is still ambiguous, easy to misunderstand, and is to be avoided, probably.

  • 2057

That is a good point! In English, I would say: These deep-sea sharks hunt. In Hungarian, I would take the inessive (thanks VVSEY for the correction) "ben" and the article "a" out but leave the plural. Also, "mélytengeri" seems to be the Hungarian adjective for "deep-sea." So, my guess would be something like: "Ezek a cápák mélytengerek vadásznak." Did I miss anything on the English side?


"These sharks in the deep seas" hmmmm... that is something like "these sharks that are in the deep seas", right? Well, to answer JanTatouse's question, yes, the Hungarian sentence might be emphasized in such a way as to fit that scenario. You got that right that the verb needs to be emphasized. But it does not necessarily need to be in the front of the sentence. It can be emphasized wherever it is. It is just not the default, most natural emphasis, in this case.
"Ezek a cápák a mély tengerekben VADÁSZNAK." This is not very natural, and is easy to misunderstand, but it may work. But it is unnatural, borderline incorrect. Hungarian would prefer a more unambiguous solution:
"Ezek a mély tengerekben lévő cápák vadásznak". - sharks that are, or sharks being, in the deep sea. That is the Hungarian way. The "these sharks in the deep seas" doesn't really work in Hungarian. It has to be "spelled out":
"Ezek a mély tengerekben lévő cápák" or
"Ezek a cápák, amelyek a mély tengerekben vannak".

But this scenario is already very different from the original sentence. Because we are saying that the sharks are in the deep seas. The sentence above, on the other hand, says no such thing. Look at these sharks on the beach, taking a nap. These are tough guys: they hunt in the deep seas. That is, whenever they go hunting, they hunt in the deep seas. They may be sitting in a bar, watching the game.

This explains why the "deep-sea sharks" also does not fit the original sentence. Nobody said that these were deep-sea sharks. They may be shallow-water sharks, even land-sharks. But they prefer hunting in the deep seas.

Anyways, if we want to talk about deep-sea sharks, that would indeed be "mélytengeri cápák". Sharks that live in the deep seas. So, ID-07, your "These deep-sea sharks hunt" will be:
"Ezek a mélytengeri cápák vadásznak."
So, these deep-sea sharks are not gatherers, they are hunters. We don't know if they are hunting right now. But they do hunt.

Let's take another sentence, with a very similar structure:
"This man eats in the restaurant" - "Ez a férfi az étteremben eszik."
Does this mean that the man is in the restaurant?
Does this mean that he is a "restaurant-man?"
I don't think so. I only read that this man, when he eats, he does it in the restaurant.

Back to ID-07's comments. A few points: "-ben" is not a preverb. It is a suffix. Preverbs are attached to the front of verbs (hence pre-verb), not to the ends of nouns.
And, by forming "deep-sea", you made it into an adjective. "Deep-sea sharks". Well, Hungarian will put the adjective at the same place, in front of the noun. And one more thing we know: an adjective modifying a noun will always be singular. That's why it is "mélytengeri cápák". And the structure of the Hungarian sentence is very much like that of the English sentence:
"These deep-sea sharks hunt."
"Ezek a mélytengeri cápák vadásznak."


ID-07, thanks for including those links. Well, I don't know who writes these Tips and Notes, but I would love to have a talk with them. The tips in Adjectives 1 are just a part of the picture and, as such, they are totally misleading in their current form. Now I understand your confusion.

There are two totally different parts an adjective can play here:

1 - an adjective modifying a noun. That is, when an adjective is in front of a noun, "modifying" it, kind of identifying/restricting it: a red book, a fast car, a cold drink, a long walk, a cheap ticket, etc.

2 - and an adjective being (part of) the predicate, the statement. That is, what we are stating about the subject. The book is red, the car is fast, the drink is cold, the walk is long, the ticket is cheap, etc.

In English, the adjective in both roles stays singular. Basically, the adjective stays untouched, no matter what role it plays.

In Spanish, for example, if the subject is plural, the adjective becomes plural in both roles (if I am not mistaken). Also, in Spanish, the adjective modifying the noun can actually stand after the noun: un libro rojo, un coche rápido, etc. Not so in Hungarian.

Hungarian is in-between. The adjective stays singular in the 1st case, and becomes plural in the 2nd case.


  • red car: "piros autó"
  • red cars: "piros autók"

- The car is red: "Az autó piros."
- The cars are red: "Az autók pirosak."

The Tips in Ajectives 1 are talking about the 2nd role only.

Now, the above two roles are more distinctly differentiated in Hungarian than in English. At least as far as I know. In English, we talk about "adjective modifying the noun" vs. "adjective after the noun".
In Hungarian, these are two completely different roles, two different parts of a sentence. The first one is called a "Jelző" (basically an adjective), the second one is called an "Állítmány" (predicate). The "Jelző" will always stand in front of its noun. The "Állítmány", on the other hand, can move around more freely.

Now I would like you to read this, discussing the parts of a sentence in more detail. I hope it will help:

[pause for your reading...]

So, obviously, we have to look at these adjectives as belonging to either of these two roles, as they will behave very differently.

In Hungarian, adjectives can get suffixes, they can be plural, etc., they can pretty much act as nouns do. They can even substitute for nouns. That is why Hungarian has no need for the noun-placeholder "one". The "one" is needed in English because the adjectives are untouchable, therefore the "one" will get the plural suffix:

"The red cars" - "Which cars?" - "The red oneS".

In Hungarian, the adjective itself can take the noun's suffixes:

"A piros autók" - "Melyik autók?" - "A pirosAK".
No need for "one".

But this suffixing of the adjective only happens when the adjective is in the "Állítmány" (predicate) role, or when the noun is not present (therefore the adjective takes over the role of the noun).

When the adjective is in the "Jelző" (classic adjective) role, it acts pretty much like it does in English.

So there you have it, hope it clears up your confusion. Please keep reading the Comments everywhere, there is plenty of discussion on the roles and behavior of adjectives.

  • 2057

Thanks VV! I am a bit confused about the plural. The Tips (link included) say that the adjective have to be plural when the subject is plural. I am including a link to a "HU" deep-sea article as well. What did I miss? ... https://www.duolingo.com/skill/hu/Adjectives-1 and http://tudasbazis.sulinet.hu/hu/termeszettudomanyok/biologia/biologia-7-evfolyam/a-nyilt-tengerek-es-a-melytengerek-elovilaga/a-melytengerek-elovilaga


Thanks, vvsey, great analysis. The amount of questions about word order and emphasis may be exhausting, but thanks to being exposed to these issues all the time while taking this course, I don't have major problems with word order while speaking.

ID-07: when the adjective is directly before the noun, the adjective is singular even if the noun is plural. Look at these (silly) sentences: "A mély tengerek mélyek", "Mélyek a mély tengerek". Both mean "Deep seas are deep" but you can see how the adjectives behave.

  • 2057

Thanks VV and Tan! I erased my question to Tan before I saw your answer! Sorry about that.

Vvsey: As always, your explanations are deep and thorough! I read your summary of the Hungarian sentence structure and I plan to refer to it again and again in the future! As a friendly note, on the English side, you may want to point to people that there is a difference between a verb and a predicate. I think that would clear up few things (like the "Kati OKOS." sentence). Of course, I don't expect you to explain the difference. Few more items like that, and your text would become a full grammar book!-).

THANKS again VV and Tan for the help. Enjoy the several lingots!

BTW, I found a useful summary to "verb" vs "predicate" at:



Thanks, ID-07, I included your link in my article.


(Replying to Nitza406783)
Yes, I agree. Or "the Americans", "the Russians", "male", "female", etc.
I would say that, in English, these words have indeed become nouns. The dictionary will even list them as both adjectives and nouns.
Whereas in Hungarian, you can use adjectives in a noun role while they stay adjectives. An indirect proof of this is that you can do it with practically all adjectives.
There are adjectives in Hungarian that have become nouns, too. These are usually common, frequently used adjectives, typically describing one specific thing, often as part of an adjective-noun phrase. When such a set phrase is frequently used, the adjective kind of absorbs the meaning of the attached noun and takes on the meaning of the whole phrase. The noun is lost and the adjective becomes a noun with the meaning of the whole phrase. For example:
"villamos vasút" - "electric railway"
"villamos" - a noun, meaning "tram".
There are countless examples of this.


(Replying to VVSEY but there are too many levels for it to allow reply). English has something similar. Which item? Option 1: “The red items.” Option 2: “the reds.” Not many adjectives can be treated like this in English, but the adjectives that can be used as nouns can (or the nouns that can be used as adjectives) which we can use as a parallel learning tool for learning the Hungarian. Another example Which items? 1) “the thin items.” 2) “the thins.” Admittedly, most adjectives change their form in English when converting into a noun, if they can be converted at all. If they can’t be converted easily we just stick “one” after it (the “red ones”


That's very interesting and helpful, thank you! I am constantly baffled by how little I know about my own language!

  • 2057

Don't worry, you are not the first. Most important, you realize it AND admit it. Many people are stuck in blissful ignorance OR refuse to admit the need to improve!


I think if they are sharks which are in the deep sea and are hunting something like "Ezek a cápák, amely a mély tengerekben, vadásznak" would express it better.


Yes, with some correction:
"Ezek a cápák, amelyek a mély tengerekben vannak, vadásznak."

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