1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Hungarian
  4. >
  5. "Az a nő a menyasszonyod, ame…

"Az a a menyasszonyod, amelyik a hídon fest?"

Translation:Is that woman that paints on the bridge your bride?

September 23, 2017



Should be "woman who paints" rather than "woman that paints"


Isn't "az a nő" "that woman?"


Yes. The logic of the Hungarian sentence says something like:
"Is that woman your bride who is painting on the bridge?"
The word "who" would be referring back to "that woman".


So why, when I used the word "that" and everything else was correct, did Duo mark me wrong and insisted on "the?" As in "Is the woman who is painting the bridge your bride?"


I don't know, it is debatable how to best translate this kind of sentence to English. The structures are very different. What Hungarian expresses with "az a nő" may translate to the lack of a comma in English. Let's see three variations of a sentence:

(1) "A nő, aki a hídon fest." - The woman, who is painting on the bridge.

We are talking about a woman, who, btw, is painting on the bridge. That is kind of a bonus information.

(2) "Az a nő, aki/amelyik a hídon fest. - The woman who is painting on the bridge.

(Note: it would be "amelyik" here, but we usually use "aki" with persons.)
In the second sentence, we use the second clause to identify that one specific woman. And we point at that woman with a demonstrative (in Hungarian).
English does not need to do the same, because the referenced subject (noun) will always be right in front of the identifying subclause. The only difference between the two sentences on the English side is the comma. In Hungarian, I can insert some other stuff between the woman and the subclause:

"Az a nő a feleségem, aki a hídon fest."
But in English, I have to reshuffle the words to keep the woman right in front of the subclause:
"My wife is the woman who is painting on the bridge."
It would be very bad English to do it using the Hungarian logic:
"That woman is my wife who is painting on the bridge."
It may be a valid sentence but it is certainly something else.

And, to make it confusing, we could use the demonstrative "az a nő", but without the intention of identifying her. Rather, this is an actual pointing at the woman. Now that would translate to "that woman" in English:

(3) "Az a nő, aki a hídon fest." - That woman, who is painting on the bridge.
Yes, the Hungarian sentence is the same as in the second case. But they are functionally different.

And the difference becomes clearer when we have a more complex sentence, like the one above. And when it is more obvious that we are trying to single out one of many similar things/persons. And the use of "amelyik" is a good clue - it is usually used in an identifying sense. Not always though.

I know, this is not easy stuff. But using "that woman" is probably only really justified in the third case (3), when we are actually pointing at the woman. We could say "that woman over there".

So, we have two different situations here:

  • We could have a large group of women in front of us, with me pointing out my wife. I need to identify her somehow so you can confirm it:
    "Az a nő a feleségem, amelyik piros ruhát visel." - My wife is the one who is wearing a red dress.

  • And we could be looking at a beautiful landscape, with only one person in sight, a woman on a bridge:
    "Látod azt a nőt a hídon?" - Can you see that woman on the bridge?
    "Az a nő a feleségem." - That woman is my wife.
    "Az a nő, aki ott áll a hídon, a feleségem." - That woman, who is standing there on the bridge, is my wife.

Compare this with a group of women in the area with only one of them on the bridge:
"Az a nő a feleségem, amelyik a hídon áll." - My wife is the woman who is standing on the bridge.

Now, it could be argued that our sentence above could be either case, but I guess the original intent of the sentence is an identifying one. In which case English would simply word it differently, not with "that woman".


Wow, that is complete (and complex)! I think, now, a lot of the meaning nuances in English come from intonation - which obviously can't be done when written (unless we use italics or bold or punctuation). That woman vs <it>that</it> woman. See for example: "you're going?" "You're going?!" "You're going!" "You're going." No change in word order but lots of change in intonation (which also can vary regionally!).

I'm saving your explanation to Evernote!


Yes, exactly. And keep in mind, not everything is coded in Hungarian word order, either! You can change the meaning by changing the intonation. That on top of the variable word order, that is what makes it really complex. We are really just covering the very basics here. :)


why do you reject "fiancé" for menyasszony? I have written exactly the same as it is above, except "bride".


That would be the "vőlegény". Try "fiancée".


egy nő - vagy bármely személy nem - amelyik - hanem - aki -


The woman WHO, not "that". And what the F is wrong with "Is the woman who paints on that bridge your bride?"

Learn Hungarian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.