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Kettő kérdés angolul.

I use a study book to teach myself Hungarian. In every lesson I am given sentences to translate into English.

1) In my study book, I had to translate the sentence "Where is the bus stop?" The suggested answer is "Hol van a buszmegállo?" I however wanted to write "Hol a buszmegállo?" Is "van" really needed here, or did the book just choose to use it?

2) My next sentence was "There are many American newspapers here." The suggested answer is "Sok amerikai újsag van itt." I would not use "van," but if I did I would write it at the end. Is "van" needed, and should it go here instead of the end?

August 12, 2014

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Hi again :)

As for youf first question, in Hungarian "van" can express existence, like in your example. Whenever "van" expresses existence (so it basically works as a "to be verb"), it is necessary to write it. However, colloquialism may overwrite the rule, that's why "Hol a buszmegálló?" is correct too.

In the second question, English uses the expression "There is/There are". In such sentences, "to be verb" in Hungarian (van/vannak) cannot be left out.

  • There is a book on the table = Egy könyv van az asztalon.
  • There are flowers on the floor. = Virágok vannak a földön.

As for neutral word order, this "van/vannak" that expresses "there is/are" does not work the same way. If you put it at the end, you'll emphasize the grammatical part before it.

  • Sok amerikai újság van itt. = There are many American newspapers here.
  • Sok amerikai újság itt van. = There are many American newspapers here (and not there). = It is here where many American newspapers are.
August 12, 2014


Thanks again. I understand.

August 12, 2014


Thanks for your help, but the next section also gave me some questions.

I have to translate the following sentences:

1) Where are the grandparents? They are not here. Hol vannak a nagyszülők? Nincsenek itt. Itt nincsenek.

For the answer part, is all of that required, or is it just showing two different ways to answer the question?

2) There are no bad students, but there are bad teachers. Nincsenek rossz diákok, de vannak rossz tanárok.

I learned that "hanem" is used after a clause that uses "nem." Although the first clause does not have the word "nem," to me it is implied in the word "nincsenek." I'm no expert though. Anyways, is "hanem" only used if "nem" is specifically used?

3) The MALÉV flight attendants are not on the right, but the left. A MALÉV légiutaskísérők nem jobbra, hanem balra. A MALÉV légiutaskísérők nem jobbra vannak, hanem balra.

This is really the same as my first question, is this just showing different ways of saying the sentence? If so, what is the difference between using "vannak" or not? It appears to me that using the word emphasizes the existence, but it is nonetheless the last word in the sentence. So why can it be used or omitted?

August 12, 2014


1) Yes, they mean (almost) the same.

  • Nincsenek itt. = They are not here. (it is rather neutral, tiny emphasis on negation)
  • Itt nincsenek. = They are not here. (less neutral with a tiny emphasis on "here")

But it all depends on how you pronounce them... where you put the stress and such things...

2) "Hanem" has a meaning like "but ... instead"... It is difficult to explain. Let me show you examples:

  • Ezek az almák nem pirosak, hanem zöldek. = These apples are not red, but green instead.

This "instead" is implied in "hanem" and can be omitted in English. In Hungarian "de" is the general contrasting linking word, whereas "hanem" implies this "insteadness" somehow... I don't know if you can understand this... Let me show more examples where I contrast "de" and "hanem":

  • A kék ház előtt sok ember áll, de a piros előtt kevés. = In front of the blue house many people stand, but few in front of the red one.

Here "hanem" would be incorrect. Just imagine the sentence with "instead" at the end... it is weird. It does not depend on "nem" in the first clause or something like that... it is not a grammatical difference... I may give you more examples in case you don't understand.

3) "A MALÉV légiutaskísérők nem jobbra, hanem balra." This is incorrect in Hungarian. The to be verb must be here, because in this sentence "vannak" expresses existence. It's like the difference between desu and (ar)imasu in Japanese... I don't know if you speak any of it...

Anyways, the sentence may be formed in two equal ways:

  • A MALÉV légiutaskísérők nem jobbra vannak, hanem balra.
  • A MALÉV légiutaskísérők nem jobbra, hanem balra vannak.

Side note: MALÉV (which stands for MAgyar LÉgiközlekedési Vállalat = Hungarian Air Transport Company) went bankrupt 2 years ago... it does not exist anymore. It's quite sad if you ask me :/

August 12, 2014


Thanks for the quick reply. I do understand how to use "hanem;" my book explained it quite well, but thank you for the examples you gave. Thanks for the side-note too. A little trivia never hurts.

August 12, 2014


Please, be sure to ask if you don't understand... Sometimes we feel we understand but in fact we don't. I am not underestimating you, you are SUPER, I just know it is horrible to be in doubt... Luckily for you, there are plenty of people to ask so don't hold back yourself!

August 12, 2014


Hey Nitram, I don't know if you will read this. I restarted my book and recently came across this lesson. Naturally I had questions, so I referred back to this post. I have a better understanding now of why "hanem" doesn't work, whereas I was so sure of myself the first time. Thanks for your help.

September 7, 2014


In the MALÉV sentence you need to use "vannak" because this is the predication in the sentence.

August 22, 2014


Nem minden esetben használjuk a ,,Van'' szót ,de ez nem hiba . Viszont van olyan eset amikor ha kihagyod a kérdésből akkor értelmetlen és nincs jelző a mondatban.

September 14, 2014
Tanulj meg egy nyelvet mindössze napi 5 percben. Ingyen.