Word order II (open questions, negative sentences)

Open questions

In case of interrogative sentences first we need the interrogative word (who? what? where? when? etc.). After this the word order is absolutely different of the word order of the affirmative sentence:

1. interrogative word 2. verb 3. object 4. subject 5. adverbs of place and time

neutral word order interrogative sentences
Mit ír Júlia a nappaliban délután? What does Julia write in the living room afternoon?
Ki ír levelet a nappaliban délután? Who writes letter in the living room afternoon?
Mikor ír levelet Júlia a nappaliban? When does Julia write a letter in the living room?
Hol ír levelet Júlia délután? Where does Julia write a letter afternoon?
emphasizing different parts of the sentences
Délután mit ír Júlia a nappaliban? What does Julia write in the living room afternoon? (and not at evening, morning) I’m interested in especially what Julia writes afternoon, I’m not interested in what she writes in the evening or morning in the living room.
A nappaliban mit ír Júlia délután? What does Julia write in the living room afternoon? (and not in her room or in the kitchen) I’m interested in especially what Julia writes in the living room, I’m not interested in what she writes afternoon in her room or in the kitchen, etc.
A nappaliban ki ír levelet  délután? Who writes letter in the living room afternoon? (and not somewhere else) I’m not interested in who writes letter afternoon in the kitchen or their room, I’m only interested who writes letter in the living room.
A nappaliban mikor ír levelet Júlia? When does Julia write a letter in the living room? (and not somewhere else) I’m not interested when she writes letter in her room or in the library, I’m only interested when she writes it in the living room.

In case of yes-no questions, the word order is the same as in the affirmative sentence; the only difference is the question mark at the end of the sentence.

Júlia levelet ír? = Does Julia write a letter?

Negative sentences

In case of negative sentences the word nem (no, not) is put before the verb and the object goes after the verb (unlike in the affirmative sentence):

Júlia nem ír levelet a nappaliban délután. = Julia doesn’t write a letter in the living room afternoon.
1. subject  2. nem 3. verb 4.object 5. adverbs of place and time

In Hungarian not only the verb can be negated. If we negate other part of speech than the verb (we put the word nem before the negated word), then we don’t negate the whole sentence, only one word of it, whatmore we affirm the verity of other parts of the sentence. We only deny the word before we put the nem, which can be the object, subject, time adverb, etc. These sentences are very hard to translate to English, as these sentences not only imply or emphasize somwthing (as the changed word order affirmative sentences do); these sentences affirm the verity of every other parts of speech, except for the word that stands after nem. So these sentences affirm and deny in the same time.

negating Hungarian sentence the meaning of the sentence
the object Nem levelet ír Júlia a nappaliban délután. Not letter is what Julia writes in the living room.
the subject Nem Júlia ír levelet a nappaliban délután. Not Julia writes letter in the living room, someone else writes there that time.
the time adverb Nem délután ír levelet Júlia a nappaliban. It’s not afternoon when Julia writes letter in the living room, she writes it other time.
Júlia nem délután ír levelet  a nappaliban.
the adverb of place Nem a nappaliban ír levelet Júlia délután. Not the living room is the place where Julia writes the letter, she writes it somewhere else.
Júlia nem a nappaliban ír levelet délután.

Let’s see an other example, which can occur in a court (öl = killmeg: coverb):

Péter nem ölte meg Józsefet. Peter didn’t kill Joseph.
Nem Péter ölte meg Józsefet. Peter wasn’t the one who killed Joseph.
Péter nem Józsefet ölte meg. Joseph wasn’t the one who was killed by Peter, Peter killed someone else.
Nem Józsefet ölte meg Péter.

see Word order I (general explanation, affirmative sentences, what is inflexible)
see Word order III (coverbs, auxiliaries, etc. in the sentence)
see Word order IV (summary table)

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