We got a great question from one of our listeners/readers, Miloš. I’m not sure where he’s from, but his Hungarian is quite impressive! This is from his email to us about our website:
Most magyarul tanulok. Ez nagyon hasznos. Nagy segítség! 😉 (I’m studying Hungarian now. This is very useful. A big help!) (Thanks Miloš!)
van egy kérdésem, ha valaki tud válaszolni. (I have a question, if there is someone who can answer it.)
What would be more common to ask?
nem megyünk a moziba?
van kedved menni a moziba? or nincs kedved a moziba?
curious because I find this “negative” way of asking a bit strange. almost a bit passive agressive which I am sure is not. 😉
Steven: Great question Miloš! Your Hungarian must be really good to ask about this kind of difference.
Györgyi: I would say that all of them are acceptable, but I would change the wording of the questions a little bit.
- “Nem megyünk moziba?” would be used when you have already decided that you’re going to spend your time together doing something, but you don’t know what. A good translation would be: “Why don’t we go to the cinema?“
- “Van/Nincs kedved moziba menni?” is used when you want to spend time with someone, and you offer going to the cinema as a possibility. A translation would be: “Would you like to go to the cinema?“
Steven: Regarding the issue of asking negative questions, I agree with you, Miloš! In English it can sound a bit “passive/aggressive” sometimes, as you say. But it’s a little different in Hungarian. What do you think about this, Györgyi?
Györgyi: I think that it has the same meaning whether you start a question with “Van” or “Nincs.” So in this example, they both mean the same thing.
Steven: I know that when you sometimes ask me a negative question in English, I think to myself, “What’s your problem??” But you probably don’t mean it in a bad way…
Györgyi: Yes, that’s one mistake that Hungarians are liable to make when they speak English!
Nem megyünk moziba? – Why don’t we go to the cinema?
Van/Nincs kedved moziba menni? – Would you like to go to the cinema?
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