Difference between elkéstem and késtem el

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forexknight

New Member
Polish
Hello,

I have a problem, can you tell me difference between elkéstem and késtem el?
For example : Nagyon siettem. Nem értem, miért késtem el.
Can you explain to me when I should use elkestem and when kestem el?

Thanks in advance :)
 
  • Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello forexknight and welcome to the forum:)

    It is a bit of a complex question. I'm afraid even if it is possible to give an answer to your example, the problem goes further than what can be given as a summary.
    El is called a preverb. (There are more than 40 of them in Hungarian.)
    Preverbs appear before a verb and then they are written in one word with them (elkésik, elmegy, elmond etc.) - this happens in normal statements.

    In questions (1 both direct and indirect - as in your example), negative sentences (2) and in statements where a particular word/part of a sentence (3) is emphatic the preverb will follow the verb (and written separately from it).

    1. In direct questions: Miért késtem el? (Why am/was* I late?) or indirect questions - your sentence.
    2. Nem késtem el. (I am/was not late.)
    3. (Nem én, hanem) Pali késett el. ((It wasn't me but it was) Pali (who) is/was late.)

    *It is indipendent from your question and it is a bit strange but both verb tenses are possible in English depending on the speaker's situation in time (compared to the event in question).
     
    Last edited:

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    In questions (1 both direct and indirect - as in your example), negative sentences (2) and in statements where a particular word/part of a sentence (3) is emphantic the preverb will follow the verb (and written separately from it).

    1. In direct questions: Miért késtem el? (Why am/was* I late?) or indirect questions - your sentence.
    I wouldn't say it always happens in questions. You ask Elkéstél? and not Késtél el? It does happen in questions phrased with a question word (what, who, why etc.) since the question word is always the element in emphasis. So it is the same as your case 3. above.
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I'm sorry.
    You are right frugnaglio:thumbsup:, it is not the question in itself that makes the preverb separate from the verb but the question word which (similarly to all the other cases) has the emphatic accent (may not be the right term linguistically in English) on it that is the reason for the separation. (It is lucky I put those words in bold though, at least it was visible which word helps to recognize the emphasis that could not be indicated in a written form.)

    It may be evident but I add (just to make sure) that such a word has to come before the verb in the sentence - which is also connected to our word order rules within a sentence.
     

    gorilla

    Member
    Hungarian - Hungary
    It's also worth noting that these preverbs (or coverbs) could be considered separate words for the purposes of word order. They move around as other words.

    "Sokat eszem." - "Miért eszel sokat?"
    "Kórházba került." - "Miért került kórházba?"
    "Elmegyek. - "Miért mész el?"
    "El kell mennem" - "Miért kell elmenned"
    "Sokat kell ennem" - "Miért kell sokat enned?"

    Etc.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    ... It does happen in questions phrased with a question word (what, who, why etc.) since the question word is always the element in emphasis ...
    Yes, consequently it happens in general when the element in emphasis is not the verb itself (not necessarily with a question word). E.g. Mária késett el? Te késtél el? Tegnap késtél el?

    As to the word order, there is an other thing to be taken in consideration as well. See the following difference:
    Elmentem - approximately "I have gone away"
    Mentem el -
    approximately "I was going away"
    (This example doesn't work very well with the verb elkésni, as késni "normally" is not a continuous action)

     

    frugnaglio

    Senior Member
    Italian
    As to the word order, there is an other thing to be taken in consideration as well. See the following difference:
    Elmentem - approximately "I have gone away"
    Mentem el -
    approximately "I was going away"
    This is yet something else. I remember I learnt about this with “Megyek le a lépcsőn / Lemegyek a lépcsőn”, but I have never known how productive this is. Hmm I guess it's material for another thread (not now - I'm lazy)
     
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