Hungarian/Lesson 4

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Lessons: 1234Vocab

Words part 3[edit | edit source]

Compound nouns[edit | edit source]

As you might have noticed, the nouns mentioned before are all simple nouns, but there are compound nouns in Hungarian as well that can be as long as the compound words used in German. The resemblance is not a coincidence, Hungarian neologists of the early 19th century loan translated lots of German compound nouns. One of these is anyanyelv=anya ("mother")+nyelv ("language") which means "native language" ("Muttersprache" in German).

We can group the compound nouns based on the relation between the constituents:

Verbs and conjugations[edit | edit source]

In Hungarian there are only three tenses: past,present and future. In this section we will cover only the present tense.

Infinitive forms end in "-ni". However in the dictionaries verbs are in present indefinite singular 3rd person form.

olvasni to read
olvas reads
Indefinite conjugation of "olvas"
én olvasok ( egy könyvet) I read (a book)
te olvasol you read (singular you)
ő olvas he/she reads
mi olvasunk we read
ti olvastok you read (plural you)
ők olvasnak they read
Definite conjugation of "olvas"
én olvasom ( a könyvet) I read ((a specific) book)
te olvasod you read (singular you)
ő olvassa he/she reads
mi olvassuk we read
ti olvassátok you read (plural you)
ők olvassák they read

"eszik" is an "ikes ige" (literally verb that ends in "ik", but this is actually a distinct grammatical category of verbs; there are also fake "ikes ige"; there aren't many of them, you just should treat them as irregular verbs; I don't suggest learning the suffixes alone)

enni to eat
eszik eats
én eszem mi eszünk
te eszel ti esztek
ő eszik ők esznek
én eszem mi esszük
te eszed ti eszitek
ő eszi ők eszik

Nearly every verb has an indefinite form, where the object (the item receiving the verb's action) of the verb is indefinite or where there is no object. (This is advanced stuff, you don't really need it at the beginner level, and using the indefinite conjugation instead of the definite or vice versa isn't a source of misunderstanding.)
For an English example: I like fish. "I" is the subject, and "fish" is the object. Here we would use the indefinite Hungarian form of the verb, because the object is indefinite (you are saying you like fish in general, not any specific fish-- not for example the fish you are eating right now.) The verb "to go" cannot take an object (it is intransitive), so in Hungarian we always use the indefinite form.

Some verbs have definite and indefinite forms as well. Definite forms are always used with a definite object. In the phrase I like this fish, the verb acts on a definite object (this fish, not just a fish, not just fish in general), so we would use the Hungarian definite form.
With the verbs that can use both forms, one must consider the object when conjugating.

Eszik has both definite and indefinite forms. The difference is not apparent in 1st singular, where both endings are -m.

Joghurtot eszem. I eat yoghurt. (indefinite)
Megeszem a (pohár) joghurtot. I eat the (glass of) yoghurt. (definite)
Eszem egy (pohár) joghurtot. I eat a (glass of) joghurt. (indefinite)
Milyen joghurtot eszel? What kind of joghurt are you eating? (indefinite)
Melyik joghurtot eszed? Which joghurt are you eating? (definite)

Finally, note that the object of a verb needs to reflect that it is the object. The suffix -t is used to show that the words is in the accusative case. In the above examples, joghurt is the "dictionary" form of the word, but in the phrases is it an object (the yoghurt is being eaten), so it must have a -t suffix. The link vowel o in joghurtot is for vowel harmony.

Kis/kicsi, két/kettő[edit | edit source]

Hungarian has two words for small and two:

Kis, kicsi - small
Két/kettő - two.

Kis usually comes before a noun and kicsi elsewhere, however this is a loose rule, but in compound words, only kis appears (for example, kisgyerek - toddler).

Két/kettő. Again, you should use két before something (e.g. két dollár), but you have to note something. Kettő is more formal, but you can use két in daily speech. The problem with két is only that it sounds similar to hét (seven). So, it is better to use kettő when talking about money!

Yes-no questions[edit | edit source]

Yes-no questions are formed exactly like normal statements in declarative mode (you may call them declarative questions), but -- and this is crucial-- they have a different intonation. Pitch starts lower and rises towards the end, ending with a sharp drop in tone on the final syllable.

Józsi elment a boltba. Joe went to the shop. / Joe has gone to the shop.
Józsi elment a boltba? Did Joe go to the shop? / Has Joe gone to the shop?

About this sound listen

In the above example, the stress is on Józsi. Joe went. Was it Joe (or someone else) who went? However, if I am not wondering about who, but instead want to know whether he went or not, I will ask:
Elment Józsi a boltba? About this sound listen

General subject: ember[edit | edit source]

ember human, person
emberek people
Az ember nem bízhat meg senkiben. One cannot trust anybody.
Az emberek nem bíznak egymásban. People don't trust each other.
Az emberiség sokat haladt az utóbbi húsz évben. Mankind made a great progress in the last twenty years.
emberiség ellen elkövetett bűntettek crimes against humanity

Active/passive voice[edit | edit source]

In Hungarian passive voice isn't used except for a few simple cases. In complex sentences the usage of passive voice sounds strange, Hunglish. (Instead, the usual equivalent of an English passive is for the verb to be in 3rd person plural and for the subject to be an impersonal "they": Thomas was killed --> They killed Thomas = Megölték a Tomást. )

Az autó elromlott.1 The car is broken down. (Literally: The car has broken down. )
A pad frissen van festve.* The bench is freshly painted.
Az ablak be van törve.* The window is broken.

*: These are examples of the few exceptional cases when passive is used. These are made up with the auxiliary verb "van" + "-va/-ve" for the main verb.

1: In this case past tense is used in Hungarian.

Examples (not strictly relating to the grammar in this lesson)[edit | edit source]

(from the lyrics of a popular rock song (Kölyköd voltam, Edda művek) This example shows complex examples using all the grammar in the four previous lesson. (Conjugation, genitive (possessive "pronoun"), affixes)

Karodon ültem évekig, I sat on your arm for years,
Akaratod rabja voltam. I was a prisoner of your will.
A vágyak bennem egyre nőttek, The lusts have been growing inside me,
Elfelejtem, hogy kölyköd voltam. I forget that I was your kid.

Notice: Kölyök is considered a bit vulgar. It is mostly used when referring to animals.

kutya dog
kölyökkutya puppy

Hiába hívnál megtört szívvel, You would call me (home) in vain with broken heart,
Elnyeltek a sűrű városok. The dense cities engulfed me.
A tűzfalakra írtam éjjel: I wrote on the firewalls at night:
Engem ne várjatok! Don't wait for me !

Notice: várjatok is plural imperative form.

szívvel-lélekkel with heart and soul
lélek soul

Exercises[edit | edit source]

Solutions (Lesson 3)[edit | edit source]

Guessing[edit | edit source]

Scooter is called roller in Hungarian.

The left one is nagyi the right one is nagy i.
Capital i is called nagy i. (Notice the space/break.)

abc order[edit | edit source]

Éhes should be before Ember (long and short vowels are treated together)

Rövid should be after Rózsaszín (vowels with umlauts are considered separate letters)

Suffixes: könyvek, földek, körök (note the difference), sálak, kádak, lányok (note the difference), emberek, országok, városok, fogasok, hidak (irregular, í becomes i), narancsok, nyeremények, zsákok, kenyerek (irregular, é becomes e), rózsák, kutyák, csíkok (note that while the word is a front word, the suffix is a back suffix; the same with sípok ("fifes"), but szírek ("Syrians")), szőlők, tyúkok, nyarak (irregular, á becomes a)

Pronunciation[edit | edit source]

Using your knowledge on the Hungarian letters, try to pronounce (and memorise) the following Hungarian words, then listen to the audio file to check yourself:

fürdő [bath] kendő [kerchief] ernyő [umbrella]
zöld [green] tök [squash] örök [ever]
híres [famous] írt [cut out] sír [to cry, weep]
határ [border] kabát [coat] barát [friend]
ebéd [lunch] elég [enough] kevés [not enough]
bőr [skin] erdő [forest] tető [roof]
gyűrű [ring] gyűjt [to collect] gyümölcs [fruit]

About this sound Check your pronunciation

New exercises[edit | edit source]


Vocabulary[edit | edit source]


Lessons: 1234Vocab