Word Order – Verbal Prefix


You already know this:

1. The verbal prefix precedes the verb and is written together with it in normal / general statements.

Felkelek. – I get up.
Megesszük a levest. – We eat up the soup.
Kitakarítják a szobát. – They tidy up the room.

2. The verbal prefix follows the verb and is written separately from it in imperative mood, negation.

Keljek fel? – Shall I get up?
Nem kelek fel? – I won’t get up.

Együk meg a levest! – Let’s eat up the soup.
Nem esszük meg a levest. – We won’t eat up the soup.

Takarítsák ki a szobát! – They’d better tidy up the room.
Nem takarítják ki a szobát! – They won’t tidy up the room.

3. The verbal prefix is written separately from the verb if a third word is inserted between them.

Fel akarok kelni. – I want to get up.
Meg kell ennünk a levest. – We must eat up the soup.
Ki tudják takarítani a szobát. – They can tidy up the room.

What you don’t know (yet) is that certain expressions require the verbal prefix to behave like in imperative mood and negation. These are expressions with contrasted / excluding / negative meaning. Examples:

alig, aligha, kevésbé, nem annyira, kevesen, nem sokan, nehezen, ritkán, csak, csupán, mindössze, kizárólag

Alig néztél bele a könyvbe. – You hardly looked into the book.
Nem annyira eszem meg a spenótot. – I don’t really like spinach.
Kevésmondja meg az életkorát. – Few women tell their age.
Nehezen írok le ilyesmit. – It’s difficult for me to write down such things.
Csak ketten jöttek el. – There were only two people.


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