Reported Question

Before taking a look at reported question, let’s see some more examples for reported speech.


Take my hand’, John said to Mary.
Fogd meg a kezem!” -mondta John Mary-nek.

John told Mary to take his hand.
John azt mondta Mary-nek, hogy fogja meg a kezét.

Stop it, son, or I’ll slap you in the face.’, the mother said.
Hagyd abba, fiam vagy pofon ütlek téged.” -mondta az anya.

The mother told his son to stop it or she would slap him in the face.
Az anya azt mondta a fiának, hogy hagyja abba vagy pofon üti őt.

You see that the pronouns changed, just as the possessive endings according to reported or direct speech. And NOTE that Hungarian uses inversion and dash instead of a comma:

,the mother said = –mondta az anya

Furthermore, Hungarian uses double quotation marks, not just something like an apostrophe:

Stop it.= Hagyd abba!

But the first quotation mark used in Hungarian at the beginning of the sentence is at the bottom of the letter and not at the top of the letter. I can’t write such things on this blog. It only allows me to write it as you see “…”.


It is quite the same. Examples:

“Tényleg beteg?” –kérdezte Márk.
Is she really ill?’, Mark asked.

Márk azt kérdezte, hogy tényleg beteg-e.
Mark asked if she was really ill.

Vettél uborkát is, Béla?” –kiváncsiskodott a feleség.
Did you buy some cucumber, Béla?’, the wife wondered.

A feleség arról kíváncsiskodott, hogy Béla vette-e uborkát.
The wife wondered if  Béla bought some cucumber.

It is not rare that the subordinate clause is introduced by IF, WHETHER whose Hungarian equivalents are:

-e, vajon

Take a look at the use:

He asked me if I would go to school.
Azt kérdezte, hogy megyek-e iskolába.

He asked me whether I would go to school.
Azt kérdeztevajon megyek-e iskolába.

He asked me whether to go to school.
Azt kérdezte, elmegyek-e iskolába.

So most of the time you can just use -e in such sentences. However, when English says ‘I wonder if…’, then Hungarian uses vajon. And then, usually the Hungarian sentence is a question. But vajon is not always a good solution. Sometimes it’s better to translate it with the adjective kiváncsi!

I wonder if he comes. – Vajon eljön?

She wonders if you told the truth.
Kiváncsi, hogy az igazat mondtad-e.

Note that -e is connected with a hyphen to the verb: mondtad-e

So much for reported speech. Next time I’ll write stuff about the passive voice, then phrasal verbs.

Bye now! 🙂

Reported Speech

Reported speech means that you report something you heard from someone in a story-telling way. Direct speech, however, requires the speaker to quote exactly what one heard.


The Terminator said “I’ll be back“.
A Terminátor azt mondta, “Visszatérek“.

The Terminator said he would be back.
A Terminátor azt mondta, hogy visszatér.

The English sentence changed its tense (will > would), but the Hungarian didn’t. This phenomenon, which doesn’t exist in Hungarian is called: SEQUENCE OF TENSES. It doesn’t exist in Hungarian because you need to have more past tenses so that you can actually apply a sequence for tenses. But Hungarian only has one past tense, so there’s nothing for the past verb in the main clause to agree with in the subordinate clause. As you see above, Hungarian used Present Tense in both sentences.

Take a look at this:

He says he is watching TV. – Azt mondja, hogy tévét néz.
He said he was watching TV. – Azt mondta, hogy tévét néz.

In the second sentence the English ‘he was watching’ refers to present tense, but it is expressed with the past tense due to the sequence of tenses. Hungarian just uses Present Tense again even if the main clause has a past tense verb. However, the second English sentence can also mean that ‘he was watching’ in the past. Look:

-What is he doing now? -He said he was watching TV.
‘was watching’ refers to present tense!

-What was he doing yesterday? -He said he was watching TV.
‘was watching’ refers to past tense!!

And then the Hungarian sentence looks like this:
Azt mondta, hogy tévét nézett.

Basically, sequence of tenses means that if the verb of the main clause is in past tense, then the verb of the subordinate clause must be in past tense, as well.

However, other elements change, too: pronouns, adverbs of place, adverbs of time. And these parts of speech also change in Hungarian.

now > then
most > akkor

today > that day
ma > aznap

tomorrow > the next day
holnap > a következő nap

the day after tomorrow > in two days
holnap > két nap múlva

yesterday > the day before
tegnap > az előző nap

the day before yesterday > two days ago
tegnapelőtt > két nappal ezelőtt

two weeks ago > two weeks before
két hete > két héttel azelőtt

last year > in the previous year
tavaly > az előző évben

next year > in the following year
jövőre > a következő évben

recently > shortly before
nemrégen > röviddel azelőtt

soon > soon after
nemsokára > nemsokára !!!

this, these > that, those
ez, ezek > az, azok

here > there
itt > ott

I think it’s enough for today. Next time we’ll see more examples and we’ll talk about reported question.