Modal Verbs / muszáj, szükséges, tilos


It expresses absolute necessity.

Present tense: muszáj
Past tense: muszáj volt
Future tense: muszáj lesz
Present conditional: muszáj volna/lenne
Past conditional: muszáj lett volna


Muszáj elmennünk úszni.
We must go swimming.

Muszáj volt elmennünk úszni.
We had to go swimming.

Muszáj lesz elmennünk úszni.
We’ll have to go swimming.

Muszáj lenne elmennünk úszni.
It would be a must for us to go swimming.

Muszáj lett volna elmennünk úszni.
It would’ve been a must for us to go swimming.

Muszáj meghívni őket?
Do we have to invite them?

Nem lett volna muszáj kiabálnod.
It wasn’t necessary to shout.

Muszáj a múzeumban lennünk egyre!
It is a must that we be at the museum by one o’clock!

-Írd meg a leckédet! –Muszáj?
Write your homework. –Do I have to?


nem muszáj = don’t have to, don’t need to

Nem muszáj itt maradnod.
It’s not necessary for you to stay.

Nem volt muszáj megbántani.
There was no need to offend him.


It is more used in subordinate hogy-clauses, rather than with infinitives!

Szükséges volt, hogy megtaláljunk (téged).
It was necessary for us to find you.


Present tense: szükséges
Past tense: szükséges volt
Future tense: szükséges lesz
Present conditional: szükséges volna/lenne
Past conditional: szükséges lett volna

Other use:

Szerződés(ek) is szükséges(ek) hozzá.
A contract/contracts is/are needed to do it.

The negation is: nem szükséges = not necessary


It expresses: prohibition

Present tense: tilos
Past tense: tilos volt
Future tense: tilos lesz
Present conditional: tilos volna/lenne
Past conditional: tilos lett volna


A fűre lépni tilos!
Keep off the grass.

Dohányozni tilos!
No smoking.

Tilos tüntetni a téren.
Demonstrations are interdicted on the square.

Nem tilos véleményt mondani.
It is not prohibited to tell your opinion.

Other words expressing some kind of interdict:

betilt vmt – to ban sg
kitilt vkt vhonnan – to warn off sy from swhere
letiltja vknek a fizetését – to stop one’s payment
tiltakozik vm ellen – to protest against sg

You can also say nem szabad instead of tilos.

Nem szabad embert ölni. – You must not kill people.


Next time I’m starting the suffixes. I think it’s time 🙂

Modal Verbs / kellene


This verb is the 3rd PS indefinite conditional form of kell. It expresses: should.

Present tense: kellene (3rd PS), kellenének (3rd PP)
Past tense: kellett volna (3rd PS), kellettek volna (3rd PP)
Future tense: kellene majd (3rd PS), kellenének majd (3rd PP)

The colloquial form is: kéne. It can be heard more often in everyday conversations.


El kellene mennünk úszni.
We should go swimming.

El kellett volna mennünk úszni.
We should have gone swimming.

Nem kéne már itt lenniük?
Shouldn’t they be here by now?

Nem kellett volna már ott lenniük?
Shouldn’t they have been there by now?

Majd a múzeumnál kellene lennünk háromra!
We should be at the museum by three!


If you deny kell, you just add nem: nem kell. But be careful with it. It cannot be translated as must not. ‘Must not’ means tilos = forbidden (more about that later). So you can say in English:

nem kell = don’t have to, don’t need to, needn’t

Nem kell sehova mennem.
I don’t have to go anywhere.

Nem kellett új bankszámlát nyitnod.
You didn’t have to open a new bank account.
You didn’t need to open a new bank account.

As for kellene = should, you say: nem kellene = shouldn’t

Ma sehova nem kellene mennem, de én kirándulok egyet.
Today I don’t need to go anywhere, but I’ll make an excursion.

Nem kellett volna új bankszámlát nyitnod.
You shouldn’t have opened a new bank account.
You didn’t need to open a new bank account.

In English, there is some difference between don’t have to, don’t need to, needn’t, shouldn’t. For Hungarian people it is just nem kell or nem kellene. The rest can be understood from the context.


You can use kell/kellene not only as modal verbs, but also as main verbs. In this case, they can be translated as:

to need

and it requires -nak, -nek to express a person/thing needs something.

Nem kellenének a füzetek? – Don’t you need the notebooks?
Kellettek ezek a tollak? – Did you need this pen?
Kellenének az iratok, de azonnal! – I need the documents right now!
Ha gazdag lennél, se kellennél nekem. – Even if you were rich, I wouldn’t want you.
Kinek kell ez a sok pénz? – Who wants that much money?
Mindenkinek kell egy kis sikerélmény. – Everyone needs a little success.

NOTE! The future tense for kell as modal verb is: kell majd. You can’t say kelleni fog in that case. However, as a main verb, it can have the future tense with fog or with majd: kelleni fog, kell majd. You choose.

Kelleni fog nekik az autó? – Will they need the car?
Kell majd nekik az autó? – Will they need the car?

Of course, if there is one thing you need, you say KELL. For more than one thing KELLENEK is used.

Next time we’re talking about muszáj and tilos. Bye! 🙂

Modal Verbs / kell


If it takes the infinitive form, then it is a general reference to someone, something. If it takes the infinitive with personal suffixes, it specifically refers to someone, something. Anyway, it expresses obligation.

Formation: This verb may require the dative pronouns, but it is not mandatory. It takes the main verb in its infinitive form either with personal suffixes or not:


 Present: kell Past: kellett Future: kell majd

Ennyi munka után enni kell.
After so much work one has to eat.
Ennyi munka után enned kell.
After so much work you have to eat.

Ennyi munka után enni kellett.
After so much work one had to eat.
Ennyi munka után enned kellett.
After so much work you had to eat.

Ennyi munka után enni kell majd.
After so much work one will have to eat.
Ennyi munka után enned kell majd.
After so much work you will have to eat.

See the difference? If there’s a simple infinitive of the main verb, it refers to something generally. With an infinitive conjugated, it refers to something/somebody specifically. I know I keep saying the same, but I think it is important.

Look at the diversity of the English use when it comes to obligation:

Tudnom kell. – I need to know.
Mennem kell. – I must go.
Enned kell valamit. – You should eat something.

Korán kell kelnünk, hogy el ne késsünk.
We have to get up early so that we’re not late.

NOTE! It’s important that you don’t conjugate kell like in English. You conjugate the infinitive of the main verb and leave kell as it is.

If you talk about a specific person or thing, you have to use the suffixes -nak, -nek! Example:

A barátomnak tízkor meg kell érkeznie.
My friend should arrive at ten.

Ahogy látom, a kutyának sürgősen orvoshoz kell mennie.
As I see, the dog must go to a doctor urgently.

I didn’t mention the conditional form of kell because it is translated with should in English. More about that next time.

Modal Verbs / More About Lehet

We’ve seen how lehet takes the infinitive when talking about general statements.

Le lehet ülni a padra is .
One can sit down on the bench, too.

What if you want to specify the person with lehet? Then you can do this:

To specify the person, you should use something you already know: -hat, -het.

Leülhetek a padra. – I can/may sit down on the bench.
Leülhetünk a padra. – We can/may sit down on the bench.

However, lehet has another function, as well. It has a meaning equal to maybe, perhaps. It is expressed with hogy-clauses. The conjunction hogy is equal to the English that.

Lehet, hogy később kelek fel.
Maybe I’ll get up later.

Lehet, hogy nincs otthon.
Perhaps he’s not at home.

The synonyms are: talán (which really means maybe) and lehetséges, hogy (possible)

Talán nincs otthon. – Maybe he‘s not at home.
Lehetséges, hogy nincs otthon. – It is possible that he‘s not at home.

If you deny lehet, hogy it simply becomes: nem lehet, hogy. Take a look at these sentences:

Nem lehet, hogy otthon van.
It is not possible that he’s at home.

Nem lehet, hogy nincs otthon.
It is not possible that he‘s not at home.

NOTE! Since talán literally means maybe, perhaps, it doesn’t require hogy. And so it is simply denied like this:

Talán nem/nincs…

Talán nem tud róla.
Maybe he doesn’t know about it.

Talán nincs Internet a munkahelyén, és ezért nem írt.
Maybe there’s no Internet where he works and that’s why he didn’t write.

So far we’ve been talking about modal verbs that express permission, possibility. Next time we’ll deal with kell, kellene.

Bye now 🙂

Modal Verbs / lehet


Equivalent: may, might, to be allowed, maybe. It requries the infinitive.

However, it can be translated or even not translated depending on certain idiomatic expressions. Take a look at the Present Tense example:

is to be had = lehet kapni

Hungarian literally says: one can get

Lehet kapni még azt a könyvet?
Is that book still to be had?

Lehetett beszélni a főnökkel is.
One could talk even to the director.

Lehet majd napozni a strandon.
You can sunbathe on the beach.

Lehetne többet tudni a filmről?
May I know more about the movie?

Lehetett volna szebb szekrényt is rendelni.
A nicer cupboard could have been ordered.

More examples:

Akkoriban nem lehetett ilyesmit mondani.
At that time you weren’t allowed to say things like that.

Hogy lehetne elérni, hogy békén hagyjon?
How can we get him to leave us alone?

As you see it is not mandatory for the infinitive to follow lehet. You can insert the rest of the information between lehet and the infinitive or not. Topic-prominent aspect, that is it’s your choice. Take a look at this example whose English translation is:

One can/may say counter-arguments, too.

Ellenérvet is lehet mondani.
Lehet mondani ellenérvet is.
Lehet ellenérvet is mondani.

Next time I’ll write more about lehet because it has more functions than what you see above. Bye now 🙂

Modal Verbs / Conjugating The Infinitive

I bring up this topic in this part of the grammar because you (might) need to conjugate the infinitive with certain modal verbs: szabad, kell, kellene, tilos. These verbs and adjectives have an impersonal aspect to them, meaning they don’t refer to anything/anyone specifically, but only in general sense.

That’s why you need to conjugate the infinitive. The infinitive itself refers to things/people generally. By conjugating it, you can specify who/what it should refer to.

NOTE! The conjugation for both definite and indefinite aspect is the same with the infinitive.

Suffixes for deep verbs:

Suffixes for high verbs:
-em, -öm
-ed, -öd
-etek, -ötök

You just remove the i from the infinitive form and add the suffixes above: látni > látnom

DEEP VERB: látni

HIGH VERB: nézni, ülni
néznem, ülnöm
nézned, ülnöd
néznie, ülnie
néznünk, ülnünk
néznetek, ülnötök
nézniük, ülniük

Furthermore, you can add the dative pronouns if you want. When talking about people, things, you (might) need the suffixes -nak, -nek.


Meg szabad nézni a filmet.
One is allowed to watch the movie.
(Nekünk) Meg szabad néznünk a filmet.
We are allowed to watch the movie.

Mindig meg kell mondani az igazat.
One always has to tell the truth.
(Neked) Mindig meg kell mondanod az igazat.
You always have to tell the truth.

Aludni kellene, késő van.
One should sleep. It’s late.
(Nekik) Aludniuk kellene, késő van.
They should sleep. It’s late.

Tilos az öltözőbe bemenni.
One must not enter the dressing-room.
(Neki) Tilos az öltözőbe bemennie.
He must not enter the dressing-room.

A kisgyerekeknek tilos ilyen filmet nézniük.
Small children must not watch such movies.

A bicikliknek a járdán kell parkolniuk.
Bycycles have to park on the sidewalk.

Keep learning. Bye now! 🙂

Modal Verbs / szabad


It is a verb that helps you say things like: to be unbound to do sg. However, most of the time you just translate it as: may, to be allowed. The word ’szabad’ as an adjective means ’free’!



As English doesn’t really have a separate word for szabad, I’ll use the expression: to be allowed to

Szabad nézni. – You’re allowed to look.
Nem szabad nézni. – You’re not allowed to look.

Szabad volt nézni. – You were allowed to look.
Nem volt szabad nézni. – You were not allowed to look.

Szabad lesz nézni. – You’ll be allowed to look.
Nem lesz szabad nézni. – You’ll be not allowed to look.

Szabad volna nézni. – You would be allowed to look.
Nem volna szabad nézni. – You would not be allowed to look.

Szabad lett volna nézni. – You would have been allowed to look.
Nem lett volna szabad nézni. – You would not have been allowed to look.

If you use szabad alone, it generally refers to everybody. If you talk about a specific person, you need the dative pronouns or you can omit dative pronouns and conjugate the infinitive!

Neked szabad úsznod.
You may swim / You are allowed to swim.

Nekünk nem szabad engedély nélkül elmennünk.
We’re not allowed to leave without permission.

Hát szabad ilyet mondani?
It’s not a proper way to talk!

Szabad bejönnöm?
May I come in?

Szabad (lenne) megkérdeznem
Would you mind my asking…

If you deny szabad, then the English equivalents can be:

you can’t, you’re not allowed, you may not

Nem szabad csúnyán beszélni.
You can’t use bad language.

Nem szabad szaladgálni.
You’re not allowed to run around on the road.

Szabad meztelenül sétálnom egy áruházba? –Nem szabad.
May I walk around naked in a store? -No, you may not.

More about conjugating the infinitive in the next entry.

Modal Verbs / képes, képtelen

These adjectives are synonyms to ’tud, -hat, -het’. There are two ways to use them:

képes/képtelen +
lenni conjugated +
noun with suffix -ra, -re


képes/képtelen +
lenni conjugated +
verb in infinitive form

Remember the predicative adjectives! It is about the same thing now. You don’t use ’lenni’ in 3rd PS and 3rd PP in present tense! The plural for these adjectives is:

képesek, képtelenek

As for these adjectives, definite and indefinite conjugation is an irrelevant issue because they require the infinitive of the verb, which refers to both definite and indefinite.

Képes megtenni. – He’s able to do it.
Képtelen megtenni. – He’s unable to do it.

Képes volt megtenni. – He was able to do it.
Képtelen volt megtenni.- He was unable to do it.

Képes lesz megtenni. – He’ll be able to do it.
Képtelen lesz megtenni. – He’ll be unable to do it.

Képes volna megtenni. – He would be able to do it.
Képtelen volna megtenni. – He would be unable to do it.

Képes lett volna megtenni. – He would have been able to do it.
Képtelen lett volna megtenni. – He would have been unable to do it.


Képes vagyok rá. – I can do that.
Képtelen vagyok rá. – I can’t do that.
Képesek voltak hazudni! – They lied right to our faces!
Képtelenek voltunk megtenni. – We were incapable of that.
Képes volnál itt hagyni? – You would just leave me here?

So you can use a noun or an infinitive like in English:

-Képes vagy a feladat megoldására? -Képes vagyok .
-Are you capable of solving the task? -I am capable of that.

-Képes vagy megoldani a feladatot? -Képes vagyok megoldani.
-Are you able to solve the task? -I am able to solve it.

More next time.

Modal Verbs / tud


Formation: tud + infinitive

Indef: El tudunk olvasni mindent.
Indef: We can read everything.
Def: El tudjuk olvasni a könyvet.
Def: We can read the book.

Indef: El tudtunk olvasni mindent.
Indef: We could read everything.
Def: El tudtuk olvasni a könyvet.
Def: We could read the book.

Indef: El fogunk tudni olvasni mindent.
Indef: We’ll be able to read everything.
Def: El fogjuk tudni olvasni a könyvet.
Def: We’ll be able to read the book.

Indef: El tudnánk olvasni mindent.
Indef: We could read everything (if)…
Def: El tudnánk olvasni a könyvet.
Def: We could read the book (if)…

Indef: El tudtunk volna olvasni mindent.
Indef: We could have read everything (if)…
Def: El tudtuk volna olvasni a könyvet.
Def: We could have read the book (if)…

The main verb elolvasni has a complete aspect to it. What you learned about Hungarian phrasal verbs is also valid now. If a modal verb is inserted between the verbal prefix and its verb, everything is written separately!

There’s no such thing: eltudom olvasni = WRONG

The only correct writing is: el tudom olvasni = CORRECT

More examples:

Meg tudom csinálni. – I can do it.
El tudják mondani kívülről. – They know it by heart.
Tudok zongorázni. – I can play the piano.
Három nyelven tudok beszélni. – I (can) speak three languages.

NOTE! Meg tud + verb is not to be confused with:

megtud = to get to know!!!

Meg tudtam írni a dolgozatot.
I could write the test.

Megtudtam, hogy mégsem írunk dolgozatot.
I just learned we wouldn’t write any test.

Next time képes, képtelen. Bye! 🙂

Modal Verbs / -hat, -het

Before getting absorbed into far-fetched explanations, let’s see the English modal verbs first! Verbs like will and would are not listed here because you can see how to use them if you return to ’Future Tense’ and ’Conditional’.

 -hat, -het – can, may, to be allowed
tud – can
képes …-re – able to, capable of
képtelen …-re – unable to, incapable of
szabad – may, to be allowed
kell – have to, must, need
kellene – should, ought to
muszáj – must, have to
szükséges – necessary
tilos – forbidden


USE: -hat, -het express that somebody may / is allowed to do something or something may be / is allowed to be done. It corresponds with the English ’may’ much more than ’can’! These endings are attached to the dictionary form of the verb followed by the personal suffixes: láthatok, nézhetek.


verb 3rd PS idefinite conjugation +
-hat/-het +
personal suffixes

Látsz egy filmet. – You see a movie.
Láthatsz egy filmet. – You may/can see a movie.

Látod a filmet. – You see the movie.
Láthatod a filmet. – You may/can see the movie.

Láttál egy filmet. – You saw a movie.
Láthattál egy filmet. – You were allowed to see a movie.

Láttad a filmet. – You saw the movie.
Láthattad a filmet. – You were allowed to see the movie.

FUTURE with majd
Látsz majd egy filmet. – You will see a movie.
Láthatsz majd egy filmet. – You will be allowed to see a movie.

Látod majd a filmet. – You will see the movie.
Láthatod majd a filmet. – You will be allowed to see the movie.

Látnál egy filmet. – You would see a movie.
Láthatnál egy filmet. – You would be allowed to see a movie.

Látnád a filmet. – You would see the movie.
Láthatnád a filmet. – You would be allowed to see the movie.

Láttál volna egy filmet. – You would have seen a movie.
Láthattál volna egy filmet. – You would have been allowed to see a movie.

Láttad volna a filmet. – You would have seen the movie.
Láthattad volna a filmet. – You would have been allowed to see the movie.


Bejöhetek? – May I come in?
Leülhetek? – May I take a seat?
Megkérdezhetem? – May I ask?
Elmehetsz. – You may leave.
Zongorázhatunk. – We may play the piano.

As you see vowel harmony is present with -hat, -het. Deep words with -hat, high words with -het.

Of course, you can say the conditional sentences in English like this, too:

You would be allowed to see the movie.
You could see the movie.

You would have been allowed to see the movie.
You could have seen the movie.

More next time.