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 / 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.