Omitting Pronouns in (In)Definite Conjugation

In English you always need to use any pronoun (direct, indirect, demonstrative…) irregardless of whether the verb refers to an indefinite or definite object/person.

I’m writing a letter. I’m writing the letter.

The object is ’letter’ and our verb ’write’ is the same in both sentences. The indefiniteness and definiteness of ’letter’ are expressed with the indefinite and definite articles ’a, the’. Here’s the Hungarian translation:

I’m writing a letter. – Írok egy levelet.
I’m writing the letter. – Írom a levelet.

As you can see, the Hungarian verb ’ír-write’ has two different conjugations. The indefinite conjugation requires the -ok suffix in 1st person singular present tense, whereas the definite conjugation in the same person/number/tense is formed with the -om suffix. The indefinite and definite articles are used accordingly.

So far so good. But what if we get a question like ’Are you writing a/the letter’? How do you answer that question?

Are you writing a letter? – Yes, I’m writing it.
Írsz egy levelet? – Igen, azt írok.

Are you writing the letter? – Yes, I’m writing it.
Írod a levelet? – Igen, azt írom.

The pronoun ’it’ refers back to ’a letter’ and ’the letter’. In the same way, the Hungarian demonstrative pronoun ’az’ turns into an accusative pronoun ’azt’ to refer back to ’egy levelet’ and ’a levelet’.
And that’s when omitting pronouns becomes relevant. In everyday language, we do tend to ”forget” saying certain pronouns when the context is clear and we know for sure what we are talking about. So the above-mentioned answers can be turned into:

Igen, írok. Igen, írom.

It is more common, though, that we leave out pronouns when the verbs are in definite conjugation. Since the definite conjugation already refers to the object, there is no confusion about the context. Let’s see more examples with other pronouns, too. So that you know what I omit, I’ll parenthesize the pronouns. It is also evident from the examples that English has to use those pronouns.

-Látod a lányt? – Igen, látom (őt).
-Can you see the girl? – Yes, I can see her.

-Akarjátok az új ruhákat vagy sem? – Nem, nem akarjuk (azokat).
-Do you want the new clothes or not? – No, we don’t want them.

The problem starts when there seems to be no context like in this question:

-Látod? – Can you see it?

We translate it with ’can you see it’ because ’látod’ is obviously in definite conjugation. The speaker knows exactly what he sees and that’s why he’s asking ’Látod?’.

-Látod? – Can you see it?
-Semmit nem látok. Te mit látsz? – I can’t see anything. What can you see?
-A boltot. – The shop.
-Igen, már látom. – Yes, I can see it now.

The other person answers ’nem látok’ in indefinite conjugation because he cannot see anything. And ’anything/nothing’ is something indefinite. So is ’something’, by the way :). Then he asks ’mit látsz’ in indefinite conjugation because he still cannot see anything. Finally, the speaker clarifies ’boltot’. So the other person answers ’látom’ in definite conjugation. Now he knows exactly what he sees. It does not matter if the answer is affirmative or negative. The same rules apply.

That’s why you give such answers:

-Nem értek semmit. -Az egyenletet így kell megoldani. Már érted? -Igen, értem.
-I don’t understand anything. -The equation has to be solved like this. Do you understand now? -Yes, I understand (it).

This is a good example for native English speakers because as you see the verb ’understand’ does not require ’it’ when you answer. Yet you know exactly what you understand.

-Érted? – Do you understand?
-Értem. – I understand.

Let’s take a look at more examples:

-A bank elveszi a házadat. – Nem hagyom.
-The bank is going to take your house. – I’m not going to let (it happen).

-Tessék a visszajáró! – Köszönöm.
-Here’s your change. – Thank you.

The verb ’köszön’ has two meanings ’to say thank you’ and ’to greet’. If it means ’to say thank you’, it is transitive, so Hungarian people thank something, and not thank for something. On the other hand, if you greet someone, it is transitive in English, but it requires an indirect object in Hungarian. Actually, we say ’greet to someone = köszön valakinek’.

-Köszönöm a visszajárót! – Köszöntem önnek, amikor bejöttem? – Igen, ön mindig köszön nekem.
-Thank you for the change. – Did I greet you when I entered? – Yes, you always greet me.

The difficulty also lies in the different use of verbs in English and Hungarian. A verb that is transitive in English might be intransitive in Hungarian and viceversa. In the above-mentioned sentence you can’t use ’köszön’ in definite conjugation because it is not transitive. It cannot require an object.
Let’s contrast indefinite and definite conjugation with ’ért’.

-Érted? – Mindent értek.
-Do you understand? – I understand everything.

’Minden’ is indefinite or general, so ’értek’ is in indefinite conjugation.

PROBLEMS WITH ACCUSATIVE PRONOUNS

As languages do not consist of rules that always make sense, we have to be prepared to learn odd things. That is the case with accusative pronouns if you conjugate verbs in definite mode. To make this problem tangible, I’ll use the accusative pronouns ’őt’ and ’engem’.

Látom őt. – I can see him.
Látod őt. – You can see him.
Látja őt. – He can see him.
Látjuk őt. – We can see him.
Látjátok őt. – You can see him.
Látják őt. – They can see him.

’Lát’ is in definite conjugation in every number/person. But what if we use ’engem’?

Lát engem. – He can see me.
Lát téged. – He can see you.
Látja őt. – He can see him.
Lát minket. – He can see us.
Lát titeket. – He can see you.
Látja őket. – He can see them.

’Lát’ is used in definite conjugation only when referring to the accusative pronoun in 3rd person singular and 3rd person plural. In any other number/person (engem, téged, minket, titeket) ’lát’ is in indefinite conjugation.

This goes for ’őt, őket, önt, önöket, maga, magát’. That is, for polite forms, too.

If there is an accusative pronoun, one would think it is definite. Well, it’s no use asking why it is that way. It just is. I couldn’t find any explanation why this phenomenon had developed the way it is. Something for you to struggle with :). So let’s ask more questions and give the right answers.

-Érted a szabályt? – Igen, értem (azt).
-Do you understand the rule? – Yes, I understand (it).

-Érted őket? – Igen, értem (őket).
-Do you understand them? – Yes, I understand them.

-Értesz engem? – Igen, értelek (téged).
-Do you understand me? -Yes, I understand you.

-Látjátok őket? – Nem, nem látjuk (őket).
-Can you guys see them? – No, we can’t see them.

-Látnak minket? – Nem, nem látnak (minket). Önt viszont látják.
-Can they see us? – No, they can’t see us. However, they can see you, sir.

MORE EXAMPLES FOR DEFINITE AND INDEFINITE CONJUGATION

USE INDEFINITE CONJUGATION:

-WITH THE INDEFINITE ARTICLE. The article is egy in singular. There is no form for it in plural or it can be expressed with néhány (some). The indefinite article and néhány are not mandatory to use. When we omit them, the noun in accusative case begins the sentence. Also, note that néhány requires the noun to be singular.

Singular

Plural

egy NO ARTICLE or néhány

Let’s see a comparison with indefinite and definite conjugation:

SINGULAR

PLURAL

Akarok egy kanapét.
Kanapét akarok.
I want a sofa.
Akarok néhány kanapét.
Kanapékat akarok.
I want some sofas.
>Akarom a kanapét/a kanapékat.
>I want the sofa/the sofas.
Takarítunk egy szobát.
Szobát takarítunk.
We tidy up a room.
Takarítunk néhány szobát.
Szobákat takarítunk.
We tidy up some rooms.
>Takarítjuk a szobát/ a szobákat.
>We tidy up the room/the rooms.
Vakolnak egy házfalat.
Házfalat vakolnak.
They plaster a house wall.
Vakolnak néhány házfalat.
Házfalakat vakolnak.
They plaster some house walls.
>Vakolják a házfalat/a házfalakat.
>They plaster the house wall(s).
Írtok egy dolgozatot.
Dolgozatot írtok.
You write a test.
Írtok néhány dolgozatot.
Dolgozatokat írtok.
You write some tests.
>Írjátok a dolgozatot/a dolgozatokat.
>You write the test/the tests.

-WITH INDEFINITE PRONOUNS. There is a great number of words we can put in this category. Just a few of them: sok (many, much), kevés (a few, a little), valami (something), valaki (someone), bármi (anything), bárki (anyone), néhány (some), egy-két (one or two), sehány (none), senki (nobody), semmi (nothing), minden (every), mindenki (everyone), az összes (all)

Although this does not belong to our conjugation topic, it is important to know that the indefinite pronouns require the words following them to be in singular form. Watch the difference in English:

kevés ember – a few people
(NOT kevés emberek)
sok kérdés – many questions
(NOT sok kérdések)
néhány ház – some houses
(NOT néhány házak)
akárhány könyv – no matter how many books
(NOT akárhány könyvek)

Minden filmet megnézek, ami bűnüggyel kapcsolatos.
I watch every movie that’s related to crime.

Ha ismersz valakit, aki ért a kocsikhoz, szólj!
If you know anyone who has a grasp for cars, tell me.

Mennyi gyümölcs van ebben a kertben, és mennyit ettünk belőle!
So many fruits in this garden and so many we ate!

Túl sokat dolgozol. Lepihensz egy kicsit?
You’re working too much. Will you get a little rest?

Keveset isztok, emiatt érzitek rosszul magatokat.
You drink little. That’s why you feel bad.

Senkit nem érdekel, mi van velem.
No one cares about what’s with me.

Az összes fényképet eldobta?
-Did he throw all the photos away?
-Igen, az összeset eldobta.
-Yes, he threw all away.
-Csak egyet dobott el.
He only threw one away.

-WITH THE INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS when asking about the unknown. If you don’t know something, it is unknown to you, so it is not possible to ask such questions with verbs conjugated with definite suffixes.

And the verb in the answer either agrees with the question or not. That is, if the answer contains the indefinite article, indefinite pronouns, interrogative pronouns or simply refers to something unspecific/unknown, then the verb is conjugated with indefinite suffixes.

However, if we answer with something specific, we have to conjugate the verb with the definite suffixes, even though it is conjugated with the indefinite ones in the question.

-Mit tanulsz?
-What are you learning?
-Történelmet tanulok.
I’m learning history.
A magyar igeragozást tanulom.
I’m learning the Hungarian verb conjugation.

-Mit tud felhozni mentségére?
-What can he mention in his defence?
-Nos, sok dolgot tud felhozni.
-Well, he can mention lots of things.
-Nos, a fáradságot tudja felhozni.
-Well, he can mention the tiredness.

-Mit esznek? – What are they eating?
-Almát/Egy almát esznek. – They’re eating an apple.
-Almákat/Néhány almát esznek. – They’re eating some apples.
Azt az almát eszik, amelyiket tegnap hoztad.
They’re eating the apple you brought yesterday.

-Mit kérdezel tőle?
-What are you going to ask him?
Bármit is kérdezhetek.
I ask whatever I want to.
A három vizsgakérdést kérdezem tőle.
I’m going to ask him the three exam questions.
-Kérdezek tőle valamit, amit nem tud.
I’m going to ask him something he doesn’t know.
-Azt kérdezem tőle, kit szeret a legjobban.
I’m going to ask him who he loves the most.

A T T E N T I O N!

Of course, if you ask about something specific, you use definite conjugation in questions, as well.

-Melyiket szereted? A szőke vagy a barna lányt?
-Which one do you love? The blonde or the brunette girl?
A barnát szeretem. A szőkének nincs humora.
-I love the brunette one. The blonde one has no humor.

Sometimes you can ask in two ways:

Indefinite -Mikor főzöl ebédet?
-Nemsokára.
-When will you cook lunch?
-Soon.
Definite -Mikor főzöd meg az ebédet?
-Nemsokára.
-When will you cook the lunch?
-Soon.

USE DEFINITE CONJUGATION:

-WITH THE DEFINITE ARTICLES, DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS, POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS, POSSESSIVE ENDINGS AND PROPER NAMES.

A kék cipőt választom. – I’ll choose the blue shoes.
Az ebédet kihagyjuk. – We’ll skip lunch.
Ezt a lányt szeretem. – I love this girl.

Azokat az állatokat megmentjük.
We’re going to save those animals.

Látom Jánost, de a barátt nem látom.
I can see John, but I can’t see his friend.

Értik az elméletet, de a gyakorlati részét nem ismerik.
They understand the theory, but they don’t know the practice.

Annát nem kedvelem, de Viktóriát annál inkább bírom.
I don’t like Ann, but I dig Victoria all the more.

Az én házamat felépítem, de a tiédet nem építem fel.
I’m going to build my house, but I’m not going to build yours.

Szép kocsid van, de az övéket mindenki megbámulja.
You have a nice car, but everyone is staring at theirs.

Pronouns

PERSONAL PRONOUNS

Pronouns are words replacing nouns, noun phrases. As there is no distinction between genders, there are no masculine or feminine pronouns!

Hungarian personal pronouns are only used when putting emphasis on the subject. This phenomenon is due to the definite conjugation of verbs alluding to the subject in the first place, plus suffixes are attached to the verb indicating mood, tense, number, person.

The personal pronouns are:

én – I >> never capitalized unless when beginning a sentence
te – you >> not equal to 2nd PP!
ő – she/he/it >> only one pronoun for he/she
mi – we >> mi is just we
ti – you >> not equal to 2nd PS!
ők – they >> ő + plural suffix -k = ők

Examples:

Én magyar vagyok. – I‘m Hungarian.
Te ki vagy? – Who are you?
Ő nem tudja. – He/She doesn’t know.
Mi úszni megyünk. – We go swimming.
Ti mikor jöttök? – When are you guys coming?
Ők haza mennek. – They‘re going home.

PERSONAL PRONOUNS AND FORMALITY

Hungarian still makes a wide use of shouting someone’s first or last name (which is the exact opposite in Hungarian. If your name is John Smith, Hungarian says Smith John: family name first + given name!).

The pronouns for this purpose are: maga, maguk, ön, önök

And right here we should divide these formalities in two groups: informal polite form and formal polite form

Informal polite form is expressed by maga (for 3rd PS), maguk (for 3rd PP). You use these pronouns when talking to someone you know or don’t know (yet), but that person is not superior than you: neighbour, shop assistant, old lady at the bus stop…

Formal polite form is expressed by ön (for 3rd PS), önök (3rd PP). These pronouns are for talking to someone “higher in rank”: teacher, cops, officials, doctors…

NOTE! Hungarian polite pronouns are meant to be in the 3rd person, so the verb referring to it has to be in 3rd PS or 3rd PP!

And now more explanation! Take a look at these sentences.

(Ő) türelmes tanár.
(Ön) türelmes tanár.
(Maga) türelmes tanár.
(Ők) türelmes tanárok.
(Önök) türelmes tanárok.
(Maguk) türelmes tanárok.

You see these sentences are the same without a personal pronoun! And there’s no need to use them, if the situation is unambiguous. If you talk to your teacher, obviously you call him MAGA or ÖN = you, and you don’t mean Ő = he, she.

If you talk to your friend standing next to you about a third person (your teacher), it is obvious you’re talking about the teacher.

So use these pronouns if the person in question cannot be understood from the context.

That would be all about formalities.

SUMMARY:
maga, ön = you (Mr. Ms.)
maguk, önök = you (gentlemen, ladies)

ACCUSATIVE PRONOUNS

Accusative pronouns are the accusative versions of personal pronouns.

engem – me
téged – you
őt – him/her/it
minket – us
titeket – you
őket – them

Hungarian accusative pronouns are rarely used because verbs with definite conjugation already allude to the direct object. That doesn’t mean that you must not use them if you want. Their use, however, needs some explanation.

The explanation is all about topic-prominent aspect meaning the most important information goes to the beginning of the sentence. Following this reasoning, accusative pronouns follow the verb if not emphased, but precede the verb if emphased. When preceding the verb, they are mandatory to use. When following the verb, they are optional to use. When Hungarian accusative pronouns are emphased, English uses verbal emphasis on the direct pronoun.

NOT EMPHASED, OPTIONAL:
Szeret (engem). – He loves me.
Szeret (téged). – He loves you.
Szereti (őt). – He/She loves her/him.
Szeret (minket). – He loves us.
Szeret (titeket). – He loves you.
Szereti (őket). – He loves them.

EMPHASED, MANDATORY:
Engem szeret. – He loves me.
Téged szeret. – He loves you.
Őt szereti. – He/She loves her/him.
Minket szeret. – He loves us.
Titeket szeret. – He loves you.
Őket szereti. – He loves them.

NOTE! In 3rd PS and 3rd PP, the verb is in definite conjugation, in the other numbers/persons indefinite conjugation (more about this when discussing verbs).

FORMALITIES

Polite accusative pronouns: magát, magukat, önt, önöket (all translated with YOU in English)

Szereti magát. / Magát szereti.
Szereti magukat. Magukat szereti.
Szereti önt. / Önt szereti.
Szereti önöket. / Önöket szereti.

DATIVE PRONOUNS

All rules for the accusative pronouns are valid for the dative pronouns!

Rule 1: dative pronouns not emphased, following the verb, not mandatory to use
Rule 2: dative pronouns emphased, preceding the verb, mandatory to use

Here they are:

nekem – for/to me
neked – for/to you
neki – for/to him, her, it
nekünk – for/to us
nektek – for/to you
nekik – for/to them

Note that they are formed with: nek + -em, -ed, -i, -ünk, -tek, -ik (possessive endings)

NOT EMPHASED:
Vesz (nekem) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for me.
Vesz (neked) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for you.
Vesz (neki) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for him/her.
Vesz (nekünk) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for us.
Vesz (nektek) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for you.
Vesz (nekik) egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for them.

EMPHASED:
Nekem vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for me.
Neked vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for you.
Neki vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for him/her.
Nekünk vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for us.
Nektek vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for you.
Nekik vesz egy könyvet. – He’ll buy a book for them.

FORMALITITES: magának, maguknak, önnek, önöknek (formal personal pronoun + -nak / -nek), all translated with FOR/TO YOU in English

Vesz (magának) egy könyvet. / Magának vesz egy könyvet.
Vesz (maguknak) egy könyvet. / Maguknak vesz egy könyvet.
Vesz (önnek) egy könyvet. / Önnek vesz egy könyvet.
Vesz (önöknek) egy könyvet. / Önöknek vesz egy könyvet.

NOTE! English can translate Hungarian dative pronouns with the method above for someone or to someone and also with indirect object (He’ll buy me a book.)

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS

Reflexive pronouns refer right back to the person/subject.

Here they are:

magam – myself
magad – yourself
maga – himself/herself/itself
magunk – ourselves
magatok – yourselves
maguk – themselves

These pronouns can take almost any kind of suffixes (we talk about suffixes later) and can be made accusative, dative. A few examples:

magamnakfor me/for myself
magátólfrom himself
magatokhozto you/to yourselves

and so on…

NOTE! The 3rd PS and 3rd PP reflexive pronouns MAGA, MAGUK have the same form as the 3rd PS and 3rd PP polite personal pronouns! So be careful:

Látja magát. – He can see you (Sir).
Látja magát. – He can see himself.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS

Hungarian doesn’t always need reflexive pronouns because the -ik verbs assume this role. Sometimes English doesn’t need these pronouns when Hungarian does. It’s all about a knowledge of vocabulary and experience and not about a strict rule. Some examples:

Veszek magamnak egy kocsit. – I’ll buy me a car.
English doesn’t really need myself in this case.

Megmosakszik. – He washes (himself).
Hungarian uses an -ik verb, English uses a verb with or without a reflexive pronoun.

So it’s really about vocabulary.

REFLEXIVE PRONOUNS WITH SUFFIXES

These pronouns can take almost all kind of suffixes. You don’t need to know their function yet. I just want to show you what they look like with suffixes. Let’s use the 3rd PS form MAGA (himself, herself, itself). Of course, you use deep-vowel suffixes because reflexive pronouns are deep-vowel words.

-ban, -ben: magában (in himself)
-ba, -be: magába (into himself)
-ból, -ből: magából (from himself)

-on, -en, -ön: magán (on himself)
-ra, -re: magára (onto himself)
-ról, -ről: magáról (from himself)

-nál, -nél: magánál (by himself)
-hoz, -hez, -höz: magához (towards himself)
-tól, -től: magától (from himself)

Accusative case -t: magát (He loves himself. He’s self-important.)
Dative case -nak, -nek: magának (to/for himself. He gives himself a little time.)
Instrumental case -val, -vel: magával (with himself)

RECIPROCAL PRONOUNS

The only Hungarian reciprocal pronoun is: EGYMÁS = each other, one another

This pronoun itself is subjective, but it takes all kind of suffixes if needed. Let’ see some of them.

-ba, -be: egymásba (into each other)
-ban, -ben: egymásban (in each other)
-ból, -ből: egymásból (from each other)
-ra, -re: egymásra (onto each other)
-on, -en, -ön: egymáson (on each other)
-ról, -ről: egymásról (from each other)
-hoz, -hez, -höz: egymáshoz (towards each other)
-nál, -nél: egymásnál (by each other)
-tól, -től: egymástól (from each other)

Accusative case: egymást (each other)
Dative case: egymásnak (to/for each other)
Instrumental case (with): egymással (with each other)

Examples:

Ismerjük egymást. – We know each other.
Egymással beszélgetnek. – They’re talking (to each other).
Egymástól
várnak segítséget. – They wait for help from each other.
Láttuk egymást a moziban. – We saw each other in the cinema.

And so on…

Other expressions:

egymás után – one after the other
egymás melletti – adjacent
Egymás szavába vágnak. – They interrupt each other.
Közel állnak egymáshoz. – They’re close to each other.
Egymás idegeire mennek. – They’re getting to each other’s nerves.

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

And now we’ll try to absorb a bigger slice of the pronouns. We talk about demonstrative pronouns. It is a longer topic because there are demonstrative pronouns for quality, place, manner and so on. Today’s topic:

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS

Here they are:

SINGULAR – PLURAL
ez (this) – ezek (these)
az (that) – azok (those)

These Hungarian demonstrative pronouns (ez, ezek, az, azok) go hand in hand with the definite article.

ez a táska – this bag
ezek a táskák – these bags
az a táska – that bag
azok a táskák – those bags

You see ez, ezek, az, azok are followed by the definite article: ez a táska. When the noun in plural, the pronoun is made plural, too, like in English!

Other examples:

Ezt akarom. – I want this.
Azokat láttam. – I saw those.
Ennél jobbat nem tudok ajánlani. – I can’t offer any better than this.
Voltál annál az orvosnál? – Did you go to that doctor?
Mégsem veszem meg azokat a földeket. – I won’t buy those lands after all.

You see in the examples above that ez, ezek, az, azok can take any suffix. NOTE! If these pronouns take a suffix, the noun must take the same suffix, too! Example:

Subjective: ez a ház – this house
Accusative case:: ezt a házatthis house
Dative case: ennek a háznakto/for this house
-ban, -ben: ebben a házbanin this house

and so on…

Of course, ez and ezek are high-vowel words, az and azok deep-vowel words!

Now we’ll take a look at some fundamental suffixes and how they are attached to ez, az. Many times the z of ez, az assimilates with the first letter of the suffix. Summary table:

-ba, -be: ebbe, abba
-ban, -ben: ebben, abban
-ból, -ből: ebből, abból
-ra, -re: erre, arra
-on, -en: ezen, azon *1
-ról, -ről: erről, arról
-hoz, -hez: ehhez, ahhoz *2
-nál, -nél: ennél, annál
-tól, -től: ettől, attól
-ig: eddig, addig *3
-kor: ekkor, akkor
-ért: ezért, azért
Accusative: ezt, azt
Dative: ennek, annak
Instrumental (-val, -vel): evvel, avval *4

*1 ezen, azon: in this combination the z does not assimilate.
*2 ehhez, ahhoz: in this combination the double h is NOT DOUBLED IN SPEECH!
*3 eddig, addig:
in this combination the z is replaced with the double d!
*4 evvel, avval:
in this combination the z is replaced with the double v!

In the plural there is no assimilation: azokban, ezekig, ezeknek, azokra…

LET’S PRACTISE EZ, AZ

Remember! If ez, az stands alone you don’t need the definite article: Ezt akarom. Azt láttam. If ez, az are followed by a noun, you need the definite article: ez a ház, az a tévé. In both case, ez and az can take a variety of suffixes. If followed by a noun, the noun takes the same suffix according to vowel harmony!

Let’s practise. I’ll give you some examples:

this house – ez a ház
that man – az az ember

this hat – __________ kalap
that car – _________ kocsi
I’m buying those chairs. – Megveszem ___________ székek_____. (accusative)
Will you give her this ring? – ____________ gyűrű____ adod neki? (accusative)
This girl has beautiful eyes. – ________ lány______ szép szeme van. (dative)

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS OF MANNER

Demonstrative pronouns of manner are:

így – like this
úgy – like that
ilyen módon – in this way
olyan módon – in that way

Obviously it is impossible for these pronouns to take suffixes.

Examples:

Ez így nem mehet tovább.
It can’t go on like that anymore.

Úgy van, ahogy mondod.
It’s exactly as you say. (úgy not present in this English sentence)

Így akar rávenni, hogy elmenj vele.
He want to persuade you to go with him like this.

Az nem úgy van ám!
Things are not done like that at all!

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS OF PLACE

This is the part where the three directions phenomenon should be mentioned. This phenomenon means that Hungarian has three question words for certain directions and the answers must be adjusted to those questions.

The questions are:

POSITION: Hol? (Where?)
DIRECTION: Hova? (Where to?)
ORIGIN: Honnan? (Where from?)

The demonstrative pronouns of place are: itt (here), ott (there). And this is how they change to answer the questions:

Hol? > itt / ott (here / there)
Hova? > ide / oda (to here / to there)
Honnan? > innen / onnan (from here / from there)

Examples:

Itt adják a legjobb pizzát. – The best pizza is served at this place.
Ne menj oda! – Don’t go over there.
Onnan jövök. – I’m coming from there.
Ki rakta a széket ide? – Who put the chair over here?
Innen nem látni semmit. – You can’t see anything from here.

These pronouns can be emphased but are not often heard: emitt, amott, emide, amoda, eminnen, amonnan.

DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS OF QUALITY

These are:

ilyen – such, such a, like this, of this kind
olyan – such, such a, like that, of that kind

It is not rare in Hungarian that close things are expressed with high-vowel words (ez, így, ilyen, itt), remote things with deep-vowel words (az, úgy, olyan, ott).

As adjectives, ilyen/olyan don’t have a plural form! As adverbs they have the plural and can take suffixes.

SINGULAR: ilyen, olyan
PLURAL: ilyenek, olyanok

Examples:

Ilyen barátot ritkán találni.
Such a friend can be rarely found.

Az ilyen ételt nem szeretem.
I don’t like meals of this sort.

Ez olyan szép!
This is so beautiful!

Láttál már olyan filmet?
Have you ever seen such a movie?

Zöld póló? Igen, olyat láttam tegnap.
Green T-shirt? Yes. I saw one yesterday.

Ilyenekről soha nem beszélünk.
We never talk about such things.

You see olyat is accusative and ilyenekről has the suffix -ről equivalent to the preposition ‘above’ in this case.

Let’s take a look at ilyen, olyan with a few suffixes:

-ba, -be: ilyenbe, olyanba
-ban, -ben: ilyenben, olyanban
-ból, -ből: ilyenből, olyanból

-ra, -re: ilyenre, olyanra
-on, -en: ilyenen, olyanon
-ról, -ről: ilyenről, olyanról

-hoz, -hez: ilyenhez, olyanhoz
-nál, -nél: ilyennél, olyannál
-tól, -től: ilyentől, olyantól

Accusative -t: ilyet, olyat *1
Dative -nak, -nek: ilyennek, olyannak
Instrumental -val, -vel: ilyennel, olyannal *2

*1: ilyen/olyan + accusative -t = ilyet, olyat. The n disappears in  this combination.
*2 ilyen /olyan + -vel, -val = ilyennel, olyannal. The v of -val, -vel assimilates with the n at the end of ilyen/olyan.

Synonyms of ilyen/olyan are: ennyire, annyira.

Ilyen/Ennyire finom húst még nem ettem!
I’ve never eaten a meat as delicious as this!

Olyan/Annyira finom!
It’s so delicious!

INTERROGATIVE PRONOUNS

Some basic question words before jumping into it:

Mi? – What?
Ki? – Who?
Miért? – Why?
Mikor? – When?
Hogy? – How?
Milyen? – What kind of? What…like? How?
Melyik? – Which?
Hány? Mennyi? – How much? OR How many?
Meddig? – How long? OR How far?

MI? – WHAT?

Mi? can take almost all kind of suffixes: Mibe? Miről? Mihez? and so on…

What you should be careful with is that it must be accusative in certain sentences, so it becomes: Mit?

Mi van ott a padon? – What is on the bench over there?
Mit akarsz? – What do you want?
Mit tudnak az esetről? – What do they know about the case?

Many times the English preposition and the Hungarian suffix cannot be translated literally:

Mihez értesz? – What are you proficient in?
Mitől féltek? – What are you afraid of?
Mibe tegyük a ruhákat? – What shall we put the clothes in(to)?
Mire valók a barátok? – What are friends for?
Mikor érkezik? – When will he arrive? (Mi + -kor = Mikor – When; you see you already know another question word)
Minek jöttél ide? – What did you come here for? (Mi + -nek = Minek – Why; it is a less polite form for Miért?)
Miért jöttél ide? – Why did you come here? (Mi + -ért = Miért – Why; the suffix -ért expresses for, for sake of)

KI? = WHO?

It can take a lot of suffixes, except -ig. It would sound strange with -ig.

It is a high-vowel word just like ‘Mi?‘.

Ki van ott? – Who‘s there?
Kit láttál? – Who did you see?
Kiről beszél? – Who is he talking about?
Kitől futottál el? – Who did you run away from?
Kiért teszed ezt? – Who are you doing this for?
Kihez utazol el? – Who will you depart to?

and so on…

You see that Ki? takes high-vowel suffixes -ről, -től…

MIÉRT? = WHY?

This question is formed with: Mi? + -ért. The suffix -ért is equivalent to the English preposition ‘for’. So the Hungarian question literally is: For what?

Miért nem jöttél el? – Why didn’t you come?
Miért sírsz? – Why are you crying?
Miért akarsz a városba menni? – Why are you going dowtown?

A synonym for Miért? is Minek? but it sounds a little bit less polite. Sometimes it has a “despising” effect.

Minek jöttél ide? – What did you come here for?
Minek sírsz? – Why (for god’s sake) are you crying?
Minek akarsz a városba menni? – What are you going downtown for?

Basically, the suffixes -nak, -nek and -ért mean the same thing: for, to. With -ért, the question is more polite.

NOTE! In the spoken language Miért? is often said like Mért? or an even more vulgar form is Mér?. I do not recommend using these ‘slang’ forms because it might be confusing with a certain conjunction: mert = because

Mért vagy itt? –Mert beszélni akarok veled.
Why are you here? –Because I want to talk to you.

You see Mért? and mert is almost the same, hence a possible confusion.

Always say and write Why? as: MIÉRT?

HOGY ? = HOW? and MILYEN? = HOW?

These two question words are the same in English, so be careful:

Hogy? is used when one is interested in a mood or condition. It CAN’T take suffixes.
Milyen? is used if you want to know about quality, characteristic. Besides, it CAN take suffixes.

So in more details:

Hogy? = How?
Milyen? = How? What…like? What kind of…?

EXAMPLES FOR MILYEN?

Milyen a nővéred? –Kedves.
What is your sister like? -She’s kind.

Milyen idő van? –Esős.
How is the weather? -It’s rainy.

-Kocsit veszel? Milyenre gondoltál?
-You buy a car? What car do you have in mind?

Milyen fonnyadt az a barack!
How parched that peach is!

EXAMPLES FOR HOGY?

Hogy vagy? –Jól.
How are you? –Fine.

Elnézést, hogy mondta?
Pardon. What did you say?

Hogy engedhetted ezt meg neki?
How could you allow him to do this?

Hogy áll a helyzet?
How do things stand with you?

NOTE! Hogy? has another longer form Hogyan?. There is no difference in meaning. Use whichever you want. BUT Hogyan? cannot take any suffixes, either!

HÁNY? = HOW MANY? and MENNYI? = HOW MUCH?

The problem with these Hungarian questions is that they don’t specifically refer to countable and uncountable nouns. They refer to both. However, Hány? cannot be used with uncountable nouns. Mennyi? can be used for both. I think you understand what I mean by ‘problem’.

Both can be made accusative, dative, instrumental. The plural wouldn’t really make any sense.

Examples:

Hány ember van a buszon? –Tizenöt.
Mennyi ember van a buszon? –Tizenöt.
How many people are there on the bus. –Fifteen.

Hány mogyorót ettél? –Kettőt.
Mennyi mogyorót ettél? –Kettőt.
How many hazelnuts have you eaten? –Two.

Hányat ugrottál? –Ötöt.
Mennyit ugrottál? –Ötöt.
How many jumps did you make? –Five.

You see that you can use both questions for countable things. Now let’s see some uncountable things.

You cannot use Hány? with uncountable nouns! Examples:

Mennyi esett? –Sok.
How much snow are there? –Much.

Mennyi sót vettél? –Keveset.
How much salt did you buy? –Little.

Mennyi pénz kellene? -Tízezer forint.
How much money do you need? -Ten thousand forints.

Mennyit ittál? -Öt litert.
How much did you drink? -Five liters.

To make it simple for you:

Hány? = countable nouns
Mennyi? = countable and uncountable nouns

Two more expressions:

Hány óra van? – What time is it?
OR
Mennyi az idő? – What’s the time?

MELYIK? = WHICH?

This question requires a specific answer, therefore the question itself is made specific with the suffix -ik. In such sentences, the English answer often contains the word: one. One is equal to accusative case in Hungarian.

Melyik fiút szereted? A magasat.
Which boy do you love? The tall one.

Melyik várost kedveled jobban? Rómát.
Which city do you prefer? Rome.

Melyik gombot kell megnyomni? A harmadikat.
Which button is to be pressed? The third one.

Melyik lányt nézed? Az egyiket.
Which girl are you watching? One of them.

Mely vállalatok élték túl a válságot? Semelyik. / Mindegyik.
Which
enterprises survived the crisis? None of them. / All of them.

Of course, you can make this question accusative, dative, instrumental and add suffixes to it.

Melyiket keresed? A kéket.
Which are you looking for? The blue one.

Melyiknek dobtad a labdát? A szemüvegesnek.
Who did you throw the ball at? The one with the glasses.
(Note that Melyik? also refers to people)

Melyikkel játszol? Azzal.
Which are you playing with? That one.

As you see above in this sentence “Mely vállalatok élték túl a válságot?”, you use Mely? and make the noun plural if you talk about more things/people. But it’s not really necessary. You can also ask:

Mely vállalat élte túl a válságot? Mindegyik.

We’re finished with interrogative pronouns for now. Hol? Hova? Honnan? will be dealt with when we talk about other suffixes.

INDEFINITE PRONOUNS

It’s quite a massive issue, so I’ll try to make it as simple as possible for you.

First let’s see how you form indefinite pronouns like this: somebody, nothing, anywhere…

The formation goes with these prefixes:

VALA- = SOME-
AKÁR-, BÁR- = ANY-
SE- = NO-, ANY-
MINDEN-, MIND- = EVERY-

The indefinite pronouns with akár- and bár- mean the same, so you can use the prefix you like more. The only combination impossible for bár- is with the question Hány?. There is no such word bárhány. The word akárhány is said instead.

VALA-:
valami
– something
valaki – somebody
valamiért – for some reason
valamikor – sometime, some day
valahogy – somehow
valamilyen – some kind of
valamelyik – one of them
valameddig – for sime time; some distance
valamennyi – a certain amount of
valahány – a certain number of
valahol – somewhere
valahova – (to) somewhere
valahonnan – from somewhere
valamennyire – to some degree

AKÁR-, BÁR-: bár- + Hány? is not possible.
akármi, bármi – anything
akárki, bárki – anybody
akármiért, bármiért – for any reason, for whatever reason
akármikor, bármikor – anytime
akárhogy, bárhogy – anyhow, in any way
akármilyen, bármilyen – any kind of
akármelyik, bármelyik – any of them
akármeddig, bármeddig – for any time; any distance
akármennyi, bármennyi – no matter how much
akárhány – no matter how many
akárhol, bárhol – anywhere
akárhova, bárhova – (to) anywhere
akárhonnan, bárhonnan – from anywhere
akármennyire, bármennyire – to any degree

SE-: some forms take double -m, one form needs an n consonant inserted!
semmi – nothing
senki – nobody
semmiért – for no reason
semmikor – at no time, never
sehogy – nowhow, by no means
semmilyen – no kind of
semelyik – none of them
semeddig – for no time; no distance
semennyi – no amount of
sehány – no number of; not one
sehol – nowhere
sehova – (to) nowhere
sehonnan – from nowhere
semennyire – to no degree

MINDEN-: some of these forms don’t really queue up in the line of the pronouns above.
minden – everything
mindenki – everybody
mindenért – for everthing
mindenkor – always, at any time
mindenképpen – anyway, by all means
mindenféle – all kinds of
mindegyik – all of them
végig – all along; to the very end
mindahány – all
mindenhol – everwhere
mindenhova – (to) everywhere
mindenhonnan – from everywhere

The prefix minden- cannot be combined with Mennyi?.

Some other meanings for certain pronouns: valamennyi, mindahány, valahány = all (of them)

So much for these basic pronouns. In part 2, we’ll take a look at some other indefinite pronouns (many, much, little, few, either…).

Other indefinite pronouns beside those with prefixes are:

sok (many much), kevés (few, little), néhány (a few, some), egy kis (a little), egy-két / egy pár (a couple of), jó néhány (a number of), elég sok (quite a lot), jó sok (a great number of), rengeteg (lots of ), túl sok (too many/much), túl kevés (too little), minden (every), az összes (all), az egész (the entire), mindkettő (both), egyik sem (none), valamelyik (either of them), más (other), a többi (the other)…

To make it simple for you, ALL OF THESE INDEFINITE PRONOUNS REQUIRE A SINGULAR NOUN, so you don’t make the noun plural after sok, kevés and so on…There only a few exceptions to this simpel rule.

SOK = MANY, MUCH
Refers to: countable and uncountable

sok ember (many people)
sok kutya (many dogs)
sok étel (much food)
sok víz (much water)

Accusative form: SOKAT
Sokat
látja a barátját.
She sees a great deal of this friend.

Sokat énekel.
He sings a lot.

Referring to people: SOKAN = MANY PEOPLE
Sokan kocognak a parkban.
A lot of people jog in the park.

Nem sokan értik a fizikát.
Not many people understand physics.

Comparative degree of SOK is: TÖBB = MORE
and referring to people: TÖBBEN = MORE PEOPLE
TÖBBEN REQUIRES A 3RD PP  VERB!

több ember (more people)
több kutya (more dogs)
több étel (more food)
több víz (more water)

Többen kocognak a parkban. – More people jog in the park.

KEVÉS = FEW, LITTLE
Refers to: countable and uncountable

kevés ember (few people)
kevés kutya (few dogs)
kevés étel (little food)
kevés só (little salt)

Accusative form: KEVESET
Keveset
látja a bártját.
She doesn’t see his friend too often.

Keveset énekel.
He sings little.

Referring to people: KEVESEN = A FEW PEOPLE
Kevesen kocognak a parkban.
A few people jog in the park.

Kevesen értik a fizikát.
Only a few people understand physics.

Comparative degree of KEVÉS is: KEVESEBB = LESS
and referring to people: KEVESEBBEN = FEWER PEOPLE
KEVESEBBEN REQUIERS A 3 RD PP VERB!

kevesebb ember (fewer people)
kevesebb kutya (fewer dogs)
kevesebb étel (less food)
kevesebb víz (less salt)

Kevesebben kocognak a parkban.
Fewer people jog in the park.

EGY KIS = A LITTLE; A SMALL
As for an amount, it refers to: uncountable
As for size, it refers to: countable

egy kis só (a little salt)
egy kis kenyér (a little bread) !
egy kis autó (a small car)
egy kis kenyér (a small loaf) !

Accusative form: EGY KICSIT = A LITTLE BIT
NOTE: only used as an adverb, not as an adjective!

Eszik egy kicsit.
He eats a little.

Fut egy kicsit  a parkban.
He runs a little bit in the park.

Referring to people: NÉHÁNYAN !!! = A FEW PEOPLE
Néhányan kocognak a parkban.
A few people jog in the park.

Néhányan levest esznek.
Some people eat soup.

No comparative degree for obvious reasons!

NÉHÁNY, EGY-KÉT, EGY PÁR = SOME, A FEW, A COUPLE OF
They refer to: countable

néhány ember (some people)
egy-két kutya (a few dogs)
egy pár asztal (a few tables)

Accusative form: NÉHÁNYAT, EGY-KETTŐT, EGY PÁRAT
NOTE: only used as adverbs, not as adjectives!

Megevett néhányat. – He ate a couple of them.
Egy párat elénekelt. – He sang a few. (songs for ex.)
Egy-kettőt elkaptak. – They’ve caught some (of them).

Referring to people: NÉHÁNYAN, PÁRAN = A COUPLE OF PEOPLE
NOTE: you could say egy-ketten, but not heard often.

Néhányan kocognak a parkban.
Some people jog in the park.

Páran elmentek a ünnepségre.
A couple of people went to the feast.

No comparative degree for obvious reasons!

JÓ NÉHÁNY, ELÉG SOK = A NUMBER OF, QUITE A LOT, SEVERAL
jó néhány refers to: countable
elég sok refers to: countable and uncountable

jó néhány ember (a number of people)
elég sok ember (quite a lot of people)
elég sok víz (a considerable amount of water)

Accusative form: JÓ NÉHÁNYAT, ELÉG SOKAT
NOTE: only used as adverbs, not as adjectives!

Jó néhányat megevett.
He ate a number of them.

Elég sokat énekel.
He sings quite a lot.

Referring to people: JÓ NÉHÁNYAN, ELÉG SOKAN = SEVERAL PEOPLE
THE REQUIRE A 3RD PP VERB!

Jó néhányan kocognak a parkban.
Several people kog in the park.

Elég sokan dolgoznak még délután 4-kor.
Quite a lot of people are still working at 4 p.m.

No comparative degree!

JÓ SOK, RENGETEG = PLENTY OF, A GOOD/GREAT DEAL OF
They refer to: countable and uncountable

jó sok ember (a great number of people)
rengeteg ember (lots of people)
jó sok víz (plenty of water)
rengeteg víz (a great amount of water)

Accusative form: JÓ SOKAT, RENGETEGET
NOTE: only used as adverbs, not as adjectives!

Jó sokat megevett.
He ate plenty.

Rengeteget énekel.
He sings a great deal.

Referring to people: JÓ SOKAN, RENGETEGEN = A GREAT NUMBER PEOPLE
Jó sokan kocognak a parkban.
A great number of people jog in the park.

Rengetegen dolgoznak még.
Lots of people are still working.

No comparative degree!

TÚL SOK, TÚL KEVÉS = TOO MUCH/MANY, TOO LITTLE
They refer to: countable and uncountable

túl sok ember (too many people)
túl sok víz (too much water)
túl kevés ember (a very small amount of people)
túl kevés víz (too little water)

Accusative form: TÚL SOKAT, TÚL KEVESET
NOTE: only used as adverbs, not as adjectives!

Túl sokat evett. – He ate too many. (apples) OR
Túl sokat evett. – He ate too much.

Túl sokat jár úszni.
He goes swimming too often.

Túl keveset iszik.
He drinks too little.

Referring to people: TÚL SOKAN, TÚL KEVESEN
meaning: too many people, too little people
THEY REQUIRE  A 3RD PP VERB!

Túl sokan kocognak a parkban.
Too many people jog in the park.

Túl kevesen mentek el szavazni.
Only a small number of people went to vote.

NOTE! The adverb TÚL is derivated from the adverb TÚLSÁGOSAN = TOO

túlságosan nagy = túl nagy – too big

No comparative degree!

A LEGTÖBB, A LEGKEVESEBB = THE MOST, THE LEAST, THE FEWEST
They refer to: countable and uncountable

a legtöbb ember (most people)
a legkevesebb ember (the smallest number of people)
a legtöbb víz (most water)
a legkevesebb víz (the least water)

Accusative form: A LEGTÖBBET, A LEGKEVESEBBET
NOTE: only used as adverbs, not as adjectives!

Ő evett a legtöbbet. – She ate most of them. (most apples) OR
Ő ette meg a legtöbbet. She ate the most.

Ő jár úszni a legtöbbet.
He goes swimming mostly.

Ő énekel a legkevesebbet.
He sings (the) least. / He doesn’t really ever sing.

Referring to people: A LEGTÖBBEN, A LEGKEVESEBBEN
meaning: the most people, the fewest people
THEY REQUIRE A 3RD PP VERB!

A legtöbben reggelente kocognak a parkban.
Most people jog in the park in the morning.

A legkevesebben az iskolában voltak.
The fewest people were in school.

No comparative degree!

MINDEN, AZ ÖSSZES, AZ EGÉSZ, MINDEN EGYES =
EVERY, ALL, THE ENTIRE, EACH
minden refers to: countable
az összes: countable and uncountable
az egész: countable
minden egyes: countable

minden ember (every man)
az összes ember (all people)
az összes víz (all the water)
az egész ház (the entire house)
minden egyes ház (each house)

Accusative form: MINDENT, AZ ÖSSZESET, AZ EGÉSZET
NOTE: only used as adverbs

Mindent megevett. – She ate everything.
Az összeset megette. – She ate it all.
Az egészet megette. – She ate it all.

No accusative case specifically for minden egyes, but you can make the noun accusative after it:
Minden egyes almát megevett. – She ate each apple.

Referring to people: MINDENKI = EVERYBODY
Mindenki alszik még. – Everybody is sleeping.

CAREFUL WITH: az egészWhen fitted with the definite article, it requires singular and means: the entire, the whole. When NOT fitted with the definite article, it requires plural and means: whole. Take a look at this:

Az egész ház összeomlott. – The entire house has collapsed.
Egész házak omlottak össze. – Whole houses have collapsed.

Pretty much like in English: the whole + singular AND whole + plural

No comparative degree!

MINDKETTŐ, EGYIK…SEM, VALAMELYIK = BOTH, NONE, (N)EITHER
They refer to: countable

NOTE Mindkettő also has the form mindkét when functioning as adjective!

mindkét ház (both houses)
egyik ház sem (neither of the houses)
valamelyik ház (one of the houses)

Mindkét tortát megesszük – We eat both cakes.
Egyik tortát sem esszük meg. – We eat neither of the cakes.
Valamelyik tortát megesszük. – We eat one of the cakes.

Accusative form: MINDKETTŐT, EGYIKET SEM, VALAMELYIKET
NOTE: only used as adverbs

Mindkettőt megisszuk. – We drink both (of them).
Egyiket sem isszuk meg. – We won’t drink either (of them).
Valamelyiket megisszuk. – We’ll drink one (of them).

Referring to people: MINDKETTEN, EGYIKÜK SEM, VALAMELYIKÜK
meaning: both of them, none of them, one of them
THEY REQUIRE A 3RD PP VERB!

Mindketten alszanak már. – They both are sleeping already.
Egyikük sem alszik még. – None of them are sleeping yet.
Valamelyikük alszik már. – One of them is sleeping already.

No comparative degree!

MÁS, A MÁSIK, A TÖBBI = OTHER, THE OTHER
más refers to: countable
a másik refers to: countable
a többi refers to: countable and uncountable

NOTE! Más requires singular or plural depending on what you want to say. The rest needs singular as usual.

más történet (another story)
más történetek (other stories)
a másik történet (the other sotry)
a többi történet (the other stories)

Accusative form: MÁST, A MÁSIKAT, A TÖBBIT
meaning: something else, the other one, the others
Note: only used as adverbs

Mást akartam mondani.
I was going to say something else.

A másikat vette meg.
I bought the other one.

A többit is megvettem.
I bought the others, too.

Referring to people: MÁSOK, A TÖBBIEK = OTHER PEOPLE, THE OTHERS
THEY REQUIRE A 3RD PP VERB!

Mások az ellenkezőjét mondták.
Other people said the contrary of it.

A többiek már elmentek.
The others have already left.

One more thing about más. It also expresses ELSE!

valaki más = somebody else
valami más = something else
Ez valaki más(nak) a tolla. = This is someone else’s pen.

All righty. WE’RE DONE! So much for indefinite pronouns.

RELATIVE PRONOUNS

Relative pronouns refer to an object / person of the main clause and connect it with the subordinate clause.

Example:

Látom a lányt, aki a padon ül.
I see the girl (who is) sitting on the bench.

In this sentence, the English relative pronoun WHO is not mandatory to use.

HUNGARIAN RELATIVE PRONOUNS MUST BE ALWAYS USED EVEN IN ACCUSATIVE CASE!

A lány, akit régóta ismerek, a padon ül.
The girl (whom) I’ve known for long is sitting on the bench.

Hungarian relative pronouns are formed with: the prefix a- + an interrogative pronoun. They must agree in number and person and case! Examples:

a- + Ki? = aki
a- + Mi? = ami
a- + Mit? = amit
and so on…

IMPORTANT! As for Mi? there are two versions!

ami >> refers to undetermined people/things
(and used in the everyday language)

amely >> refers to determined people/things
(and used in more formal situations: talking to superior, news, speech)

Note that the spoken language prefers using ami to amely. More examples:

A kocsi, ami ott parkol, az enyém.
The car (which is) parking there is mine.

A kocsik, amik ott parkolnak az enyémek.
The cars (which are) parking there are mine.

A ház, amely épül, ronda.
The house (which is) being built is ugly.

A házak, amelyek épülnek, rondák.
The houses (which are) being built are ugly.

A film, amelyről beszélek, jó volt.
The movie (which) I’m talking about was good.

A filmek, amelyekről beszélek, jók voltak.
The movies (which) I’m talking about were good.

A fiú, akinek a szülei elváltak, szomorú.
The boy whose parents got divorced is sad.

A fiúk, akiknek a szülei elváltak, szomorúak.
The boys whose parents got divorced are sad.

A férfi, aki ott áll, rendőr.
The man (who is) standing over there is a cop.

A férfiak, akik ott állnak, rendőrök.
The men (who are) standing over there are cops.

Az, aki ezt mondja, hazudik.
The one who says that is lying.

Azok, akik ezt mondják, hazudnak.
Those who say that are lying.

A bankrabló, akit láttam, elfutott.
The bank robber (whom) I saw ran off.

A bankrablók, akiket láttam, elfutottak.
The bank robbers (whom) I saw ran off.

A ház, ahol lakom, nagy.
The house where I live is big.

A házak, ahol lakom, nagyok.
The houses where I live are big.

Futottam, ahogy bírtam.
I ran as I could.

Ameddig a szem ellát, fa van.
As far as the eye can reach, there’s nothing but trees.

Az ok, amiért hívtalak, egyszerű.
The reason (why) I called you is simple.

Az okok, amikért hívtalak, egyszerűek.
The reasons (why) I called you are simple.

NOTE! The relative pronoun ahol cannot be marked for case for obvious reasons. But according the the three directions phenomenon it has two more forms: ahova, ahonnan.

Abból a városból jövök, ahonnan te is jössz.
I come from the city where you also come from.

Oda megyek, ahova akarok.
I’m going where(ever) I want.

WE’RE FINISHED WITH PRONOUNS! Bye now! 🙂

Possession – Possessive Case

POSSESSION

Finally we got to possession. And now I’m telling you what I’ve been telling you all along. Remember how to make nouns plural because that can help when we discuss the possessive case. But first an evident question:

DO I HAVE TO HAVE?

And the answer is NO. English uses the verb ‘to have’, a transitive verb to express possession: I have a house, They have no money…

Hungarian, in turn, uses a whole different method when it comes to expressing possession of this kind. Even if there is a verb similar to ‘to have’, birtokolni, it would sound constrained if we wanted to use this verb for this special purpose. Hungarian uses such a construction: DATIVE PRONOUN + SUBSTANTIVE VERB 3rd PS or 3rd PP + INDEFINITE ARTICLE + NOUN WITH POSSESSIVE ENDING

I know it’s long to write it down like that, so let’s see this example: I have a houseNekem van egy házam.

Nekem (dative pronoun) + van (substantive verb 3rd PS) + egy (indefinite article) + házam (noun with possessive ending -m)

In everyday language, the dative pronoun and the indefinite article are omitted or can be omitted, so you can also say: Van házam. So it is mandatory to use the substantive verb van/vannak and the noun with its possessive endings. More examples:

Sok türelmük van. – They have a lot of patience.
Macskáid is vannak? – Do you have some cats, too?
Nincs pénzem. – I have no money.

NOTE! The substantive verb is van or vannak, depending on whether someone owns one thing or more than one thing. The negative form is nincs/nincsenek:

Nincs autóm. – I have no car./ Nincsenek barátaimI have no friends. Summary:

van/nincs OR nincsen + singular thing to possess
vannak/nincsenek + plural things to possess

Because of the topic-prominent aspect, you can also say: Autóm nincs. Házunk van. In this case you put an emphasis on  what you have: It is a car that I don’t have. It is a house that we have. But English usually solves this problem with verbal emphasis. The bold letters show the most important thing in the sentence now. So here are your possibilities:

Van barátnőm. – I have a girlfriend.
Barátnőm van. – I have a girlfriend. (It is a girlfriend that I have)
Nincs barátnőm. – I have no girlfriend.
Barátnőm nincs. – As for a girlfriend, I don’t have any.

ONE MORE THING! I forgot to mention that the singular negative verb nincs has another version: nincsen. You choose which to use.

POSSESSIVE CASE

Once again, I presume you already know how to make nouns plural!! That knowledge will help you deal with the possessive case, just as it helped you with the accusative case.

First we should make it clear: there is no genitive in Hungarian. It is called the possessive case.

Alrighty. Hungarian possession is expressed with possessive endings and possessive pronouns. And the English equivalents are:

Hungarian > English
possessive endings > possessive pronouns as adjectives
e.g. -m, -d, -ja > for ex.: my, your, his

possessive pronouns > possessive pronouns as adverbs
e.g. enyém, tied > for ex.: mine, yours

POSSESSIVE ENDINGS

Here they are:

Number and person > Possessive endings
1st PS > –m, -om, -am, -em, -öm
2nd PS > -d, -od, -ad, -ed, -öd
3rd PS > -(j)a, -(j)e
1st PP > -nk, -unk, -ünk
2nd PP > -(a/o)tok, -(e)tek, -(ö)tök
3rd PP > -(j)uk, -(j)ük

Apparently, there is only one ending for all numbers/persons. It looks like there are too many because link vowels are added to them if needed. It is always -m for 1st PS and we add link vowels if needed. It is always -d for 2nd PS and we add link vowels if needed. Etc.

NOTE! No different ending for masculine and feminine as Hungarian doesn’t care about genders. It’s just about the right possessive ending for high and deep-vowel words.

Let’s get started!

Group 1: The vowels A, E become Á, É when at the very end of a noun (like nouns: apa – apák)

apa (father) – apám (my father)
anya (mother) – anyád (your mother)
epe (bile) – epéje (his/her bile)
kemence (furnace) – kemencéjük (their furnace)

Group 2: nouns in a consonant take the possessive endings with a link vowel. Now I’ll give you one noun from the rest of those groups you know as examples:

HIGH-VOWEL NOUN: szék (chair); gyümölcs (fruit)
székem, széked, széke, székünk, széketek, székük (with e link vowel because: szék-székek-széket-székem)
gyümölcsöm, gyümölcsöd, gyümölcse, gyümölcsünk, gyümölcsötök, gyümölcsük (with ö link vowel because: gyümölcs-gyümölcsök-gyümölcsöt-gyümölcsöm)

DEEP-VOWEL NOUN: állat (animal); ház (house); száj (mouth)
állatom, állatod, állata, állatunk, állatotok, állatuk (with o link vowel because: állat-állatok-állatot-állatom)
házam, házad, háza, házunk, házatok, házuk (with a link vowel because: ház-házak-házat-házam)
Exception: szám, szád, szája, szánk, szátok, szájuk

LAST VOWEL SHORTENED: kéz (hand), nyár (summer); ész (mind)
kezem, kezed, keze, kezünk, kezetek, kezük (É becomes E because: kéz-kezek-kezet-kezem)
nyaram, nyarad, nyara, nyarunk, nyaratok, nyaruk (A becomes Á because: nyár-nyarak-nyarat-nyaram)
eszem, eszed, esze, eszünk, eszetek, eszük (É becomes E: ész-eszem…, but its accusative form does not change: észt; no plural form in any case)

DROP-VOWEL NOUN: vödör (bucket)
vödröm, vödröd, vödre, vödrünk, vödrötök, vödrük (because: vödör-vödrök-vödröt-vödröm)

V-NOUN: (stone)
kövem, köved, köve, kövünk, követek, kövük (because: kő-kövek-követ-kövem)

fű-füve (grass), mű-műve (work of art), nyű-nyüve (maggot), cső-csöve (tube), tő-töve (stem), hő-hője/heve (heat), hó-hava (snow), jó-java (values, estates), ló-lova (horse), tó-tava (lake), tetű-tetve (cootie), lé-leve (juice), mag-magja/magva (seed), daru-darva/daruja (crane-animel/crane-machine), falu-falva (village), szó-szava (words)

Group 3: Some nouns in 3rd PS and 3rd PP take the possessive endings –a, -e, -uk, -ük WITHOUT J. All I can give you is an unstable rule which is: drop-vowel nouns (terem-terme) and nouns with the last vowel shortened (madár-madara) belong to this group. As well as nouns ending in consonants like: c, cs, gy, h, j, k, l, ny, s, sz, ty, z, zs. The plural endings are -ai, ei/-jai, -jei according to the consonants listed: ágya (his bed) – ágyai (his beds); rúzsa (her lipstick) – rúzsai (her lipsticks) BUT kertje (his garden) – kertjei (his gardens); lantja (his lute) – lantjai (his lutes)…

méhei her wombs (méh has two meaning: bee and womb)
fejei his heads
begyei its crops
gyerekeihis children
asztalaihis tables
fényei his lights
kulacsaihis gourds
hasaihis stomachs
bajuszaihis moustaches (if it made sense in plural) 🙂
mezei his shirts
varázsaihis magics

More examples: zsebe – his pocket, lazaca – his salmon, gerince – his spine, kenőcse – his grease, beszéde – his speech, anyaga – his material, szőnyege – his carpet, ágya – his bed, potroha – its abdomen, vaja – his butter, ablaka – his window, gyereke – his child, viadala – his battle, jele – his sign, súlya – his weight, helye – his place, szerszáma – his tool, öröme – his joy, rokona – his relative, sárkánya – his kite, szekrénye – his wardrobe, talpa – his foot, gépe – his machine, bora – his wine, nővére – his elder sister, társa – his mate, kése – his knife, kosza – his dirt, fürésze – his saw, tárlata – his exhibition, viselete – his garb, pontya – his carp, löttye – his wish-wash, kedve – his mood, doboza – his box

Group 4: Some nouns changing long Ő to E and long Ó to A in the possessive case. This rule is only valid for 3rd PS and 3rd PP.

idő (time): időm, időd, ideje, időnk, időtök, idejük

mező (field): mezőm, meződ, mezeje, mezőnk, mezőtök, mezejük

tető (roof): tetőm, tetőd, teteje, tetőnk, tetőtök, tetejük

ajtó (door): ajtóm, ajtód, ajtaja, ajtónk, ajtótok, ajtajuk

erő (force): erőm, erőd, ereje, erőnk, erőtök, erejük

erdő (forest): erdőm, erdőd, erdeje, erdőnk, erdőtök, erdejük

velő (marrow of a bone): velőm, velőd, veleje, velőnk, velőtök, velejük

anya (mother): anyja, anyjuk

apa (father): apja, apjuk

fiú (boy, son): has two possessive endings
fiúja, fiújuk means her boyfriend, their boyfriend
fia, fiuk means his/her son, their son

belső-belseje (inward, interior), külső-külseje (outward, exterior), fő-feje (head), nő-neje (woman), tüdő-tüdeje (lungs), vő-veje (son-in-law)

Group 5: Some nouns have two possibilities: using –A or -JA / -UK or -JUK and -E or -JE / -ÜK or -JÜK. This rule is only for 3rd PS and 3rd PP. (referring back to Group 3)

fotel – fotele / fotelje (his armchair)
újság – újsága / újságja (his newspaper)
virág – virága / virágja (his flower)
pillér – pillére / pillérje (its pier)

madzaga / madzagja (his string), párlata / párlatja (his distillate), segéde / segédje (his helper), vérte / vértje (his armour); ára (his price) / árja (his awl), tőre (his dagger) / tőrje (his trap), belsője (his tyre tube) / belseje (his inwards)

Sometimes there is a change in meaning: kar – kara (his faculty) BUT kar – karja (his arm)

How to use definite articles with the possessive case?

Simple. The definite articles  (a, az) are ALWAYS used with possessive case except one occasion when it is optional. It is optional when the sentence begins with a noun in the possessive case. Then you can choose if you use it or not.

A barátnőmet szeretem. – I love my girlfriend.
Barátnőmet szeretem. – I love my girlfriend.

So the Hungarian definite article must or can be used with the possessive case. Unlike English!!!

POSSESSIVE CASE – PLURAL

!!! THE PLURAL FOR POSSESSIVE CASE IS FORMED WITH   -I  AND NOT WITH -K !!!

And where is that i inserted? Take a look at this:

lakás (flat, apartment):
SINGULAR: lakásom (my flat), lakásod (your flat), lakása (his/her flat), lakásunk (our flat), lakásotok (your flat), lakásuk (their flat)

PLURAL: lakásaim (my flats), lakásaid (your flats), lakásai (his/her flats), lakásaink (our flats), lakásaitok (your flats), lakásaik (their flats)

füzet (notebook):
SINGULAR: füzetem (my notebook), füzeted (your notebook), füzete (his/her notebook), füzetünk (our notebook), füzetetek (your notebook), füzetük (their notebook)

PLURAL: füzeteim (my notebooks), füzeteid (your notebooks), füzetei (his/her notebooks), füzeteink (our notebooks), füzeteitek (your notebooks), füzeteik (their notebooks)

Summary:

SINGULAR AND PLURAL (DEEP)
-(o)m                         -aim
-(o)d                          -aid
-a                                -ai
-unk                           -aink
-(o)tok                     -aitok
-uk                             -aik

SINGULAR AND PLURAL (HIGH)
-(e)m                         -eim
-(e)d                           -eid
-e                                  -ei
-ünk                           -eink
-(e)tek                      -eitek
-ük                              -eik

That’s the plural for the possessive case. More next time, but first practise possessive plural with these words. I’ll give you the person and number you should put these nouns in. ONE PROPERTY means you use the singular endings. MORE PROPERTIES means you use the plural endings.

Example:  macska – macskám (1st PS) one property

ebéd – ______________ (3rd PS) one property

férj – ______________ (1st PP) one property

ház – _______________ (2nd PS) more properties

gyerek – ______________ (2nd PP) more properties

adat – ________________ (3rd PS) more properties

SOLUTION TO THE EXERCISES

ebédje

férjünk

házaid

gyerekeitek

adataik

A T T E N T I O N!

3rd person singular                   az ő háza = his house
az ő házuk = their house

3rd person plural                       az ő házai = his houses
az ő házaik = their houses

POSSESSIVE WITH ACCUSATIVE CASE

Once learned how to form the singular and plural in possessive case, you only add –at or -et to the word.

BUT!

The form of 1st and 2nd person singular do not necessarily require the accusative case. Those forms can be considered both subjective and accusative as they are. You choose if you make accusative those forms!

asztalom(at) / asztalaim(at) (my tables)
asztalod(at) / asztalaid(at) (your tables)
asztalát / asztalait (his tables)
asztalunkat / asztalainkat (our tables)
asztalotokat / asztalaitokat (your tables)
asztalukat / asztalaikat (their tables)

képem(et) / képeim(et) (my pictures)
képed(et) / képeid(et) (your pictures)
képét / képeit (his pictures)
képünket / képeinket (our pictures)
képeteket /képeiteket (your pictures)
képüket / képeiket (their pictures)

SHOULD I SAY E OR É?

That’s why it’s important to learn the correct pronunciation:

termet (room – accusative)
termét (his room – possessive in accusative case)

képet (image – accusative)
képét (his image – possessive in accusative case)

tollat (pen – accusative)
tollát (his pen – possessive in accusative case)

fogat (tooth – accusative)
fogát (his tooth – possessive in accusative case)

NOTE! The suffix -i is needed to express that there are more things somebody owns. The suffix -k is present in the plural suffixes, of course: -aink, eik, aitok

SUMMARY FOR POSSESSIVE ENDINGS AND EMPAHSIS ON THE POSSESSOR

Summary for possessive endings:

N/P                       S                                 P
1st PS                   -(a/o/e/ö)m         im (-aim, -eim)
2ns PS                 (a/o/e/ö)d            id (-aid, -eid)
3rd PS                 -(j)a, -(j)e            -(j)ai, -(j)ei
1st PP                  -unk, -ünk            ink (-aink, -eink)
2nd PP                -tok, -tek, -tök    itok, –itek (-aitok, -eitek)
3rd PP                 -(j)uk, -(j)ük       ik (-aik, -eik)

This summary shows you which endings can have link vowels and how they change in the plural.

EMPHASIS ON THE POSSESSOR

So far, we haven’t really dealt with personal pronouns. It is because Hungarian personal pronouns are only used in point of possession when the possessor needs to be stressed. In this case, the definite article must be used. Example:

Ez az én házam, nem a tied. – This is my house, not yours.

Possessive endings with personal pronouns:

SINGULAR
az én…-m
a te…-d
az ő…-ja, -je
a mi…-unk, -ünk
a ti…-tok, -tek, -tök
az ő…-juk, -jük

PLURAL
az én…-aim, -eim
a te…-aid, -eid
az ő…-ai, -ei
a mi…-aink, -eink
a ti…-aitok, -eitek
az ő…-aik, -eik

In the sentence above, the word TIED (YOURS) is already a possessive pronoun. And that’s our next topic.

POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

Hungarian possessive pronouns are used in sentences like: The bag is mine. Mine is a possessive pronoun.

Possessive pronouns:

SINGULAR                PLURAL
az enyém                 az enyéim – mine
a tied                        a tieid – yours
az övé                       az övéi – his/hers
a mienk                   a mieink – ours
a tietek                     a tieitek – yours
az övék                     az övéik – theirs

3rd PS polite forms: Öné, Magáé; 3rd PP polite forms: Magukéi, Önökéi.

As you see, English has one form for each person. No plural form. Hungarian possessive pronouns do have a plural form. All you have to do is to embed an i just as in the aforementioned examples.

NOTE! The definite articles are always used with the possessive pronouns!!

Examples:

A ház a tied. – The house is yours.
A ceruza a mienk. – The pencil is ours.
A könyv az övék. – The book is theirs.
Az alma az enyém.  – The apple is mine.

A játékok az övéi. – The toys are hers.
A játékok az övéik. – The toys are theirs.

Az asztalok a tieid. – The tables are yours. (yours – 2nd PS)
Az asztalok a tieitek. – The tables are yours. (yours – 2nd PP)

If you want to stress the possessor even more, put the possessive pronoun at the beginning of the sentence. You can do that due to the topic-prominent aspect: Enyém a megtiszteltetés. – The honour is mine.

NOTE! tied also has this form: tiéd AND mienk has this form: miénk. The e can be an é in the singular form. No difference in meaning. You choose which to use.

A kocsi a tied. – The car is yours.
A kocsi a tiéd. – The car is yours.

As the substantive verb (van, vannak) is not used in 3rd PS and 3rd PP (as you see in the examples), think of the definite article replacing the substantive verb in a such a context: A kocsi a tied. – The car is yours.

WHOSE?

The question Whose? is Kié? in Hungarian. Kié? is is the combination of the interrogative word Ki? (Who?) + the suffix -é, which is the equivalent to the English …’s: Whose is this book? It’s Peter‘s.

There are two questions for Whose?: Kié? Kinek a? There is no difference between them, use whichever you want.

The answer (the possessor) gets that -é suffix attached to the end of a common noun or a proper name, too:

Whose is this book? -It is Peter‘s.
Kié ez a könyv? -Péteré.
Kinek a könyve ez? -Péteré.

You see it doesn’t matter which question word you use. Kié? is just as good as Kinek a(z)?, but note the grammatical issues in those two sentences.

Kié? does not require the property (könyv) to have a possessive ending.
Kinek a? requires the property (könyve) to have a possessive ending.

And the explanation is simple. Remember this? “A férfi felesége” (The man’s wife): feleség needs the possessive ending -e because that expresses a possession. And the sentence also can be: a férfinak a felesége. But you don’t have to use -nak a, -nek a if you don’t want to, or there is no need for it (Remember all those stuff? ).

That’s why the property needs a possessive ending when answering to Kinek a? As this question has -nek a in it, we insert the sema suffix in the answer, too. (Am I complicated enough ?)

You also can make those questions plural (Kiék? Kiknek a?) if you ask about more properties, but the answer already indicates if there is one or more than one property.

Alright. Digest this part first and next time I’ll tell you more about it. Til then, examples for you:

Kié ez a toll? –Az enyém.
Whose is this pen? –It’s mine.

Kiék ezek a tollak? –Az enyéim.
Whose are these pens? –They’re mine.

Kinek az üvege ez? -Ádámé.
Whose is this bottle? -It’s Adam‘s.

Kiknek az üvegei ezek? -Ádáméi.
Whose are these bottles? -They are Adam‘s.

NOTE! If the answer has more than one item, the suffix -é becomes -éi (unlike in English). And there’s only one version (-é, -éi) for both high- and deep-vowel nouns!

Kié az a szék? -Balázsé. / –Whose is that chair? -It’s Balázs.
Kiék azok a székek? -Balázséi. / –Whose are those chairs? -They’re Balázs.

BELONGING TO

Another method to express something is in someone’s possession is with the verb: to belong. The Hungarian equivalent is: tartozik.

The English verb “to belong” requires the preposition “to”: it belongs to the man.
The Hungarian verb “tartozik” requires the suffixes -hoz, -hez, -höz: a férfihoz tartozik.

So the question is: Who/What…to? = Kihez / Mihez…?

Kihez tartozik ez a toll? Who does this pen belong to?
Mihez tartozik a gomb? What does the button belong to?

A toll a tanulóhoz tartozik. – The pen belongs to the student.
A gomb a kabáthoz tartozik. – The button belongs to the jacket.

These are just examples for you to be ”grammatical”. In everyday speech, we prefer asking “Whose is this pen?”, just like we prefer asking “Kié ez a toll?”.

SUMMARY:

to belong to sg = tartozik…-hoz, -hez, -höz
Kihez? = Who…to?
Mihez? = What…to?

You can make these questions plural, too: Kikhez? Mikhez?

COMPARISON OF THE POSSESSIVE ENDINGS WITH THE POSSESSIVE PRONOUNS

Possessive endings: the example is for high-vowel nouns

SINGULAR:
a képem / az én képem
a
képed / a te képed
a
képe / az ő képe
a
képünk / a mi képünk
a
képetek / a ti képetek
a
képük / az ő képük

PLURAL:
a képeim / az én képeim
a
képeid / a te képeid
a
képei / az ő képei
a
képeink / a mi képeink
a
képeitek / a ti képeitek
a
képeik / az ő képeik

Possessive pronouns:

A kép az enyém. / A képek az enyéim.
A kép a tied. / A képek a tieid.
A kép az övé. / A képek az övéi.
A kép a mienk. / A képek a mieink.
A kép a tietek. / A képek a tieitek.
A kép az övék. / A képek az övéik.

More examples:

Fáj a lábam. – My leg aches.
A lábam fáj, nem a fejem. – My leg aches, not my head.

A felelősség a miénk. – The responsibility is ours.
Miénk a felelősség. – The responsibility is ours. Ours is the responsibility.

A házad nagy. – Your house is big.
A nagy ház a tiéd. – The big house is yours.
Tiéd a nagy ház. – The big house is yours. Yours is the big house.

OF VS. ‘S

If you want to express that something belongs to someone, you use the preposition of, or you attach ‘s to the end of the noun, or both: John‘s wife, the essence of the question, the color of the dog‘s kennel

Such Hungarian sentences are formed with the possessive endings and these suffixes: -nak a, -nek a

NOTE! Dative case suffixes are: -nak, -nek. Possessive case suffixes require the definite articles: -nak a(z), -nek a(z)

With one property, these suffixes can be omitted. With more properties, -nak a, -nek a must be used at least with one of the properties.

John‘s wife – Jánosnak a felesége OR János felesége
the essence of the question – a kérdésnek a lényege OR a kérdés lényege
the color of the dog‘s kennel – a kutya házának a színe

In the first two examples there is only one property: wife, essence. In the third one we have two properties: color, kennel, so it is a must to use -nak a with ház. You don’t have to use it with kutya because that would sound constrained. BUT it is always important to have a possessive ending attached to the property which sometimes is present before -nak a, -nek a, too (a házának a: because ház is a possessor and a property!)

The Hungarian word order is the same when English uses ‘s: POSSESSOR + PROPERTY!

a kocsi kereke OR a kocsinak a kereke (the wheel of the car; literally: the car’s wheel)

After all, it’s not the same: az ember(nek a) hatalma – the power of the man (the man’s power)
OR
a hatalom(nak az) embere – the man of the power (the power’s man)

We’re finished with Possession 🙂

Omitting Or Not Omitting? That Is The Question.

WHAT’S THE POINT OF OMITTING DATIVE AND ACCUSATIVE PRONOUNS?

The very first reason the definite conjugation developed is not the fact that Hungarian people were eager to refer to specific/definite objects with a different conjugation type. The reason the definite conjugation survived the language reforms is: COMPRESSION.

Compressing the meaning of the direct object makes sentences shorter and allows to express nuances, as well as the use of the accusative and dative pronouns (may) become obsolete.

Take a look at how other languages form the following sentence:

English: I write you a letter.
German: Ich schreibe dir einen Brief.
Italian: Ti scrivo una lettera.
Spanish: Te escribo una letra.

It is the same pattern. Either you need two pronouns (English, German) or you need one pronoun and you conjugate the verb (Italian, Spanish). The point is that you always form sentences of this kind in these languages.

What is the Hungarian translation?

Hungarian: Írok neked egy levelet. OR Írok egy levelet.

If you know who you’re talking about, you can omit the dative pronoun neked. Let’s say we’re in this situation:

You’re walking on the street and you meet an old friend.

You: I haven’t seen you for ages.
Friend: I know. It’s been a long time since high-school.
You: We really should meet sometime.
Friend: Yes, we should. I’ll give you my address.
You: Then I’ll write you a letter and we’ll see the rest.

(Of course, nowadays you would write an e-mail or make a call, but that doesn’t matter now.)

So we have this conversation where it is obvious who’s talking to who and who’s giving the address / writing a letter to who. English can’t make it in a different way, it uses the personal pronoun I and the indirect pronoun (dative pronoun) you actually meaning to you.

And that’s when Hungarian says ’BULLSHIT!’ Why should I refer to someone if I know exactly who the talk is about? So I just forget about the fact that dative pronouns even exist because I write a letter to you and I give my address to you, obviously.

How does the conversation above sound in Hungarian?

Te: Ezer éve nem láttalak.
Barát: Tudom, sok idő telt el a gimi óta.
Te: Találkozhatnánk egyszer.
Barát: Igen, tényleg. Megadom a címemet.
Te: Én meg írok egy levelet, a többit meg majd meglátjuk.

Wait a sec! You can omit dative (and accusative) pronouns with indefinite conjugation, as well? Sure you can. That’s the beauty of the Hungarian language.

Take a look at the English sentences if we omit the pronouns. Is the text understandable anyway?

You: I haven’t seen you for ages.
Friend: I know. It’s been a long time since high-school.
You: We really should meet sometime.
Friend: Yes, we should. I’ll give my address.
You: Then I’ll write a letter and we’ll see the rest.

YES, IT IS! It might sound strange like that, but everything is understandable from the context.

And this phenomenon works for all numbers and persons, not just for the I-you relation. Nevertheless, you need to have a context giving you a hint who or what the talk is about. With no context, that’s what we get:

Elmondod? Will you tell?

Tell? Who should I tell? There is no context whatsoever for me to deduce who I should tell. However, it is already unambiguous what I should tell. That’s why the definite conjugation is used. You could complete the question like this:

Elmondod azt? Will you tell about that?

But you don’t need to. The definite conjugation already refers to azt. What we don’t know is who the person is we should tell. It’s impossible to figure out with no context. Let’s give it a context.

Girl1: I cheated on my boyfriend last night?
Girl2: Will you tell him (about that)?

Lány1: Tegnap este megcsaltam a barátomat.
Lány2: Elmondod neki (azt)?

So she should tell HIM = NEKI. And now that there’s a context, we don’t need neki.

Elmondod? Will you tell him?

What if I ask ’Will you tell him everything?’ Then you use indefinite conjugation because everyhing = minden is an indefinite numeral.

Elmondasz mindent? Will you tell him everything?

OR

Elmondasz neki mindent? Will you tell him everything?

Despite all these explanations above, remember this:

IT IS NOT MANDATORY TO OMIT THE ACCUSATIVE AND DATIVE PRONOUNS. IT IS YOUR CHOICE.

But sometimes omitting them definitely makes the conversation ’more Hungarian’.

I…you, but how?

THE SUFFIXES -LAK, -LEK

This phenomenon needs to be getting used to, indeed. While other languages use accusative pronouns when saying
I love/hate/hear/see/understand you’, Hungarian uses the suffixes -lak, -lek which you should think of as a compound pronoun = I-you. So the examples above sound like this ’Szeretlek/Utállak/Hallak/Látlak/Értelek’.

Nonetheless, the issue can give you a little bit more headache than you’d like to get because -lak, -lek refer to both the 2nd person singular YOU-TÉGED and the 2nd person plural YOU-TITEKET. Usually it’s understandable from the context which of the two the speaker means. Plus, it is optional whether or not you want to say those two pronouns. They are not mandatory to omit. So another possibility for the examples above is:

Szeretlek téged. / Szeretlek titeket.
Utállak téged. / Utállak titeket.
Hallak téged. / Hallak titeket.
Látlak téged. / Látlak titeket.
Értelek téged. / Értelek titeket.

Now the fundamental confusion comes from which form of the verb you attach these suffixes to. Actually, it’s present tense you should worry about. From logical point of view, when one says
’I…you’, that person refers to you as specific target. That’s why you take the 3rd person singular definite conjugation form in all tenses but present tense. Present tense thinks it’s better and wants you to attach -lak, -lek to the 3rd person singular indefinite conjugation form. Why? I can give you one reasonable answer to that: The hell knows. It is the way it is. 🙂

So the 3rd person singular indefinite present tense form is:
Szeret + -lek = Szeretlek
Utál + -lak = Utállak
Hall + -lak = Hallak
Lát + -lak = Látlak
Érte + -lek = Értelek> it ends in two consonants, so it needs a link vowel e. In this case the link vowel is a for deep verbs > Tartalak. I’m holding you.

And all other tenses/moods use 3rd PS definite form:

PAST TENSE
> Szerette + -lek = Szerettelek. I loved you.
Látta + -lak = Láttalak. I saw you.

FUTURE TENSE (simple!)
> Szeretni fog + -lak = Szeretni foglak. I will love you.
Látni fog + -lak = Látni foglak. I will see you.

CONDITIONAL MOOD
>Szeretné + -lek = Szeretnélek. I would love you.
Látná + -lak = Látnálak. I would see you.

IMPERATIVE MOOD (remember how to form verbs in this mood)
> Szeresse + -lek = Szeresselek? Shall I love you?
Lássa + -lak = Lássalak? Shall I see you?

That’s the simplest way I can explain this for you. I hope it helps a bit.

Note that verbs that require accusative case in Hungarian might want a different solution in English and reversed. More examples for safety’s sake:

PRESENT – PAST – CONDITIONAL – IMPERATIVE
Kérlek – Kértelek – Kérnélek – Kérjelek
I ask you…

Féltelek – Féltettelek – Féltenélek – Féltselek
I fear for you…

Csókollak – Csókoltalak – Csókolnálak – Csókoljalak
I kiss you…

Várlak – Vártalak – Várnálak – Várjalak
I wait for you…

Hívlak – Hívtalak – Hívnálak – Hívjalak
I call you…

Érdekellek – Érdekeltelek – Érdekelnélek – Érdekeljelek
You’re interested in me…

Ölellek – Öleltelek – Ölelnélek – Öleljelek
I hug you…

Foglak – Fogtalak – Fognálak – Fogjalak
I take/grab you…

Hozlak – Hoztalak – Hoználak – Hozzalak
Viszlek – Vittelek – Vinnélek – Vigyelek
I bring you (to place/from a place)…