Basic Phrases Edit

Welcome to the Hungarian course! Edit

In this skill, you'll meet your very first Hungarian phrases as well as a few verbs, most importantly lenni ‘to be’. It is conjugated as follows:

1 (én) vagyok ‘I am’ (mi) vagyunk ‘we are’
2 (te) vagy ‘you (sg.) are’ (ti) vagytok ‘you (pl) are’
3 (ő) van ‘s/he is’ (ők) vannak ‘they are’

The pronouns in the Hungarian examples are in parentheses because you don't have to use them. The verb form tells you clearly enough which person and number is indicated. So English How are you? is Hungarian Hogy vagy? or Hogy vagytok?.

Orthography and pronunciation Edit

Hungarian uses the Latin alphabet (like English) with some additional letters and diacritics. Let's start with the vowels.

Vowels can be short and long. Short vowels are aeiouö and ü. Their long versions are áéíóúő and ű.

Consonants can also be short and long. Long consonants are written by doubling them, as in reggel ’morning’, for example.

The spelling of some Hungarian consonants is very different from their English counterparts:

Letter Hungarian Pronunciation
c like ts in cats
cs like ch in channel
s like sh in shower
sz like s in sing
zs like s in pleasure

So Hungarian szia ’hello’ or ’goodbye’ sounds a bit like English see ya.

The letters gynyty represent sounds which not all varieties of English have. They sound a bit like adding a y sound to the preceding sound.

You can have a look at this video (and others) to hear how the vowels and consonants are pronounced:

Youtube: The sounds of the Hungarian alphabet

Another video as a gentle introduction to the Hungarian language:

Hungarian explained - such long words, such an isolated language:

Basics 1 Edit

Lesson 1 Edit

Just like English, Hungarian has a so-called definite article (or definite determiner). Hungarian a and az correspond to English the. So English the boy is Hungarian a fiú. It is easy to figure out whether you have to use a or az: when the following word (usually an adjective or a noun) starts with a vowel, you use az. When it starts with a consonant, you use a.

This is very similar to the indefinite determiner in English: a and an. While it is a boy, it's an apple. In this case, Hungarian is simpler: the indefinite determiner is simply egy.

Be careful not to confuse Hungarian a/az, which is the definite article meaning the, with English a/an, which is the indefinite article, meaning egy!

The verb "to be" Edit

Here are all the present-tense forms of the vert "to be".

1 (én) vagyok ‘I am’ (mi) vagyunk ‘we are’
2 (te) vagy ‘you (sg.) are’ (ti) vagytok ‘you (pl) are’
3 (ő) van ‘s/he is’ (ők) vannak ‘they are’

En, te ... are in parantheses because it can be dropped, the verb conjugation shows the person. For example You are a teacher can be Te tanár vagy. or just Tanár vagy.

In other words, we omit "van" when stating what something is using an adjective or a noun.

When to include van/vannak Edit

You will notice that Hungarian sometimes lacks a verb where English has is. For example, while in English you would say What is this?, Hungarian does not have a verb here: Mi ez?

In addition, Hungarian word order is freer than English word order. To ask What is this?, in Hungarian both Mi ez? and Ez mi? are fine.

Be careful! The verb is only missing when the subject is in the third person and the sentence expresses a property relating to the subject like Ez mi? “What is this?“, Péter egy diák “Péter is a student.”, or Péter álmos “Péter is tired.”

This only happens in the third person, the first and second person vagyok, vagy, vagyunk, vagytok are never omitted.

Don't use van/vannak if you are saying what someone/something is using a noun or an adjective.

"Ő egy tanár" - "He is a teacher"

"Péter egy tanár" - "Péter is a teacher"

"Az alma piros" - "The apple is red"

"Mi az?" - "What's that?"

But do use van/vannak in the following cases (basically, describing when, how, where something/someone is. )

Time - Expressing when something is. "Mikor van a buli?" - "When is the party?" "A buli 7-kor van." - "The party is at 7."

State - Expressing how something/someone is. "Apád ma hogy van?" - "How is your dad today?" "Ma jobban van, mint tegnap, köszönöm." - "He is better today than he was yesterday, thank you."

Location - Expressing where something is. "Hol van a mozi?" - "Where is the cinema?" "Ott van jobbra." - "It's there on the right."

Adverbial Participle - Expressing a verbal state of a noun "Ki van nyitva az ablak?" - "Is the window open?" "Nem, be van zárva." - "No, it's shut."

All the above become "Vannak" when the subject in question is plural:

"Itt vannak a poharak." - "Here are the glasses."

"A szobák fűtve vannak." - "The rooms are heated."

See another explanation here:

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