Hungarian noun phrase

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This page is about noun phrases in Hungarian grammar.

Contents

Syntax[edit]

The order of elements in the noun phrase is always determiner, adjective, noun.

Grammatical marking[edit]

With a few important exceptions, Hungarian does not have grammatical gender or a grammatical distinction between animate and inanimate.

Plurality[edit]

Hungarian nouns are marked for number: singular or plural.

However, Hungarian uses the plural form sparsely for nouns, i.e. only if quantity is not otherwise marked. Therefore the plural is not used with numerals or quantity expressions. Examples: öt fiú ("five boys"); sok fiú ("many boys"); fiúk ("boys").

In phrases that refer to existence/availability of entities, rather than their quantity, the singular is used in Hungarian (unlike in English): Van szék a szobában "There are chairs in the room", Nincs szék a szobában "There aren't chairs in the room". (The singular may be considered as partitive here.) Also, product names are usually written out in the singular, e.g. Lámpa "Lamps".

Hungarian also uses a singular noun when the possessor is plural but the thing possessed is singular, e.g. a fejünk ("our heads", where each person has one head).

The plural noun marker is the suffix -ok/(-ak)/-ek/-ök/-k.

Before possessive suffixes, the plural k appears as ai or ei, e.g.:

  • (lakás vs) lakások ("flats/apartments")
  • (lakásom vs) lakásaim ("my flats/apartments")

When used predicatively, adjectives are also marked for number (see adjective marking). The suffix is -ak/-ek/-k.

Pairs of body parts[edit]

Hungarian uses paired body parts in the singular, even if the pair is meant together, and even if several people's pairs of body parts are meant. One piece of a pair is described as: "egyik lába" ("one of his legs"). As can be seen, pairs of body parts are considered as one in Hungarian.

láb – leg Singular possessor Plural possessor
Singular possession lába
lit. "his/her leg"
in fact: his/her legs
lábuk
lit. "their leg"
in fact: their legs
Plural possession lábai
his/her legs
lábaik
their legs

Note the number of the noun in the following examples:

Tánc közben összegabalyodott a lába.
(lit. "his/her leg")
His/her legs got tangled up during the dance (with his/her own ones).
Tánc közben összegabalyodott a lábuk.
(lit. "their leg")
Their legs got tangled up during the dance.
  1. People's own legs got tangled up – or
  2. People's legs got mutually tangled up with each other's, affecting at most one leg per person – or
  3. People's both legs got tangled up whether with their own, their partner's or other people's legs. In other words, there remained probably no leg without having gotten tangled up.

Note: if one wants to emphasize the third case (the involvement of people's both legs and their multiple relations), the actual plural number (Tánc közben összegabalyodtak a lábaik, lit. "their legs") might also be used, but the above (singular) option can fully suffice in this case, as well.

Apparent plural endings and homonymy[edit]

The letter k also occurs at the end of certain words which thus may appear plural. Examples include emlék ("a [piece of] memory"), farok ("tail"), köldök ("navel"), könyök ("elbow"), sarok ("corner"/"heel"), pocok ("vole"), püspök ("bishop"), érsek ("archbishop"), szemöldök ("eyebrow"), zsák ("sack") etc. – The name of the mole used to be vakondok but this form took on a plural meaning and the word is mostly used today as vakond.

Homonymy may occur between a word in the singular and another in the plural. Examples:

Homonymous word Meaning as a singular form Meaning and parsing as a plural form
farok "tail" "bottoms", "buttocks"
far + ‑ok
(not usually used in the plural)
pacák "bloke", "chap" "blots", "blotches"
paca + ‑k
(cf. a/e/o/ö lengthening before suffixes)
telek "lot" (real estate) "winters"
tél + ‑ek
(cf. vowel-shortening)

Person[edit]

Forms for "you"[edit]

Beside te (plural ti), which are used informally, there are polite forms for the second person pronouns: ön (plural önök) and maga (plural maguk). Ön is official and distancing, maga is personal and even intimate and some people think it has rude connotations. (There are some older forms for you, like kend, which is still used in rural areas.) See in more detail: T-V distinction for Hungarian.

The polite 2nd person forms ön and maga take the grammatical forms of the 3rd person, e.g. for verbs and possessive suffixes. For example te kérsz (second person, informal), but ön kér or maga kér (second person, formal), just like ő kér (third person).

Impersonal usage[edit]

Hungarian does not have a distinct impersonal or generic pronoun (cf. English "one"), but there are two ways of expressing this:

  • The 3rd person plural (cf. English "they"), for example Azt mondják, hogy a lány bolond. ("They say the girl is crazy.")
  • The phrase az ember (lit. "the human"), for example Az ember nem is gondolna rá. ("You'd never think of it.")

Determiners[edit]

Articles[edit]

Hungarian has definite and indefinite articles. The definite article, a, changes to az before a vowel. The indefinite article is egy, an unstressed version of the word for the number "one". Articles are invariable (i.e. not marked for number, case, etc.)

Demonstrative determiners[edit]

The demonstrative determiners (often inaccurately called demonstrative adjectives in English) are ez a/ez az ("this") and az a/az az ("that").

Numerals[edit]

Hungarian numbers follow an extremely regular, decimal format. There are distinct words for 1 to 9, 10, 20, 30, 100, 1000 and 1000000. The tens from 40 to 90 are formed by adding -van/-ven to the digit. When the numbers 10 and 20 are followed by a digit, they are suffixed with -on/-en/-ön/-n (on the oblique stem). Compound numbers are formed simply by joining the elements together. Examples:

  • öt ("five")
  • tíz ("ten")
  • tizenöt ("fifteen")
  • ötvenöt ("fifty-five")
  • százötvenöt ("one hundred and fifty-five")

As in English, a number can function as a determiner or as a stand-alone noun. As a noun it can take all the usual suffixes.

Suffixes used only on numerals and hány ("how many?"):

  • -odik/(-adik)/-edik/-ödik for ordinal numbers, e.g. ötödik ("the fifth")
  • -od/(-ad)/-ed/-öd for fractional numbers, e.g. ötöd ("a fifth")
  • -os/(-as)/-es/-ös for adjectival numbers (numeric adjectives), e.g. ötös

The numeric adjectives do not have an exact equivalent in English. They are used when English uses a construction such as "bus number 11": a tizenegyes busz, "room 303": a háromszázhármas szoba.

Quantity expressions[edit]

Suffixes used specifically with numerals, hány ("how many?") and other quantity expressions:

  • -szor/-szer/-ször for how many times, e.g. ötször ("five times"), sokszor ("many times")
  • -féle and -fajta for "kind(s) of", e.g. ötfajta ("five kinds of")
  • -an/-en/-n for numeric adverbs

The use of the adverbs suffixed with -an/-en/-n is best illustrated by examples: Sokan voltunk. ("There were a lot of us.") Öten vannak. ("There are 5 of them.") Ketten mentünk. ("Two of us went.")

Possession[edit]

Possessive suffixes[edit]

In Hungarian, pronominal possession is expressed by suffixes applied to the noun. The following suffixes are used for singular nouns:

  Singular Plural
1st person -om/-am/-em/-öm/-m
a(z én) házam
my house
-unk/-ünk/-nk
a (mi) házunk
our house
2nd person (informal) -od/(-ad)/-ed/-öd/-d
a (te) házad
your (singular) house
-otok/(-atok)/-etek/-ötök/-tok/-tek/-tök
a (ti) házatok
your (plural) house
3rd person
and
2nd person (formal or official)
-a/-e/-ja/-je
a(z ő) háza
his/her/its house
a(z ön) háza
your (formal) house
-uk/-ük/-juk/-jük
a(z ő) házuk
their house
a házuk / az önök háza (!)
your (fml, pl) house.

The following suffixes are used for plural nouns:

  Singular Plural
1st person -aim/-eim/-im
az (én) házaim
my houses
-aink/-eink/-ink
a (mi) házaink
our houses
2nd person (informal) -aid/-eid/-id
a (te) házaid
your (singular) houses
-aitok/-eitek/-itok/-itek
a (ti) házaitok
your (plural) houses
3rd person
and
2nd person (formal or official)
-ai/-ei/-i
a(z ő) házai
his/her/its houses
a(z ön) házai
your (formal) houses
-aik/-eik/-ik
a(z ő) házaik
their houses
a házaik / az önök házai (!)
your (fml, pl) houses

The háza, házai type (i.e., like the one with a singular possessor) is used in the 3rd person plural except when no pronoun or only the ő is present before it, e.g. a szülők háza "the parents' house". In other words, the plural -k of the 3rd person suffix is left from the noun if there is a lexical possessor preceding it.

The definite article is usually used. It can be omitted in a poetic or literary style. It may also be omitted at the beginning of the sentence in colloquial speech.

The possessor can be emphasized by adding the subject pronoun, e.g. az én házam ("my house"). In this case the definite article must be used. For the 3rd person plural, the 3rd person singular pronoun is used, e.g. az ő házuk (not az ők házuk).

Words with -j[edit]

Certain consonant-final stems always use the suffixes with -j for a singular noun with a 3rd person singular possessor, e.g. kalap ("hat"): kalapja ("his/her hat"). This group also uses the -j for a singular noun with a 3rd person plural possessor, e.g. kalapjuk ("their hat"). The -j is also inserted for a plural noun (with a possessor of whichever person and number), e.g. kalapjaim ("my hats"), kalapjaid ("your (sg. fam.) hats"), kalapjai ("his hats"), etc.

The two most common types are the following:

Type his/her xxx their xxx my
your
his/her
our
your
their
xxx's Other examples
Without -j
(see above)
háza házuk házai etc (all words with
c cs dzs sz z s zs j ny ty gy h)
× × ×
Mostly
with -j
× (kalapuk) × hang, papír, program
kalapja kalapjuk kalapjai etc.

There is much variance, but in general, the -j variant is usually safer than the variant without -j, except with the specific endings listed above. (Usually the variant without -j is more traditional and the one with -j is more recent.)

Where a form applies the j, the other forms will apply it too. An exception is the uncommon type of barát ("friend") where the -j type is incorrect with a plural noun: barátja ("his/her friend"), barátjuk ("their friend") but barátaik ("their friends"), without j The most common other examples of this type are előd 'predecessor' and utód 'successor'.

Word endings and suffix types[edit]

Several endings (c, cs, dzs, sz, z, s, zs, j, ny, ty, gy, h, i.e., affricates, spirants, palatal/ized sounds and h) only allow the variant without -j in both singular and plural, as shown in the charts above. – On the other hand, the words that always take the -j variant form a rather small group: only those ending in f or ch.

For the other endings, there are no clear-cut rules (so these forms are to be learnt one by one), only regularities exist. Words with a long vowel or another consonant preceding the ending consonant often take the -j variant, as well as international words do (e.g. programja, oxigénje, fesztiválja "his/her program, oxygen, festival"). Vowel-dropping and vowel-shortening stems always use the variant without -j, just like most words using -a as linking vowel (e.g. házat, házak "house": háza "his/her house").

  • The endings v, l, r, m, g, k usually take the variant without -j (e.g. gyereke, asztala "his/her child, table"), but a minority among them take it (e.g. hangja, diákja "his/her voice, student" but again nyve, száma "his/her book, number").
  • For words ending in n, p, t, the regularities are basically similar, but there is wide variance. Words ending in -at/-et (a suffix), however, usually take the variant without -j.
  • The majority of words ending in b, d use the -j suffix (e.g. darabja, családja "his/her/its piece, family" but lába, térde "his/her leg, knee").

Apparent possessive suffixes and homonymy[edit]

Certain words (with or without suffixes) have endings which are identical with a possessive suffix. Examples:

Homonymous word Interpretation without the possessive suffix Interpretation with the possessive suffix
Parsing Meaning Parsing Meaning Person Number
szám (base form) "number"/"song" száj + ‑m "my mouth" 1st singular
hullám (base form) "wave" (n) hulla + ‑m "my corpse"
állam (base form) "state" (as in politics) áll + ‑am "my chin"
áram (base form) "current" (as in water/electricity) ár + ‑am "my price"
perem (base form) "(b)rim" per + ‑em "my lawsuit"
karom (base form) "claw" kar + ‑om "my arm"
erőd (base form) "fortress" erő + ‑d "your strength" 2nd
kacsa (base form) "duck" kacs + ‑a "its tendril" 3rd
váza (base form) "vase" váz + ‑a "its framework"
fánk (base form) "doughnut" fa + ‑nk "our tree" 1st plural
apátok apát + ‑ok
plural
"abbots" apa + ‑tok "your [pl.] father" 2nd
falatok falat + ‑ok
plural
"pieces/bites of food" fal + ‑atok "your [pl.] wall"
szemetek szemét + ‑ek
plural
"pieces of trash" szem + ‑etek "your [pl.] eye[s]"
sütőtök (base form) "pumpkin" (lit. "baking pumpkin") sütő + ‑tök "your [pl.] oven"
áruk áru + ‑k
plural
"wares, products" ár + ‑uk "their price" 3rd

Notes:

A homonymy is also possible between the same possessive ending of two unrelated words, if one ends in a consonant and the other in a vowel: falunk may be parsed as falu + ‑nk ("our village") or fal + ‑unk ("our wall").

A similar kind of homonymy may arise with vowel-dropping words (see the dolog/dolg- type under Oblique noun stem). Examples:

Lexeme with vowel-dropping stem Lexeme with regular stem
Nominative Nominative with
possessive suffix
Nominative Nominative with
possessive suffix
alom
(litter [of animals])
alma
(his/her/its litter)
alma
(apple)
almája
(his/her/its apple)
érem
(medal)
érme
(his/her medal)
érme
(coin)
érméje
(his/her coin)
halom
(pile, stack)
halma
(its pile/stack)
halma
(halma)
halmája
(his/her halma)
karizom
(arm muscle)
karizma
(his/her arm muscle)
karizma
(charisma)
karizmája
(his/her/its charisma)
karom
(claw[s])
karma
(its claw[s])
karma
(karma)
karmája
(his/her/its karma)

Note that the first person singular possessive form of hal (fish) is not the above halom but exceptionally halam, cf. a link vowel.

Examples:

A kiskutya bepiszkította az almát. (The puppy soiled its litter OR the apple.)
Bedobta az érmét a folyóba. (He/she threw his/her medal OR the coin into the river.)
A macskának fontos a karma. (Its claws OR the karma is/are important for a cat.)

Finally, another kind of homonymy may arise between a noun with a possessive suffix and a verb: hasad "your stomach (belly)" or "it tears/rips", árad "your price" or "it floods", fogad "your tooth" or "he/she/it receives/accepts"/"he/she/it bets".

Possessive construction with 2 nouns[edit]

There are 2 possible forms for a possessive construction with 2 nouns. In both of them the noun which is possessed takes the 3rd person possessive suffix.

  1. The possessor is an unsuffixed noun, e.g. István lakása ("István's flat/apartment")
  2. The possessor is a noun suffixed with -nak/-nek and the possessed noun is preceded by a/az, e.g. Istvánnak a lakása ("István's flat/apartment")

The first form is used as default and the second is used to emphasize the possessor or for clarity. It also enables the possessor to be moved within the sentence, e.g. Ennek a lakásnak sehogy se találom a kulcsát ("I can't possibly find the key of this flat/apartment.") Note the sehogy se találom ("I can't possibly find") wedged in between the parts of the possessive structure.

If the 3rd person plural possessor is a lexical word, not a pronoun (thus the plurality is marked on it), the possession will be marked like the 3rd person singular: a szülők lakása (not a szülők lakásuk) ("the parents' flat/apartment"). In other words, the plurality of the 3rd person plural possession is only marked once: either on the possessor (in the case of lexical words) or on the possession (in the case of pronouns), cf. az ő lakásuk (above).

Possessive pronouns[edit]

The following pronouns are used to replace singular nouns:

  Singular Plural
1st person az enyém a mienk/a miénk
2nd
person
(informal)
(formal)
(official)
a tied/a tiéd
a magáé
az öné
a tietek/a tiétek
a maguké
az önöké
3rd person az övé az övék
Note: Where two variants are given, the one with a long vowel is more literary.

The following pronouns are used to replace plural nouns:

  Singular Plural
1st person az enyéim a mieink
2nd
person
(informal)
(formal)
(official)
a tieid
a magáéi
az önéi
a tieitek
a magukéi
az önökéi
3rd person az övéi az övéik

-é/-éi to replace possessed noun[edit]

The suffixes -é/-éi are used to express possession when the noun is not stated:

  • Istváné: "Istvan's", for singular noun: "the thing belonging to Istvan",
  • Istvánéi: "Istvan's", for plural noun: "the things belonging to Istvan".

Hence comes the unusual vowel sequence: fiaiéi, which means "those belonging to his/her sons". Fia- (his/her son) -i- (several sons) -é- (belonging to) -i (several possessions).

The suffixes are also used to form the question word kié ("whose?").

Positional suffixes[edit]

Hungarian follows a strict logic for suffixes relating to position. The position can be "in", "on" or "by". The direction can be static (no movement), movement towards or movement away. Combining these gives 9 different options.

  Interior Surface Adjacency
Static position -ban/-ben
in
lakásban
in the flat/apartment
-on/-en/-ön/-n
on
lakáson
on the flat/apartment
-nál/-nél
by, at
lakásnál
by/at the flat/apartment
Movement towards -ba/-be
into
lakásba
into the flat/apartment
-ra/-re
onto
lakásra
onto the flat/apartment
-hoz/-hez/-höz
to
lakáshoz
to the flat/apartment
Movement away -ból/-ből
out of
lakásból
out of the flat/apartment
-ról/-ről
off
lakásról
off the flat/apartment
-tól/-től
from
lakástól
from the flat/apartment

Note 1: -nál/-nél is also used with the meaning "at the home of" (cf. French chez, German bei).

Note 2: -ban/-ben is usually pronounced in the spoken informal speech without the final n except when followed by a word beginning with a vowel, thus coinciding with the into-forms.

Town/city names[edit]

For town/city names, the rules for selecting the right group are as follows:

  1. Towns outside the historical Kingdom of Hungary (i.e., towns that don't have a native Hungarian name) use the -ban/-ben group
  2. Most towns within Hungary use the -on/-en/-ön/-n group
  3. Approx. fifty towns within Hungary use the -ban/-ben group
    • This group includes all town names ending in -n, -ny and -város ("city/town"), most with -m, -i and some with -r. For example Sopronban, Debrecenben; Gárdonyban; Dunaújvárosban; Esztergomban, Komáromban, Veszprémben; Zamárdiban; Egerben, Győrben

A few towns within Hungary traditionally use a different ending, -ott/-ett/-ött/-t, for position, see locative case for examples. This locative, however, always can be replaced by one of the above suffixes. Those towns that can also use the -on/-en/-ön/-n group (e.g. Pécsett or Pécsen) use -ra/-re and -ról/-ről for movement. Győr, however, where the alternative form is with -ban/-ben, uses -ba/-be and -ból/-ből for movement.

Differentiating place names with suffix groups[edit]

The difference of the two suffix group may carry a difference in meaning:

"Interior" cases:
inessive, illative, elative
(in, into, out of)
"Surface" cases:
superessive, sublative, delative
(on, onto, off)
  • towns/cities in other countries than Hungary
  • certain towns/cities in Hungary
  • counties, provinces
  • countries
  • most towns/cities in Hungary
  • islands

The below cases may exemplify the above tendencies but in actual usage they are not always followed so strictly as described:

  • Tajvanon means "on (the island of) Taiwan" but Tajvanban is "in (the country of) Taiwan" (here the usage is parallel to English) – Note: Tajvanon may also refer to the country
  • Tolnán means "in (the town of) Tolna" but Tolnában is "in the county of Tolna" – Note: Tolnában may also refer to the town
  • Velencén means "in the Hungarian town of Velence" but Velencében is "in the Italian city of Venice (in Hungarian: Velence)" – Note: Velencében may also refer to the Hungarian town

Insider and outsider usage[edit]

There may also be difference between "insider" and "outsider" usage: one may prefer the suffixes expressing the "interior" relation and the others those expressing the "surface" relation (the difference extends to the suffixes of static position and those of the two kinds of movement).

In some cases, the local usage is encouraged based on traditional usage in literature and linguistic history, e.g. Csíkszeredában[1] (instead of Csíkszeredán) as well as Nagyszombatban (instead of Nagyszombaton, which latter even coincides with the form "on Holy Saturday"). In other cases, the "outsider" usage is considered more received or even normative, for example:

General/
outsider usage
Sátoraljaújhelyen
(surface)
Balmazújvárosból
(interior)
Insider usage Sátoraljaújhelyben
(interior)
Balmazújvárosról
(surface)

Cases and other noun suffixes[edit]

A note on terminology[edit]

The concept of grammatical cases was first used in the description of Ancient Greek and Latin grammar, which are fusional languages. Over the centuries the terminology was also used to describe other languages, with very different grammatical structures from Indo-European languages. Some linguists[who?] believe that the concept does not fit agglutinative languages very well. Rather than using the "case" paradigm and terminology for describing Hungarian grammar, they prefer to use the terms "(case) suffixes" and "endings".[citation needed] Despite these opinions, nowadays the term "case" is used by most Hungarian linguists.

The criterion for an ending to be a case (according to today's generative linguistic grammars of Hungarian) is that a word with that ending can be a compulsory argument of a verb. This difference is usually unimportant for average learners of the language.

However, it is useful to know that only actual cases can follow other suffixes of the word (such as the plural or the possessive suffix) and the other noun endings can only be added to absolute stems. For example, lakás-om-mal exists ("with my flat/apartment"), but *lakás-om-ostul doesn't.

Case endings[edit]

lakás - flat/apartment
Suffix Meaning Example Meaning of the example Case name
subject lakás flat/apartment (as a subject) Nominative case
-ot/(-at)/-et/-öt/-t direct object lakást flat/apartment (as an object) Accusative case
-nak/-nek indirect object lakásnak to the flat/apartment Dative case
-val/-vel (Assim.) with lakással with the flat/apartment Instrumental-comitative case
-ért for, for the purpose of lakásért for the flat/apartment Causal-final case
-vá/-vé (Assim.) into lakássá [turn] into a flat/apartment Translative case
-ig as far as, up to lakásig as far as the flat/apartment Terminative case
-ként as, in the capacity of lakásként in the capacity of a flat/apartment, as a flat/apartment Essive-formal case
-ul/-ül by way of (less frequent) lakásul by way of a flat/apartment Essive-modal case
-ban/-ben in lakásban in the flat/apartment Inessive case
-on/-en/-ön/-n on lakáson on the flat/apartment Superessive case
-nál/-nél by, at lakásnál by/at the flat/apartment Adessive case
-ba/-be into lakásba into the flat/apartment Illative case
-ra/-re onto lakásra onto the flat/apartment Sublative case
-hoz/-hez/-höz to lakáshoz to the flat/apartment Allative case
-ból/-ből out of lakásból out of the flat/apartment Elative case
-ról/-ről off, about, concerning lakásról off the flat/apartment
about/concerning the flat/apartment
Delative case
-tól/-től from, away from lakástól (away) from the flat/apartment Ablative case

Assimilation works with -val/-vel and -vá/-vé: the initial sound of these suffixes will change to the preceding sound, if it is a consonant other than v, e.g. lakás + -val appears as lakással. (In words ending in a vowel or v, there is no change, e.g. sáv|val "with the lane", hajó|val "with the ship".)

Accusative suffix[edit]

After -l, -r, -j, -ly, -n, -ny, -s, -sz, -z and -zs, the accusative suffix is usually added directly to the noun rather than using a link vowel, e.g. lakást. For the other consonants, a link vowel is used.

-l, -r, -j, -ly, -n, -ny,
-s, -sz, -z, -zs
asztalt, embert, bajt, súlyt, telefont, lányt,
lakást, buszt, pénzt, rizst
etc.
Other consonants
(-b, -c, -cs, -d, -dz, -dzs, -f, -g,
-gy, -h, -k, -m, -p, -t, -ty, -v
)
darabot, lábat, ebet, köböt
padot, holdat, ebédet, ködöt

etc.

The accusative suffix after other suffixes[edit]

As shown in the above chart, -ot/(-at)/-et/-öt/-t is the accusative suffix for nouns with no other suffix. However, if the accusative suffix is added to a relative stem, that is, to a noun which already has another suffix (i.e. a plural or possessive suffix), -at/-et is used. Examples:

  Absolute stem
with accusative
Relative stem
with accusative
Back ablakot ("window") ablakomat ("my window")

ablakokat ("windows")
ablakaimat ("my windows")

Front
(rounded)
gyümölcsöt ("fruit") gyümölcsömet ("my fruit")

gyümölcsöket ("fruits")
gyümölcseimet ("my fruits")

Sometimes the quality of the link vowel of the accusative can differentiate between otherwise homonymous words:

Homonymous word
in the nominative
The word as an absolute stem
with accusative
The word as a relative stem
with accusative
fánk fánkot ("doughnut"):
fánk ("doughnut") + -ot (acc.)
fánkat ("our tree"):
fa ("tree") + -nk ("our") + -at (acc.)
sütőtök sütőtököt ("pumpkin"):
sütőtök ("pumpkin") + -öt (acc.)
sütőtöket ("your/pl. oven"):
sütő ("oven") + -tök (your/pl.) + -et (acc.)

Accusative without marking[edit]

The accusative can be expressed without the -t morpheme after the first and second person singular possessive suffixes. For example:

  • Látom a kalapod. or Látom a kalapodat. "I [can] see your hat."
  • Látod a kalapom. or Látod a kalapomat. "You [can] see my hat."

The accusative personal pronouns engem ("me") and téged ("you") are also used without the -t suffix (engemet and tégedet are rather infrequent).

The third case where the accusative remains unmarked is the infinitive, e.g. Szeretek kirándulni ("I like hiking", lit. "I like to hike"). (When the same meaning is expressed with a derived noun, the accusative -t appears: Szeretem a kirándulást.)

Apparent accusative endings and homonymy[edit]

The letter t also occurs at the end of certain words which thus may appear accusative. Examples include eset ("case"), falat ("a bit of food"), hét ("week"), kabát ("coat"), kert ("garden"), kötet ("volume" [of books]), lakat ("padlock"), lapát ("shovel"), part ("shore", "bank", "coast"), párt ("party"), sajt ("cheese") etc.

Telling them apart:

Ending Function Examples Notes
-et part of the stem füzet "exercise book" (nom.) If it occurs after a word with ö or ü in it, it is more likely to be part of the stem because such words usually take ö as linking vowel before the -t, e.g. köd+öt, öt+öt. (Exceptions include föld+et, könyv+et, tüz+et and fül+et.) So kötet is more likely to be a word on its own than a suffixed form of the hypothetical noun stem *köt (because its accusative would be probably *köt+öt).
accusative suffix hegy+et "mountain" (acc.)
Homonyms: szelet "slice" (nom.) vs. szél+et (shortening the base) "wind" (acc.)
-at part of the stem lakat "padlock", bocsánat "pardon"  
traditional accusative suffix ágy+at "bed" (acc.), haj+at "hair" (acc.), háj+at "fat" (acc.), vaj+at "butter" (acc.) in the case of a handful of words
Homonyms: állat "animal" (nom.) vs. áll+at "chin" (acc.), falat "a bit of food" (nom.) vs. fal+at "wall" (acc.), fogat "team of horses" (nom.) vs. fog+at "tooth" (acc.)
Consonant + t part of the stem sajt "cheese" (nom.)
accusative suffix baj+t "trouble" (acc.), faj+t "species" (acc.), zaj+t "noise" (acc.)
Homonyms: párt "[political] party" (nom.) vs. pár+t "couple" or "pair" (acc.)
-át, -ét lengthened form of words ending in a or e anya "mother" → anyá+t (acc.), mese "fairy tale" → mesé+t (acc.)
lengthening the a/e of the preceding possessive suffix láb+a "his/her leg" → lábá+t (acc.), kez+e "his/her hand" → kezé+t (acc.)
part of the stem lapát "shovel", pecsét "stamp"
Homonyms:
  • Without a possessive suffix: apát may be "abbot" (nom.) or "father" (acc.).
  • With a possessive suffix: sörét may be "pellet" (nom.) or "his/her beer" (acc.); szemét may be "waste/garbage" (nom.) or "his/her eye[s]" (acc.); menyét may be "weasel" (nom.) or "his/her daughter-in-law" (acc.).
-ót accusative of a word ending in ó takaró+t "blanket", metró+t "underground/subway"
accusative of a word ending in o allegroallegró+t, OsloOsló+t mostly foreign words in Hungarian
part of the stem kompót "preserved fruit" spenót "spinach" in the case of a handful of words
-ot the accusative of a word ending in a consonant rab+ot "prisoner", pad+ot "bench" the most common case
the wrongly spelt accusative form of words ending in o *allegrot, *Oslot (they should be written like above, with long final ó before t) mostly foreign words in Hungarian
part of the stem bot "stick", állapot "state" or "condition", gyapot "cotton" these three words and their compounds

Homonymy may also arise between accusative nouns and verbs, e.g. választ may mean "answer" (n, acc.) or "s/he chooses/elects" and nevet may mean "name" (n, acc., from név) or "s/he laughs".

The accusative of terem ("room"/"hall") is termet (see vowel-dropping) instead of the regular teremet (which could come from tér with vowel-shortening, meaning "my square", acc.). On the other hand, teremt means "s/he creates". Termet is another homonymy as it may be another word in the nominative ("stature"). – This latter bunch of examples shows eloquently that knowing stem types and recognizing them are essential for interpreting a Hungarian word correctly.

Other noun endings[edit]

Suffix Meaning Example Meaning of the example "Case" name

or
-nak/-nek
of
(morphologically identical with the nominative or the dative case)
lakás
or
lakásnak
of the flat/apartment Genitive case
-képp(en) as, by way of lakásképp, lakásképpen by way of a flat/apartment, as a flat/apartment Formal case
-onként/(-anként)/-enként/-önként/-nként per, by lakásonként per flat/apartment, by flat/apartment Distributive case
-ostul/(-astul)/-estül/-östül/-stul/-stül,
-ostól/(-astól)/-estől/-östől/-stól/-stől
together with (restricted in use) lakásostul, lakásostól together with the flat/apartment Sociative case
-ott/(-att)/-ett/-ött/-t in (only for some Hungarian town/city names) (Győr)ött/(Pécs)ett in Győr/in Pécs Locative case
-onta/(-anta)/-ente/-önte every xxx (only for time-related words) (nap)onta daily Distributive-temporal case
-kor at (only for time-related words) (hat)kor at six Temporal case

Notes:

  • For more examples of the endings, refer to the article List of grammatical cases.
  • The special status of the genitive case can be illustrated with the following example: "the key of the flat/apartment" is a lakás kulcsa or a lakásnak a kulcsa (nominative or dative case). The case marking is on the possessed object rather than the possessor.

Incorrect classifications[edit]

The following endings are sometimes counted as cases, but are in fact derivational suffixes, see Adjectives and adverbs

Suffix Meaning Example Meaning of the example "Case" name
-an/-en/-n (rövid)en briefly "Modal-essive case" #1
-lag/-leg lakásilag as far as a flat/apartment is concerned "Modal-essive case" #2
-szor/-szer/-ször (három)szor three times "Multiplicative case"

Slight noun irregularities[edit]

a/e/o/ö lengthening before suffixes[edit]

Words ending in a, e, o or ö become lengthened before most suffixes:

Nominative Suffixed forms
alma
"apple"
almát almák* almám* almának almával almáért almá almáig almául
almában almán almánál almába almára almához almából almáról almától
körte
"pear"
körtét körték* körtém* körtének körtével körtéért körté körtéig körtéül
körtében körtén körténél körtébe körtére körtéhez körtéből körtéről körtétől
Oslo Oslót Oslók* Oslóm* Oslónak Oslóval Oslóért Osló Oslóig Oslóul
Oslóban Oslón Oslónál Oslóba Oslóra Oslóhoz Oslóból Oslóról Oslótól
Malmö Malmőt Malmők* Malmőm* Malmőnek Malmővel Malmőért Malmő Malmőig Malmőül
Malmőben Malmőn Malmőnél Malmőbe Malmőre Malmőhöz Malmőből Malmőről Malmőtől

The asterisk means that almák/körték (the plural) and almám/körtém (the possessive forms) can be suffixed further, e.g. almákat, almáknak etc., almámat, almádat, almáját etc., almáimat, almáidat, almáit etc., almámnak, almádnak, almájának etc.

Those cases with small letters can be formed, but they are not meaningful, unless figuratively (e. g. Oslók lit. means "Oslos", but naturally Oslo doesn't have plural, although the case technically can be formed; Oslóul means "as an Oslo", which is also dubious).

The suffix -ként is an exception as it doesn't lengthen the a/e, e.g. almaként, körteként. Compounds don't lengthen the vowel, either, e.g. almalé, körtelé ("apple/pear juice").

Otherwise, this rule extends to all nouns and adjectives, e.g. Coca-ColaCoca-Colát, Coca-Colának etc.

Short o and ö endings only occur with foreign words (like Oslo and Malmö above) since Hungarian or Hungarianized words lengthen these vowels at the end of the word, e.g. euró, metró, videó, sztereó, fotó, diszkó etc.

a link vowel[edit]

Certain back-vowel nouns, e.g. ház ("house"), always use the vowel a as a link vowel where the link vowel is usually -o/-e/-ö, except with the superessive case -on/-en/-ön/-n.

The link vowel -o/(-a)/-e/-ö occurs with the following suffixes:

  • -ok/(-ak)/-ek/-ök/-k for noun plurals, e.g. házak ("houses")
  • -om/(-am)/-em/-öm/-m for 1st singular possessive, e.g. házam ("my house")
  • -od/(-ad)/-ed/-öd/-d for 2nd singular possessive, e.g. házad ("your (singular) house")
  • -otok/(-atok)/-etek/-ötök/-tok/-tek/-tök for 2nd plural possessive, e.g. házatok ("your (plural) house")
  • -ot/(-at)/-et/-öt/-t for accusative case, e.g. házat ("house")
  • -onként/(-anként)/-enként/-önként/-nként, e.g. házanként ("per house")
  • -ostul/(-astul)/-estül/-östül/-stul/-stül, e.g. házastul ("together with the house")
  • -odik/(-adik)/-edik/-ödik for ordinal numbers, e.g. nyolcadik ("the eighth")
  • -od/(-ad)/-ed/-öd for fractional numbers, e.g. nyolcad ("an eighth")
  • -os/(-as)/-es/-ös for adjectival numbers, e.g. nyolcas ("number eight")
  • -onta/(-ante)/-ente/-önte for distributive occasions, e.g. nyaranta ("every summer", from nyár "summer")

Theoretical:

  • -ott/(-att)/-ett/-ött/-t for position

This irregularity sometimes help differentiate between otherwise homonymous verbs and nouns:

Homonymous word Meaning as an a stem noun áll chin fog tooth fal wall hal fish tár storage/magazine vár castle zár lock
Meaning as a normal verb he stands he catches he devours he dies he opens sth. up he waits he closes
Plural form of the a stem noun állak chins fogak teeth falak walls halak fish [pl.] tárak storages/magazines várak castles zárak locks
1st person singular of the verb állok I stand fogok I catch falok I devour halok I die tárok I open sth. up várok I wait zárok I close

The case of nyúl is similar ("rabbit" or "he reaches out") except that it becomes short in the plural as a noun (nyulak, cf. the hét type) and remains long as a verb (nyúlok). Beside árak (the plural of the a stem word ár, "price") árok also exists ("ditch"). Finally, beside vágyak ("desires"), vágyok may also occur as a verb ("I desire") although it is expressed as vágyom in standard Hungarian (cf. -ik verbs).

Oblique noun stem[edit]

Some nouns have a second stem which is used with certain suffixes. This is most commonly derived from the main stem by shortening or elision of the final vowel. A few nouns insert the letter "v" to derive the oblique stem.

It is used with the following suffixes:

Nominative base/stem
(given for comparison)
hét
("week")
dolog
("thing")
tó
("lake")
Plural hetek dolgok tavak
Possessive 1st person singular hetem dolgom tavam
2nd person singular heted dolgod tavad
3rd person singular hete dolga tava
1st person plural hetünk dolgunk tavunk
2nd person plural hetetek dolgotok tavatok
3rd person plural hetük dolguk tavuk
Accusative hetet dolgot tavat
Distributive hetenként dolgonként tavanként
Sociative hetestül dolgostul tavastul
Distributive-temporal hetente × ×
Superessive (héten) dolgon tavon
Derived adjective hetes dolgos tavas

Note: as with other nouns, the plural and the possessive forms (the first seven rows) are independent of cases so they can take the suffixes of other cases than the nominative: hetek|ből, dolgom|hoz, dolgaimhoz etc. The forms in the latter five rows (which have suffixes of certain cases) cannot have more suffixes attached.

Stem with -on/-en/-ön/-n[edit]

For -on/-en/-ön/-n, the vowel-shortening base uses the nominative stem, e.g. héten, but the other types (vowel-dropping and -v- bases) use the oblique stem, e.g. dolgon, tavon, as it is shown in the examples above.

Also, the back-vowel nouns which use an a link vowel have o as the link vowel instead, e.g. házon ("on the house").

As noted above, when it is added to tíz ("ten") and to húsz ("twenty") to form compound numbers, e.g. tizenegy ("eleven"), huszonegy ("twenty-one"), these vowel-shortening bases use the oblique stem.

Differentiating -an/-en from -on/-en/-ön/-n[edit]

The suffix -an/-en, used with numbers and adjectives, is not to be confused with the above suffix -on/-en/-ön/-n. Their vowel can only be a or e, even on words which would normally use o or ö: cf. ötön (on the number five) and öten (numbering five), haton and hatan (for the latter form, see Quantity expressions).

Order of noun suffixes[edit]

Where more than one type of noun suffix occurs, the plural suffix is first (normally -k but -i with possessives). The possessive suffix follows this and the case suffix is last.

Pronominal forms[edit]

Demonstrative pronouns[edit]

The demonstrative pronouns are ez ("this") and az ("that"). They can take the full range of case endings. For most suffixes, preservative consonant assimilation occurs.

Subject and object pronouns[edit]

Pronouns exist in subject (nominative) and object (accusative) forms.

Because the verb suffix is marked for both subject and object, the pronouns are not usually used, i.e. it is a pro-drop language. The pronouns are used for contrast or emphasis or when there is no verb.

  Singular Plural
Subject Object Subject Object
1st person én engem mi minket or bennünket
2nd
person
(informal)
(formal)
(official)
te
maga
ön
téged
magát
önt
ti
maguk
önök
titeket or benneteket
magukat
önöket
3rd person ő őt ők őket

Hence, the English pronoun "you" can have no fewer than thirteen translations in Hungarian.

Cases with personal suffixes[edit]

For the other forms which are listed above as cases, the equivalent of a pronoun is formed using a stem derived from the suffix, followed by the personal suffix. For example, benned ("in you") or for emphasis tebenned ("in you") has the stem benn- which is derived from the front variant of the position suffix -ban/-ben ("in").

Note: When the stem ends in a long vowel, the 3rd person singular has a ∅ suffix.

maga and ön do not use these forms. They are conjugated like nouns with the case suffixes, e.g. magában, önben.

Suffixes that use a back vowel stem:

Suffix Stem -am/-m -ad/-d -a/-ja -unk/-nk -atok/-tok -uk/-juk Meaning
-NÁL/-nél nál- nálam nálad nála nálunk nálatok náluk by/at me etc.
-RÓL/-ről ról- rólam rólad róla rólunk rólatok róluk off me etc.
about me etc.
-RA/-re rá- (!) rám rád ránk rátok rájuk onto me etc.
-HOZ/-hez/-höz hozzá- (!) hozzám hozzád hozzá hozzánk hozzátok hozzájuk to me etc.
-on/-en/-ön/-n rajt- (!) rajtam rajtad rajta rajtunk rajtatok rajtuk on me etc.

Suffixes that use a front vowel stem:

Suffix Stem -em/-m -ed/-d -e/-je -ünk/-nk -etek/-tek -ük/-jük Meaning
-val/-VEL vel- velem veled vele velünk veletek velük with me etc.
-tól/-TŐL től- tőlem tőled tőle tőlünk tőletek tőlük (away) from me etc.
-ÉRT ért- értem érted érte értünk értetek értük for me etc.
-nak/-NEK nek- nekem neked neki nekünk nektek nekik to me etc.
-ban/-BEN benn- (!) bennem benned benne bennünk bennetek bennük in me etc.
-ból/-BŐL belől- (!) belőlem belőled belőle belőlünk belőletek belőlük out of me etc.
-ba/-BE belé- (!) belém beléd belé belénk belétek beléjük into me etc.

No personal forms exist for the other suffixes: -vá/-vé, -ig, -ként, -ul/-ül, -képp(en), -stul/-stül, -onként/(-anként)/-enként/-önként/-nként, -ott/(-att)/-ett/-ött/-t, -onta/(-anta)/-ente/-önte, -kor. Their personal variants can be only paraphrases (e.g. addig ment, ahol ő állt "he went as far as him" > "… as far as where he stood").

Postpositions with personal suffixes[edit]

Most postpositions (see there) are combined with personal suffixes in a similar way, e.g. alattad ("under you").

Note: The personal forms of stand-alone postpositions are paraphrases, e.g. rajtam túl "beyond me", hozzám képest "as compared to me".

Personal suffixes at the end of postpositions:

-am/-em
-m
-ad/-ed
-d
-a/-e
-ja/-je
-unk/-ünk
-nk
-atok/-etek
-tok/-tek
-uk/-ük
-juk/-jük

See also the section Overview of personal endings: typical sound elements.

Note:

  • In the same way as for the cases with personal suffixes, when the postposition (stem) ends in a long vowel, the 3rd person singular has a ∅ suffix (see the bolded forms in the last row).
  • Postpositions in bare (unsuffixed) forms are capitalized.

Postpositions with three-way distinction[edit]

  …under/below me etc …over/above me etc …next to/beside me etc …in front of me etc …behind me etc …between me (& others) etc …around me etc …(from/to)
my direction etc
From… ALÓL
alólam
alólad
alóla
alólunk
alólatok
alóluk
FÖLÜL
fölülem
fölüled
fölüle
fölülünk
fölületek
fölülük
MELLŐL
mellőlem
mellőled
mellőle
mellőlünk
mellőletek
mellőlük
ELŐL
előlem
előled
előle
előlünk
előletek
előlük
MÖGÜL
mögülem
mögüled
mögüle
mögülünk
mögületek
mögülük
KÖZÜL
közülem
közüled
közüle
közülünk
közületek
közülük
× FELŐL
felőlem
felőled
felőle
felőlünk
felőletek
felőlük
(At/in…) ALATT
alattam
alattad
alatta
alattunk
alattatok
alattuk
FÖLÖTT
fölöttem
fölötted
fölötte
fölöttünk
fölöttetek
fölöttük
MELLETT
mellettem
melletted
mellette
mellettünk
mellettetek
mellettük
ELŐTT
előttem
előtted
előtte
előttünk
előttetek
előttük
MÖGÖTT
mögöttem
mögötted
mögötte
mögöttünk
mögöttetek
mögöttük
KÖZÖTT or KÖZT
közöttem or köztem
közötted or közted
közötte or közte
közöttünk or köztünk
közöttetek or köztetek
közöttük or köztük
KÖRÜL (!)
körülöttem
körülötted
körülötte
körülöttünk
körülöttetek
körülöttük
×
To… ALÁ
alám
alád
alá
alánk
alátok
alájuk
FÖLÉ
fölém
föléd
fölé
fölénk
fölétek
föléjük
MELLÉ
mellém
melléd
mellé
mellénk
mellétek
melléjük
ELÉ
elém
eléd
elé
elénk
elétek
eléjük
MÖGÉ
mögém
mögéd
mögé
mögénk
mögétek
mögéjük
KÖZÉ
közém
közéd
közé
közénk
közétek
közéjük
KÖRÉ
körém
köréd
köré
körénk
körétek
köréjük
FELÉ
felém
feléd
felé
felénk
felétek
feléjük

Postpositions without three-way distinction[edit]

after me etc instead of me etc without me etc through/by me etc (figurative) against me etc because of me etc for my purpose etc "according to me",
in my opinion etc
towards me etc (figurative)
UTÁN
utánam
utánad
utána
utánunk
utánatok
utánuk
HELYETT
helyettem
helyetted
helyette
helyettünk
helyettetek
helyettük
NÉLKÜL
nélkülem
nélküled
nélküle
nélkülünk
nélkületek
nélkülük
ÁLTAL
általam
általad
általa
általunk
általatok
általuk
ELLEN
ellenem
ellened
ellene
ellenünk
ellenetek
ellenük
MIATT
miattam
miattad
miatta
miattunk
miattatok
miattuk
VÉGETT (never used as a pronoun) SZERINT
szerintem
szerinted
szerinte
szerintünk
szerintetek
szerintük
IRÁNT
irántam
irántad
iránta
irántunk
irántatok
irántuk

Derived postpositions with possessive suffixes[edit]

These below are declined like words with possessive suffixes plus cases:

for/to me etc by my help etc in my case etc on my part etc
részemre
részedre
RÉSZÉRE
részünkre
részetekre
részükre
számomra
számodra
SZÁMÁRA
számunkra
számotokra
számukra
révemen
réveden
RÉVÉN
révünkön
réveteken
révükön
segítségemmel
segítségeddel
SEGÍTSÉGÉVEL
segítségünkkel
segítségetekkel
segítségükkel
esetemben
esetedben
ESETÉBEN
esetünkben
esetetekben
esetükben
részemről
részedről
RÉSZÉRŐL
részünkről
részetekről
részükről

Részére and számára are often interchangeable. To express sending or giving something (to someone), usually részére is preferred. On the other hand, to express the affected party of some perception or judgement (good, bad, new, shocking, unacceptable etc. for someone), only számára can be used, as well as when expressing goal, objective, intention, or other figurative purposes.

Placeholders in Hungarian[edit]

See Placeholder names in Hungarian

Duplication with demonstrative determiners[edit]

When the noun has a plural suffix, a "case" suffix or a postposition, this is duplicated on the demonstrative. As with the demonstrative pronouns, for most suffixes, preservative consonant assimilation also occurs. Examples:

Basic form with definite article With demonstrative determiner
a lakások ("the flats/apartments", subject) ezek a lakások ("these flats/apartments", subject)
a lakást ("the flat/apartment", object) ezt a lakást ("this flat/apartment", object)
a lakásban ("in the flat/apartment") ebben a lakásban ("in this flat/apartment")
a lakással ("with the flat/apartment") ezzel a lakással ("with this flat/apartment")
a lakás alatt ("under the flat/apartment") ez alatt a lakás alatt ("under this flat/apartment")

As peripheral phenomena, there also exist non-duplicating forms, like e, ezen, eme, azon and ama (the latter two referring to distant objects), but they are poetic or obsolete (cf. ";yonder"). For example: e házban = eme házban = ebben a házban ("in this house"). Ezen and azon are used before vowel-initial words, e.g. ezen emberek = ezek az emberek ("these people"). The duplicating forms (as in the chart above) are far more widespread than these.

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