Published: July 28 2023
Hungary's history, food, and thermal baths remain world-renowned, but what about its language? Outlined under our various sections below, we help you grasp the complexities behind Hungarian grammar.
In Hungarian, the alphabet flaunts 44 letters, each carrying a unique sound. Accents play a vital role in dictating both the pronunciation and meaning of words. The addition of consonants such as cs, gy, ly, ny, sz, zs, ty, and ng, greatly expand the language's richness and diversity.
Flexible word order is a prominent characteristic of Hungarian but isn't a free-for-all. It mainly depends on what the speaker wants to emphasize. The most critical piece of information typically comes first. The basic order is: Subject - Verb – Object – Manner – Place – Time.
Unlike English, Hungarian nouns have no gender, simplifying matters to some extent. Nouns take various forms based upon case endings, with as many as 18 to 23 cases. Singular and plural forms are quite straightforward, with the latter usually developed by adding -k to the end of the singular form.
Three major tenses exist in Hungarian - Present, Past, and Future. Verbs inflect based on these tenses and are conjugated according to the person. Hungarian utilizes definitive and indefinite conjugations. If the object is well-defined (using "the"), it adopts the definite conjugation.
Vowel harmony is a key linguistic feature of Hungarian. Simply put, the vowels in suffixes should harmonize with the vowels in the word-stem. It may sound daunting initially, but with practice, it can be easily grasped.
Possessives and Articles
In Hungarian, possessive adjectives take the form of endings added to the possessed object. The singular definite article is "a" or "az," and there is no indefinite article. For plurals, "a" becomes "azok."
Hungarian often uses postpositions instead of prepositions, meaning they come after the noun. These postpositions govern the case of the noun, which is important to remember when forming sentences.
Hungarian grammar, although uniquely versatile, should not be perceived as an insurmountable hurdle. Remember that practice makes perfect. So turning these basic principles into familiar ones with persistence, practice, and perhaps a touch of Hungarian paprika for motivation, is the best path forward to mastering the Hungarian language.