Published: July 28 2023
Hungarian, also known as Magyar, is a fascinating and complex language notable for its rich vocabulary structure. One intricate aspect of this language is the use of adjectives, specifically, absolute adjectives. This write-up serves as an easy-to-grasp guide to understanding the use of absolute adjectives in Hungarian, especially in attributive and predicative forms.
Defining Absolute Adjectives in Hungarian
Absolute adjectives express qualities that are either present or not; there is no middle ground. These adjectives don't logically vary in intensity or grade—something is either complete or not, dead or alive, unique or not. They describe an absolute condition that is either fulfilled or not.
Now, let's delve into the differences between attributive and predicative use of absolute adjectives in Hungarian.
The Attributive Use of Absolute Adjectives
When an adjective comes logically "before" a noun in a sentence, implying a descriptive trait, it is said to be in an attributive form. For instance, 'The happy boy smiles.' Here, 'happy' is an attributive adjective describing the boy.
In both Hungarian and English, attributive adjectives usually remain singular regardless of the noun. Here are examples in Hungarian:
- 'a boldog fiú mosolyog.' (the happy boy smiles.)
- 'a boldog fiúk mosolyognak.' (the happy boys smile.)
Observe that the adjective 'boldog' (happy) remains singular even when the noun 'fiúk' (boys) is plural.
The Predicative Use of Absolute Adjectives
Conversely, when an adjective comes logically "after" the noun and copula such as 'is' or 'was', it is said to be in a predicative form.
Unlike in English where predicative adjectives don't change form, in Hungarian, predicative adjectives match in number with their noun. Here are some examples:
- 'A fiú boldog.' (The boy is happy.)
- 'A fiúk boldogok.' (The boys are happy.)
In these examples, when the boys are being described as happy, the adjective 'boldog' now matches the number with the noun 'fiúk' (boys) and becomes 'boldogok.'
Handling Attributive and Predicative Adjectives in a Single Sentence
Take these examples for instance:
- 'Az a magyar lány szép.' (That Hungarian girl is beautiful.)
- 'Azok a magyar lányok szépek.' (Those Hungarian girls are beautiful.)
Here, 'magyar' (Hungarian) is the attributive adjective (thus singular), while 'szép' (beautiful) is the predicative adjective, which matches in number with the noun it modifies, 'lányok' (girls), thus 'szépek'.
Understanding "Before" and "After" in Hungarian
The concepts of "before" and "after" here don’t refer to the literal placement of adjectives in sentences. Instead, they infer the logical application of the adjective. For instance, 'Happy were the boys to see their dog.' The word 'happy,' though written before the noun, applies to 'the boys' after the noun. So, it functions predicatively.
To conclude, mastering the use of absolute adjectives in Hungarian is imperative to proficient use of the language. Understanding the distinction between attributive and predicative forms aids in effective communication in Hungarian. Remember that attributive adjectives remain singular, while predicative ones match their noun in number. Happy learning!