FREE Basic Hungarian HELP

Permutations - Patterns - Sentence Structure - Word Order

One of the frustrating things about learning a language from scratch, especially as an adult learner, is being able to recognise the structure (word order) that makes up a specific type of sentence. Common sentence structures (permutations / word orders / patterns) for sentences like I DO NOT LIKE..., HOW MUCH IS..., I WANT A..., THE [WHATEVER] IS VERY [SOMETHING] and so on.

Although the neutral word order for Hungarian sentences is Subject–Verb–Object (S.V.O), you cannot always apply that word order to every sentence simply because of the way the Hungarian language (its sentence structure) also considers the topic and what is being discussed/emphasised in that topic. Not to mention the different grammar structures (i.e. M and T suffixes and vowel harmony). Hence why it complex!

Remember WHAT YOU HAVE SEEN

One approach to remembering sentence structure when learning a language is to collect up as many identical sentences as possible whereby there is only a small word change. For example: WHERE IS THE [Post Office]? - HOL VAN A [Posta]? WHERE IS THE [Cat]? - HOL VAN A [Macska]? WHERE IS THE [Key]? - HOL VAN A [Kulcs]? Now if all sentence structures were like that, Hungarian would be very easy to remember!

Unfortunately, with Hungarian you not only have to remember its various sentence structures (word orders), but also its very complex grammar rules. To make life a little easier for you though, below I have noted some common sentence structures whereby you, hopefully, see a pattern emerge.

The QUESTION & SUBJECT STRUCTURE

Two questions that use the common Question & Subject structure are HOL VAN (WHERE IS) and MENNYIBE KERÜL (HOW MUCH).

Where Is THE [Post Office / Cat / Key]?

Hol Van A [Posta / Macska / Kulcs]?

Where Is There A [Post Office / Cat / Key]?

Hol Van EGY [Posta / Macska / Kulcs]?

Where ARE THE [Post Offices / Cats / Keys]?

Hol VanNAK A [Posták / Macskák / Kulcsok]?

In the above examples WHERE IS (HOL VAN) is the question. The subjects being spoken about are the Posta, Macska and Kulcs. This Question & Subject structure starts with the question HOL VAN followed by the definite/indefinite A, AZ or EGY (The, The or A/An/One) followed by the noun (subject) to use; such as Post Office, Cat or Key. VANNAK is the plural form of VAN.

With the above HOL VAN Question & Subject structure, you could change the word (noun) to CAR (Autó) and then add a new word (adjective): WHERE IS THE [New Car]? - HOL VAN AZ [Új Autó]? As you begin to remember the Question & Subject structure, you realise how easy it is to change a word and add a new word (adjective).

How Much / How Much Is It?

Mennyibe Kerül?

How Much [Is This / Is That]?

Mennyibe Kerül [Ez / Az]?

How Much [Are These / Are Those]?

Mennyibe Kerül [Ezek / Azok]?

How Much [Is This Hat / Is This Shirt]?

Mennyibe Kerül [Ez A Kalap / Ez Az Ing]?

As you may of noticed, MENNYIBE KERÜL is very flexible: From MENNYIBE KERÜL, you can add EZ to make MENNYIBE KERÜL Ez (HOW MUCH Is It?) or change EZ into its plural form (EZEK) to make MENNYIBE KERÜL Ezek (HOW MUCH Are These?). You can also add a noun to the end of the MENNYIBE KERÜL Ez sentence to make MENNYIBE KERÜL Ez A Kalap (HOW MUCH Is This Hat). All possible because you have remembered MENNYIBE KERÜL. WHO ARE YOU? - KI VAGY TE? is another example of the Question & Subject structure.

The QUESTION & VERB STRUCTURE

The Question & Verb structure is another common structure. It takes the form of a question (such as Kit or Mit) followed by a verb (such as See).

WHO [Did You See]?

KIT [Láttál]?

WHAT [Did You See]?

MIT [Láttál]?

The SUBJECT, VERB & OBJECT STRUCTURE

NEM SZERETEM [A Lilát / A Csokoládét]

I DO NOT LIKE [Purple / Chocolate]

SZERETEM [A Lilát / A Csokoládét]

I LIKE [Purple / Chocolate]

In the above examples: Én (I), is the hidden subject. The two sentences should have ÉN in front of them, but Én is emitted because the end of the verb (Szeretem) already states who is doing the action. Lila and Csokoládé are the objects.

When you know the common structure you can begin to extend it, by adding an adverb to the end of it for example:

NEM SZERETEM [A Csokoládét] Reggel

I DO NOT LIKE [Chocolate] In The Morning

Extending And CHANGING THE MEANING

Once you have gained more knowledge, you could change the object and meaning of the sentence altogether:

NEM SZERETEM [Az Almát]

I DO NOT LIKE [Apples]

NEM SZERETEM [Az Almát] Reggel

I DO NOT LIKE [Apples] In The Morning

NEM SZERETEM Azt [Az Almát]

I DO NOT LIKE That [Apple]

NEM SZERETEM Azokat [Az Almákat]

I DO NOT LIKE Those [Apples]

NEM SZERETEM Ezeket [Az Almákat]

I DO NOT LIKE These [Apples]

NEM SZERETEM [Az Almám]

I DO NOT LIKE My [Apples]

Remembering METHOD

As a rule, try and remember the main part of a sentence first (such as Mennyibe Kerül) in order to then forget it on purpose. Meaning, once it has sank deep into your brain you should get into the habit of then remebering the next part(s) of the sentence; such as Ez and Az, and later A Kalap and Az Ing. In other words, 'split remember' a sentence structure.

Do Not Always READ LEFT TO RIGHT

Do not always read a sentence from left to right because some sentences start from the middle or randomly in terms of reading their literal meaning/translation. Example of: The Tall Man Stands In The Woods.

A Magas Férfi Az Erdőben Áll

Lit: The Tall Man In The Woods Stands

A Magas Férfi Áll Az Erdőben

Lit: The Tall Man Stands In The Woods

Az Erdőben A Magas Férfi Áll

Lit: In The Woods The Tall Man Stands

In other words, you sometimes have to read the next couple of words from the left (i.e. A Magas Férfi or Az Erdőben in the above examples), or the verb first (i.e. Áll), to decypher the meaning of a sentence. In the above Literal examples, their actual translations all mean The Tall Man Stands In The Woods. It is where the emphasis is placed (i.e. On The Tall Man or In The Woods in the above examples) that confuses the beginner.


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Hungarian Numbers
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