FREE Basic Hungarian HELP

Remembering The Rules Of Basic Hungarian

After making a SERIOUS start with the Hungarian language, learning at least 500 words and 200 sentences from language apps such as 6,000 Words and Duolingo respectively, as well as learning from Hungarian 'Grammar & Exercise' Books, you should begin to realise that Hungarian is not so difficult to read, write and construct; even if you find its many suffixes, cases and changes in word order difficult to remember.

Once you have mastered the I, You, He/She/It etc pronoun suffixes (such as OK, EK, SZ, UNK, TOK and NAK), the basic root words and the ability to identify who/what is being spoken about/to, the learning processes for the other parts of Hungarian become a lot easier and more fun.

Below I have listed some of the common rules for certain basic/common suffixes and more importantly how I remember them. I have found that once you have remembered a pattern of the Hungarian language in your head, piece-by-piece, things start to become more natural and easier to remember (sink in).


When remembering vowel harmony, all you initially need to remember are the Back Vowels (A, Á, O, Ó, U and Ú), which are the short and long versions of their respective vowels. The other letters (E, É, I, Í, Ö, Ő, Ü and Ű), which are front vowels, only really need remembering when you see a word and ask yourself "Does it contain all front vowels?".

This is because a mixture of back and front vowels in a word make that word a back vowel word. Meaning, you only need to identify one back vowel and one front vowel in a word to determine straight away that that word is a back vowel word. A word containing all back vowels is a back vowel word anyway and a word containing all front vowels is a front vowel word only.

What initially slows this remembering process down, as a beginner learner, is looking for words that contain all front vowels only. So as soon as you see one back vowel and one front vowel in a word, or no front vowels at all, know it is a back vowel word. Obviously there are exceptions to the vowel harmony rule, but in general many words will NOT contain all front vowels. Most will contain all back vowels or a mixture of back and front vowels.


TÓL and TŐL are the suffixes that mean FROM (date/time-wise). They are suffixed to numbers (numeral or written), especially with numbers 1 to 12 (clock hours). Example: Nyolc-Tól Hat-Ig or 8-Tól 6-ig (From 8 til 6). As they follow vowel harmony rules, you only need to remember that 3, 6 and 8 (Három, Hat and Nyolc) are back vowel (TÓL) words/numbers and all other numbers up to 12 are front vowel (TŐL) words/numbers.

Days of the week also follow vowel harmony. The way I remember these are that Wednesday (Szerda - the middle of the week) and Saurday and Sunday (Szobat and Vasárnap - the weekend) are back vowel (Tól) words and all other days are TŐL words - Szerdá-Tól, Szombat-Tól and Vasárnap-Tól. Hétfő-Től, Kedd-Től, Csütörtök-Től and Péntek-Től.


When learning Hungarian you will come across NEM in many sentences. However, this can create a bad learning habit because you might not be aware that NINCS needs to be used instead. NINCS means THERE IS NO/NOT (something is missing) whereas NEM means NO/NOT. Examples: Nem Szeretem A Lilát - I Do NOT Like The Colour Purple. Szkenner Nincs Az irodában - There Is NOT (Isn't) A Scanner In The Office or There Is NO Scanner In The Office. Lit: The Scanner Is NOT In The Office.

If you ask for something in a shop (i.e. Do you sell stamps?) and they do not have it/them for sale in the shop at that time, the shopkeeper might say NINCS; to mean: 'We do not have any for sale at this time' or 'We do not sell that/those items at all'. If they say NEM, it would simply mean 'NO, we do not'.

NINCS is also used with people. Example: The postman comes to the door with a recorded delivery and says Itt Egy Csomag JOHN-Nak - There Is A Parcel For JOHN - whereby you might reply with NINCS; to mean: JOHN Is NOT At Home or NOT Here. He Is Absent.


K - If a noun ends in a vowel, it has a K added to it. Examples: Coffe House (Kávézó) / Coffee Houses (Kávézók) and Cinema (Mozi) / Cinemas (Mozik).

OK - If a noun ends in with a consonant and consists of back/mixed vowels, it has OK added to it. The O is just to make the noun (word) more pronounceable. Examples: Museum (Múzeum) / Museums (Múzeumok), Park (Park) / Parks (Parkok) and Town (Város) / Towns (Városok).

AK - If a noun ends in with a consonant and is made up of two words, it will have AK added to it. The A is just to make the noun (word) more pronounceable. Examples: Theatre (Színház) / Theatres (Színházak) and Residential House (Lakóház) / Residential Houses (Lakóházak).

EK - If a noun ends in with a consonant and consists of front vowels, it will have EK added to it. The E is just to make the noun (word) more pronounceable. Examples: University (Egyetem) / Universities (Egyetemek) and Mountain (Hegy) / Mountains (Hegyek).

ÖK - If a noun ends in with a consonant and has Ö, Ő, Ü or Ű in its last syllable, it will have ÖK added to it. The Ö is just to make the noun (word) more pronounceable. Example: Közlekedési Eszköz / Közlekedési Eszközök.


AZ (OZ) is used on a noun beginning with a vowel (A, E, I, O and U) and A (OH) is used on a noun beginning with a consonant. If you can remember this rule, you will find Hungarian much easier to learn. To an absolute beginner AZ and A seem confusing at first, but if you remember that AZ (OZ) is only used with words beginning with a vowel, you can remember that A (OH) is used with all other words.


A nice verb sentence structure to remember is the third-person-singular verb when it is used as: 1st Person does something (verbs) to the 2nd Person. Examples: The Mother Teaches The Child - Az Anya Tanít A Gyereknek. The Mother Reads To The Child - Az Anya Olvas A Gyereknek. The Mother Pays The Child - Az Anya Fizet A Gyereknek.

With this structure the 1st Person can be changed into a different person and the 2nd Person can be changed into either another person, place or Object for example. The Customer Pays The Shopkeeper - A Vevő Fizet Az Eladó. The Woman Is Running On The Track - A Nő Fut A Pályan.


A similar structure to the one just mentioned above is: 1st Person 2nd Person Verb. Example: The Mother Is Walking With Her Child - Az Anya A Gyermekével Setál. This can be extended to: The Mother Is Walking With Her Child In The Park - Az Anya A Gyermekével Setál A Parkban. You can find these two structures common in the app called Duolingo.

Although the above two 1st Person 2nd Person Verb structures are slightly different from each other (i.e. one is extended), all you need to remember is that the 1st Person (always at the beginning of the sentence) must be doing something (verb always after the 2nd Person) to or with the 2nd Person (always directly after the 1st Person). Remembering this order means you can easily change the people in the sentence for example, such as Mother to Customer and Child to Shopkeeper.

The just said also applies when changing the 2nd Person for an Object or Place. The Student Is Writing To The Teacher - A Diák A Tanár Ír. The Student Is Writing A Letter - A Diák Egy Levelet Ír. The Chef Is Cooking In The Kitchen - A Szakács A Konyhában Főz.


If you get confused by why VAN for example is used at the beginning or end of a sentence, or why the subject is before or after a verb and/or adjective, it is because of focus.

With a sentence like: The Iron Is Not Working, which can be expressed as A Vasaló Nem Működik or Nem Működik A Vasaló, the first sentence focuses on The Iron whereas the second sentence focuses on it Not Working. So the first sentence would be a statement to a friend "Do not use THE IRON, because it is not working" whereas the second sentence would be a description to a friend emphasising the iron not working - "I do not know why the iron is NOT WORKING. What made it suddenly not work?".

Common Verbs
Sentence Structures