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Hungarian Grammar Lesson: The personal pronouns

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Hello everyone, welcome to this Hungarian lesson, which is about:

The Hungarian personal pronouns

I’m sure that your grammar alert just went off, but trust me, personal pronouns are the basic construction bricks of a language. Personal pronouns are those things in a language that makes for us possible referring to persons without telling their names all the time. I mean these:  I, you, he, she, it, we, you, they and me, you, him, her, it, us, you, them.

Personal pronouns in Hungarian

Unlike English, Hungarian is an agglutinative language which means that it expresses relations by stringing together different word endings or suffixes. The English language realizes this through changing the word order. This different approach makes it possible for Hungarians to construct sentences in any order they wish. Hungarian also uses a complex case system, the nouns can be declined with many case suffixes, most of which correspond to English prepositions. This is why we have so many personal pronouns, much more than in English.

In this Hungarian lesson we will start with the simple, most common Hungarian pronouns, and later we will move towards the more sophisticated ones. So, here comes the simple, nominative case (nominative is the person or thing doing the action) of the Hungarian pronouns:

The nominative case:

én – I

te – you

ő – he, she

mi – we

ti – you

ők -they

Examples:

Én budapesti vagyok. – I am from Budapest.

Te szereted a gulyást? – Do you like goulash?

Ő nem jön velünk. He/She doesn’t come with us.

Mi itthon maradunk. – We stay home.

Ti hazamentek? – Are you going home?

Ők nem szeretnek horgászni. – They don’t like fishing.

In Hungarian there is no distinction between genders, there is no masculine and feminine pronoun like the English he and she, we use the same pronoun ő for both genders. The personal pronoun that stands for Ién, is only capitalized when it stands at the beginning of a sentence.

Now is the time when things become more complicated.

The accusative case

The personal pronouns can form many cases, among which the nominative one was the simplest. The next case is the accusative case, which you can understand from this example:

I like him.

In this sentence, the personal pronoun “I” is in the nominative case, but “him” is in the accusative. An accusative pronoun is the object of the sentence, meaning that it is affected by the subject (the nominative pronoun). This sounds like this in Hungarian:

Én nem kedvelem őt. I don’t like him/her.

The personal pronoun “őt” is in the accusative case.

Personal pronouns him, her in Hungarian

Let’s see all the other personal pronouns in accusative:

engem – me

téged -you

őt – him/her

minket / bennünket – us

titeket / benneteket – you

őket – them

You may have noticed that there are two forms for the accusative plural, both of which are in use, however, in modern day language Hungarian people prefer using the minket/titeket form. The bennünket/benneteket form sounds more old-fashioned and formal, and it has the plus meaning you all, no one is excepted.

e.g.

Ő szeret engem. He/she loves me.

Téged is meghívtak a buliba? Have you been invited to the party?

Őt nem láttam mostanában. I haven’t seen her/him lately.

Keresett minket valaki? Was anybody looking for us?

Titeket nem zavar ez? Are you not bothered by this?

Őket nem érdekli a politika. They are not interested in politics.

The dative case

The dative case’s main function is to show the indirect object of a verb. This means that it shows the noun to which something is given. If a personal pronoun stands in dative case, it indicates to whom that something is given.

Give something in Hungarian

e.g. Petra nekem adta ezt a táskát. Petra gave this bag to me.

Now let’s see how the dative case of personal pronouns looks like in Hungarian:

nekem – for me

neked – for you

neki – for her/her

nekünk – for us

nektek – for you

nekik – for them

e.g.

Nekem nem jó ez az időpont. This appointment isn’t good for me.

Neked jó ez? Is this good for you?

Neki hoztam az ebédet. I brought lunch for him/her.

Nekünk készült ez a torta? Was this cake made for us?

Nektek adom ezt a festményt. I give this painting for you.

Nekik szántam ezt a játékot, ajándékba. I meant this toy as a gift for them.

The instrumental case

The instrumental case of the personal pronouns is used in Hungarian to indicate the concept of “with”. It expresses “with whom” something is being done.

e.g. Veled megyek moziba. I am going to the movies with you.

Hungarian grammar, personal pronounsHere are all the Hungarian personal pronouns in the instrumental case:

velem – with me

veled – with you

vele – with him/her

velünk – with us

veletek – with you

velük – with them

e.g.

Velem jössz? Are you coming with me?

Veled szeretnék a moziba menni. I would like to go to the cinema with you.

Vele tanulsz? Are you studying with him/her?

Velünk akarsz jönni? Do you want to come with us?

Veletek megyek haza. I am going home with you.

Velük készülök a versenyre. I am getting prepared for the competition with them.

The causative case

The causative case in Hungarian means “for whom” the action is performed, who is the one for the sake of whom something is being done.

e.g. Értem jött el. He came for me.

Here are all the Hungarian personal pronouns in the causative case:

értem – for me

érted – for you

érte – for him/her

értünk – for us

értetek – for you

értük – for them

e.g.

Ne gyere értem. Don’t come for me.

Érted mindent megtennék. I would do anything for you.

Érte kell mennem? Do I have to go for her/him (to pick her/him up)?

Siess értünk, légy szíves! Please, hurry for us (to pick us up)!

Értetek teszem ezt. I am doing this for you.

Értük, a családomért dolgozom. I am working for them, for my family.

You probably have noticed that what we call a case in Hungarian is usually expressed by a preposition in English. So, the entire case system may sound difficult and complicated, but it isn’t, we are just talking about prepositions and pronouns expressed together in a word.

In this Hungarian lesson, we have spoken about the nominative, accusative, dative, instrumental and causative cases of the Hungarian personal pronouns. There are many more cases: the inessive, superessive, adessive, illative, sublative, allative, elative, delative and ablative ones. If you want more, you can learn about all these cases here. Don’t worry if you find it overwhelming, just don’t try to learn them all at once. Remember: the names of all these cases are not that important, try to learn some examples, and you will do just fine.

Thank you for your interest in Hungarian grammar. If you made this far, you are a true grammar hero! 🙂

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Hungarian language lesson: Numbers and counting (1-20)

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Transcript of the video:

Sziasztok! Réka vagyok! Hi everyone! My name’s Réka. Welcome to howtolearnhungarian.com’s video channel, the place to be if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian. In this lesson you will learn how to count in from 0 to 20 in Hungarian. Készen álltok? Are you ready? Akkor kezdjük el! Then let’s start!

I’ll tell you the numbers from 1 to 10 first. So, here they come: nulla, egy, kettő, három, négy, öt, hat, hét, nyolc, kilenc, tíz. Let me tell you that backwards, too. You know those TV shows where the showrunner is counting down and the competitors have to finish something and they get stressed out? So, this countdown sounds like this in Hungarian: tíz, kilenc, nyolc, hét, hat, öt, négy, három, kettő, egy, nulla! Now let’s play a little bit. Tell me in Hungarian how many fingers I ‘m showing you! 4 ……. négy, 9…….kilenc, 1…….egy, 10…….tíz, 3……..három, 8………nyolc, 2……..kettő, 7…….hét, 5…….öt, 6……hat. Well done!

Let’s move to the numbers from 11 to twenty. The Hungarian equivalent of “teen” from fourteen, fifteen, sixteen is “tizen”. If I translate it literally, it means “on ten”. So, counting is quite easy, as each number from 11 to 20 starts with this “tizen”, and you just attach the numbers that you already know. Let’s count: tizenegy, tizenkettő, tizenhárom, tizennégy, tizenöt, tizenhat, tizenhét, tizennyolc, tizenkilenc, húsz. Now let’s practice! I’ll write the number on the screen and you will have to tell me what it is in Hungarian, of course! Ready? Let’s start! 19….. tizenkilenc, 11…….tizenegy, 20…….. húsz, 15…….tizenöt, 12……..tizenkettő, 18………tizennyolc, 13……….tizenhárom, 17………….tizenhét, 14………..tizennégy, 16……….tizenhat.

Now you know how to count in Hungarian. Well done!

So, this is the end of this lesson, in the following one we will learn how to say you’re sorry and thank you.

If you liked this video, please, give me a thumbs up, and if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian, subscribe to this channel, and visit my website: howtolearnhungarian.com

Viszontlátásra! Goodbye!

In the end here comes the funny part, a Hungarian tongue twister, try saying it with me:

Jobb egy lúdnyak tíz tyúknyaknál. It means that a goose neck is better than ten hen necks. Well, in Hungarian it sounds better. So, repeat: Jobb egy lúd-nyak tíz tyúk-nyak-nál, again Jobb egy lúd-nyak tíz tyúk-nyak-nál and now faster: Jobb egy lúdnyak tíz tyúknyaknál, jobb egy lúdnyak tíz tyúknyaknál!

My other video lessons:

 

 

  1. Saying hello and goodbye in Hungarian
  2. The Hungarian alphabet
  3. How to introduce yourself in Hungarian

If you liked this post, please, hit the like button, leave a comment and share it with your friends so they could learn from it, too. Thank you!

Hungarian language lesson: How to introduce yourself

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Transcription of the video:

Sziasztok! Réka vagyok! Hi everyone! My name’s Réka. Welcome to howtolearnhungarian.com’s video channel, the place to be if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian. In this lesson you will learn how to introduce yourself in Hungarian. Készen álltok? Are you ready? Akkor kezdjük el! Then let’s start!

Unlike English, the Hungarian language distinguishes between the formal and informal way of speaking. Every time you open your mouth you have to decide whether you want to speak in a formal or in an informal way. Introducing yourself is no different, so let’s start with the informal style.

If you meet only one person, in an informal situation, you say: Szia! Réka vagyok! Meaning Hi, my name’s Réka. You should use your name instead of Réka, of course. The other person says: Szia! Petra vagyok, meaning Hi, my name’s Petra.

After the introduction, you may say nice to meet you: Örülök, hogy megismerhettelek. In literal translation this means: I’m glad that I could meet you. It’s up to you if you want to say this or not, many Hungarians don’t say nice to meet you at all, so don’t get offended if you don’t hear it from the person you just met. You may shorten this nice-to-meet-you expression, and just say: Örülök, or örvendek. Both of these mean I’m glad, örvendek is the older version of örülök.

If you meet more people, you have to use the plural form for saying hello: sziasztok. So, your introduction will sound like this: Sziasztok! Réka vagyok! Meaning Hello everybody, I’m Réka. You can also say: Örülök, hogy megismerhetlek benneteket! This means nice to meet you all, in literal translation I’m glad that I could meet you all.

After the introduction men usually shake hands, sometimes women do this, too. It also happens a lot that women kiss each-other on the cheeks, especially if the introduction happened in a familial environment.

Now let’s move on to the formal speech. If you meet someone in an official environment, you say:

Jó napot kívánok! Varga Réka vagyok! Good day! My name is Réka Varga! If you haven’t noticed yet, let me tell you that Hungarian family names and given names come in different order than in English. In Hungarian people always say the family name first and the given name second, so in Hungarian my name sounds like this: Varga Réka, where Réka is my given name. When I speak in English I change the order so that people would know that Réka is my given name and Varga is my surname.

So, after the other person introduces himself too (for example: Jó napot kívánok, Szabó János vagyok.), you can say Örvendek, hogy megismerhettem, meaning nice to meet you, in literal translation: I am glad that I could meet you. The verb megismerhettem is in formal speech, so it implies respect to the other person.

If you meet several people, the introduction part will be the same: Jó napot kívánok! Varga Réka vagyok!, but the nice to meet you part changes to: Örvendek, hogy megismerhettem Önöket! Meaning I’m glad that I could meet you all. Önök means You in formal speech.

Now you know how to greet someone in Hungarian. Try and practice with me. Introduce yourself in an informal way to me. I’ll start: Szia! Réka vagyok! Now it’s your turn!…………. Örülök, hogy megismerhettelek. Well done!

So, this is the end of this lesson, in the following one we will learn about numbers.

If you liked this video, please, give me a thumbs up, and if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian, subscribe to this channel, and visit my website: howtolearnhungarian.com

Viszontlátásra! Goodbye!

In the end here comes the funny part, a Hungarian tongue twister, try saying it with me:

Egy meggymag meg még egy meggymag az két meggymag. It means that a sour cherry seed plus another sour cherry seed equals two sour cherry seeds. So, repeat: Egy meggy-mag, meg még egy meggy-mag az két meggy-mag, and now faster: Egy meggymag meg még egy meggymag az két meggymag. Egy meggymag meg még egy meggymag az két meggymag.

If you liked this post, please, hit the like button, and share it with your friends, so they could learn from it, too. Thank you!

The Hungarian alphabet

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Transcription of the video:

Sziasztok! Réka vagyok! Hi everyone! My name’s Réka. Welcome to howtolearnhungarian.com’s video channel, the place to be if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian. In this lesson you will learn the sounds and letters of the Hungarian alphabet. Készen álltok? Are you ready? Akkor kezdjük el! Then let’s start!

The Hungarian alphabet is based on the Latin one, so it is easy, you don’t have to learn any new characters in order to read and write. We can speak about the smaller and the greater Hungarian alphabet, depending on whether the letters Q, W, X and Y are listed or not. These letters can only be found in foreign words and names written in traditional orthography.

I will teach you the greater Hungarian alphabet, the one which has 43 letters listed. What? 43? But that’s too many – you may say. Yes, it may sound a bit overwhelming if you think about the 26 letters of English alphabet, but let me tell you why it is easy. All the vowels come in pairs, and the difference between the vowel pairs is the length of the sound you pronounce. Let me tell you an example: we have a different letter for the sound I and Í, U and Ú and so on.

In Hungarian, a letter corresponds to each sound, so it’s quite easy to read once you’ve learned the pronunciation. Another difference to English is that Hungarian letters can be written with one, two, or three characters. S and z written together, for example, stands for the sound s.

So, enough with the introduction and let’s start learning the alphabet:

a – alma -apple

á – állat – animal

b – busz – bus

c – cica – kitten

cs – csillag – star

d – divat – fashion

dz – edzés – workout

dzs – dzsessz – jazz

e – egér – mouse

é – érem -medal

f – fa -tree

g – gazdag -rich

gy – gyertya -candle

h – híd -bridge

I -iskola -school

í – íz -taste

j -jég -ice

k -király -king

l – labda -ball

ly – lyuk -hole

Ly is pronounced the same as j, or pontos j (J with a dot), so we have two letters for the same sound. The reason behind this is that long time ago there were two separate sounds, but the sound for Ly melted together with the pontos J sound. Due to traditional orthography, ly is still present in written Hungarian.

m – malac -piglet

n – nap -sun

ny -nyár -summer

o -orvos – doctor

ó – óra -clock

ö -öreg -old

ő -őr -guard

p -park -park

q – Aquincum – Aquincum

Aquincum is the name of an ancient Roman settlement located in Budapest, Hungary.

R –ruha -dress

s – sajt – cheese

t – tűz -fire

ty – tyúk -hen

u -udvar – courtyard

ú – út -road

ü -üdítő -juice

ű -űr -space

v – virág -flower

w -wifi -wifi

x – xerox -xerox

y – I Bánffy. It is only used in loanwords, pronounced like „i” or „j”. It occurs very often in old Hungarian aristocratic surnames, where it stands for „i”, like „Bánffy”

z – zab – oat

zs – zsűri – jury

Could you pronounce the sounds? If you could, you did well. Practice saying these sounds, and you will have native-like pronunciation in no-time! Oh, and let’s not forget what you’ve just learned. The Hungarian Alphabet is called “A magyar ábécé” in Hungarian.

So, this is the end of this lesson, in the following one we will learn about introducing yourself.

If you liked this video, please, give me a thumbs up, and if you want more, if you really want to learn Hungarian, subscribe to this channel, and visit my website: howtolearnhungarian.com

Viszontlátásra! Goodbye!

In the end here comes the funny part, a Hungarian tongue twister, try saying it with me:

Jamaica a jamaicaiaké. It means that Jamaica belongs to the Jamaicans. So, repeat: Ja-ma-i-ca a ja-ma-i-ca-i-a-ké, Ja-ma-i-ca a ja-ma-i-ca-i-a-ké, and now faster: Jamaica a jamaicaiaké, Jamaica a jamaicaiaké.

If you liked this post, please, hit the like button, leave a comment and share it with your friends so they could learn from it, too. Thank you!

Hungarian language lesson: Saying hello and goodbye

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When it comes to learning a new language, namely learning Hungarian, you may feel overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information available nowadays. Where should you start? Which book to choose? Which application, video course is the best? Should you choose a teacher? Whom?

Well, what I advise for beginners is to chill out, and start from the beginning. But where is the beginning? – you might ask. If you meet somebody, what is your first reaction, the first thing to do? You say hello, of course. So, let’s start from here, from saying hello.

Unlike English, the Hungarian language differentiates between formal and informal speech. So before greeting someone, you should always decide what kind of relationship you have. Are you meeting in an office environment? Use formal speech. Are you meeting casually, among friends? Use informal speech. Are you in a state institution, speaking with a clerk? Use formal speech. Is the person you greet much older than you? Use formal speech.

This video teaches you the most common informal and formal ways of saying hello and goodbye in Hungarian. Enjoy it!

If you liked this post, please, hit the like button, leave a comment and share it with your friends so they could learn from it, too! Thank you!

Learning Hungarian: The best strategies

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The best strategies for learning Hungarian

As a language learner, it must have crossed your mind what the best strategy for learning Hungarian was, because you wanted to achieve results in the shortest time possible.

What is the best strategy for learning Hungarian?

Should you learn more in the beginning and then less as you become advanced? Should you study in a classroom setting, with a teacher and a group of students? Should you take one-on-one lessons? Do you really need a teacher?

Hungarian Class

What course materials should you use? Are the free online language courses really good, or are they just a waste of time? Should you learn 2-3 hours straight every day, or should you split your learning time?

Should you come to Hungary, or can you learn in your own country and still become fluent?Should you focus on grammar or on conversation? How can you memorize all that new vocabulary?

The wonder-method for learning Hungarian

A lot of questions can arise when you start to learn Hungarian. For some of those questions, there isn’t a universal answer that fits everybody’s needs. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a wonder-method that can teach you native-level Hungarian in just two minutes?

Wonder method for learning HungarianWonder method for learning Hungarian

I think we could call it naivety if you believed such methods can work; even if nowadays all you can hear about are new relaxation, meditation-based practices, that involve alpha, beta, gamma state of the brain.

If you look deep down in your heart, you know it too: there are no wonder-methods. Just as you cannot loose 100 pounds weight in a month, you cannot reach native-like fluency in Hungarian.

I will tell you the big secret that can help you learn Hungarian: it is called effort and time. If you are willing to make an effort (learn new vocabulary, grammar), and sustain this effort over time (practice each day), nothing is going to stop you from becoming fluent.

Learn Hungarian through combining methods

In terms of learning strategies, I don’t recommend sticking to one method. I think that combining two or three methods gives the best results. What methods should you combine? Those that work the best for you.

Combining methods in learning Hungarian

If you are an outgoing kind of person, I would recommend that you go and learn in a group, where you can have a lot of interaction with your classmates. Additionally, you could go to a language-learning club, or join a group online. If speaking is the thing that you enjoy the most, then make your opportunities to speak Hungarian.

If you are someone who is more reserved, then going out with your new Hungarian acquaintances might not be the best strategy to choose. Instead, you could follow a language-course that involves intense learning by your own. You could combine this language course with a lot of reading and listening to podcasts, radio-stations that you like.

If you have an analytical set of mind, you should focus more on grammar. Find yourself a good grammar course, and finish it. It will give you a solid foundation of the language that otherwise would be hard to achieve.

If you are an artistic-type, then learning visual vocabulary, and connecting with Hungarian friends might be your path.

Finding time to learn Hungarian

Find time to learn Hungarian

If you are working, and/or have a family, it might be hard to find time to learn. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find 2-3 hours for studying each day. You can learn effectively in 5-10 minutes sessions as well, just make sure you spend your idle-time with learning during the day.

You barely woke up and you are drinking your coffee? Best time for opening a language-learning app on your phone, and learning new vocabulary. Are you driving to work? Listen to some Hungarian podcasts or an audio language course. Are you standing in line, waiting for something? Try thinking in Hungarian while you are waiting. It’s evening time and you turn your TV on? Watch a Hungarian movie.

All these 5-10 minutes of learning add up during your day, and you can achieve the same results as if you were learning for hours straight.

What are the best methods that work for you in learning Hungarian? Please, share it with us by adding a comment.

If you liked this article, please, hit the like button, and share it with your friends so they could learn from it, too. Thank you.

Can I learn Hungarian?

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Learn Hungarian - you can do it

Hungarian has the “reputation” of being one of the hardest languages to learn. If you think about starting to learn Hungarian, I’m sure these questions have already crossed your mind:

Can I learn Hungarian? Am I capable of really doing this?

Superheroes of learning Hungarian

You’re no superhero, after all, just a regular, average language-learner with your ups and downs.  Let me reassure you, these thoughts you’re having are perfectly normal. In fact, it shows that you really went over the pros and cons of learning Hungarian and considered every aspect of it.

Hungarian can be learned if you decide to go for it. It may take a longer effort than a language which comes from the same family of languages as English. English belongs to the Indo-European family of languages, while Hungarian is Uralic, but this linguistic distance doesn’t make it unlearnable.

Try to think about language learning in terms of travel for a moment. You will realize that if you travel from England to Germany, you will reach there quite soon. However, if you travel from England to the Ural Mountains, that can take a longer period of time. Are the Ural Mountains beyond your reach? No, they aren’t. You just have to travel more.

Ural mountains - Hungarian language comes from here

As a lot of tourists travel great distances, hundreds of foreign students learn Hungarian each year. Some of them achieve fluency in a short period of time, others don’t. Do you know why? Because they give up. Anything that requires a prolonged effort in time is “hard” to do. It’s hard to learn to play the piano, it’s hard to climb a mountain, it’s hard to learn to dance salsa. But wait! Is it really so?

There is no universal measure of how hard learning a certain language can be. It is determined by the individual who learns. By other words: it is up to you. If you decide that you won’t let yourself be diverted because of hardship, that you will overcome the obstacles, then you can really do it.

It is up to you how you deal with difficulties in general. If you train your mind to have a “can do” attitude rather than a pessimistic one, you can achieve more.

You can learn Hungarian

Learning Hungarian can be easy:

  • it uses the Latin alphabet, so reading it is quite easy
  • it pronounces every syllable, so it is easy to understand
  • stress always falls on the first syllable, so you don’t have to learn the stress-pattern of each word
  • words can form sentences in any order, there is no bound word-order
  • there are just 3 verb-tenses: past, present and future, you can forget about present perfect and such
  • no grammatical genders (like der, die, das in German)

If you focus on these positive aspects of the language, you will achieve your goals easier. Every “difficult language” can and will be learned by somebody. Why not let that somebody be you?

Finally, take a look at this movie form 1978, Sylvester Stallone speaks Hungarian in it. If he can do it, you can do it!

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The best way to learn Hungarian

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Different methods for learning Hungarian

One of my students asked me today what the best way to learn Hungarian was. I opened my mouth to answer the question, then I shut it, and took a deep breath.

Best way to learn Hungarian – for whom?

“What is the problem with this question?” – you might ask. It is a perfectly valid question, one should know the best way to learn Hungarian, then stay on that path. Well, the problem is, that there is no such thing as the “best way”. Let me ask you: “best way” for whom? “Best way” for the experienced language learner who learns his 5th language? “Best way” for a university student who has to take a language exam in 2 months? “Best way” for the tourist who wants to learn a couple of expressions before coming to Hungary?

Different people learning Hungarian

We are all different and our goals are different, too. If I compare language learning to losing weight, for example, you might understand easier, what I mean. Think about losing weight and ask yourself the question: what is the best way for losing weight? The answer depends on a lot of factors: are you a man or a woman, how much weight do you want to lose, what is your body mass index and so on. There is no such thing as a universal “best way” that works for everybody.

What kind of language learner are you?

Hungarian language learner

Let’s return to language learning. For some people, learning through grammar is the right way, especially if you have an analytical mindset, like to decode complex systems. For other people grammar is the worst thing to start with, it seems like a maze that cannot be seen-through. Learning expressions and ready-to-use sentences might be the solution for them, focusing more on conversation and less on grammar.

Some people are experienced language-learners. If I say “accusative case” they immediately know what I am thinking about. It would be enough for them if I said the accusative case of the personal pronoun in Hungarian was “engem”, “téged”, etc.

Others haven’t got a clue, I might as well speak Chinese if I start with the accusative case. I have to explain to them that the accusative case of a noun is a case used to mark the direct object of a transitive verb. The problem for the beginner language learner is that he doesn’t understand the following words from my explanation: noun, direct object, transitive, verb, case. It would be easier for them to understand if I just said think about the difference between “they” and “them” in English. No grammar words and they can still make progress.

The best method for learning Hungarian

There are people who learned Hungarian from a language book, language course, or teacher and were successful. They recommend that book, language course or teacher for you so that you could be successful, too. You try their method, and it doesn’t work for you. Why is that?

Let’s say you fall ill. You go to the doctor and get a pill. It really helps you, you get better. You recommend that pill to a friend of yours who is also sick, but it doesn’t help him. It is the same with language-learning, there is no universally good pill or method that works for everybody.

The best method for learning Hungarian - like taking a pill

So, what do I recommend you to do then? How to find the best way for you to learn Hungarian?

How to find the best way of learning Hungarian?

My advice is to experiment for a while. Go to a library, borrow different language-learning materials, try them out, learn from one book/course for a week, then another one for next week. Do a week of grammar, then a week of conversation. Switch materials, try to find the one that suits you best.

Try out Hungarian apps for your phone, read Hungarian media online. Watch Hungarian TV, find Hungarian friends. You may close a book, delete an app if it doesn’t work for you. Just remember this: never give up!

Different methods for learning Hungarian

If you find a method that promises huge advancement in a short period of time, beware: that is a lie. You cannot learn Hungarian in a week, just as you cannot lose 50 pounds. The other methods, the ones that promise you a decent progress in a couple of weeks, months, if you put your hard work in – those are the real thing.

So what is the best way to learn Hungarian? Experiment and find it out for yourself.

 

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How to speak Hungarian?

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How to speak Hungarian

When you start learning Hungarian

Every language learner starts learning a new language with enthusiasm. If the new language you have chosen is Hungarian, you might imagine yourself reaching your goal, speaking Hungarian clearly and confidently. There is a “nothing can stop me now” feeling when you start. You feel now is the time, you will do what it takes, and you will become fluent in no time. The future seems bright, you feel like you can really do this. Everything is new, exciting and shining. You advance fast, you learn a lot of things quickly. Then reality hits you.

I can and will learn Hungarian

The more you learn Hungarian, the more confused you get

After a while, especially if your main focus falls on grammar, everything becomes blurry and you feel like language learning is an elusive, ambiguous, intangible thing. Speaking Hungarian becomes mission impossible, because when you want to say something, you start translating from your first language, then think about cases and word endings, and when it comes to pronouncing a word you become uncertain and feel it’s better to stay quiet.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Confused because of Hungarian grammar

Don’t translate, learn language patterns

The good news is that speaking Hungarian doesn’t have to be like that. You don’t have to learn words one by one and then struggle to create correct sentences from bits and pieces of the language. Why not learn expressions, full sentences which you can use correctly from the start?

If you stop translating and try to approach the language-learning process as a baby does then your results will get better. Babies don’t translate because they don’t have a first language to rely on. If you try and forget that you speak any other language and focus only on Hungarian you will understand how the language functions, and get a grasp on it more quickly. Experimenting with the language, trying to form new sentences helps you advance in your Hungarian studies.

Language patterns

Speak Hungarian from the start

Let me show you what I mean:

You are at a bus station and you want to ask which bus goes to Budapest. You learned the words busz (bus), menni (to go), melyik (which), and now you want to form a sentence. You ask: Melyik busz menni Budapest? (Which bus to go Budapest?) People will understand you, and you will get on your bus.

Howewer, if you learned the whole sentence

Melyik busz megy Budapestre?

then you could ask the question just as a Hungarian would do. From this sentence-panel you could even form new sentences by changing words in it. For example:

Melyik busz megy Pécsre? (Which bus goes to Pécs?)

Budapestre megy ez a busz?  (Does this bus go to Budapest?)

Melyik vonat megy Budapestre? (Which train goes to Budapest?)

Let me show you another example. You want to invite a girl to the movies. You know the words: mozi (cinema), menni (to go). You ask her: Menni moziba? (Go to cinema?) This doesn’t sound natural to a Hungarian speaker. If you learned the sentence:

Menjünk moziba! (Let’s go to the cinema!) then you could make yourself understood easier. You could then switch the words in the sentence to form new sentences:

Menjünk színházba! (Let’s go to the theathre!)

Menjünk enni! (Let’s go to eat!)

Menjünk haza! (Let’s go home!)

Moziba vagy színházba menjünk? (Shall we go to the cinema or to the theatre?)

 

If you learn only words, you can form many-many sentences, which won’t be correct and won’t sound natural Hungarian. However, if you learn language patterns, expressions, sentences, you can speak correct Hungarian instantly and you will be able to form new sentences which will also be correct.

So, do you want to learn Hungarian or do you want to speak it from the start? You know what to do.

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How long does it take to learn Hungarian?

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How long does it take to learn Hungarian

Have you thought about learning Hungarian? Are you interested in this language? Are you fascinated by the Hungarian culture? Do you want to know how long will it exactly take to learn it? This is a perfectly valid question, I understand your dilemma. You are only human, after all, and you want to know if your efforts will pay.

Learning a new skill: it’s all about you

Learning a new skill usually takes time. But how much time does it take exactly? Noone can tell for sure because there is a human factor in this question that always changes: it depends on you. You, the person who wants to learn the new skill are the most important factor that determines how much time you will need.

How high is that mountain you are willing to climb? For some, climbing hills is enough. Other people will go for the Everest. Which category do you fall under?

Learning Hungarian is like climbing a mountain

What about running? Do you prefer running shorter distances and fast, or do you go for the marathon?

These are the questions you should think about when you want to assess whether learning Hungarian is the right thing for you. There is no such thing as a universal measure of difficulty, as you, your way of learning can change everything.

Learning Hungarian fast: it’s all up to you

Are you an experienced language learner? If you are, then the amount of time in which you can reach real results shortens. Will you come to Hungary? Can you practice with native speakers? If you do, you will see results earlier.

Buda castle in Hungary

Is this the first foreign language you want to learn? Do you come from a monolingual family? If you do, it will take more effort to reach your goals, but they are reachable, I assure you.

How difficult is to learn Hungarian?

Hungarian belongs to the Uralic language family branch, which means that it represents an island in the sea of Indo-European languages spoken in Europe. Its closest relatives are Khanty and Mansi, spoken in Western Siberia. If you take a look at the map, you can see that Hungary is quite far away from Siberia. If your native language is of Indo-European origin, it means that the linguistic distance you will have to cover is farther than if you learned another Indo-European language, for example, German.

Family tree of languages: HungarianThis might scare you, but, as I have said, it all depends on you. The mountain is there to climb it, and it is climbable, as many people have already done so. Hungarian is learnable, and you can do it if you really want to.

So, how long does it take to learn Hungarian?

I have stated that it depends on the ever-changing human factor, namely you. Fortunately, there is a study led by The Foreign Service Institute (FSI), and this Institute has published a list to show approximately how much time you will need to learn a foreign language if you are an English-speaker.

The road to learning Hungarian

This study divides the languages that are spoken all over the world into 5 categories. In the 1st category, there are the easiest languages to learn. For an average language learner, it takes 23-24 weeks (575-600 hours) to learn them. These languages are closely related to English, with similar vocabulary and grammar. These are some examples from the easiest category: Afrikaans, Danish, Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish and Swedish.

In the 2nd category, you find only one language (German) that is quite similar to English, and it takes 30 weeks (750 hours) to learn it.

Languages with linguistic and/or cultural differences from English fall in the 3rd category, and it takes 36 weeks (900 hours) to learn them. These languages are Indonesian, Malaysian and Swahili.

The 4th category is interesting because it includes Hungarian. The description for this group states that these are the languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences from English. According to this study, it takes 44 weeks (1100 hours) to learn them. Hungarian is in this category with the following languages: Albanian, Amharic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Icelandic, Khmer, Lao, Latvian, etc. Hungarian is marked with a star, which means that it is more difficult for a native English speaker to learn it than other languages from this category.

There is a 5th category, which includes languages that are exceptionally difficult for native English speakers. It takes 88 weeks (2200 hours) to learn them. These languages are Arabic, Cantonese (Chinese), Mandarin (Chinese), Japanese and Korean.

According to this study, from all the languages in the world, Hungarian isn’t the most difficult one to learn, but it is quite close to the top. From 5 categories it falls in the 4th most difficult, and for the average language learner, it takes about 1100 hours to learn it.

How long does it take to learn Hungarian for you?

This is the question you should be asking. You are not average, but unique. The statistics from the Foreign Service Institute might have scared you, 1100 hours is a lot of time. Let me tell you a secret: the statistics don’t count the human factor. If you are willing to learn Hungarian because you feel that you should do it from inside your heart than you might reach your goal earlier.

Reaching your goal in learning Hungarian

If you look at those 1100 hours, you might see tedious, hard work in front of you, filled with grammar drills and declinations. It doesn’t have to be like this. You don’t have to spend all the 1100 hours with memorization, you can do fun things, too. You can shorten the time you spend studying by living in the language you learn, by living in Hungarian. By this I mean surrounding yourself with the Hungarian language, listening to Hungarian radio, watching Hungarian TV, reading Hungarian news portals. The best would be if you had a native Hungarian speaker around you to practice talking all the time.

To wrap it up: learning Hungarian is quite difficult, and it does take a lot of time, but it is perfectly achievable. How long does it take? It is all up to you.

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