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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