Expressing Need

Kell & The Conjugated Infinitive

In English, to express that we need something,

The verb kell, is the verb for it is needed/required. The verb is intransitive, meaning that there is only indefinite conjugation. When something is required, or someone needs something we use kell.

It is a verb all on its own, but when used for expressing need only the third person is used. Click here to see the full conjugation.

Pronoun Past indef. Present indef. Present indef. cond.
ő kellett kell kellene
ők kellettek kellenek kellenének

Note: Remember that the past conditional is formed by just adding volna to the past tense.

To express that you need something, just use kell. If you need to emphasise the person/thing use the dative case.

To stress that the person/object needs to do something, then you can conjugate the infinitive.

Remember the infinitive? It’s the -ni ending, and this can be personalised using different types of conjugations (hence the name).

Pronoun Conjugation
én -nem/-enem/-nom/-anom/-nöm
te -ned/-ened/-nod/-anod/-nöd
ő -nia/-ania/-nie/-enie
mi -nunk/-anunk/-nünk/-enünk
ti -enetek/-anotok
ők -niuk/-niük


víz Ki kell jönnöd a vízből! (Original image, merging free images together)

You need to come out of the water!


The kapitány and the közlegény are talking, try to work out what they are saying! Taken from Madagascar (film).

Expressing Should

If you want to express “should”, rather than “have/need to” then use the conditional of kell, kellene or kéne as a short slang.


Another and less used way to express need is to use muszáj which basically translates to must, again this is used for things that have to be done. Just like how must isn’t used a lot in English, muszáj isn’t used that much either. You may see it in literature or occasionally hear it in speech.


varázsló Muszáj elpusztítanod a gyűrűt, hogy megmentse a világot. (Free image by NidoArt, fetched from Wikimedia Commons)

You must destroy the ring to save the world.


You could also use szükség as a more formal way of needing something. The format (which is subject to word order) is outlined below:

szükség[possession ending] van [something]-(ra/re)

arnold Szükségem van a ruhádra, a csizmádra és a motorodra. - Arnold Schwarzenegger, The Terminator 2 (Free image by OpenClipart-Vectors, fetched from

I need your clothes, your boots and your motorcycle.