In English, we use the demonstrative pronoun “this” when we are talking about something near to us, in either space or time, and “that” when it is further away. Hungarian uses
az similarly. Take note that the one used in each specific situation can vary slightly from English; generally
ez is used more in Hungarian, than
this is used in English. Familiarity will come with practice.
Ez - This
Az - That
Just like English, these can be used in different ways. Firstly, its use in conjunction with a definite article, to specify proximity of a noun to the speaker:
a/azmust also be used.
Secondly, it is used to introduce new information.
az can be used to ask a question about the identity of an object.
In this usage,
egy is only used to specify that there is just one. Note that in English, where there would be “is,” in Hungarian there is nothing.
An article specifies if a noun is a definite thing or an indefinite thing.
In English this is demonstrated by a/an or the. Article a is used when the following noun begins with a consonant (a flower), and an is used when that noun begins with a vowel (an icecream).
In Hungarian the articles are
egy is indefinite (it is also the number one as well), whereas
a/az is definite. As we mentioned before,
a is used when the noun begins with a consonant and
az with a noun beginning with a vowel.
Just like in English, the indefinite article
egyis used to specify just one thing and to introduce a new noun to the conversation. As soon as this noun becomes known to the conversation, the definite article
The definite article is also used before abstract nouns.
Proper nouns don’t use an article, except for specifying a type of pronoun. Similarly, this is used when talking about nouns that are members of a group.
You can also make generalisations about nouns with the definite article.
If you listen on public transport, the definite article is used when announcing the next stop (as a street/square) or you can hear it used for institutions and organisations.
The article is often omitted in certain situations in Hungarian. Aside from the examples mentioned before, all the times that English uses an indefinite article, Hungarian uses none. It is also omitted for dates.
These examples show that the quantity is not important.
Itt van Éva, ő titkárnő. Keres egy tűzőgépet. Amikor megtalálta a tűzőgépet, boldog volt. (Original image, merging free images together)
Here is Éva, she is a secretary. She is looking for a stapler. When she found the stapler, she was happy.