Verb Introduction

Van is the verb for existence. Naturally, it is an irregular verb, but one of the most important as well.

Conjugation

Pronoun Past Present Future
én (I) voltam vagyok leszek
te (you) voltál vagy leszel
ő (3rd. person) volt van lesz
mi (we) voltunk vagyunk leszünk
ti (you pl.) voltatok vagytok lesztek
ők (they) voltak vannak lesznek

én, te, ő are singular, and mi, ti, ők are their respective plurals. These pronouns are generally not used, except for emphasis or describing a third person, because the subject (me, you, they, etc.) can be identified by the conjugation of the verb. This is different to English, in which a pronoun is required to identify the subject.

Hungarian does not distinguish between he or she, ő is used to describe both.

You may have noticed that the third person present tenses have been omitted, this is because they are only used for stating the existence of a thing/things, this will be elaborated upon in the next section.

Using the verb van, you can describe people.

Magyar English
Diák vagyok / Magas vagyok I am a student / I am tall
Tanár vagy? / Ki vagy? Are you a teacher? / Who are you?
Ő István / Ő énekes He is István / He is a singer
Sportolók vagyunk / Hol vagyunk? We are athletes / Where are we?
Ügyesek vagytok / Kik vagytok? You (pl.) are clever / Who are you (pl.)?
Ők színészek / Ők híresek They are actors / They are famous

There are two things to notice here:

  1. When stating someone’s occupation, we don’t need to say a.
  2. When describing groups of people, plural adjectives are used. E.g. ügyes (singular) - ügyesek (plural)

Challenge! Ki vagy?

- János vagyok, ki vagy? (Free image fetched from kisspng.com)

I’m János, who are you?

Examples of Regular Verb Conjugation


In Hungarian, verbs are described using the 3rd person singular form (he/she runs, he/she jumps), instead of the infinitive (to run, to jump). Thus, if you want to look up a verb in a dictionary for example SZTAKI then you use the 3rd person singular.

Below are some examples of regular verbs, that have the same regular conjugation but with different vowel harmony.

Front vowel conjugation


Örül - (He/she/it is happy) Front-vowel (type 1)

Pronoun Past Present Future
én örültem örülök fogok örülni
te örültél örülsz fogsz örülni
ő örült örül fog örülni
mi örültünk örülünk fogunk örülni
ti örültetek örültök fogtok örülni
ők örültek örülnek fognak örülni

Felkel - (He/she/it rises or gets up) Front-vowel (type 2)

Pronoun Past Present Future
én felkeltem felkelek fogok felkelni
te felkeltél felkelsz fogsz felkelni
ő felkelt felkel fog felkelni
mi felkeltünk felkelünk fogunk felkelni
ti felkeltetek felkeltek fogtok felkelni
ők felkeltek felkelnek fognak felkelni

Note that felkeltek is used for both ők past tense, and ti present tense. When talking it will be clear from context if ti or ők is being talked about.

Also, just because the future tense is structured like this in the table, doesn’t always mean that this is the most natural word order. Word order can change depending on the situation and emphasis. E.g. örülni fogoksounds better than fogok örülni.

Back vowel conjugation


Sír - (He/she/it cries) (back-vowel conjugation due to í being the only vowel)

Pronoun Past Present Future
én sírtam sírok fogok sírni
te sírtál sírsz fogsz sírni
ő sírt sír fog sírni
mi sírtunk sírunk fogunk sírni
ti sírtatok sírtok fogtok sírni
ők sírtak sírnak fognak sírni

Keep track of the similarities and differences of the front-vowel and back-vowel conjugations. Strictly speaking there is no future tense in Hungarian, the auxiliary verb fog is conjugated and used with the verb in infinitive form alongside it.

Quicknote on time-referencing

Just like how fog is used with the infinitive verb to express the future, we can use a time-reference and the present tense to do it as well.

And naturally the other timestamps work with the past-tense.

Sibilant verbs

There are other verbs that end with sibilant endings s, sz, z, zs. Because of this, some of the conjugation is assimilated into these endings.

Lesz (he/she/it becomes) front-vowel

Pronoun Past Present
én lettem leszek
te lettél leszel
ő lett lesz
mi lettünk leszünk
ti lettetek lesztek
ők lettek lesznek

Challenge! Hol leszel?

- És hol leszel holnap? (Free image retrieved from dreamstime.com)

And where will you be tomorrow?

Lesz is the verb used as the future of van, so they are closely related.

Notice how it says leszel and not lessz, vowel harmony chips in to make it sound nicer.

Stay tuned for more verbs in upcoming sections!


Yet to Learn

Naturally because phrases have been introduced, the list will be long, but eventually these will all be covered.