The next lesson will be up very soon, like in a day or two. Until then, please have a listen to the first lesson below, and try to memorize as much as you can! Thanks to everybody who left a comment about our first lesson. I hope you’ll keep listening to and enjoying our podcast.
Ok, so we received our first listener question, from Fatima. It’s kind of an intermediate-level grammar-type question, so if you are just a beginning learner, this may not interest you very much.
I have a question – something that I cannot figure out and maybe you can help.
If you are stating something in the plural from the singular, example, kedves to kedvesek it has taken the ending ek.
Now from my understanding:
Front vowel words take the ek ending – kedvesek.
Back vowel words take the ok ending – autok (strip on o) and viragok (strip on a).
My question is:
What is the rule for: poharak. (strip on first a)
Where does the ak ending come from and what is the rule is making use of it?
If you know, pray tell, pleeeeeeeeease.
Thanks for the question, Fatima! You’ve hit upon one of the trickiest areas for foreign learners of Hungarian: the correct ending that a conjugated word should take.
First of all, I want to recommend that every serious learner of Hungarian should own a copy of Hungarian Verbs And Essentials of Grammar by Miklós Törkenczy. It’s a bit of a tough read as you might expect of a serious grammar book, but it’s also short, concise, and the conjugated verb tables make it invaluable. He also does a great job of explaining the entire mess that is Hungarian endings. Unfortunately, my copy is not with me at the moment so I can’t look up your question.
And as I mentioned in the podcast, neither Györgyi nor I are Hungarian teachers, so there’s a lot of stuff we don’t know how to explain. That said, I’m going to venture an answer to your question:
I’m tempted to say that all multi-syllable words ending in “-ár” conjugate to “-arak” in the plural. E.g. “mocsár” –> “mocsarak,” “pohár” –> “poharak,” “bogár” –> “bogarak” et al. BUT there’s also “tanár” –> “tanárok” which doesn’t follow this pattern!
Which is the rule? I’m guessing that “-ár” to “arak” is the general rule, with the exception of “tanár” and maybe a few others. You’ll see that there’s a lot of confusing exceptions when it comes to word endings, unfortunately.
But I’d also like to tell you not to worry about it so much. In my opinion, word endings are an area of the language that, with repeated exposure through listening and reading, you CAN pick it up and remember it. And if you get it wrong, usually it’s not such a big deal. People will still be able to understand what you wanted to say for the most part. This is quite different from choosing the correct verb prefix, which I personally think is the hardest aspect of learning Hungarian and something that is far more consequential if you get wrong!
Well, if anybody can offer a better explanation of has an opinion on this, I’d love to hear it, so feel free to leave a comment on this post.