“Passive voice”

To begin with, Hungarian stopped using passive voice a long time ago. People talked like that a hundred years ago, but not anymore. It was expressed with these suffixes: -atik, -etik. Examples:

it is said – mondatik
it is proclaimed – kihirdettetik

You can find such verbs in old texts. And what about the present time?

Hungarian expresses passive voice WITH ACTIVE SENTENCES!!!

So the formation goes like this:

3rd PP form of the verb with definite or indefinite conjugation


The house was sold. – A házat eladták.
The soup is cooked. – A levest megfőzték.
The cars will be mended. – A kocsikat meg fogják javítani.

So Hungarian says they sold, they cooked, they will mend even if we don’t know who we’re talking about.

For a native English speaker the problem comes with Present Simple and Present Perfect if you want to translate English passive voice in Hungarian. Look at this:

to build = építeni > they built = építették
> verbal prefix expressing completeness

The house is built. – A házat megépítették.
The has been built. – A házat megépítették / építik.

Both sentences are translated with past tense in Hungarian. Why? Because the first Present Simple sentence says the house is built, so it is finished. And it had to be built in the past so that we can say it is built. Therefore Hungarian uses past tense.
As for the Present Perfect sentence, it can express the completeness or the continuity of an action, therefore Hungarian uses past tense for completeness and present tense for continuity.

The house has been built at last!
A házat végre megépítették!

The house has been built for a year now.
A házat már egy éve építik.

See what I mean? The first sentences refers to a house already finished, the second refers to a house still being built.

The rest of the tenses shouldn’t be a problem. You just use the same tense as in English. Examples:

Past Simple
The house was built.
A házat megépítették.

Future Simple
The house will be built.
A házat meg fogják építeni.

If it comes to a continous tense, you can put ÉPPEN before the verb, but it is not necessary. Hungarian verbs without a verbal prefix (like meg-) express continuity by themselves.

Present Simple Continuous
The house is being built.
A házat éppen építik.

Past Simple Continuous
The house was being built.
A házat éppen építették.

Future Simple Continuous
The house will be being built.
A házat éppen építeni fogják.

First digest the stuff above, and in the next entry I’ll write more examples and more stuff to learn about “passive voice”.

Reported Question

Before taking a look at reported question, let’s see some more examples for reported speech.


Take my hand’, John said to Mary.
Fogd meg a kezem!” -mondta John Mary-nek.

John told Mary to take his hand.
John azt mondta Mary-nek, hogy fogja meg a kezét.

Stop it, son, or I’ll slap you in the face.’, the mother said.
Hagyd abba, fiam vagy pofon ütlek téged.” -mondta az anya.

The mother told his son to stop it or she would slap him in the face.
Az anya azt mondta a fiának, hogy hagyja abba vagy pofon üti őt.

You see that the pronouns changed, just as the possessive endings according to reported or direct speech. And NOTE that Hungarian uses inversion and dash instead of a comma:

,the mother said = –mondta az anya

Furthermore, Hungarian uses double quotation marks, not just something like an apostrophe:

Stop it.= Hagyd abba!

But the first quotation mark used in Hungarian at the beginning of the sentence is at the bottom of the letter and not at the top of the letter. I can’t write such things on this blog. It only allows me to write it as you see “…”.


It is quite the same. Examples:

“Tényleg beteg?” –kérdezte Márk.
Is she really ill?’, Mark asked.

Márk azt kérdezte, hogy tényleg beteg-e.
Mark asked if she was really ill.

Vettél uborkát is, Béla?” –kiváncsiskodott a feleség.
Did you buy some cucumber, Béla?’, the wife wondered.

A feleség arról kíváncsiskodott, hogy Béla vette-e uborkát.
The wife wondered if  Béla bought some cucumber.

It is not rare that the subordinate clause is introduced by IF, WHETHER whose Hungarian equivalents are:

-e, vajon

Take a look at the use:

He asked me if I would go to school.
Azt kérdezte, hogy megyek-e iskolába.

He asked me whether I would go to school.
Azt kérdeztevajon megyek-e iskolába.

He asked me whether to go to school.
Azt kérdezte, elmegyek-e iskolába.

So most of the time you can just use -e in such sentences. However, when English says ‘I wonder if…’, then Hungarian uses vajon. And then, usually the Hungarian sentence is a question. But vajon is not always a good solution. Sometimes it’s better to translate it with the adjective kiváncsi!

I wonder if he comes. – Vajon eljön?

She wonders if you told the truth.
Kiváncsi, hogy az igazat mondtad-e.

Note that -e is connected with a hyphen to the verb: mondtad-e

So much for reported speech. Next time I’ll write stuff about the passive voice, then phrasal verbs.

Bye now! 🙂

Reported Speech

Reported speech means that you report something you heard from someone in a story-telling way. Direct speech, however, requires the speaker to quote exactly what one heard.


The Terminator said “I’ll be back“.
A Terminátor azt mondta, “Visszatérek“.

The Terminator said he would be back.
A Terminátor azt mondta, hogy visszatér.

The English sentence changed its tense (will > would), but the Hungarian didn’t. This phenomenon, which doesn’t exist in Hungarian is called: SEQUENCE OF TENSES. It doesn’t exist in Hungarian because you need to have more past tenses so that you can actually apply a sequence for tenses. But Hungarian only has one past tense, so there’s nothing for the past verb in the main clause to agree with in the subordinate clause. As you see above, Hungarian used Present Tense in both sentences.

Take a look at this:

He says he is watching TV. – Azt mondja, hogy tévét néz.
He said he was watching TV. – Azt mondta, hogy tévét néz.

In the second sentence the English ‘he was watching’ refers to present tense, but it is expressed with the past tense due to the sequence of tenses. Hungarian just uses Present Tense again even if the main clause has a past tense verb. However, the second English sentence can also mean that ‘he was watching’ in the past. Look:

-What is he doing now? -He said he was watching TV.
‘was watching’ refers to present tense!

-What was he doing yesterday? -He said he was watching TV.
‘was watching’ refers to past tense!!

And then the Hungarian sentence looks like this:
Azt mondta, hogy tévét nézett.

Basically, sequence of tenses means that if the verb of the main clause is in past tense, then the verb of the subordinate clause must be in past tense, as well.

However, other elements change, too: pronouns, adverbs of place, adverbs of time. And these parts of speech also change in Hungarian.

now > then
most > akkor

today > that day
ma > aznap

tomorrow > the next day
holnap > a következő nap

the day after tomorrow > in two days
holnap > két nap múlva

yesterday > the day before
tegnap > az előző nap

the day before yesterday > two days ago
tegnapelőtt > két nappal ezelőtt

two weeks ago > two weeks before
két hete > két héttel azelőtt

last year > in the previous year
tavaly > az előző évben

next year > in the following year
jövőre > a következő évben

recently > shortly before
nemrégen > röviddel azelőtt

soon > soon after
nemsokára > nemsokára !!!

this, these > that, those
ez, ezek > az, azok

here > there
itt > ott

I think it’s enough for today. Next time we’ll see more examples and we’ll talk about reported question.

Were it not for…

This construction is expressed in Hungarian like this:

Were it nor for… = Ha nem + present/past conditional


Were it nor for my friend, I wouldn’t pay the fine.
Ha nem a barátomról lenne szó, nem fizetném ki a bírságot.

Were it not for Peter, they wouldn’t care about it.
Ha nem Péterről volna szó, nem érdekelné őket.

Were it not for an old friend of mine, I wouldn’t have taken such a long journey.
Ha nem egy régi barátról lett volna szó, nem tettem volna meg ekkora utat.

An expression appears in such sentences many times:

szó van valamiről / valakiről = it’s about something / someone

The preposition about is equal to these suffixes: -ról, -ről (according to vowel harmony).

Were it not for you… – Ha nem rólad lenne szó
Were it not for Peter… – Ha nem Péterről lenne szó

So the literal translation from Hungarian would be: If it weren’t about you


English allows the speaker to put the main and subordinate clauses in different conditions. So does Hungarian.

If you hadn’t offended her, she would help us now.
Ha nem sértetted volna meg, most segítene nekünk.

English has this solution, too: Hadn’t you offended her…However, Hungarian must always say: HA!

So much for if-clauses and conditional mood.


If-clauses are sentences like:

Condition 0: If you come with me, I am happy.
Condition 1: If you come with me, I will be happy.
Condition 2: If you came with me, I would be happy.
Condition 3: If you had come with me, I would have been happy.

Such sentences can be real (condition 1), possible (condition 2), impossible (condition 3). And English makes a difference between Condition 0 and Condition 1. Hungarian doesn’t. Let’s see what the Hungarian translation of those sentences look like! The Hungarian equivalent of the IF conjunction is HA.

Cond 0: Ha velem jössz, boldog vagyok/leszek.
Cond 1: Ha velem jössz, boldog vagyok/leszek.
Cond 2: Ha velem jönnél, boldog lennék.
Cond 3: Ha velem jöttél volna, boldog lettem volna.

Furthermore, we should talk about tenses and moods. English uses Past Simple or Past Perfect after the if conjunction (subordinate clause), and Present Conditional or Past Conditional in the main clause. Let’s see a summary for Hungarian use!

Condition 1
> Hungarian uses Present Tense for both main and subordinate clauses.

Condition 2
> Hungarian uses Present Conditional for both main and subordinate clauses.

Condition 3
> Hungarian uses Past Conditional for both main and subordinate clauses.

In Hungarian you can also use Future Tense in the main clause for Condition 1. That’s why there is no distinction between Cond. 0 and Cond 1.

More examples:

Ha szeretsz, elmondod.
If you love me, you tell me.

Ha nem tanulnak, megbuknak.
If they don’t learn, they‘ll fail.

Ha szeretnél, elmondanád.
If you loved me, you would tell me.

Ha nem tanulnának, megbuknának.
If they didn’t learn, they‘d fail.

Ha szerettél volna, elmondtad volna.
If you had loved me, you would have told me.

Ha nem tanultak volna, megbuktak volna.
If they hadn’t learned, they would have failed.

NOTE! Both versions of the substantive verb can be used in conditional clauses. Examples:

Ha gazdag lennék, Ferrarit vennék.
Ha gazdag volnék, Ferrarit vennék.
If I were rich, I would buy a Ferrari.

Use whichever you want.

And finally, note that there is always a comma between the main and subordinate clause even if  the sentence begins with the main clause.

Ha nem kelsz fel, elkésel. / Elkésel, ha nem kelsz fel.
If you don’t get up, you’ll be late. / You’ll be late if you don’t get up.

Next time we’ll learn how to say “Were it not for…” in Hungarian. Bye now! 🙂

Irregular Verbs In Conditional

The fun with the conditional mood is that even irregular verbs are not that irregular. But I think we should go through them nonetheless.

lesz: lennék, lennél, lenne, lennénk, lennétek, lennének
van: volnék, volnál, volna, volnánk, volnátok, volnának

megy: mennék, mennél, menne, mennénk, mennétek, mennének
jön: jönnék,  jönnél, jönne, jönnénk, jönnétek, jönnének

Indef.: ennék, ennél, enne, ennénk, ennétek, ennének
Def.: enném, ennéd, enné, ennénk, ennétek, ennék

Indef.: innék, innál, inna, innánk, innátok, innának
Def.: innám, innád, inná, innánk, innátok, innák

Indef.: tennék, tennél, tenne, tennénk, tennétek, tennének
Def.: tenném, tennéd, tenné, tennénk, tennétek, tennék

Indef.: vennék, vennél, venne, vennénk, vennétek, vennének
Def.: venném, vennéd, venné, vennénk, vennétek, vennék

Indef.: vinnék, vinnél, vinne, vinnénk, vinnétek, vinnének
Def.: vinném, vinnéd, vinné, vinnénk, vinnétek, vinnék

Indef.: hinnék, hinnél, hinne, hinnénk, hinnétek, hinnének
Def.: hinném, hinnéd, hinné, hinnénk, hinnétek, hinnék

The rest of the verbs we called irregular are actually regular. And as you see the verbs above, they are not that irregular, either. I just write the conjugation for nő and alszik because then you know sző, lő, ró, fekszik, nyugszik.

Indef: nőnék, nőnél, nőne, nőnénk, nőnétek, nőnének
Def: nőnék, nőnéd, nőné, nőnénk, nőnétek, nőnék

Nőni can be definite when a phrasal verb: kinőni

Indef: aludnék, aludnál, aludna, aludnánk, aludnátok, aludnának
Def: aludnám, aludnád, aludná, aludnánk, aludnátok, aludnák

Aludni can be definite when a phrasal verb: kialudni

So much for irregular verbs. As I said, conditional mood is the easiest! Bye now. 🙂