If-Clauses


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:

CONDITION 0 AND 1
Ha szeretsz, elmondod.
If you love me, you tell me.

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

CONDITION 2
Ha szeretnél, elmondanád.
If you loved me, you would tell me.

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

CONDITION 3
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! 🙂

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