I…you, but how?


THE SUFFIXES -LAK, -LEK

This phenomenon needs to be getting used to, indeed. While other languages use accusative pronouns when saying
I love/hate/hear/see/understand you’, Hungarian uses the suffixes -lak, -lek which you should think of as a compound pronoun = I-you. So the examples above sound like this ’Szeretlek/Utállak/Hallak/Látlak/Értelek’.

Nonetheless, the issue can give you a little bit more headache than you’d like to get because -lak, -lek refer to both the 2nd person singular YOU-TÉGED and the 2nd person plural YOU-TITEKET. Usually it’s understandable from the context which of the two the speaker means. Plus, it is optional whether or not you want to say those two pronouns. They are not mandatory to omit. So another possibility for the examples above is:

Szeretlek téged. / Szeretlek titeket.
Utállak téged. / Utállak titeket.
Hallak téged. / Hallak titeket.
Látlak téged. / Látlak titeket.
Értelek téged. / Értelek titeket.

Now the fundamental confusion comes from which form of the verb you attach these suffixes to. Actually, it’s present tense you should worry about. From logical point of view, when one says
’I…you’, that person refers to you as specific target. That’s why you take the 3rd person singular definite conjugation form in all tenses but present tense. Present tense thinks it’s better and wants you to attach -lak, -lek to the 3rd person singular indefinite conjugation form. Why? I can give you one reasonable answer to that: The hell knows. It is the way it is. 🙂

So the 3rd person singular indefinite present tense form is:
Szeret + -lek = Szeretlek
Utál + -lak = Utállak
Hall + -lak = Hallak
Lát + -lak = Látlak
Érte + -lek = Értelek> it ends in two consonants, so it needs a link vowel e. In this case the link vowel is a for deep verbs > Tartalak. I’m holding you.

And all other tenses/moods use 3rd PS definite form:

PAST TENSE
> Szerette + -lek = Szerettelek. I loved you.
Látta + -lak = Láttalak. I saw you.

FUTURE TENSE (simple!)
> Szeretni fog + -lak = Szeretni foglak. I will love you.
Látni fog + -lak = Látni foglak. I will see you.

CONDITIONAL MOOD
>Szeretné + -lek = Szeretnélek. I would love you.
Látná + -lak = Látnálak. I would see you.

IMPERATIVE MOOD (remember how to form verbs in this mood)
> Szeresse + -lek = Szeresselek? Shall I love you?
Lássa + -lak = Lássalak? Shall I see you?

That’s the simplest way I can explain this for you. I hope it helps a bit.

Note that verbs that require accusative case in Hungarian might want a different solution in English and reversed. More examples for safety’s sake:

PRESENT – PAST – CONDITIONAL – IMPERATIVE
Kérlek – Kértelek – Kérnélek – Kérjelek
I ask you…

Féltelek – Féltettelek – Féltenélek – Féltselek
I fear for you…

Csókollak – Csókoltalak – Csókolnálak – Csókoljalak
I kiss you…

Várlak – Vártalak – Várnálak – Várjalak
I wait for you…

Hívlak – Hívtalak – Hívnálak – Hívjalak
I call you…

Érdekellek – Érdekeltelek – Érdekelnélek – Érdekeljelek
You’re interested in me…

Ölellek – Öleltelek – Ölelnélek – Öleljelek
I hug you…

Foglak – Fogtalak – Fognálak – Fogjalak
I take/grab you…

Hozlak – Hoztalak – Hoználak – Hozzalak
Viszlek – Vittelek – Vinnélek – Vigyelek
I bring you (to place/from a place)…

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