Possession – Possessive Case


Finally we got to possession. And now I’m telling you what I’ve been telling you all along. Remember how to make nouns plural because that can help when we discuss the possessive case. But first an evident question:


And the answer is NO. English uses the verb ‘to have’, a transitive verb to express possession: I have a house, They have no money…

Hungarian, in turn, uses a whole different method when it comes to expressing possession of this kind. Even if there is a verb similar to ‘to have’, birtokolni, it would sound constrained if we wanted to use this verb for this special purpose. Hungarian uses such a construction: DATIVE PRONOUN + SUBSTANTIVE VERB 3rd PS or 3rd PP + INDEFINITE ARTICLE + NOUN WITH POSSESSIVE ENDING

I know it’s long to write it down like that, so let’s see this example: I have a houseNekem van egy házam.

Nekem (dative pronoun) + van (substantive verb 3rd PS) + egy (indefinite article) + házam (noun with possessive ending -m)

In everyday language, the dative pronoun and the indefinite article are omitted or can be omitted, so you can also say: Van házam. So it is mandatory to use the substantive verb van/vannak and the noun with its possessive endings. More examples:

Sok türelmük van. – They have a lot of patience.
Macskáid is vannak? – Do you have some cats, too?
Nincs pénzem. – I have no money.

NOTE! The substantive verb is van or vannak, depending on whether someone owns one thing or more than one thing. The negative form is nincs/nincsenek:

Nincs autóm. – I have no car./ Nincsenek barátaimI have no friends. Summary:

van/nincs OR nincsen + singular thing to possess
vannak/nincsenek + plural things to possess

Because of the topic-prominent aspect, you can also say: Autóm nincs. Házunk van. In this case you put an emphasis on  what you have: It is a car that I don’t have. It is a house that we have. But English usually solves this problem with verbal emphasis. The bold letters show the most important thing in the sentence now. So here are your possibilities:

Van barátnőm. – I have a girlfriend.
Barátnőm van. – I have a girlfriend. (It is a girlfriend that I have)
Nincs barátnőm. – I have no girlfriend.
Barátnőm nincs. – As for a girlfriend, I don’t have any.

ONE MORE THING! I forgot to mention that the singular negative verb nincs has another version: nincsen. You choose which to use.


Once again, I presume you already know how to make nouns plural!! That knowledge will help you deal with the possessive case, just as it helped you with the accusative case.

First we should make it clear: there is no genitive in Hungarian. It is called the possessive case.

Alrighty. Hungarian possession is expressed with possessive endings and possessive pronouns. And the English equivalents are:

Hungarian > English
possessive endings > possessive pronouns as adjectives
e.g. -m, -d, -ja > for ex.: my, your, his

possessive pronouns > possessive pronouns as adverbs
e.g. enyém, tied > for ex.: mine, yours


Here they are:

Number and person > Possessive endings
1st PS > –m, -om, -am, -em, -öm
2nd PS > -d, -od, -ad, -ed, -öd
3rd PS > -(j)a, -(j)e
1st PP > -nk, -unk, -ünk
2nd PP > -(a/o)tok, -(e)tek, -(ö)tök
3rd PP > -(j)uk, -(j)ük

Apparently, there is only one ending for all numbers/persons. It looks like there are too many because link vowels are added to them if needed. It is always -m for 1st PS and we add link vowels if needed. It is always -d for 2nd PS and we add link vowels if needed. Etc.

NOTE! No different ending for masculine and feminine as Hungarian doesn’t care about genders. It’s just about the right possessive ending for high and deep-vowel words.

Let’s get started!

Group 1: The vowels A, E become Á, É when at the very end of a noun (like nouns: apa – apák)

apa (father) – apám (my father)
anya (mother) – anyád (your mother)
epe (bile) – epéje (his/her bile)
kemence (furnace) – kemencéjük (their furnace)

Group 2: nouns in a consonant take the possessive endings with a link vowel. Now I’ll give you one noun from the rest of those groups you know as examples:

HIGH-VOWEL NOUN: szék (chair); gyümölcs (fruit)
székem, széked, széke, székünk, széketek, székük (with e link vowel because: szék-székek-széket-székem)
gyümölcsöm, gyümölcsöd, gyümölcse, gyümölcsünk, gyümölcsötök, gyümölcsük (with ö link vowel because: gyümölcs-gyümölcsök-gyümölcsöt-gyümölcsöm)

DEEP-VOWEL NOUN: állat (animal); ház (house); száj (mouth)
állatom, állatod, állata, állatunk, állatotok, állatuk (with o link vowel because: állat-állatok-állatot-állatom)
házam, házad, háza, házunk, házatok, házuk (with a link vowel because: ház-házak-házat-házam)
Exception: szám, szád, szája, szánk, szátok, szájuk

LAST VOWEL SHORTENED: kéz (hand), nyár (summer); ész (mind)
kezem, kezed, keze, kezünk, kezetek, kezük (É becomes E because: kéz-kezek-kezet-kezem)
nyaram, nyarad, nyara, nyarunk, nyaratok, nyaruk (A becomes Á because: nyár-nyarak-nyarat-nyaram)
eszem, eszed, esze, eszünk, eszetek, eszük (É becomes E: ész-eszem…, but its accusative form does not change: észt; no plural form in any case)

DROP-VOWEL WORD: vödör (bucket)
vödröm, vödröd, vödre, vödrünk, vödrötök, vödrük (because: vödör-vödrök-vödröt-vödröm)

V-WORD: (stone)
kövem, köved, köve, kövünk, követek, kövük (because: kő-kövek-követ-kövem)

Group 3: Some words in 3rd PS and 3rd PP take the possessive endings –a, -e, -uk, -ük WITHOUT J. All I can give you is an unstable rule which is: drop-vowel words (terem-terme) and words with the last vowel shortened (madár-madarak) belong to this group. As well as words ending in consonants like: c, cs, gy, h, j, ny, s, sz, ty, z, zs

méhe her womb (méh has two meaning: bee and womb)
feje his head
begye his craw/crop
fénye his light
kulacsahis gourd
hasahis stomach
bajuszahis moustache
meze his shirt
varázsahis magic

Group 4: Some words changing long Ő to E and long Ó to A in the possessive case. This rule is only valid for 3rd PS and 3rd PP.

idő (time): időm, időd, ideje, időnk, időtök, idejük

mező (field): mezőm, meződ, mezeje, mezőnk, mezőtök, mezejük

tető (roof): tetőm, tetőd, teteje, tetőnk, tetőtök, tetejük

ajtó (door): ajtóm, ajtód, ajtaja, ajtónk, ajtótok, ajtajuk

erő (force): erőm, erőd, ereje, erőnk, erőtök, erejük

erdő (forest): erdőm, erdőd, erdeje, erdőnk, erdőtök, erdejük

velő (marrow of a bone): velőm, velőd, veleje, velőnk, velőtök, velejük

anya (mother): anyja, anyjuk

apa (father): apja, apjuk

fiú (boy, son): has two possessive endings
fiúja, fiújuk means her boyfriend, their boyfriend
fia, fiuk means his/her son, their son

Group 5: Some words have two possibilities: using –A or -JA / -UK or -JUK and -E or -JE / -ÜK or -JÜK. This rule is only for 3rd PS and 3rd PP. (referring back to Group 3)

fotel – fotele / fotelje (his armchair)
újság – újsága / újságja (his newspaper)
virág – virága / virágja (his flower)
pillér – pillére / pillérje (its pier)

Sometimes there is a change in meaning: kar – kara (his faculty) BUT kar – karja (his arm)

How to use definite articles with the possessive case?

Simple. The definite articles  (a, az) are ALWAYS used with possessive case except one occasion when it is optional. It is optional when the sentence begins with a noun in the possessive case. Then you can choose if you use it or not.

A barátnőmet szeretem. – I love my girlfriend.
Barátnőmet szeretem. – I love my girlfriend.

So the Hungarian definite article must or can be used with the possessive case. Unlike English!!!



And where is that i inserted? Take a look at this:

lakás (flat, appartment):
SINGULAR: lakásom (my flat), lakásod (your flat), lakása (his/her flat), lakásunk (our flat), lakásotok (your flat), lakásuk (their flat)

PLURAL: lakásaim (my flats), lakásaid (your flats), lakásai (his/her flats), lakásaink (our flats), lakásaitok (your flats), lakásaik (their flats)

füzet (notebook):
SINGULAR: füzetem (my notebook), füzeted (your notebook), füzete (his/her notebook), füzetünk (our notebook), füzetetek (your notebook), füzetük (their notebook)

PLURAL: füzeteim (my notebooks), füzeteid (your notebooks), füzetei (his/her notebooks), füzeteink (our notebooks), füzeteitek (your notebooks), füzeteik (their notebooks)


-(o)m                         -aim
-(o)d                          -aid
-a                                -ai
-unk                           -aink
-(o)tok                     -aitok
-uk                             -aik

-(e)m                         -eim
-(e)d                           -eid
-e                                  -ei
-ünk                           -eink
-(e)tek                      -eitek
-ük                              -eik

That’s the plural for the possessive case. More next time, but first practise possessive plural with these words. I’ll give you the person and number you should put these nouns in. ONE PROPERTY means you use the singular endings. MORE PROPERTIES means you use the plural endings.

Example:  macska – macskám (1st PS) one property

ebéd – ______________ (3rd PS) one property

férj – ______________ (1st PP) one property

ház – _______________ (2nd PS) more properties

gyerek – ______________ (2nd PP) more properties

adat – ________________ (3rd PS) more properties







A T T E N T I O N!

3rd person singular                   az ő háza = his house
az ő házuk = their house

3rd person plural                       az ő házai = his houses
az ő házaik = their houses


Once learned how to form the singular and plural in possessive case, you only add –at or -et to the word.


The form of 1st and 2nd person singular do not necessarily require the accusative case. Those forms can be considered both subjective and accusative as they are. You choose if you make accusative those forms!

asztalom(at) / asztalaim(at) (my tables)
asztalod(at) / asztalaid(at) (your tables)
asztalát / asztalait (his tables)
asztalunkat / asztalainkat (our tables)
asztalotokat / asztalaitokat (your tables)
asztalukat / asztalaikat (their tables)

képem(et) / képeim(et) (my pictures)
képed(et) / képeid(et) (your pictures)
képét / képeit (his pictures)
képünket / képeinket (our pictures)
képeteket /képeiteket (your pictures)
képüket / képeiket (their pictures)


That’s why it’s important to learn the correct pronunciation:

termet (room – accusative)
termét (his room – possessive in accusative case)

képet (image – accusative)
képét (his image – possessive in accusative case)

tollat (pen – accusative)
tollát (his pen – possessive in accusative case)

fogat (tooth – accusative)
fogát (his tooth – possessive in accusative case)

NOTE! The suffix -i is needed to express that there are more things somebody owns. The suffix -k is present in the plural suffixes, of course: -aink, eik, aitok


Summary for possessive endings:

N/P                       S                                 P
1st PS                   -(a/o/e/ö)m         im (-aim, -eim)
2ns PS                 (a/o/e/ö)d            id (-aid, -eid)
3rd PS                 -(j)a, -(j)e            -(j)ai, -(j)ei
1st PP                  -unk, -ünk            ink (-aink, -eink)
2nd PP                -tok, -tek, -tök    itok, –itek (-aitok, -eitek)
3rd PP                 -(j)uk, -(j)ük       ik (-aik, -eik)

This summary shows you which endings can have link vowels and how they change in the plural.


So far, we haven’t really dealt with personal pronouns. It is because Hungarian personal pronouns are only used in point of possession when the possessor needs to be stressed. In this case, the definite article must be used. Example:

Ez az én házam, nem a tied. – This is my house, not yours.

Possessive endings with personal pronouns:

az én…-m
a te…-d
az ő…-ja, -je
a mi…-unk, -ünk
a ti…-tok, -tek, -tök
az ő…-juk, -jük

az én…-aim, -eim
a te…-aid, -eid
az ő…-ai, -ei
a mi…-aink, -eink
a ti…-aitok, -eitek
az ő…-aik, -eik

In the sentence above, the word TIED (YOURS) is already a possessive pronoun. And that’s our next topic.


Hungarian possessive pronouns are used in sentences like: The bag is mine. Mine is a possessive pronoun.

Possessive pronouns:

SINGULAR                PLURAL
az enyém                 az enyéim – mine
a tied                        a tieid – yours
az övé                       az övéi – his/hers
a mienk                   a mieink – ours
a tietek                     a tieitek – yours
az övék                     az övéik – theirs

As you see English has one form for all numbers/persons. No plural form. Hungarian possessive pronouns do have a plural form. All you have to do is to wedge in an i where you see up there.

NOTE! The definite articles are always used with the possessive pronouns!!


A ház a tied. – The house is yours.
A ceruza a mienk. – The pencil is ours.
A könyv az övék. – The book is theirs.
Az alma az enyém.  – The apple is mine.

A játékok az övéi. – The toys are hers.
A játékok az övéik. – The toys are theirs.

Az asztalok a tieid. – The tables are yours. (yours – 2nd PS)
Az asztalok a tieitek. – The tables are yours. (yours – 2nd PP)

If you want to stress the possessor even more, put the possessive pronoun at the beginning of the sentence. You can do that due to the topic-prominent aspect: Enyém a megtiszteltetés. – The honour is mine.

NOTE! tied also has this form: tiéd AND mienk has this form: miénk. The e can be an é in the singular form. No difference in meaning. You choose which to use.

A kocsi a tied. – The car is yours.
A kocsi a tiéd. – The car is yours.

As the substantive verb (van, vannak) is not used in 3rd PS and 3rd PP (as you see in the examples), think of the definite article like it’s the English substantive verb: A kocsi a tied. – The car is yours.


The question Whose? is Kié? in Hungarian. Kié? is made up from the interrogative word Ki? (Who?) + the suffix -é which is the equivalent to the English …’s: Whose is this book? It’s Peter‘s.

There are two questions for Whose?: Kié? Kinek a? There is no difference between them, use whichever you want.

The answer (the possessor) gets that -é suffix attached at the end of the word:

Whose is this book? -It is Peter‘s.
Kié ez a könyv? -Péteré.
Kinek a könyve ez? -Péteré.

You see it doesn’t matter which question word you use. Kié? is just as good as Kinek a(z)?, but note the grammar issues going on in the two sentences.

Kié? does not require the property (könyv) to have a possessive ending.
Kinek a? require the property (könyve) to have a possessive ending.

And the explanation is simple. Remember this? “A férfi felesége” (The man’s wife): feleség needs the possessive ending -e because that’s what expresses the possession. And the sentence also can be: a férfinak a felesége. But you don’t have to use -nak a, -nek a if you don’t want to or there is no need for it (Remember all those stuff? ).

That’s why the property needs a possessive ending when answering to Kinek a?. This question has -nek a in it, so the answer has to have a possessive ending. (Am I complicated enough ?)

You also can make those questions plural (Kiék? Kiknek a?) if you ask about more property, but the answer already contains if there is one or more than one property.

Alright. Digest this part first and next time I’ll tell you more about it. Til then, examples for you:

Kié ez a toll? –Az enyém.
Whose is this pen? –It’s mine.

Kiék ezek a tollak? –Az enyéim.
Whose are these pens? –They’re mine.

Kinek az üvege ez? -Ádámé.
Whose is this bottle? -It’s Adam‘s.

Kiknek az üvegei ezek? -Ádáméi.
Whose are these bottles? -Adam‘s.

NOTE! If the answer has more than one property, the suffix -é becomes -éi (unlike in English). And there’s only one version for this suffx (-é, -éi). Both high and deep words take it!

Kié az a szék? -Balázsé. / –Whose is that chair? -It’s Balázs.
Kiék azok a székek? -Balázséi. / –Whose are those chairs? -They’re Balázs.


Another method to express something is in someone’s possession is the verb: to belong. The Hungarian equivalent is: tartozik.

The English verb “to belong” requires the preposition “to”: it belongs to the man.
The Hungarian verb “tartozik” requires the suffixes -hoz, -hez, -höz: a férfihoz tartozik.

So the question is: Who/What…to? = Kihez / Mihez…?

Kihez tartozik ez a toll? Who does this pen belong to?
Mihez tartozik a gomb? What does the button belong to?

A toll a tanulóhoz tartozik. – The pen belongs to the student.
A gomb a kabáthoz tartozik. – The button belongs to the jacket.

These are merely examples. In everyday speech, I think you prefer asking “Whose is this pen?”, just like we prefer asking “Kié ez a toll?”.


to belong to sg = tartozik…-hoz, -hez, -höz
Kihez? = Who…to?
Mihez? = What…to?

You can make these questions plural, too: Kikhez? Mikhez?


Possessive endings: the example is for high-vowel words

a képem / az én képem
képed / a te képed
képe / az ő képe
képünk / a mi képünk
képetek / a ti képetek
képük / az ő képük

a képeim / az én képeim
képeid / a te képeid
képei / az ő képei
képeink / a mi képeink
képeitek / a ti képeitek
képeik / az ő képeik

Possessive pronouns:

A kép az enyém. / A képek az enyéim.
A kép a tied. / A képek a tieid.
A kép az övé. / A képek az övéi.
A kép a mienk. / A képek a mieink.
A kép a tietek. / A képek a tieitek.
A kép az övék. / A képek az övéik.

More examples:

Fáj a lábam. – My leg hurts.
A lábam fáj, nem a fejem. – My leg hurts, not my head.

A felelősség a miénk. – The responsibility is ours.
Miénk a felelősség. – The responsibility is ours.

A házad nagy. – Your house is big.
A nagy ház a tiéd. – The big house is yours.
Tiéd a nagy ház. – The big house is yours.


If you want to express that something belongs to someone, you use the preposition of or you attach ‘s to the end of the word or both: John‘s wife, the essence of the question, the color of the dog‘s kennel

Such Hungarian sentences are formed with the possessive endings and these suffixes: -nak a, -nek a

NOTE! Dative case suffixes are: -nak, -nek. Possessive case suffixes require the definite articles: -nak a(z), -nek a(z)

With one property these suffixes can be omitted. With more properties -nak a, -nek a must be used at least with one of the properties.

John‘s wife – Jánosnak a felesége OR János felesége
the essence of the question – a kérdésnek a lényege OR a kérdés lényege
the color of the dog‘s kennel – a kutya házának a színe

In the first two examples there is only one property: wife, essence. In the third one we have two properties: color, kennel, so it is a must to use -nak a with ház. You don’t have to use it with kutya because that would sound constrained. BUT it is always important to have a possessive ending attached to the property which sometimes is present before -nak a, -nek a, too (a házának a: because ház is a possessor and a property!)

The Hungarian word order is the same when English uses ‘s: POSSESSOR + PROPERTY!

a kocsi kereke OR a kocsinak a kereke (the wheel of the car; literally: the car’s wheel)

After all, it’s not the same: az ember(nek a) hatalma – the power of the man (the man’s power)
a hatalom(nak az) embere – the man of the power (the power’s man)

We’re finished with Possession 🙂