A reference guide to Hungarian grammar, designed with English-speakers in mind

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Adjectives in Hungarian


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Adjectives are describing words.
First, let us look at the three types of adjective in English, and then we can move on to see these in Hungarian.
Then you can see some irregular adjectives and examples.

Absolute, comparative and superlative adjectives

First, let us define what these mean in English. You may have heard people using the term "superlative" to mean "generic meaningless praise", such as "he said my report was good, wonderful, amazing, or some other such superlative."

WRONG! That's not what 'superlative' means.

Superlative is one of the three types of adjective. They will be described here using examples.

Absolute

This is the most basic statement. We state that an item, usually a noun, possesses a certain quality.

  • Daniel is tall.
  • Ági is pretty.
  • Jaffa is dumb.
  • Beer is good.
  • Budweiser is bad.
  • You have few brain cells.

We simply apply the adjective to the noun, without reference to any other noun. We do not compare Daniel's height to anyone else's, nor Ági's looks.

Go to the absolute adjectives page.

Comparative or relative

This uses an adjective to compare two items. We state that some quality (or quantity) is larger or smaller than some other quality (or quantity).

  • Daniel is taller than Ági.
  • Ági is prettier than Helen of Troy.
  • Jaffa is dumber than Rolo.
  • Beer is better than wine.
  • Budweiser is worse than piss.
  • You have fewer brain cells than I. (not 'than me')

Note two things:

  1. The adjective has changed. Usually, the ending -er is added, but only for regular adjectives.
  2. The word than is introduced. We are comparing the quality or quantity to another.

Go to the comparative page.

Superlative

This uses an adjective to state that some quality or quantity is the greatest or least of all.

  • Daniel is the tallest.
  • Ági is the prettiest.
  • Jaffa is the dumbest.
  • Beer is the best.
  • Budweiser beer is the worst.
  • You have fewest brain cells.

Note three things:

  1. The adjective has changed again. Usually, the ending -er in the comparative changes to -est, but only for regular adjectives.
  2. The word than is removed, compared to the comparative. We have no need to mention any other noun.
  3. We usually put the in front of the adjective, compared to the comparative.

Go to the superlative page.

Adjustives as nouns

Adjectives can stand in place of nouns, nakedly, without any assistance. Consider the following:
"What kind of flower did you find?"

This may be answered the long way or the short way: "I found a white flower" or just "a white one."
We have to use a helper, "one", in English if we want to omit the noun.

Guess what? In Hungarian, the adjective is also a noun. It can stand on its own in place of a known noun.

  • milyen virágot találtál meg? what kind of flower did you find?
  • - egy fehér virágot találtam meg I found a white flower
  • - egy fehéret a white (one) Here, the adjective has a noun ending on it!

In the short (second) answer, the adjective is acting as a full-blown standalone noun substantive. Adjectival nouns are inflected almost identically to nominative (dictionary) nouns.

The difference is that: for adjectives ending in the plural is -ek
and for adjectives ending in -i the plural is -ak/-ek (c.f. just plan -k for nominative nouns)

Creating adjectives of location

For a reference of how to create adjectives, see the adjective building page.


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