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

Today's name day(s): Farkas 31/Oct Print Printer friendly version  

The Hungarian alphabet


Take a quick survey and help make HungarianReference.com even better

The Hungarian alphabet contains 40 natural letters, including 14 vowels. Hear all 14 vowels (mp3)

There are some letters that are used almost exclusively with adapted words, such as dzsungel (jungle).

There are some letters that are not part of the natual alphabet, but which are made available for certain loan words: It borrows 4 letters from Latin/English, which I have not included in the table.
These letters are Q (ku), W (dupla vé), X (iksz) and Y (ipszilon).

The alphabet with pronunciation sound files

Whom would you like to hear?


Letter Name IPA sound Example/explanation  Vowel?
A - click to hear MP3 sound file A a /ɒ/ hot, what back
Á - click to hear MP3 sound file Á á /aː/ back, pan, baa (sheep) back
B - click to hear MP3 sound file B /b/ baby, by, absence
C - click to hear MP3 sound file C /ts/ its, like tsunami
Cs - click to hear MP3 sound file Cs csé /tʃ/ church
D - click to hear MP3 sound file D /d/ wide, deck.
Dz - click to hear MP3 sound file Dz dzé /dz/ Hudson. Greek letter zita.
Dzs - click to hear MP3 sound file Dzs dzsé /dʒ/ jam, jungle, bridge, edge, fridge
E - click to hear MP3 sound file E e /ɛ/ less, cheque, edge, bed front
É - click to hear MP3 sound file É é /eː/ hair, café, hey, fail front
F - click to hear MP3 sound file F ef /f/ fish
G - click to hear MP3 sound file G /g/ go, give
Gy - click to hear MP3 sound file Gy gyé /ɟ/ during, duke, dew, due (English, not American, pronunciantion)
H - click to hear MP3 sound file H /h/ hi, human
I - click to hear MP3 sound file I i /i/ thin, thick front/back
Í - click to hear MP3 sound file Í í /iː/ bee, leave,  sea front/back
J - click to hear MP3 sound file J /j/ you, yes (j = ly
K - click to hear MP3 sound file K /k/ key, kiss
L - click to hear MP3 sound file L el /l/ leave, list
Ly - click to hear MP3 sound file Ly ely, el ipszilon /j/ hey, ray (ly = j)
M - click to hear MP3 sound file M em /m/ mind, assume, might,
N - click to hear MP3 sound file N en /n/ thing, lying (before k,g),
need, bone (anywhere else)
Ny - click to hear MP3 sound file Ny eny /ɲ/ new, canyon, señor
O - click to hear MP3 sound file O o /o/ all, force, sorcerer, November back
Ó - click to hear MP3 sound file Ó ó /oː/ over, hole, coat. back
Ö - click to hear MP3 sound file Ö ö /ø/ early, burn, curl. Like the 'e' in the French le. front
Ő - click to hear MP3 sound file Ő ő /øː/ Longer, closer version of ö. Like a child saying, "eurgh!" front
P - click to hear MP3 sound file P /p/ peas, apricot, hope
R - click to hear MP3 sound file R er /r/ red
S - click to hear MP3 sound file S es /ʃ/ ship, wash, shave.  NB! 
Sz - click to hear MP3 sound file Sz esz /s/ said, estimate.  NB!
T - click to hear MP3 sound file T /t/ tell, feast
Ty - click to hear MP3 sound file Ty tyé /c/ stew, stewart, Tuesday
U - click to hear MP3 sound file U u /u/ bull, good, put back
Ú - click to hear MP3 sound file Ú ú /uː/ do, fool, rule back
Ü - click to hear MP3 sound file Ü ü /y/ look. Imagine saying "ill" with pursed lips. Like the 'u' in the French tu. Higher-pitched than ú. front
Ű - click to hear MP3 sound file Ű ű /yː/ food. Longer, closer version ü.  Say "he" but with pursed lips and you will say hű. front
V - click to hear MP3 sound file V /v/ every, very
Z - click to hear MP3 sound file Z /z/ zoo
Zs - click to hear MP3 sound file Zs zsé /ʒ/ pleasure, leisure, genre, azure, Jaques.

Double- and triple-glyph letters

You may have seen in the list above that some letters are comprised of two or three separate parts (gylphs) that happen to look like Latin letters. These are: cs, dz, dzs, gy, ly, ny, sz, ty, zs. In fact, they are formed with two or three independent key presses on Latin keyboard buttons (unlike Russian Ы which has its own button).

However, they are considered one letter.

When we encounter two such letters consecutivly, we double only the first glyph. For example, busz + -szal = busszal.

The exception to this rule is when we have to wrap the word over two lines. When then write each letter in full:
Megyek busz-
-szal minden nap.

Double letters

When a letter is doubled, each is pronounced. That means that abban is pronounced ab-ban and not ab-an.

When a double-glyph letter is doubled, the first part is held. That means that busszal is pronounced busz-szal and not busz-al.

When a double-glyph letter that would be transliterated as two English letters is doubled, only the first part is doubled. For example, the c in vicc is tranliterated as ts, but when we double it we do not end up with tsts. We end up with tts: vicc sounds like vitts .

Pronunciation of vowels - no diphthongs

Each vowel is pronounced on its own. There are essentially no diphthongs.

In this absolute beauty of a word (meaning "those (plural) of his sons"), we must sound out each letter:

fiaiéi is pronounced fee-ahh-ee-air-ee.

The explanation of the grammar behind this word, known as plural external possession, is found on the linked page.

Special consonants

The following consonants are a little bit special in that they do not usually require a link vowel before applying a -t suffix.

They are: L, R, N, Ny, J.

For examples:

  • lány girl becomes lányt girl (accusative) Note it's not lányot.
  • megáll stand becomes megállt he stood Note it's not megállott.
  • kér ask, request becomes kért he asked Note it's not kérett.

Vowel harmony

The most important concept in the Hungarian alphabet is vowel harmony. It's so important I gave it its own section.

Old-fashioned letters

You will see the following letters in place names and surnames. They are maintained for historical purposes.

  • aa, aá = á
  • cz = c
  • ch, ts = cs
  • oo, oó = ó
  • eo, ew = ö, ő
  • th = t
  • w = v
  • y = i

Transliteration examples

Here are some examples sent to me by a native. They show how English words would be spelled using Hungarian letters, still maintaining the phonetic goal. They are a great help in learning the alphabet.

  • a - {a}wful - aful
  • á - {u}nbelieveable - ánbölívöböl
  • b - {b}elow - biló
  • c - {ts}unami - cünámi
  • cs - {ch}oke - csók
  • d - {d}rug - drág
  • dz - pi{zz}a - pidza
  • dzs - {J}oe - dzsó
  • e - {e}lephant - elifönt
  • é - {a}ngel - éndzsöl
  • f - {f}rog - frog
  • g - {g}oogle - gúgöl
  • gy - {d}uring - gyuring
  • h - {h}ow - háó
  • i - {e}leven - ilevön
  • í - b{ee} - bí
  • j - {y}ellow - jellóu
  • k - {c}ow - káo
  • l - {l}ow - ló
  • ly - {y}ellow - jellóu
  • m - {m}orn - món
  • n - {n}ear - níör
  • ny - {n}ew - nyú
  • o - {a}ll - ol
  • ó - {o}ver - óvör
  • ö - {a}gain - ögen
  • ő - b{ur}n - bőn
  • p - {p}eter - pítör
  • q - Van{cou}ver - Venvör
  • r - {R}obert - Rabört
  • s - {sh}y - sáj
  • sz - {s}ilver - szilvör
  • t - {t}own - táun
  • ty - {t}ube - tyúb
  • u - pull - pull
  • ú - cr{ew} - krú
  • ü - L{u}ke - lük
  • ű - (French) t{u} - tű
  • v - {v}ery - véri
  • z - {z}oo - zú
  • zs - (French) {J}aques - Zsáksz

You are here:
Skip Navigation LinksHungarianReference.com > Alphabet & pronunciation > Hungarian alphabet

  Up
Alphabet & pronunciation
 

Hungarian alphabet Next
Lengthening vowels
   


Printer friendly version Print Add Favourite Send to friend

Sitemap
Contact
Make a donation to HungariaReference.com

Sponsored link

I was going to attend the annual seminar of my office where I was going to collect leather-jackets.info achievement trophy for the whole year