to, for, of
- nekik / Önöknek
As is explained in introduction
to verbs and indirect objects section, a verb can sometimes take an indirect
object, such as I give the ball to Ági. Here, Ági
is the indirect object. Another example: Áginak adtam ezt a könyvet
I gave this book to Ági.
In Hungarian the indirect object is usually placed in the dative case. Note that
it's not just "to" that gets put into the dative case, as in the above example,
but also "for": Veszek ajándékot Áginak I'm
buying a gift for Ági
Some examples of obvious indirect objects:
- Viszek Áginak virágot I'm taking flowers
- Veszek ajándékot Áginak I'm buying a gift
- Nagymama köt nekünk pulóvert Grandma is
knitting jumpers for us
- Fizetnek nekem egy sört They're buying
me a beer
Some examples of less obvious indirect objects, where a "to" or "for" might sound
unnatural in English:
- a magyar lány tetszik nekem I like the
Hungarian girl. Literally, "the Hungarian girl pleases me" or "The Hungarian
girl is pleasing to me".
- a magyar lányok tetszenek nekem I like
Hungarian girls. Plural of the above. Literally, "Hungarian girls please
me" or "Hungarian girls are pleasing to me".
- segítesz apunak? do you help (to) Dad?
- telefonálok Áginak I telephone (to) Ági
- örülök annak I'm glad about that (for that)
- nekem fáj a fejem my head hurts (to me).
I have a headache.
- minden nap köszönök a postásnak every day
I greet (to) the doorman.
Note, the dative is identical in form to the
attributive/possessive case, but they perform different grammatical functions.
They are different!
An interesting use of the dative comes when stating how someone is called
(not what someone's name is, but what they are called). It's a little confusing
because often the direct object is omitted (and the subject too).
When we say they call her Ági, the direct object is "her"
and the indirect object is "Ági". This is translated as:
(they) call (her) Ági, in which the object (her) and the
subject (they) have both been dropped. You could think of it as
Ők Áginak hívják őt they call her Ági.
Note that we have used the
definite conjugation here, because the object is "her". This requires the
definite. If, on the other hand, the object was "me" or "you", we must use the indefinite
This looks like: (engem) Danielnek hívnak
they call me Daniel.
Both "Áginak" and "Danielnek" show the dative case, but note how we use a different
conjugation depending on the (implied) object.
As a question, remember to put a suggested answer into the dative case too: hogy hívnak? Danielnek? What are you called?