This chapter will explore the many different ways of conjugating Hungarian verbs. We will see that there
are literally thousands of combinations of conjugation for each vderb in Hungarian. It'd be quite a daunting task, were
it not for the fact that nearly everything follow strict rules of grammar.
In English, we have just one type of conjugation, and within that only four forms (for regular verbs):like, likes, liking, liked.
Note that the above conjugation serves the following roles. In the below, the word "see" is identical
in each case, despite it serving different grammatical functions.
In Hungarian, these all have different conjugations. Each wil be explained.
One of the problems that I found when learning Hungarian was that I didn't really know too many
grammatical terms. Words like "subject", "object", "gemmination" etc were new to me.
So let's explain these terms.
The subject is the person or thing doing the verb.
I see Ági.
"I" is the subject, because I am the one doing the seeing.
The object is the person or thing on which the verb acts.
I see Ági.
"Ági" is the object, because she is the one being seen.
Transitive and intransitive verbs
Some verbs cannot have objects. To go, to be, to come, to die..... these cannot take an obejct, ever.
Verbs that cannot take an object are called intransitive verbs.
Most verbs take an object.
Verbs that must take an object are called transitive verbs. To lift, to chew, to kill.
Some verbs may or may not take an object. They are both transitive and intransitive verbs.
To drink (generally), to drink water; to hear (generally), to hear dogs.
Note that in an English dictionary, when you have seen v, vt,
vi ... you finally understand what
they mean! Verb:transitive and Verb:instransitive. Hurrah!
See the Answers.com page on Understand.
Sometimes there are three people or things that involved in conjugating a verb.
I give Ági the ball = I give the ball to Ági
"I" is the subject, because I am doing the giving.
The ball is the object, because the ball is receiving the action of the verb. The ball is being given.
Note that in the first way of writing, even though "Ági" comes immediately after the verb, she is NOT the object.
Ági is the indirect object, sometimes called the patient role.
This is where the dative
case comes into play in many languages. In Hungarian it
is handled by the dative (Adom a labdát Áginak I give the ball to Ági),
and by the instrumental
(Pal Pistaval íratja a levelet
Pal makes Pista write the leter; literally, Pal with Pista makes-write the letter.
Definite and indefinte conjugations
This is an alien concept to the Englishman, which, in a nutshell,
is all about needing to conjugate the verb differently based on
how well-defined the object is. If we have a general object, "I like fish"
or "I like a fish",
then we must use the indefinite case;
if we have a well-defined object,
such as "I like the fish"
or "I like my/your/this/that/these/those fish",
then we must use the definite conjugation.
I will make a bold suggestion: Learn the definite conjugation first, and then learn the indefinite.
The definite has fewer exceptions and follows almost identically the endings for
possession, and therefore is easier to learn.
Most books teach indefinite first.