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

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Present (adjectival) participles in Hungarian

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The present participle in Hungarian is essentially an adjectival participle, and is where we turn a verb, whose action is not yet finished, into an attributive adjective. It's sometimes called the participle of incomplete action.

c.f. past participle.

It is a very simple case to make. We just add ó or ő t the verb base to make the adjective.

Here are some examples of construction:

  • lát see
  • látó seeing
  • látó szem seeing eye
  • mosolyog smile
  • mosolygó smilinging
  • mosolygó gyerek smiling child
  • él live
  • élő living
  • a élő ember the living person
  • siet hurry
  • siető hurrying
  • siető lányok hurring girls
  • bezár close
  • záró closing
  • a záró ajtók nyikorognak closing doors creak *

* Compare to these participles:

In that penultimate example, note how siető is not in the plural, yet lányok is. This is because we're using the adjectival participle as an attributive adjective, not as a predicative adjective.

Previous - Next
Előző (previous) - Következő (next)

  • következik to follow
  • következő following = next
  • előzik to be preceded
  • előző preceding = previous

Here are some irregularities that are actually really great, familiar examples of adjectival participles

  • jön come
  • coming
  • a jövő év the coming year (i.e. next year)
  • iszik drink
  • i drinking
  • ivó víz drinking water
  • boil
  • boiling
  • fövő víz boiling water

Using adjectival particiles as nouns

In colloquial Hungarian it's very common to use these adjectival participles as nouns, usually to mean a person as identified by their job. Here are some common examples.

Verb Partiple Literal meaning Common meaning - profession
tanul tanuló studying ... student
tanít tanító teaching ... teacher
dolgozik dolgozó working ... worker
ír író writing ... writer, author

Of course this use does not always indicate a profession. Here are some simple nouns:

Verb Partiple Literal meaning Common meaning
cseng ring csengő ringing ... bell
folyik flow folyó flowing ... river
fürdik bathe fürdő bathing ... bath

Participles with possibility/potential

When we combine the may/permission/potential verb ending, -hat- or -het-, which the present/adjectival participle, we end up with words that are like -able or -ible in English.

  • látható eg visible sky
  • iható víz drinkable water
  • jól olvasható írás readable (ligible) handwriting

Cheekily, this form can be used both as an attribute and a predicate:
Angliából Ági Magyarórszagon nem látható From England, Ági is not visible in Hungary

Particples 'való' and 'levő'

These special participles, representing 'being, existing', represent, repectively, participles that answer dynamic interogative adverbs of place and participles that are able to stand after suffixed word or after postpositions or answer 'hol?'. Together with the words they follow they form an attribute used as a single unit.

They are the most advanced topic on this site. If you can master these you will be doing very well.


The word levő is used in the first sense above, it follows suffixed nouns and postpositions to form a unit and can answer the question hol? where?.

In these examples, look for the suffixed noun or postposition, followed by the participle, and treat this as one unit.

  • a Mallorcában levő víz nem joízű the water in Majorca isn't tasty
  • a színpadon levő emberek szíészek the people on the stage are actors
  • az előttünk levő kilátás szép the view before us is beautiful

Clue: the suffixed nouns are Mallorcában and színpadon and the postposition is előttünk. Literally these sentences mean: "the in-Majorca being water is not tasty," "the onstage being people are actors" and "the before-us being view is beautifiul."

This word is not used after postpositions particularly commonly, because the exact same effect can be achieved with the -i adjective suffix. These two sentences are identical in meaning ("the grass under the trees is wet"):

  • a fák alatt levő fű vizes (the under-trees being grass is wet)
  • a fák alatti fű vizes (the under-trees grass is wet)


The word való is used in the second sense above, it answers or poses questions with the dynamic interogative adverbs honnan? whence? (from where?) and hova? whither? (to where?)


  • honnan való vagy? where are you from?
  • honnan való ez a képeslapok? whence (from where) are these postcards?
  • te közénk való vagy you belong to us (lit: you to-among-us being are)

I hope I have extended the above Bánhidi example correctly to form the below joke:

  • mind a bázisod közénk való all your bases belong to us

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Adverbal participle: -va
Present participle: -ó, ő Next
Past participle: -t

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