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NOUNS SUBSTANTIVE.

The Substantive may be defined to express number, person, case, place and direction. The Particles used to define the Nouns are: article, suffix, and postpositions.


Articles.

There are two articles: a definite and an indefinite. The definite article is a before words beginning with a consonant, and az before words beginning with a vowel.

The definite article is put before nouns when a certain and defined thing is referred to—i.e., before definite nouns, which it precedes then invariably, even in cases where in English it would be omitted, as, for instance, where a pronoun stands before it—e.g., a fiú, the boy; or az én fiam, my boy; az[1] a fiú, that boy, &c.

The indefinite article is egy (one), which is at the same time numeral, in which sense it is used. It is not necessary in Hungarian to put the indefinite article before a noun, if spoken of in general terms only—e.g., emhert láttam, I saw a man.

Egy is used only, as has been said, to express number: as, egy emhert láttam, I have seen a (one) man.


Of Suffixes.

The Suffixes by which nouns are modified are twenty-one. They are joined to the root, which sometimes undergoes orthographical changes, to be described further on.

These suffixes, divided into four categories, may be:—

1. Suffixes expressing number.
2. Suffixes expressing case.
3. Suffixes expressing person.
4. Suffixes expressing place and direction.


The Number of Nouns.

There are two numbers; a singular and a plural.

The plural is formed by adding -k to nouns ending with a, vowel; or -ak, -ok, -ek, -ök to nouns ending with a consonant. In forming the plural the following rules are to be observed:—

a and e at the end of a noun become lengthened in the plural; as fa (tree), plural fák; eke (plough), plural ekék.

Nouns ending with a consonant preceded by á or é shorten these vowels in the plural; excepting those ending in -ság, -ség, or -gás, -gés; and a few monosyllable nouns—e.g.

sugár (beam), plural sugarak,
kerék (wheel), plural kerekek.

While the following remain unaltered:—

ritkaság (rarity), plural ritkaságok.
szépség (beauty), plural szépségek.
csavargás (roaming), plural csavargások.

If the final consonants of the last two syllables in polysyllabic nouns would admit an easy pronunciation without the intervention of a vowel, the vowel of the last syllable is generally dropped in the plural. This contraction mostly takes place when the consonants m-r, k-r, and k-l, or reversed r-m, r-k, and l-k meet—e.g.,

lélek (soul), plural lelkek.
ökör (bull), plural ökrök.
járom (yoke), plural jármak, &c.

The following monosyllabic nouns ending with a vowel take v or j in the plural, some of them shorten at the same time their vowel:—

, stone, plural kövek.
, juice, plural levek.
, a horse, plural lovak.
, grass, herb, plural füvek.
cső, a tube, plural csövek.
, stem plural tövek.
, a work (of art), plural művek.

Note.—Nouns are used in the singular only, if preceded by a numeral or any other word expressing quantity; as két ember, two men; sok fa, many trees.

Collective nouns are used in the plural when several lots or quantities of the same genus are referred to. But in all other cases they are used in the singular only. In Hungarian all generic nouns are collective nouns; as, for instance, the names of fruits, corn, minerals, metals, &c., and stand in the singular:—e.g.,

alma, an apple or apples.
körte, a pear or pears.


Cases of the Noun.

There are five cases:—

The Nominative.
The Attributive or Possessive.
The Genitive.
The Dative.
The Accusative.

The first three cases are also called "subjective cases," because they can stand as subjectives.

The nominative is the word or name itself. Of suffixes it can take the plural or the personal.

The suffixes for the attributive case are -nak for flat sounding, and -nek for sharp sounding words. It expresses the meaning of possession, or of something belonging to it. It stands in an adjectival relation to the thing, that is, it is the attributive of the thing possessed—e.g., Péter-nek atyja, the father of Peter, or Peter's father. Here Peter is the possessor, and atyja the object possessed. At the same time Peter is the attribute to atyja.

The Hungarian has no words corresponding to the English word "to have," but expresses possession by the attributive or possessive case with the verb van "to be." The sentence, Peter has a house, is therefore to be rendered in Hungarian, Péternek van háza (literally, there is a house of Peter's, or which belongs to Peter).

The form of the possessive with the verb van is called its subjective form, and is always to be translated into English with the nominative and the verb "to have;" the other form, where it governs its object directly, that is, without van, is called its attributive form, and is to be rendered in English by the possessive.


Examples.

1. Jánosnak van kalapja, John has a hat.
2. Jánosnak a kalapja szép, the hat of John is handsome.
3. Pál háza ég, Paul's house is burning.

In the third example Pál stands without suffix, and in the translation it has been rendered by the possessive (Paul's).

Rule 1.—If the possessive stands only as attribute to its object, it is not necessarily inflected, as the object is already inflected with the personal suffix, which expresses amply the relation between possessor and thing possessed.

Rule 2.—The possessive must be inflected with its distinguishing terminations if standing as a subject (with the verb van). The suffixed form is also preferable for the attributive form, if the object does not immediately follow the attribute but is preceded by an adjective or other words.

Note.—The student is requested to pay special attention to these rules, as they are necessary for the proper understanding of the Hungarian language, for often the cases (and with them the right meaning) might be misunderstood if the orthography alone were taken into consideration; as for instance, in the sentence—Pál háza ég. Pál is not inflected, while ház is with the personal suffix -a; and yet Pál is in the attributive, and ház-a in the nominative.

The termination of the genitive case is for all nouns, and means also possession. The difference between this and the former case is:—

(a) That the genitive can stand by itself, that is, without its object, which is then understood; as, Whose hat is this? Answer: Péter-é, Peter's.

(b) The genitive may stand as predicate of its own object; as Ez a kalap Péter-é, this hat is Peter's.

Note.—In this sentence kalap is in Hungarian, as in English in the nominative, as the objective form of kalap is suppressed and the ending is substituted for it. The sentence in full would be, Ez a kalap Péternek kalapja, this hat is Peter's hat.

(c) The genitive, being a contraction of both possessor and object possessed, may be used as subject or predicate, and can be inflected like the nominative, with the exception of the genitive case, which it cannot take twice; as, Házamat eladtam és Péter-é-t megvettem, I sold my house and bought Peter's (that of Peter). Here Péter is in the genitive, and has taken also the accusative suffix -t, which ought to be joined to the object, were it written out; thus, Házamat eladtam és Péternek ház-á-t megvettem (I sold my house and bought Peter's house).

The dative is in form the same as the attributive, but quite different in meaning. In English it is rendered by putting the prepositions "to" or "for" before the substantive. The Dative (from the Latin do, to give) signifies that something is (has or will be) given or imparted to it by a third person, while the attributive claims something as already belonging to it.

This case has often been confounded by grammarians with the attributive, to which it has no other relation than similarity of orthography. The best distinguishing marks are:—(1) That the dative cannot be a subject; (2) that the attributive governs a substantive, and the dative is governed, by a verb.

Ezt Péter-nek adom, I give this to Peter (dative).
Ez Péternek háza, This is Peter's house (attributive).

The accusative (in Hungarian szenvedő, from szenvedni, to suffer) is the noun acted upon by the verb, i.e., "the suffering." Its ending is -t.

 

Declension of the Substantive.

Prefatory Remarks.—To facilitate the acquisition of the most important, and at the same time the most difficult, part of the Hungarian grammar—viz., the rules of inflection, we divide the substantives into six classes (or declensions), the plural endings being taken as the basis. Each class is again divided into two subdivisions, the one being the short and the other the long vowel of each, thus—



I. II. III. IV. V. VI.
(a) (b) (a) (b) (a) & (b) (a) (b) (a) (b) (a) & (b)
plur. endings -ak, -ák -ok, -ók -uk -ek, -ék -ök, -ők -ük

Flats. Sharps.

The suffixes for the cases are therefore:—

I. II. III. IV. V. VI.
Declension. Declension.
Subjective
Cases.
Nominative, The Name itself, or with Pers. Suff.
Attrib. or Possessive, -nak -nek
Genitive,
Dative, -nak -nek
Accusative,[2] -t -t
 
Nouns follow in the accusative singular the same rules as to orthographical changes as in the plural.

A substantive is declined in the plural in the same way as in the singular, the affixes being joined to the plural endings—e.g., házak houses; házaknak, házaké, &c.


Personal Suffixes.

We have seen that the object governed by the attributive case is always inflected, Péternek aty-ja.

A substantive which is governed by another substantive, that is, a noun which is claimed as property or possession by a preceding (attributive) noun or pronoun, is called birtok (property), which we will render in English with the "object possessed."

The object possessed is inflected to express its relation to the foregoing substantive or pronoun, and as the possessor is the speaker himself, the person spoken to, or the person or thing spoken of, the object will express by means of suffixes whether it belongs to the first, second, or third person, wherefore these suffixes are called personal suffixes.

The first and second persons can of course only represent rational beings; the third person comprises persons or things alike.

The possessor can be one or more things or persons, as:—

A gyermek könyve, the book of the boy. Here the possessor gyermek is in the singular.

A gyermekeknek a könyvük, the book of the boys, asserts that one book is belonging to two or more boys, because the possessor gyermek is here in the plural.

Or, the object possessed is one or more; as,

1. A gyermek könyve, the book of the boy.
2. A gyermek könyvei, the books of the boy.

The relations of the object to the possessor are four:—

1. Object and possessor in singular,
könyv-em, my book.
2. Object in singular and possessor in plural,
könyvünk, our book.
3. Object in plural and possessor in singular,
könyveim, my books.
4. Object in plural and possessor in plural,
könyveink, our books.

In each of these cases there are three persons to be distinguished.


Examples.

1. könyv, a book. 2. ház, a house.
 
1. The Object in the Singular.
1. könyv-em my book. 1. ház-am my house.
2. könyv-ed thy book. 2. ház-ad thy house.
3. könyv-e his book. 3. ház-a his house.
1. könyv-ünk our book. 1. ház-unk our house.
2. könyv-etek your book. 2. ház-atok your house.
3. könyv-ük their book. 3. ház-ok their house.
 
2. The Object in the Plural.
1. könyv-eim my books. 1. ház-aim my houses.
2. könyv-eid thy books. 2. ház-aid thy houses.
3. könyv-ei his books. 3. ház-ai his houses.
1. könyv-eink our books. 1. ház-aink our houses.
2. könyv-eitek your books. 2. ház-aitok your houses.
3. könyv-eik their books. 3. ház-aik their houses.


Note.—If the possessor is the first or the second person, the pronoun must not be put before it, as the suffix expresses already to whom the thing in question belongs. If stress is to be given to the statement, the personal pronouns may be put before it; as az én fiam, my son (not yours).

The following tables show the personal suffixes of the six declensions:—

 
 

A.—The Object possessed in the Singular.

Classes I. II. III. IV. V. VI.

Plural

Endings.

(a)

-ak

(b)

-ák

(a)

-ok

(b)

-ók

(a) (b)

-úk

(a)

-ek

(b)

-ék

(a)

-ök

(b)

-ők

(a) (b)

-űk

Sing. 1.

2.

3.

-am

-ad

-a

-ám

-ád

-ája

-om

-od

-a

-óm

-ód

-ója

-úm

-úd

-úja

-em

-ed

-e

-ém

-éd

-éje

-öm

-öd

-e

-őm

-őd

-ője or
-eje

-űm

-űd

-űje

Plur. 1.

2.

3.

-unk

-atok

-ok

-ánk

-átok

-ájok

-unk

-otok

-uk

-ónk

-ótok

-ójuk

-únk

-útok

-újok

-ünk

-etek

-ük

-énk

-étek

-éjök

-ünk

-ötök

-ük

-őnk

-őtök

-őjök or
-ejük

-űnk

-űtök

-űjök

 
 

B.—The Object possessed in the Plural.

Classes I. II. III. IV. V. VI.

Plural

Endings.

(a)

-ak

(b)

-ák

(a)

-ok

(b)

-ók

(a) (b)

-uk

(a)

-ek

(b)

-ék

(a)

-ök

(b)

-ők

(a) (b)

-ük

Sing. 1.

2.

3.

-aim

-aid

-ai

-áim

-áid

-ái

-aim

-aid

-ai

-óim

-óid

-ói

-úim

-úid

-úi

-eim

-eid

-ei

-éim

-éid

-éi

-eim

-eid

-ei

-őim

-őid

-ői or
-ei

-üim

-üid

-üi

Plur. 1.

2.

3.

-aink

-aitok

-aik

-áink

-áitok

-áik

-aink

-aitok

-aik

-óink

-óitok

-óik

-úink

-úitok

-úik

-eink

-eitek

-eik

-éink

-éitek

-éik

-eink

-eitek

-eik

-őink

-őitek

-őik or
-eik

-üink

-üitek

-üik

 

Note.—To inflect a noun with the personal suffixes, whether in singular or plural, take away the plural endings (after having formed its plural), and what remains will be the root to which the suffixes are joined, as shown in the tables above. The plural ending will then serve as a clue to which class of declension the noun belongs; as ökör, an ox; plural ökrök; therefore, the root will be ökr-; and its ending -ök shows that it is to be suffixed as Class V. (a). Monosyllable nouns make no exception to this rule, and so, for instance, the root of fa (tree; plural fák) is f-; fám, fád, fája, &c.

The following orthographical rules are to be observed:—

Obs. 1.—Nouns of the second, fourth, and fifth declension, if ending in the nominative singular with a mute, b, cs, d, g, k, m, (ny), p, t, ty, take in the third person singular and third person plural of Table A (object in singular), and in all persons singular and plural of Table B (object in the plural), a j before the suffix. Exceptions to these rules are all nouns which undergo some orthographical change in the plural. For instance: bot, bot-ok; bot-j-a, bot-j-uk; but kerék, kerekek, kerek-e, kerek-ük, &c. See also the following examples:—

Atya, father; anya, mother; bátya, elder brother, take in the third person singular and plural (Table A) only -ja and -jok, instead of -ája and -ájok.

Öcs, a younger brother, takes cs instead of j.

In the following examples the English rendering has not been given, being the same as above:—

Sing.— rák atya rab hajó ágyu
a lobster a father a prisoner a ship a cannon
Plur.— rák-ok aty-ák rab-ok haj-ók ágy-uk
 
A.—Singular.
Singular.
1. rák-om aty-ám rab-om haj-óm ágy-úm
2. rák-od aty-ád rab-od haj-ód ágy-úd
3. rák-j-a aty-(á)ja rab-j-a haj-ója ágy-úja
Plural.
1. rák-unk aty-ánk rab-unk haj-ónk ágy-únk
2. rák-otok aty-átok rab-otok haj-ótok ágy-útok
3. rák-juk aty-(á)juk rab-j-uk haj-ójuk ágy-újok
 
B.—Plural.
Singular.
1. rák-j-aim aty-áim rab-j-aim haj-óim ágy-úim
2. rák-j-aid aty-áid rab-j-aid haj-óid ágy-úid
3. rák-j-ai aty-ái rab-j-ai haj-ói ágy-úi
Plural.
1. rák-j-aink aty-áink rab-j-aink haj-óink ágy-úink
2. rák-j-aitok aty-áitok rab-j-aitok haj-óitok ágy-úitok
3. rák-j-aik aty-áik rab-j-aik haj-óik ágy-úik
 
Sing.— lélek eke ökör szülő
a soul a plough an ox a parent a needle
Plur.— lelk-ek ek-ék ökr-ök szül-ők t-űk
 
A.—Singular.
Singular.
1. lelk-em ek-ém ökr-öm szül-őm t-űm
2. lelk-ed ek-éd ökr-öd szül-őd t-űd
3. lelk-e ek-éje ökr-e szül-ője t-űje
or -eje
Plural.
1. lelk-ünk ek-énk ökr-ünk szül-őnk t-űnk
2. lelk-etek ek-étek ökr-ötök szül-őtök t-űtök
3. lelk-ük ek-éjük ökr-ük szül-őjük t-űjök
or -ejük
 
B.—Plural.
Singular.
1. lelk-eim ek-éim ökr-eim szül-őim t-űim
2. lelk-eid ek-éid ökr-eid szül-őid t-űid
3. lelk-ei ek-éi ökr-ei szül-ői t-űi
Plural.
1. lelk-eink ek-éink ökr-eink szül-őink t-űink
2. lelk-eitek ek-éitek ökr-eitök szül-őitek t-űitek
3. lelk-eik ek-éik ökr-eik szül-őik t-űik


Note.—Kocsi, bácsi, and a few other nouns ending in i are inflected as ágyú or (Class III. or VI.) according as they take flat or sharp suffixes; but instead of ú or ű respectively they will retain their i vowel; as, kocsi, kocs-ik, kocs-im, kocs-id, &c.

As has been said already, the personal suffix is always to be joined to the root itself, and the other suffixes being placed after them; for instance, kalap-om-nak, of my hat. The personal suffixes may take any other suffix; except that for the plural as they already express number.


Suffixes for Place and Direction.

These suffixes are used to express place, direction, or other circumstances of the substantive, which are expressed in English by prepositions. They are fourteen in number, and are called:—

1. Retaining, -ban, -ben, which signifies "resting within" the substantive to which it is joined: as, a ház-ban, in the house. It answers to the question, In whom? or, In what?

2. Appointing, -on, -en, -ön; shows that something is resting on or upon the substantive suffixed with it; as, a ház-on, on or upon the house.

Note.—After a vowel this suffix will be only -n; a and e become lengthened in such cases; eke, ekén.

3. Staying, -nál, -nél; shows where or with whom something or somebody is staying—Ő atyám-nál van, he is with my father, or at my father's.

4. Inward direction, -ba, -be; denotes motion into a thing; a ház-ba megyek, I go into the house.

5. Upward direction, -ra, -re; to direct something from a lower to a higher place or level; tedd az asztal-ra, put it on the table.

6. Approaching, -hoz, -hez, -höz; to express an approaching movement; a ház-hoz, to or unto the house.

7. Outward direction, -ból, -ből; signifies motion out of a thing; kivettem a kosár-ból, I took it out of the basket.

8. Downward direction, -ról, -ről; expresses a motion from a higher to a lower level; a kémény leeset a ház-ról, the chimney fell down from the house.

9. Moving or starting, -tól', -től, is used to signify a motion in a level direction or to express the distance from a certain point; a ház-tol távozott—, he moved (or started) from the house.

10. Limiting, -ig; puts a limit in space or time; a ház-ig, as far as the house.

11. Causative, -ért; tells a reason why, or for what, as, pénz-ért, for money; barátságért, for friendship.

12. Auxiliary, -val, -vel; tells us with whom, or with what (tools or other assistance), a thing has been done; ásóval, with a spade.

Note.— -val, -vel, if joined to a noun ending with a consonant, drops the v and doubles the final consonant of the noun; as, kezem-mel (not kezem-vel), with my hand.

13. Transmuting, -vá, -vé; is used to express the transmutation of a thing into another shape or form; Lot[3] neje só-vá változtatott, the wife of Lot was turned into salt.

Note.— -vá, -vé, change the v like the foregoing -val, -vel.

14. Demonstrative, -úl, -űl; tells to what purpose a thing has been done, said, or given mintá-úl küldök. . . . . I send for a sample; példá-úl, for example, or instance."

Note.—Sometimes -ként is used instead of -úl -űl; but -ként is rather of a numerical or adverbial character, and means one by one. In the latter sense it is affixed to the substantive with -an -en; for instance, ház-an-ként, from house to house, or one house after the other.


c Postpositions.[4]

The postpositions are only a continuance of the suffixes for place and direction; the only difference being that the suffixes are joined to the noun, and the postpositions stand after the noun as separate words. There are two kinds of postpositions:

1. Independents, if they can be put after the substantive without changing the orthography of the latter; as, a Duna mellett, by the side of the Danube.

2. Dependent postpositions necessitate some orthographical modifications of the preceding substantive; as, a Duná-n túl, beyond the Danube. Here the postposition túl (beyond) necessitated the affix -n to the substantive Duna.

The independent postpositions are:—

alá, under, beneath Denote a motion towards
the place, or in the
direction they express.
elé, in front of
fölé, over, above
mellé, by the side of
közé, among, between
alól, from beneath Denote a motion from a thing.
elől, from before.[5]
alatt, under, (of time: within) Denote a place of rest, or a
point of time.
után, after
iránt, against, towards
előtt, before, in front of
között, between, among
mellett, by the side of Denote rest, and position.
megett, behind.
nélkül, without (not having).
helyett, instead, in place of.
miatt, végett, on account of (giving a reason).

The dependent postpositions are:—

kívül, outside, besides.   belül, within.
alúl, below, lower down (in a vertical direction).
fölül, above, higher, further up (in a vertical direction).
túl, beyond. közel, near, nigh.

Before közel the substantive takes the suffix -hoz or -hez; before the rest -an, -en, or after a vowel -n.

All dependent postpositions can take the suffixes for direction, -ról, -ről, and the English rendering would be as given above with the preposition "from" before each.

With the personal suffixes, only kívül may be inflected, and is then to be rendered in English with "besides" and the respective pronoun; as:—

kívülem,

besides me;

kívüled,

besides thee;

kívüle,

besides him;

kívülünk

besides us;

kívületek

besides you;

kívülük

besides them.



  1. Az is here demonstrative pronoun.
  2. After a mute letter the accusative takes the suffix with such a vowel (a, o, e, or ö) as it takes in the plural—as bot, plural bot-ok, accus. sing. bot-ot. But if the noun is already suffixed (with plural or personal suffixes) the accusative endings after consonants will be for all flat nouns -at, and for all sharp nouns -et.
  3. Lot is here in the attributive, the suffix -nak having been omitted.
  4. What are termed in Western languages prepositions stand in Hungarian after the noun, and are called postpositions.
  5. For instance, az egér fut a macska elől, the mouse runs from the cat— i.e., the mouse fears the cat, shuns it, and therefore takes to flight as soon as she finds herself before the cat.