Unit 4


Locative suffixes

In Hungarian we add different endings to a place name to express movement toward the place, being at the place and movement away from the place. In English too there are different prepositions to express these three aspects: "to" for movement to, "at", "in" or "on" for being at the place, and "from" for movement away; only, in Hungarian they are expressed by endings. Furthermore, in Hungarian it also makes a difference whether we are in a place, on a place, or at a place. All three endings (movement to, being at, movement from a place) change depending whether we think of the place as a container ("in"), a surface ("on") or as a point ("at"). In the dialogues above you have encountered the endings "hoz" and "hez" and "nál" and "nél". "Hoz", "hez" or "höz" express the concept "toward" when we think of the place as a point. "Nál" or "nél" expresses the concept "at" when we conceptualize the place (again) as a point. To express "from" when we conceptualize the place as a point, we use the ending "tól" and "tol." Here is a summary: The different versions expressing the same concept are for the vowel harmony.


• → • →
-hoz, -hez, -höz -nál, -nél -tól, -tol
to, toward at from (at)

You also encountered the ending "ig" which expresses "till". As in English, this ending can express the concept "till" in place and also in time.

• → • → • → • →

Instrumental case

In the dialogues above the instrumental case was also used. Instrumental case means that you use an object as an instrument to do something, for example, you use the bus to go somewhere, that is, you go somewhere with a bus. To express "with" in Hungarian you need to add the ending "val" or "vel" after the name of the object you are using if the name of the object ends in a vowel, e.g. "metró" + "val" = "metróval". However, when it ends in a consonant, the "v" sound in the ending "assimilates" to (that is, becomes) the last sound of the noun. To express "with a bus" you will say "busszal", adding "szal" after the noun "busz." Another example: "villamos" + "sal" (instead of "val") = "villamossal."

"kell" and word order

"Kell" is an auxiliary verb. We do not conjugate it. It literally means "it is necessary". It is used with the infinitive. For example: "A 9-es busszal kell menni" literally means "it is necassary to go with bus 9", that is, in order to get to the destination place. Whatever is emphasised gets right in front of "kell". In the sentence above the new information, thus what is emphasized is "with bus 9", thus that is the phrase that gets in front of "kell" and the rest of the sentence ("menni") goes after "kell."

If we want to make it clear to whom it is necessary to do something (who needs to do something), we use the ending corresponding to the English "to" or "for" (dative). More about the dative in a later unit.


"Szól" is a verb that has a variety of meanings. In this unit it is used in the sense of "let somebody know," "inform somebody." In this meaning, the verb requires the dative. Literally the verb means to "call out to somebody" and is used in this sense too.

Other typical use of the verb is to express that "the music is playing" ("szól a zene"), "the radio is on" ("szól a rádió").