Unit 6

II. At a café

1. The Menu



  1. “Egri Bikavér” and “Tokaji” are the two most well-known Hungarian wines abroad. “Bikavér” literally means “bull’s blood” and it is a red wine. It has been traditionally made in Eger (a town in the north-eastern part of Hungary) but today it is also made in the places in the vicinity of Eger. “Tokaji” is a more expensive white wine from the north-eastern part of Hungary (more to the east than Eger). “Tokaji” is considered the “world's best late-harvest dessert wines” by www.wines.com. For more information on Tokaji you can check out the following websites: www.tokaj.com, http://www.wines.com/tokaj/home.html. On Bikavér check this: http://www.winespectator.com/Wine/Archives/Show_Article/0,1275,3037,00.html. You can read an interesting story on the origin of the name of “Bikavér” if you visit http://wine.about.com/library/types/bl_bulls.htm.
  2. "Eszpresszó" is the typical (strong) Hungarian coffee. “Hosszú kávé” [“long coffee”] is a less dense coffee.
  3. In Hungary soft drinks are relatively expensive in a café or restaurant. They are served in smaller glasses than in the U.S. and with less or no ice. If you want your drink in a big glass and with lots of ice you’d better ask for that (you will see sentences for that below).
  4. The prices indicated next to the items on a menu always include tax.

2. Useful expressions and sentences in the dialogues

  1. (Én)

    egy teát




    a tea

    want/would like

    with sugar
    with honey
    with milk
    with lemon






    sok jéggel




    orange juices

    want/would like

    with lots of ice

    Sample Sentences:

    Egy kólát kérek.

    I would like to have a coke/Pepsi.

    Egy teát kérek.

    I would like to have a tea.

    Két narancslét kérünk.

    We would like to have two oranges juices.

    Három kólát kérünk sok jéggel.

    We would like to have two cokes/Pepsis with lots of ice.


    1. The personal pronoun (“én” and “mi”) are only used when we want to emphasize the subject (thus they are in brackets). For example, when there are two of us in a café, I might want to use it to emphasize that I want coffee while the other person might want something else. Other than these instances, the verb form makes it clear who is the subject of the sentence.
    2. The “ünk” ending is the first person plural (we) ending for the verb in the present tense, indefinite conjugation. Attaching “ünk” to the verb will indicate that “we” are the subjects doing the action. You can see all the verb endings in the present tense indefinite conjugation in the grammar section of this unit (LINK).
    3. In the sentences above you encounter again the instrumental case (cukorral, mézzel etc.), which we used in Unit 4 to express with which bus (or tram) you can get somewhere. The phrases above can be translated with the help of the word “with.” Thus “cukorral” means “with sugar,” “mézzel” means “with honey,” “tejjel” means “with milk,” etc. As we said in III/1/b in Unit 4 (LINK), the instrumental case is formed by adding “val” or “vel” (according to the vowel harmony) after nouns ending in a vowel; in the case of nouns ending in consonants we double the last letter of the noun and then add “al” or “el” (that is, the “v” assimilates to the last letter of the noun if the noun ends in a consonant).
    4. In this unit you again encounter the accusative case (The accusative case was also used in Unit 4 and Unit 5). When one asks for something in a café (would like to have something), the item will be in the accusative case. Thus we do not say I would like “egy tea” but “egy teát.” We mark the noun when it is the object of the sentence. This is the same transformation English makes on some of the personal pronouns when they are not the agents of the action but what the action is directed towards. E.g. when the “I” is not the subject of the sentence but the object (toward which the action is directed), we say “me” (e.g. “He loves me”). The accusative ending is “t” with the appropriate helping vowel if needed (that is, when the noun ends in a consonant). Click here for more on the accusative.
    5. “Kóla” is the most common phrase in Hungary for coke or Pepsi, or any cola-like drink. When you want to get specific with the brand names, you call coke “Coca cola” and you call Pepsi “Pepsi cola.” But these are not common ways of referring to them. We usually use the generic term “kóla.”

  2. Fizetni szeretnék.

    I would like to pay.


    As in the previous unit “szeretnék” is used with the infinitive. Whatever part of the sentence is emphasized is put right in front of the verb “szeretnék.”

  3. 900



    forintból kérek vissza.

    (The person tells how much money he or she wishes to leave there. Literally it means: “I want back from 900 forints etc.”)

    Nem kérek vissza.

    (the person does not want any money back)


    Sample Sentences:

    1500 forintból kérek vissza.
    2000 forintból kérek vissza.
    900 forintból kérek vissza.
    Nem kérek vissza.


    1. The “ból” ending after “forint” is a locative ending. It means “from” and we use it when we conceptualize a place (an item) as a container (e.g. a school, a building) or a mass of objects (apples, sugar, money etc.) You can read more about the locative endings in the next unit, where we introduce the locative endings when an item is conceptualized as a container or a mass of objects. Click here to get to that page now.
    2. There are different ways of tipping in Hungary. If you pay by card, you can do it the same way as in the U.S. (indicating on the check how much tip you want to leave). When you pay by cash the most common way is to tell the waiter as he or she is getting ready to give you back your change either 1. how much money you wish to leave there (if you do not have the exact change); 2. or, that you do not want any money back (if you can give the exact amount you wish to leave there). Keep in mind that in Hungarian you say the amount you want to leave (e.g. “9 00 forintból”), not the amount of the tip and not the amount you want to get back! Finally, you may also leave the tip on the table; however, this is not the most common way of tipping.
    3. In Hungary value added tax is already included in the prices – a law prescribes that. The prices you see next to the items and their sum are the total price. Tip is usually notincluded in the bill but sometimes they add it to the total. Check it when you get the bill. Tip in Hungarian is called: “borraval ó.” It ranges between 15-20% of the price.
  4. Below you can see a table with various items with which you can drink coffee, tea, or soft drinks. In the second column you can see the instrumental case, in the third column the English translation of the items in the instrumental case.


    instrumental case of the item

    English translation



    with lemon



    with sugar



    with ice



    with honey



    with milk



    with cream

  5. Below you can see a table with the items listed in section d). In the second column you can see “without” expressions. In the third column you can see the English translation of the phrases in the second column. The most useful ones are probably “cukor nélkül” (without sugar) and “jég nélkül” (without ice).


    “without [item]”

    English translation


    citrom nélkül

    without lemon


    cukor nélkül

    without sugar


    jég nélkül

    without ice


    méz nélkül

    without honey


    tej nélkül

    without milk


    tejszín nélkül

    without cream


3. The dialogues



    • Jó napot. Mit hozhatok?
    • Jó napot. Egy kávét kérek.


    • Tejszínnel és cukorral?
    • Tejszínt nem kérek, csak cukrot.
    • Más valamit? Süteményt esetleg?
    • Nem, köszönöm.



    ‘Good morning/afternoon. What can I bring?’
    ‘Good morning/afternoon. I would like to have a coffee.’

    ‘With cream and sugar?
    ‘I don’t want cream, only sugar.’
    ‘Anything else? Cakes or cookies perhaps?’
    ‘No, thank you.’


    The “hat” (or “het”) ending helps to express permission in Hungarian. “Hozhat” means “he may/can bring,” “hozhatok” (“ok” is the first person singular [“I”] present tense ending of the verb) means “I may/can bring.” (In question we simply put a question mark after the sentence and use a “question intonation,” that is, there is no question word or change in the word order)



    • Jó napot. Mit hozhatok?
    • Két teát kérünk.
    • Tejjel vagy citrommal?
    • Én citrommal kérem.
    • Én is.
    • Méz van?
    • Igen. Mézzel legyen?
    • Igen, legyen szíves.


    ‘Good morning/ afternoon. What can I bring?’
    ‘We would like to have two teas.’
    ‘With milk or lemon?’
    ‘I would like to have it with lemon.’
    ‘Me too.’
    ‘Do you have honey?’
    ‘Yes. Should it be with honey?’
    ‘Yes, please.’


    1. The verb “kér” gets an “em” ending in the sentence “Én citrommal kérem” because “kér” is conjugated here according to the definite conjugation (“em” is the ending in the first person singular [I] in the definite conjugation). The object of the verb “kér” is already defined (it is the tea which the person has just ordered), that is why the definite conjugation is used.
    2. “Legyen” is the imperative for the verb “to be” (“van”).


    • Jó napot. Egy teát kérek.
    • Mivel parancsolja? Tejjel vagy citrommal?
    • Tejjel, legyen szíves.
    • Mézet parancsol?
    • Igen, köszönöm.


    ‘Good morning/good afternoon. I would like a tea.’

    ‘What would you like it with? Milk or lemon?’
    ‘With milk, please.’
    ‘Would you like some honey?’
    ‘Yes. Thank you.’


    “Parancsolja” is the third person singular (he or she) form of the verb “parancsol” in the definite conjugation. The formal way of addressing “you” uses the third person form; that is why this form is used in the dialogue above. The definite conjugation is used in the sentence “Mivel parancsolja?” because the object of the verb “parancsol” is already defined: it is the tea which the person has ordered. As opposed to this, in the sentence “Mézet parancsol?” the same verb is conjugated in the indefinite conjugation because the object of the verb (honey) is not yet defined—the person is asked whether he or she wants any honey (not a particular one).


    • Jó napot. Mit hozhatok?
    • Én egy kólát kérek jég nélkül.
    • Én egy 100 %-os narancslét.
    • Jéggel?
    • Nem, jég nélkül.

    ‘Good morning/good afternoon. What can I bring for you?’
    ‘I would like a coke/Pepsi without ice ’
    ‘I would like a 100% orange juice.’
    ‘With ice?’
    ‘No, without ice.’


    The “-os” ending after 100 % [pronounced “száz százalékos”] is the same ending you can attach to numbers as well (see Unit 4 Section II). This ending makes an adjective out of a noun.


    Make notes of what the speakers order.



    • Jó napot. Itt az étlap. Üdítőt hozhatok?
    • Igen, én egy ásványvizet kérek.
    • Én egy nagy pohár kólát kérek. Sok jéggel.
    • Igen.


    • Sikerült választani?
    • Igen. Én egy dobostortát kérek.
    • Én egy somlói galuskát. És egy pohár vizet is kérek.
    • Én is.
    • Igen, máris hozom.


    • Fizetni szeretnék.
    • 750 forint lesz.
    • 900 forintból kérek vissza.
    • Köszönöm szépen.



    ‘Good morning/good afternoon. Here is the menu. Can I bring some soft drinks?’
    ‘Yes, I would like a mineral water.’
    ‘I would like a big glass of coke. With lots of ice.’


    ‘Are you ready to order?’
    ‘Yes, I would like to have a “dobostorta.”’
    ‘(I would like to have) a “somlói galuska.” And I would like a glass of water too.’
    ‘Me too.’
    ‘Just a second.’


    ‘I would like to pay.’
    ‘75 0 forints.’
    ‘I would like to leave 900 forints.”
    ‘Thank you very much.’


    1. If you want to say that you want a glass of coke, water etc. in Hungarian, you simply put the word “glass” in front of the name of the drink, e.g. “egy pohár kólát kérek.” That is, you do not need to use a possessive structure as in English; you simply juxtapose the word “pohár” (glass) or other names of containers such as “üveg” (bottle) and the name of the drink (e.g. “egy üveg kóla”).
    2. If a café runs out of a certain cake, the waiter would say a sentence like: “A gundel palacsinta elfogyott” [We ran out of the Gundel crêpes] or “Nincs gundel palacsintánk. Elfogyott.” [We don’t have Gundel crêpes (now). We ran out of it.].


    • Practice the dialogues with other items from the menu. Below you can see the accusative of each item you can see on the menu at the beginning of Section II. In the third column you can see how you can use them in sentences. “Egy” can be replaced by “kettő,” “három” etc. and “kérek” can be replaced by “kérünk.” The rest of the phrase will not change since in Hungarian you do not put the noun into the plural if it is preceded by a number. For prices consult the menu at section II/1.

      The accusatives for the new words are also given in the vocabulary section of this unit.  



      egy üdítőt kérek



      egy narancslét kérek
      egy pohár narancslét kérek
      egy üveg narancslét kérek



      egy almalét kérek
      egy pohár almalét kérek
      egy üveg almalét kérek



      egy őszibaracklét kérek
      egy pohár őszibaracklét kérek
      egy üveg őszibaracklét kérek



      egy kólát kérek
      egy pohár kólát kérek
      egy üveg kólát kérek



      egy kávét kérek

      hosszú kávé

      hosszú kávét

      egy hosszú kávét kérek



      egy eszpresszót kérek



      egy teát kérek

      zöld tea

      zöld teát

      egy zöld teát kérek

      fekete tea

      fekete teát

      egy fekete teát kérek



      egy pohár bort kérek
      egy üveg bort kérek

      Egri bikavér

      Egri bikavért

      egy pohár Egri bikavért kérek
      egy üveg Egri bikavért kérek



      egy pohár Tokajit kérek
      egy üveg Tokajit kérek



      egy sört kérek
      egy korsó sört kérek
      egy üveg sört kérek



      egy Drehert kérek



      egy süteményt kérek



      egy franciakrémest kérek

      somlói galuska

      somlói galuskát

      egy somlói galuskát kérek

      gundel palacsinta

      gundel palacsintát

      egy gundel palacsintát kérek



      egy zserbót kérek

      dobos torta

      dobos tortát

      egy dobos tortát kérek



      egy pogácsát kérek

      meggyes rétes

      meggyes rétest

      egy meggyes rétest kérek

      csokoládé torta

      csokoládé tortát

      egy csokoládé tortát kérek



      citromot (is) kérek



      cukrot (is) kérek



      jeget (is) kérek



      mézet (is) kérek



      tejet (is) kérek



      tejszínt (is) kérek


      1. “Bottle” is “üveg” in Hungarian. The first meaning of “üveg” is the material “glass.” Since bottles were made of glass traditionally, bottles came to be called “üveg.” Juices are mainly sold in special paper boxes in Hungary, not in bottles.

      2. The Hungarian word “is” means “as well.” It is always posited after the word to which it refers to. If you say “citromot is kérek” it means you want lemon as well, besides, let’s say, sugar, since “is” comes after “citrom” (lemon). If you say “én is kérek,” what you express is that you too want something besides another person, since “is” comes after “én.”

    2. Listening practice:

    What do the speakers order?

    Dialogue 1. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Dialogue 2. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Dialogue 3. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Dialogue 4. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Dialogue 5. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Dialogue 6. Click here to read the dialogue.

    3. Listening practice:

    How much is the bill? How much do the speakers actually pay (tip included)?

    Paying 1. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Paying 2. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Paying 3. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Paying 4. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Paying 5. Click here to read the dialogue.
    Paying 6. Click here to read the dialogue.

    4. Form expressions matching the words on left with the words on the right. Write them down.

    egy üveg
    egy pohár
    egy korsó


    Check your answers here.

    5. Fill in the gaps. The conversations take place in a café.


    • Jó napot. Egy teát ____________________.
    • Mivel parancsolja? Tejjel vagy citrommal?
    • Tejjel, ____________________ szíves.
    • Mézet parancsol?
    • Igen, köszönöm.

    Click here to see the full dialogue.


    • Jó napot. Mit hozhatok?
    • Két kávét __________________.
    • Tejszínnel és __________________?
    • Én igen, úgy kérem.
    • Én cukrot _______________ kérek.
    • Igen. Más valamit? Süteményt esetleg?
    • Igen, kérünk. Én egy pogácsát _______________. Te mit kérsz, Ica?
    • Én _______ egy pogácsát kérek.
    • Máris hozom.


    “ Ica” is one of the nick names for “Ilona,” which translates into English as “Helen.” “Ilona” used to be a fairly common female name, now it is less frequent among the younger generation.

    Click here to see the full dialogue.


    • ____________ szeretnék.
    • 680 forint lesz.
    • 800 _________________ kérek vissza.
    • Köszönöm _______________.

    Click here to see the full dialogue.

    6. Write down and act out a dialogue where you order the following:

      • orange juice, cherry strudel
      • tea with honey and lemon, pogácsa
      • coffe with sugar and cream, pogácsa
      • mineral water, dobostorta
      • coke, Gundel palacsinta

    7. Write down and act out a dialogue where

    • person A orders coke and 1 pogácsa; person B orders mineral water and somlói galuska.
    • person A orders orange juice and a franciakrémes; person B orders tea with milk and a dobostorta.
    • person A orders apple juice and chocolate cake; person B orders a glass of coke with lots of ice and 2 pogácsas.
    • person A orders a glass of white wine and a zserbó; person B orders peach juice and Gundel palacsinta
    • person A orders a big glass of coke with ice and pogácsa; person B orders red wine and chocolate cake