Simplified Grammar of the Hungarian Language/Adjectives

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The adjective never changes its form, if standing before the substantive. But if the substantive whose quality it determines is not written out in the sentence, but only understood, the adjective will come into its place and take all the suffixes of the substantive; in fact, it becomes then a substantive itself. In the sentence—Egy fehér rózsát találtam, I have found a white rose—the substantive is in the accusative, rózsá-t. If we ask, now, What kind of a rose did you find? the answer will be, egy fehér-et, a white one. Here the substantive "rose" has been omitted, as it is already understood of what we speak. In English the pronoun "one" is put in its place; but in Hungarian it is represented by the adjective, which takes its suffixes. In the present example, for instance, it took -et, the termination of the accusative case.

Adjectives are inflected the same as substantives. In forming the plural, however, they make the following exceptions: if ending in ü, they take in the plural -ek; and if ending in i, they take -ek or -ak, acccording as the word takes flat or sharp suffixes (substantives take in both cases only -k). In all other cases they follow the same rules as the substantive.

Note.—To adjectives are also reckoned the participles of the verb, which, if used as adjectives, may be inflected in the same manner.

Comparison of Adjectives.

Adjectives have three degrees of comparison:—1, the positive; 2, the comparative; and 3, the superlative degree.

The comparative is formed by adding -bb to adjectives ending with a vowel, or -abb -ebb to those ending with a consonant. After sibilants, which would admit the sound b to be heard without an intermediate vowel, often a -b is only added to form the comparative, but it is preferable to use a vowel, unless it is not desirable to lengthen the word with a syllable, as, for instance, in poetry. It is therefore equally grammatical to write magasb (higher), or magasabb.

Note.—Final a and e become lengthened at the end of a word, if the comparative suffix -bb is joined to it—e.g., drága, drágább; fekete, feketébb, &c.; ó shortens its sound only in ; jobb, legjobb.

The superlative is invariably formed by prefixing leg- or legesleg- to the comparative. The first is rendered in English with the superlative; the second by putting the adverb "very" before it.

The following are somewhat irregular:—

szép, beautiful; comparative : szebb
könnyű, easy, light (in weight); : könnyebb
ifju, youthful, young; : ifjabb
hosszú, long; : hosszabb
sok, much; : több

But the superlative is formed regularly.

Table of Numerals.
Cardinals. Ordinals. Distributives. Multiplicatives.
1 egy első egyed 1/1 egyszer Proportionals are formed
by affixing -es or -os
to the Multiplicatives;
kétszeres, hatszoros, &c.
2[1] kettő második másod 1/2 kétszer
3 három harmadik harmad 1/3 háromszor
4 négy negyedik negyed 1/4 négyszer
5 öt ötödik ötöd 1/5 ötször
6 hat hatodik hatod 1/6 hatszor
7 hét hetedik heted 1/7 hétszer
8 nyolc nyolcadik nyolcad 1/8 nyolcszor
9 kilenc kilencedik kilenced 1/9 kilencszer
10 tíz tízedik tízed 1/10 tízszer
11 tízenegy tízenegyedik tízenegyed 1/11 tízenegyszer
12[1] tízenkettő tízenkettedik tízenketted 1/12 tízenkétszer
20 húsz húszadik húszad 1/20 húszszor
21 húszanegy huszanegyedik huszanegyed 1/21 huszonegyszer Proportionals are formed
by affixing -es or -os
to the Multiplicatives;
kétszeres, hatszoros, &c.
22[1] huszankettő huszankettedik huszanketted 1/22 huszonkétszer
30 harminc harmincadik harmincad 1/30 harmincszor
40 negyve negyvenedik negyvened 1/40 negyvenszer
41 negyvenegy negyvenegyedik negyvenegyed 1/41 negyvenegyszer
50 ötven ötvenedik ötvened 1/50 ötvenszer
60 hatvan hatvanodik hatvanad 1/60 hatvanszor
70 hetven hetvenedik hetvened 1/70 hetvenszer
80 nyolcvan nyolcvanodik nyolcvanad 1/80 nyolcvanszor
90 kilencven kilencvenedik kilencvened 1/90 kilencvenszer
100 száz századik század 1/100 százszor
1,000 ezer ezredik ezred 1/1000 ezerszer
10,000 tizezer tizezredik tízezred 1/10000 tízezerszer
100,000 százezer százezredik százezred 1/100000 százezerszer
1,000,000 millióm milliómodik milliómod 1/1000000 milliómszor

Note.—The ending -ik of the ordinals is sometimes dropped if another word is joined to it. This is not universally done, however, and is almost exclusively used to express age; for instance, másodéves, in the second year; ("two years old" would be kétéves).

Cardinals take—with the exception of the plural endings—all suffixes of the substantive, if this is not written out—i.e., they follow the same rules as the adjectives. They form also adverbs, which answer to the question, How many? and the respective verb; for instance, How many ran away? hárman.[2] The terminations of the adverb are -an and -en, as négy-en, öten, &c.

Egy=egyedül; and kettő=ketten form their adverbs irregularly. Három and ezer become contracted; hárman, ezren. The rest are regular.

Ordinals follow the same rules as cardinals—that is, they are adjectives and declinable. They form their adverbs by dropping the ending -ik and taking -szor or -szer instead. Első is irregular, and its adverb is először. The English rendering of the ordinals is as follows:—

Adjectives. Adverbs.
első, the first. először, firstly.
második, the second. másodszor, secondly.
harmadik, the third, &c. harmadszor, thirdly, &c.

Distributives are also adjectives, and therefore declinable, but form no adverbs. They may be put in the plural, however; as, negyedek, quarters (i.e., more than one quarter).

The multiplicatives are adverbs, and, therefore, inflexible. By affixing them with -es or -os adjectives are formed which are called—

Proportionals, and are then declinable. There is also another form of proportionals, constructed by combining the cardinals with rétü:—egyrétü, kétrétü, hatrétü, single, double, sixfold, &c. Both forms have adverbs, made by the affixes -en or -an (those with -rétü always -en), and have a plural; a kétrétüek, the twofold ones.

Száz (100), ezer (1,000), and millióm may be used as substantives, and form a plural if the number of thousands be undefined, &c.; as, százak, hundreds; ezrek, thousands; milliómok, millions.

Temporal numerals are: évtized, decennium; század, century; ezred or évezred, a thousand years. These are all substantives.

The indefinite numerals are: sok, much; sokan, many; kevés, few; annyí, so much; számtalan, innumerable; egynehány, a few, &c.

They are all adjectives, and some of them form also the degrees.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Kettő if standing by itself, and két if followed by a substantive; for instance két ember, two men. On the question: How many? kettő.
  2. Not hároman; the o is here dropped for euphonic reasons.