Simplified Grammar of the Hungarian Language/Syntax

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Syntax teaches us how to put words together so as to form sentences.

The meanings of the different forms of the noun and verb having been fully explained in the Accidence, there remains but little to say about this part of the subject. The following rules will, however, be found useful:—

The elements of the sentence are the agent, the predicate, and the object.

Nouns and verbs, having in each case a significant termination, are independent of their place in the sentence, and therefore the construction of Hungarian is very free. As a principal and leading rule it may be given, that the words follow the same order as the ideas occur.

In the sentence—János szereti Marít, John loves Mary—the words might be placed in any order without altering the meaning of the sentence.

The emphasis rests chiefly on the first word; and accordingly as we want to impress upon the hearer the person who loves, or the person (object) that is loved, or the fact that the person we speak of is in love, the respective word would be put in the first place. Thus the example given above would admit of six different arrangements: 123, 132, 213, 312, 321, 231, all of which would be equally grammatical and of the same meaning, although the emphasis would differ in each case.

If the predicate is an adjective or a substantive, it is put after the subject without any copula; as—

A leány szép, the girl is pretty.
Az épület szálloda, the building is an hotel.

But if these statements are not true at the time of speaking, but have been at some past, or presumably will be at some future period, the time is expressed by putting the appropriate tense of the verb van, "to be" after the predicate; e.g.

A leány szép volt, the girl was pretty.
As épület szálloda fog lenni, the building will be an hotel.

The verb van, when used as a copula between subject and predicate, stands always immediately after the latter. Thus, for instance, if the order of subject and predicate were reversed the above sentence would be: szép volt a leány.

There may be also parenthetical clauses in English for which no other rules need be given than those to be found in English grammars.