Numbers can take several forms. Of course there are cardinal (one, two) and ordinal
(first, second), just like in English, but there are also several more forms:
a group of people
the Nth in a sequence, and
date in the month.
These formulations also have special forms on the question word (which, how many,
- négy four
- negyedik fourth
- negyed a fouth (a quarter)
- négyes number four in a sequence
- négyen four (group of people)
- negyedike fourth (of the month)
- negyedikén on the fourth of the month
Note the relation between these.
- Add -odik/-adik or -edik/-ödik to the cardinal to get the
- Remove the -ik from the ordinal to get the fractional ordinal
- Add -as/es to the cardinal to get the sequential number
- Add -an/en to the cardinal to get the group of people
- Add -a/e to the ordinal to get the day of the month.
- sok much/many
- sokan many (people)
- kevés little, few
- néhány a few
- néhányan a few people
- kicsi (a) little
- tíz dollarba? (it costs) ten dollars
Note that these words can take many endings, just like any noun might:
- sokat szeretnék I would like a lot
- egy kicsit fáradt vagyok I am a
To me, much of the beauty of this language is in the symmetry and parity. A great
example of parity is that an answer much be put into same sense as the question.
If the question is
hányas busszal megy az irodába? with
which number bus do you go to the office?
Then the answer must balance this:
az ötvennégyessel. (with) the number
Note how the question and aswer here are NOT "which bus?.... 74" but "which number
bus?..... number 74."
Dates are possessive. We're literally saying "the ninth
of August", or "August's ninth".
Then to turn this into "on the ninth", we simply put the possessive ordinal into
the superessive case, the "on, on top of"
case. We add -n to the -dike the Nth of the month to mean on the Nth of the month.
kilencedikén. On the ninth.
When writing dates, this effect is abbreviated to -an or
-en (depending on
Augusztus 9-én. = Augusztus kilencedikén. on
the ninth of August.
When talking about past of present events, egyszer means
once or one time.
egyszer gazdag voltam, de nem ma. Once, I was
rich, but not today.
When talking about future events, it means one day.
Egyszer, egy szép magyar lányt akarok feleségül venni. One day, I want to marry ("take wife-ly") a beautiful Hungarian girl.