A reference guide to Hungarian grammar, designed with English-speakers in mind

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Expressing ownership in Hungarian


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Expressing "I have (got)..." or "have you (got)...?" is a little contrived. It's almost as though they'd forgotten to include the word "to have" and so came up with a work-around.

To say "I have a dog" it is literally translated as "My-dog it is (exists)"

Use of van

We therefore use van is and would translate literally as: van kutyám is (exists) my-dog.

Note that we can change the order of the words and include the attributive noun or pronoun to emphasise ownership.

  • van kutyám I have a dog
  • nekem van kutyám *I* have a dog
  • kutyám van I have a *dog*

Vannak

When more than one item is mentioned (qualitativly, not quantitativly), we use vannak are instead of van.

Note that if we have an unknown plural number of dogs, we use the multiple objects case; but if we have a known plural number, we use the single objects case.
See plurals page.

  • vannak kutyáim I have dogs
  • van három kutyám I have three dogs. (Not kutyáim, note!)
  • három kutyám van I have *three* dogs

Do you have?

Simply turn the statement into a question with a question mark (and a penultimate-syllable rise and then fall of [intonation]).

  • van kutyád? do you have a dog?
  • vannak kutyáid? do you have dogs?
  • neked van kutyád? do *you* have a dog?
  • három kutyád van?do you have *three* dogs?

Who has?

We form the question "who has?" by using the attributive form of 'who' and being explicit with van.

Note the question word: ki? who?

  • kinek van egy kutyája? who has a dog?
  • kinek vannak kutyái? who has dogs?

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