In English, the words
this and that (when not used as a
conjunction) can be thought of as having two meanings each.
- I like this cat. That dog bit me. This girl is beautiful. That statement is false.
- I like this. You liked that. This is beautiful. That is not true.
- A more specific version of THE. "I like the cat" can be made more specific by saying "I like this/that cat".
- A standalone pronoun that is NOT a substitute for THE.
We could not say "I like the", but we can say "I like this/that."
It's annoying that in English the word "this" is identical in these two cases.
In Hungarian, of course, it's more logical. The two uses of "this" are translated differently:
- ez a; az a this; that
- ez; az this; that
Before we apply any endings, let's look at the two versions in nominative (dictionary) form.
- Ez a macska fehér This cat is white.
Az a macska fekete That cat is black.
Ez az alma piros This apple is red. N.B the vowel means a becomes
az (like a becomes an in English)
Az az alma zöld That apple is green.
Ez macska This is a cat.
Az kutya That is a dog.
Remember how we drop van from these, so in reality we're saying
ez macska (van) ; az kutya (van).
Now let's put some endings onto the (pro) nouns.
The easiest is the accusative.
Remember, we apply -t to the object of a verb.
- Én szeretem Ágit I like Ági.
- Én ettem almákat I ate apples.
- Én látom a kutyát I see the dog.
1: When the object is not a single word (Ági, alma, kutya)
but has this/that prefixing it, i.e. is case (1) above, when we're using it as a more specific form of the, then
we must apply the ending to both parts:
- Én látom ezt a kutyát I see this dog.
- Én látom azt a kutyát I see that cat.
2: When we use this/that as a standalone pronoun, we apply endings to the (only) word
- Én szeretem ezt I like this/it.
- Én szeretem azt I like that.
Assimilation of endings is very important.
As we have seen, we apply an ending to
the noun itself and also to the qualifiying pronoun:
Én látom ezt a kutyát I see this dog.
It's easy to see that we simply add the -t to both the ez/az and the noun.
However, the above is the simplest case. Most other
require that the ez/az is modifed in some way.
Let's take -ban as an example. We want to say, "I live in this house." That is our objective.
- ház house
- ez a ház this house
én lakom I live (reside)
In = -ban/ben
Now we must start with
ez a ház this house
and apply -ban/ben
to it, to give us in this house.
We do this by putting -ban or
-ben on both the ez and on the noun:
(Of course we choose either ban OR ben based on
Let's adjust the ház first:
The correct choice is -ban, because ház is a back-vowel word.
So far we have:
Now we must adjust ez.
The correct choice of -ban or -ben is
-ben, because this agrees with
N.B. our choice of harmonious variant for the ez/az is independent of our choice for the noun itself!
We have so far:
This is when the assimilation occurs.
changes into the first consonant of the ending!
We then put in the -ben to get
Overal, the change is:
- ez + ben = ebben
ebben a házban
Én lakom ebben a házban. QED.
If we wanted to say, "I live in that house," we would start with
az a ház
az+ban = abban
Én lakom abban a házban.
Here is a list the main noun endings, showing how the final
ez/az assimilates into the first consoonant of the new ending.
We also have
ezen/azon on this/that
but there is no assimilation here becase the ending, -on/en,
doesn't start with a consonant (a requirement for the assimilation).
- Lakom abban a városban I live in that city
- Laksz ebben a városban You live in this city
- Lakom abban a épületben I live in that building
- Laksz ebben a épületben You live in this building
Note how when the -ban/-ben is applied to
ez/az, its vowel harmonises with ez/az, not with the
úsztam a tengerben.
Benne, láttam halakat.
I swam in the sea. In it, I saw fish.
Of course, ez
can receive endings without needing a noun (like in situation (2) above).
Then, the same rule applies to ez/az.
- Én lakom ebben I live in this
- Én lakom abban I live in that
- Ági beszél erről Ági speaks about this
- Ági beszél arról Ági speaks about that
We apply the plural
1. More specific case of the (plural):
- ezek a ... -k these
- azok a ... -k those
- ezek a kutyák fehérek
these dogs are white
- azok a kutyák feketék
those dogs are black
Of course they can still take noun case endings exactly like the singular brothers:
- Én látom ezeket a kutyákat
I see these dogs
- Én látom azokat a házakat
I see those houses
- Mi lakunk ezekben a házakban
We live in those houses
- Ő laknak azokban a házakban
They live in those houses
N.B. The assimilation does not happen for ezek/azok
The assimilation that we saw happening to the -z
does NOT happen to the trailing
They simply take the noun endings
without any change (execpt for endings starting with
- ezekhez/azokhoz toward these/those
- ezeknél/azoknál by/at these/those
- ezekben/azokban in these/those
- ezekkel/azokkal with these/those
N.B. the effect visible here is not the assimilation of the
rather it's the gemination of the
2. Standalone noun
Standalone nouns can take endings too:
- Szereted ezeket
You like these
- Szereti azokat
He likes those
The word "that" can be used as a conjuction: I see that you are here. It doesn't matter that you're late.
This is given by the ever-present Hungarian word, hogy. Click to see the page about