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Interrogative pronouns in Hungarian


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These are the wh- words in English - what, who, which, etc.

In Hungarian they have two forms, one when used as a question, one when referring back to a noun already mentioned. Thse are known as interrogative and relative.

They are interrogative, meaning they ask a question. There MUST be a ? in the sentence, otherwise there is an error (i.e. if you're using an interrogative pronoun and you are not asking a question, you have made a mistake).

See the section on relative pronouns.

Interrogative pronouns

Hungarian English Hungarian example English example
mi? what? mit láttál? what did you see?
mik? what (plural)?
ki? who? ki ül itt? who sits here?
kik? who (plural)? kik ülnek itt? who sits here (pl)?
melyik? which?
melyek? which (plural)?
hány? how many?**
milyen? what kind?***
miféle? what sort?
mekkora? what size?
mennyi? how much?
hányadik? which (of a sequence)?** hányadikan emeleten lakik? on which floor does he live?


*** milyen
This also means "how" when used like this: milyen volt a hétvéged? How was your weekend? milyen a leves? How is the soup?

** hány
This can further take many endings to do with numbers, the questions must then be answered with the same ending.
hányas busz? Which (number) bus?
nyolcas. The number eight.

hányadik emeleten? Which (ordinal) storey?
nylocdik. The eigth.

hányadik emeleten lak? On which (ordinal) storey does he live?
nylocdikan. On the eigth.

Adverbs

For words like how? and where?, please see the relative and interrogative Hungarian adverbs page.

Endings on interrogative pronouns.

Where appropriate, these question words can take endings. A simple example is mit, as we have seen above.

  • Mit láttál? What did you see? Note the use of the indefinite.
  • Kit szeret? Whom does he love?
  • Melyikben? In which?
  • Miért? For what purpose? Why?
  • hánykor? At what time?
  • mennyibe kerül? How much does it cost?

Used alone vs. qualifying a noun/adjective

When used alone they may take endings. When used to qualify a noun or adjective they do not take endings (the noun does, though):

  • melyik kutyát etetted meg? Which dog have you fed?
  • mennyi vízben fürödtél? In how much water did you bathe?
  • milyen emberekkel látták? With what kind of peoploe was he seen? (lit. with what kind of people did they see (him)?)

Agreeing in number

These words, as is implied above by mi/mik and ki/kik, must agree in number with the word they're asking about (they must agree with their antecedent).

  • Melyik kutyát láttad? Which dog did you see?
  • Melyek kutyákat láttad? Which dogs did you see?
  • Ki ül itt? Who (he) sits here?
  • Kik ülnek itt? Who (they) sits here?
  • Kit láttál? Whom did you see (one person was observed)?
  • Kiket láttál? Whom did you see (several people observed)?


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