Hungarian - where to use "Lenni"
I am having a little problem with the verb "lenni". I still cannot understand why in some case it is there and in some it is not. I understand that it is used in questions and with adverbs. But are there any other rules that I am missing? Like why isn't there a verb in "ő egy tanár"?
Thanks in advance!
Although it might not solve the problem for you definitively, here is my explanation.
The verb 'lenni' has many uses. Focusing on the simple ones you will first come across as a new student of Hungarian should help simplify matters. When you say "ő egy tanár" or simply "ő tanár", it means "he is a teacher". This is the use of "lenni" when you are drawing equivalents. Think of it like the verbal equivalent of an equal sign he = teacher, they = teacher, etc. In any such sentence the verb is dropped for third person subjects (he/she/it or anything you can replace with he/she/it). This is the general rule that, if you remember, should help you a lot. First-person and second-person subjects do not drop the verb. So you have:
ő tanár (verb drops here)
mi tanárók vagyunk
ti tanárok vagytok
ők tanárok (verb drops here too)
I know it may feel weird to not use a verb there if you have not spoken a language before that has this feature, but it will become natural with a bit of practice.
The second main use you will come across in your first steps learning Hungarian is how to express the idea "There is"/"there are" -- indicating the presence of something. I see you have studied French and German, so this is the use we're talking about when we say "il y a" in French or "es gibt" in German. In this case the conjugated form of "lenni" is never dropped. Unlike German and French, however, the thing which you are indicating the presence of is the subject, not the object, so it stays in the nominative case, and does not go to accusative. For example:
egy tanár van = There is a teacher
tanárok vannak = There are teachers
Notice the difference in meaning from the previous usage. You cannot drop the verb here, and it wouldn't really make sense if you think about it because you would just be saying "egy tanár" - a teacher, or "tanárok" - teachers, if you didn't have the verb to go along with it.
Thanks a lot! I speak Russian and Turkish, and we drop the "to be" in those too sometimes. But the rules are different. I am sure it will come with time. Thanks again!
I started writing two answers to this so far and then kept googling and wow this is complicated. I know when to leave it out but I'm a native speaker, so that does not count. I myself would be interested in a comprehensive explanation but I could not find one good source, only several ones and I have a hard time putting them together so far.
But here are some clues:
it's not just a "to be" verb, it's a copula too sometimes, and there is a thing called zero copula that exists Hungarian and other languages: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copula_(linguistics)#Zero_copula
wikitionary has a very incomplete explanation: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/van#Usage_notes_2
some resources in Hungarian, which is not useful for you but maybe someone else who wants to solve this: https://sites.google.com/site/tanuljmagyarul20091113/home/gramatiko/estadi
Wow thanks so much! That cleared it up for me a bit. I guess it's just a matter of practice and travelling to Hungary more often :)
Guys I really appreciate all the help I am getting here. If you need any assistance with Russian, Turkish or Portuguese, it will be my pleasure to help
ha, I was about to say in one of my posts that I did not post that the idea behind leaving out lenni/van is somewhat similar to omitting быть/есть, althogh the rules are different)
I assume you're talking about "Van" and "Vannak" - these are dropped most of the time in Hungarian, but there are four cases where they are used.
Time - Expressing when something is
"Mikor van a buli?" - "When is the party?"
"A buli 7-kor van." - "The party is at 7."
State - Expressing how something/someone is
"Apád ma hogy van?" - "How is your dad today?"
"Ma jobban van, mint tegnap, köszönöm." - "He is better today than he was yesterday, thank you."
Location - Expressing where something is
"Hol van a mozi?" - "Where is the cinema?"
"Ott van jobbra." - "It's there on the right."
(Adverbial Participle - Expressing a verbal state of a noun - this will come later on)
"Ki van nyitva az ablak?" - "Is the window open?"
"Nem, be van zárva." - "No, it's shut."
All the above become "Vannak" when the subject in question is plural:
"Itt vannak a poharak." - "Here are the glasses."
"A szobák fűtve vannak." - "The rooms are heated."