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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rashad89

Hungarian - where to use "Lenni"

Hi guys,

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!

July 7, 2016

12 Comments

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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/magnetholik

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:

tanár vagyok

tanár vagy

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.

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rashad89

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!

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jzsuzsi
Mod
  • 438

One typo: not "mi tanárók vagyunk", but "mi tanárok vagyunk."

March 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KTamaslingo

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.

July 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KTamaslingo

But here are some clues:

http://www.nyest.hu/hirek/a-nevelo-es-a-letezes

http://bit.ly/29oQAYx

July 7, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rashad89

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 :)

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rashad89

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

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KTamaslingo

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)

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/linguafiqari

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."

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rashad89

Thank you!

July 8, 2016

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jzsuzsi
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  • 438

I rewrote the Tips& Notes, using adamyoung97's comment. Thanks, Adamyoung!

The verb van ‘to be’

You will notice that Hungarian sometimes lacks a verb where English has is. For example, while in English you would say What is this?, Hungarian does not have a verb here: Mi ez?

In addition, Hungarian word order is freer than English word order. To ask What is this?, in Hungarian both Mi ez? and Ez mi? are fine.

Be careful! The verb is only missing when the subject is in the third person and the sentence expresses a property relating to the subject like Ez mi? “What is this?“, Péter egy diák “Péter is a student.”, or Péter álmos “Péter is tired.”
In other words, we omit "van" when stating what something is using an adjective or a noun.

Conjugating van

The third person form of the English verb to be in Hungarian is van. This form is used when the verb is combined with a question word or an adverb like hol ‘where’, ott ‘there’, bent ‘inside’, as described above.

Here are all the present-tense forms:

SG PL
1 (én) vagyok ‘I am’ (mi) vagyunk ‘we are’
2 (te) vagy ‘you (sg.) are’ (ti) vagytok ‘you (pl) are’
3 (ő) van ‘s/he is’ (ők) vannak ‘they are’

When to use van and vannak

You will see that the words van and vannak are often omitted. This only happens in the third person, the first and second person vagyok, vagy, vagyunk, vagytok are never omitted.

Don't use van/vannak if you are saying what someone/something is using a noun or an adjective.

"Ő egy tanár" - "He is a teacher"

"Péter egy tanár" - "Péter is a teacher"

"Az alma piros" - "The apple is red"

"Mi az?" - "What's that?"

But do use van/vannak in the following cases (basically, describing when, how, where something/someone is. )

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 "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."

See another explanation here: Hungarianreference.com/Van-is-exists-omitting

March 2, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/vvsey

Describing the subject - usually with an adjective or noun: no "van".
Describing the verb - with an adverb(ial): yes "van".

The first one is typically saying something about the subject, describing it, its characteristics. "Piros", "hosszú", "tanár", "szép", etc.

The second one is saying something about the verb. Most typically, the location where the subject "van". "Itt van", "otthon van", "az utcán van", "nálam van".
But it can also describe the time factor or other statuses. But these are always related to the verb "van", not directly to the subject: "most van", "nyitva van", "hat órakor van", "későn van", etc.

Yes, it is different from Turkish and Russian, where you can drop the "to be" if you want (you usually do). In Hungarian, it is not a choice, it is not optional.

An example, to compare:

"Attila diák." - Attila is a student.
The noun "diák" describes the subject. There is no "van".

"Attila diákként van Magyarországon." - Attila is in Hungary as a student.
The adverbial "diákként" (as a student) describes his being in Hungary. It does not directly describe the subject, it describes the verb: "diákként van" - "is ... as a student".

Kolay gelsin.

March 4, 2019
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