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Parts of the Hungarian Course are Poorly Designed

Hungarian is a hard language, perhaps the hardest on Duo. It is a Uralic language and has no attachment to P.I.E making it particularly hard. It can be made easy and can be well done in duo, but it's not. My main contention is with the Accusative, Plural Accusative Pt. 1 and Pt. 2. First of all, these skills are FILLED with lessons and are WAY over done. I don't think you need these skills in their current state. With duo's current algorithms it takes FOREVER to get past the second branch. I have to review the lessons twice making it tiring and leads to me barely progressing. These skills are too much. My solution? After reading The Routledge Essential Hungarian Grammar Guide, there are a couple types of nouns that fit certain patterns. Expose the learner to all of these types and add in the rest of the words in the later lessons instead of forcing the student to relearn EVERY NEW WORD IN ALL OF THE DIFFERENT FORMS. This is simply ridiculous and needs to be fixed, these changes will make the Hungarian course unstoppable and a great resource for learners.

September 15, 2017



I think most of the problems could have been prevented had they just recruited a couple of alpha testers to smooth out the majority of the wrinkles, like Korean and Romanian did. Still, what's done is done; what's left to correct now will be surmounted with lots of patience and lots of reporting.

As for relearning the same word in all its forms - I think this is a limitation with Duolingo's Incubator, not with specifically this course. I could be wrong about this, but I think the Incubator requires each different form of a word to be set as an entirely separate word.

I think http://www.hungarianreference.com/ explains the difference between many of the cases phenomenally well and I wish the course incorporated some of its ideas into the grammar explanations. For example, Hungarian Reference makes two main points that have greatly clarified Hungarian grammar for me: 1) postpositions and cases of location/movement are often split into triads: movement towards, stationary position, and movement away from, and 2) the positions expressed by cases of locations can be basically boiled down to the distinction between Solids, Surfaces and Spaces. (see http://www.hungarianreference.com/Nouns/triads-of-movement.aspx) (and by extension, the 3 types of movement and the 3 positions combine for a total of 9 combinations of position-movement: towards-surface "onto", stationary-surface "on", away-from-surface "off of", etc.) Once it was explained this way, it made so much more sense to me.


Oh God are you saying they had to do the same with the locative cases? Also some of the other courses don't have to count new forms so I just think it's a question of bad design. Also I do agree on the fact of alpha testing, it's ridiculous that they didn't. There are some things that need some serious redesigns.


I will look at that chapter in hngarianreference.com again. Thanks


I was very enthousiast when I began the course.

I love the language and have been studying hungarian all by myself for more than one year with (a.o.) very well done podcasts from Let's learn hungarian and "all made" phrases from Loecsen before discovering Duolingo.

After more than 60 days of daily practice my level has climbed up a lot and I am very happy with that but...

I use this opportunity to deeply thank all the volunteers who gave me very valuable explanations.

Hungarian is still in beta, and beta means early users are expected to report as many bugs, errors and malfunctions as possible. Not to complain but to improve the product.

With this in mind, I agree that some parts of the course are badly designed and should be reorganized.

  • exercises suddenly use relative and subordinates (aki, akik, ahol, or amilyenek ( ! ) ) without a single word about that in a previous lesson. There should be one or two specific skills about that only.

  • place of the words in the phrase (focus and topic) are important in hungarian. There should be a skill about that in the early lessons since this is the point of many discussions.

  • vocabulary lessons should focus on the theme they present. By exemple, in the "animals" skills we learn both the animals names (which is the topic of the skill) and the verbs related to those animals (which is not). The verbs like swim, jump, step, crawl... should be previously given in a specific skill like "sports".

  • I know it's almost impossible to exactly translate a sentence form one language to a very different one. But I hate it when the english correction refuses a simple present and wants a present continuous when the skill is not about conjugation but about numerals and ordinals (and those were correct).

  • I just did some strenghtening on "Preverbs" and was completely amazed and stunned by the complexity of the exercises, very far above the level of the lessons : three verbs with three different preverbs in the same very long sentence, (not mentionning the corresponding name suffixes !). On the other hand, the skill [ill 2.] is well designed, like a drill, very coherent and pleasant.

Today, I stopped after 40 painful XP, tired and disgusted whereas I usually work on more than 100.

I hope this will help to improve the course.


Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Another minor flaw is that as I was giving you lingots, after 3 it went back to 2 and then 1, then back up to 2 and 3, and back to 2, then up to 4, then back to 3, then suddenly where I wanted to be - 5. It sure is hard to give away those lingots!


I have to admit that I am really disappointed by the whole Hungarian course. It makes the language unneccessarily hard. The sentences are way too long, the grammar focuses on the wrong things (way to many advanced topics without really covering the basics), the order of the lessons is strange (tons of grammar BEFORE food?) and it doesn't really teach you a lot of vocabulary and sentences you might need when you go to Hungary or want to continue learning.

Hungarian being "different" is really no excuse for this poorly-designed and overcomplicated course. Turkish is "differrent" too as is Hebrew, and the Turkish and Hebrew courses on duolingo are amazing. As are all of the other courses I tried, except Hungarian.


Here ye! Here ye! On an unrelated note I just got into the Czech course. It's probably the best designed course in duo. Seriously I wish some of the other courses with declination followed. But yeah I wish they let people send in redesigns of certain courses.


You are right, Czech is really well done, as is Russian. Of all the courses on Duolingo it is probably my favouite one. The new Dutch course is really well designed too, as is the Hebrew course.

However, I startet and quit Hungarian three times already and to not plan to continue it any time soon. Unfortunately, because Hungarian is one of the languages I really want to learn. Right now I am working my way through the "50 languages" course and plan to continue with Assimil. After that I'll probably return to Duolingo.

But the third and especially fourth part of the Hungarian tree are horrible. Long, quirky sentences with English translations that make no sense at all, just grammar, grammar, grammar - and not even very useful grammar.


Me too. My tennis teacher is Hungarian and I really want to practice with her but the Hungarian course on duo really needs some work


Whew! So it's not just me.... I have studied German and French for many years and was pretty happy with how Duolingo works. My skill has increased rapidly. In order to sympathize with my students/children, I decided to do a language of which I knew only a few phrases so I chose German. THIS ONE IS SO DIFFICULT! I am moving through it VERY slowly! :(


Hehe, reading your words I have to think back on all those comments I have already written here about that c(o)urse. ;-)

There have been problems in the developing phase, as I read in the incubator messages. The point of launch was always moved forward because of different problems. Then they wrote, they would have added and tested thousands of words.

But checking the result, as it went online in July last year, it was a catastrophe. A lot of very common synonyms havn't been accepted, a lot of english sentences came in a lousy translation. And finally those endless sentences. One of the "best" of them:

"Ezek a bogarak nem azok alól az ágyak alól jönnek ki, amelyikekben ti fekszetek, hanem a mögül a szekrény mögül, amelyikben sok ruha van."

"These bugs are not coming out from under those beds which you are lying in, but from behind the wardrobe in which there are many clothes."

It waits for you in the lessons of "Directional Conjunctions 3" - as one of a lot of such long sentences there. I wrote a longer comment about that.

The users of the first hours didn't get tired of reporting mistakes and giving hints for versions, they should be accepted as well. The contributers became flooded by these reports and it needed months to answer them. And there are still lousy mistakes, which have been reported and over again and nothing happened.

So a lot of those first users and engaged helpers do not help anymore.

But what can we do against such long sentences? In former times, there was the possibility to add on a report some own words. I used it many times with the hint "too long sentence!" But i guess, it never changed anything at all.

Well, one thing Duolingo changed: to make reports with additional hints is not possible anymore!


Five lingots for you good sir! I see there you have completed the Hungarian course here. Honestly I think anyone who can complete THAT monumental task deserves much more cred than some one who has completed 5 trees. Anyway, yeah, I totally agree with you on that one. I just wish I could be better in Hungarian so I could talk to the Hungarian people in my life, and to improve this course. This course is absolutely horribly designed. It has been around 6 months more older Romanian, and Greek's entrance into beta. Those languages are already in stage 3, Hungarian is still struggling along in beta, and has no hope of getting out. It needs volunteers to help re-haul the entire course. This CAN be done by people like you and me, but the problem with the duolingo volunteer systems is it values language knowledge and language knowledge ONLY. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THIS, however competency in a certain language does not indicate ones fluency to design a course that makes it easy for people to learn said language. It is a good indicator, but not the only one, as shown in this case of incompetency. But give a couple a people with the knowledge of how NOT to make the course, may help reform it. But until then I will continue on suffering through it.


They should look at the course for French from English. It makes much more sense. There are grammar notes and tips for each section. There is review for translating pairs of words in every lesson going back almost to the beginning each time. There is rarely any need to guess. The English translations were written by people who are obviously English speakers and they don't expect reverse translations that make sense only to French speakers. Hurrah for the writers of that course - the Hungarian group should take a look!


For me the sentences were too long and there were too many listening exercises. If Duolingo listened to feedback courses may improve but I find that some of the newer courses are of much lower quality and seem rushed compared to the original ones.


That too! It makes it close to impossible to do timed practice in Hungarian.


Listening is important but long sentences obscure the point that needs to be learned from that particular sentence.


I would like to add my comments to the ones already made in this thread. I'm giving up on the Hungarian course for now, with great reluctance, because it is simply too difficult. The sentences are too long too soon, and when I'm trying to learn about the various postpositions it really isn't helpful to have each noun preceded by two adjectives.

I really want to learn Hungarian, and all credit to the hard-working volunteers who have set up the course, but I'm going to give it some time until hopefully some improvements have been made and then try again.


Don't give up! Try a text book or something else.


Andreas305-nak, Ugyanezt teszem, összekeverem a magyar és a német szórendet.

Azt is észrevettem, hogy néha nincs hely a válasznak. Néha az első bejegyzés alatt írok, majd a megfelelő helyen jelenik meg. Azt hiszem, ez egy kódolási hiba.

So, I invite you to correct me as well. In your previous post you wrote, "Sometimes I am used to translate word-by-word the way, as we use to speak in German."

Try this instead, "Sometimes, because I am used to translating word-by-word, the way we do in German...." :)


As a person who has lived in Budapest, Hungary for a year, I completely disagree with you as knowing all of the different conjugations for each word is very important because if you use the incorrect form for each word no one will understand what you are saying. It is like the need to know conjugations like he is, she is, you are, they are, we are, etc. in the English language


No, thats not what I'm saying. They make you redo every word, even if the conjugation has been shown before.


I am a native speaker but switched primarily to English when I moved to America. Now sixty years later I am planning a lengthy stay in Budapest and my weaknesses are writing and adult vocabulary. I have taught French and German in high school here and am familiar with immersion teaching. I did NO translation or writing in the beginning classes but taught as you would to a baby with pictures and pointing. See and say. Getting the ear in tune and learning to pronunciation.

When it is time to teach reading and writing I think you have to start with the alphabet which is pretty much WYSIWYG in Hungarian but how does Duolingo expect non-native learners to write without introducing the alphabet?

Also the difference between getting into to the course on browser compared to the app needs to be addressed. Using multiple choice and sliding whole words into a sentence for translation on the app makes it possible to guess easily instead of really know.

I see that there is a need for volunteers for correction but is there a chat that is monitored so that corrections can be made quickly?


I appreciate the effort to add this course. BUT

Where is the introduction to the use of postposition words in some sentences? I can't even understand which ones are singled out to have the same word repeated in another part of the sentence.

"Azok mellett a diákok mellett három tanár sétál". Duo Meaning: Three teachers are walking alongside those students.

I wrote: "Azok a diákok mellett három tanár sétál". This sounds right to me.

And "Ez allatt a lampa allatt az asztal száraz" for Duo's "Under the lamp the table is dry," sounds wrong to me.

I am not saying Duo is wrong here because there are many sentences with the same format but I don't know where the explanation is.

I am just passed 32 gold whatevers but I struggled through those postposition sentences memorizing what Duo expected just to get through it. Now there are easier things again.

There are some sections with explanations at the beginning but not all.

I'm moving to Budapest in a few months for an extended period and I am working hard on this.


Hello, I do not use that c(o)urse anymore, because my english is better than the c(o)urse creaters' is ;-)

But I am trying to help you with that problem:

As with the suffixes it is the same with the post positions, if a demonstrative pronoun is used with a noun. Let's have a look at two examples:

ez az asztal - this table

az a szék - that chair

If you want to use these phrases with suffixes, you have to add the suffix to the noun as well as to the demonstrative pronoun:

ezen az asztalon - on this table

azon a széken - on that chair

It is the same with the post positions:

e fölött az asztalon fölött = above this table

a mögött a szék mögött = behind that chair

The combination of the demonstrative pronoun with the post position results in omitting the "z" when the post position starts with a consonant.

ez + fölött = e fölött / az + mögött = a mögött

Using a post position starting wit a vocal, the pronouns wont become "reduced" :-)

ez + előtt = ez előtt / az + alatt = az alatt

But after all there are shorter forms possible, if the postposition starts with a consonant in combination with the demonstrative ponoun "ez":

e város neve = ennek a városnak a neve

e ház mögött = e mögött a ház mögött

Maybe you see a bit clearer now and good luck with learning Hungarian


Thank you for the explanation, Andreas. :) I understand removing the z from ez when used with a word that starts with a vowel. Ez / Az and Ezen /Azon are equally natural to me.

But is there any other way to say "behind that chair" without using mögött twice? Would it be ok to say just "a szék mögött" ?

So, would it be correct to say, more simply: "Hol wan a könvy?" "A könvy a a szék mögött van."

Maybe when I learned Hungarian as a child I wasn't always corrected if I said something ungrammatically, but the bit of coversation above sounds right to me.

If I have to adapt to learn correct postpositions I will do that but sometimes I wonder if the people writing this course have old fashioned or incorrect ways of talking since I have found, and others have pointed out quite a few mistakes.

I certainly understand your frustration with this course. Your English is very good. Is there any other free class that is more advanced?

Immersion is really the best approach when it's possible. Years ago I taught German and French in a high school, and at that time, before testing became such an important factor in evaluating schools (rather than students), we were allowed to have absolutely no reading or writing for first year classes. I didn't speak any English in those classes from day 1 and the kids learned the way babies and toddlers do, by imitation, pointing at things, being corrected, lots of repetition etc. They were much more conversational by the end of the year than today's high school or even college language students.

Again, thanks,


Just to answer your questions above:

"a mögött a szék mögött" = "behind that chair"

"a szék mögött" = "behind the chair"

"Az a szék mögött (van)" = "That is behind the chair."

"Az a szék hátul van" = "That chair is behind (there)."

So you see, there is no way to make is shorter, because the meaning is always another one :-)


It was confusing But now I’ve got it! Are you doing other languages? Do you need gems?


Now that I have actually learned how to use the postpositions, finished all the lessons and got the golden owl I still wonder if there are easier ways to say the same thing when it comes to the combination of the demonstrative pronoun with the post position.

I have to ask one more time.

As you wrote: "a mögött a szék mögött" =" behind that chair". - Is this a sort of old fashioned or pedagogical grammar? Do people today still say this?

What is wrong with "Az a szék mögött..." - doesn't that also mean behind THAT chair?

A kis kutya ül az a szék mögött." The little dog sits behind that chair. Is that really wrong?


Hello Zsuzsi,

this is not old fashioned style, it is just logical grammar: the demonstrative pronoun has to take the same endings as the noun, which it is related to.

az a szék = that chair

azt a széket = that chair (accusative)

annak a széknek = to that chair (dative)

azon a széken = on that chair

To compare:

Az a szék. = That is the chair.

Az a széknek. = That is for the chair.

Az a széken. = That is on the chair.

So finally now the rules, that are valid for the endings are valed for the post positions as well.

az alatt a szék alatt = under that chair

e mellett az asztal mellett = beside this table.


Az a szék alatt. = It is under the chair.

Ez az asztal mellett. = It is beside the table.

Maybe it is clear now for you, what the difference is.


Andreas, since you are learning English as well, I hope you don't mind if I correct your last sentence to me: Instead of, "Maybe it is clear now for you, what the difference is" you should write, " Maybe now the difference is clear to you." :)


Andreas305, Megkaptam a duolingo arany bagolyt! Kéttot, valójában. Te sokat segített engem és én nagyon hálás vagyok. Nem adtam fel!!

Újra fogom csinálni a leckéket, a középponttól a végéig. Most több figyelmet fogok adni a szókincsre, mert ez még mindig az én nagy gyengeségem.

Nem tudtam volna eszt helyesen írni nélküled.

Nélküled nem tudtam volna ezt helyesen írni. Nem is vagyok biztos hogy ez jó!

Köszi! Zsuzsi


I answer at this point, because below was technically not possible. I don't mind your hints for my english writing :-) Sometimes I am used to translate word-by-word the way, as we use to speak in German.


I am in the early part of the course, and I think it's strange that the course introduces the Accusative plural before the nominative plural. This was very confusing for me until I consulted a Hungarian grammar book. I wish that Duolingo explained grammatical concepts before testing you on them with the usage of those concepts.

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