-ba/-be or -ra/-re

Why is it okay to say németországba but not okay to say magyarországba? I've been told that it needs to be magyarországra instead. Is there a rule to remember which countries/places are -ra/-re and which ones are -ba/-be?

Many thanks in advance.

January 15, 2018


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As far as I know, the "on" cases apply to the name of Hungary (and several cities IN Hungary) traditionally, while all the other places get the "in" cases (some cities may also appear in the old locative case). It's probably because those cities used to be located on hills (making them easy to defend). I don't know if there are other places (like island countries) which would be another exceptions from the general rule.

If you were learning Polish, I'd also say that generally you use "do" meaning "to" and "w" meaning "in" when speaking about physical movement/being located in countries, but there are a few that don't follow the rules and get "na" instead ("onto", "on"), among those are Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine, Lithuania, (maybe Belarus, Latvia and Malta - I'm not sure about those), interestingly enough this "na" is the standard form of calling geographical/historical regions (and no doubt historically at least some of those were just regions in other countries).

EDIT: That "na" with regions isn't always true, I think it applies only to some regions actually :D Complicated.

January 15, 2018

Yes, that's about right. Hungary is a special case in Hungarian, so it takes the "-ra" ending, as an exception to the rule. And yes, there are a few others, like "land" (Greenland), "islands", etc., that take "-ra"/"-re".
This is all discussed at a few places throughout the course.

January 16, 2018 Here is a Hungarian language atlas for further referencing and double checking what countries are named in Hungarian. The re/ra wording endings are more like adjectives/discriptive though they are often used in place of the country name in conversation.

January 16, 2018

i don't think so but maybe it is magyarorszagba because in hungarian magyaro means hungarian and magyaro is in the word. Nemetorszagba does not have the word magyaro. I just looked it up on google translate and it said that nemetorszagbo means 'to Germany' but sometimes google translate is wrong. I hope this was useful!:)

January 15, 2018

The word is "magyar", not "magyaro". It is "magyar" + "ország" (country), so, literally, "Hungariancountry".
And the reason it is "MagyarországRA" is simply "just because". It is obviously a special case, so it is different, an exception if you like. All other country names ending with "ország" take "-ba".
There are other country names, like ones ending in "-föld" (land) or "szigetek" (islands), that also take "-ra"/"-re".

January 16, 2018

Both endings are correct depending on the context. It has nothing to do with the country but the context of the sentence. Loosely translated Magyarorszagba... in Hungary, Germany. Magyarorzsagra... of/about Hungary, Nemetorszagra... of/about Germany. For example “ Medgyek Magaroszagba” I am going to Hungary. “Madgyaroszagra gondolok” I am thinking about Hungary.

January 15, 2018

No, sorry. It is usually "Magyarországra" when speaking about going to Hungary. It is a special case.

January 16, 2018 Sorry that this is the best example I could find. It’s a christmas carol “o, ha Magyarorszagba”. Maybe Magyaroszagra is more common in speach, but both are correct and have slightly different meanings.

January 16, 2018

Thank you. Your link is incomplete, but I found a few videos with the same song.
That is what they call poetic license. It is not actual correct Hungarian, but it is allowed for poetic reasons. For rhyming, being archaic, or whatever.

The correct usage is "Magyarországra".

Besides, this "Magyarországba" is, actually incorrect/colloquial for

"MagyarországBAN": IN Hungary.

The full line goes like this:

"Ó, ha Magyarországba' jöttél volna világra"
That is, roughly:
"Oh, if you had been born IN Hungary".

So, this is actually a case of

"MagyarországON" vs "MagyarországBAN".

But, again, this is just poetic license. The correct usage, currently, is:

"MagyarországRA" - to Hungary
"MagyarországON"- in Hungary
"MagyarországRÓL" - from Hungary.

Compare this with

"NémetországBA" - to Germany
"NémetországBAN" - in Germany
"NémetországBÓL" - from Germany.

January 16, 2018

My knowledge of Hungarian is definately not official grammer, so you may be right that going to Hungary should be Magyaroszagra. I was answering the posters original question in which she asked why “Magyarszagra” is correct and “Magyarorszagba” is incorrect. She did not give any context in her original question as to whether she was talking about Hungary or going to Hungary, or any context at all.. she simply asked if the word was correct. My example sentence were not the best, and I am sorry for that. I asked my dad for confirmation, he is a hungrarian speaker from birth, perhaps not the best grammer resource. I was trying to show that both words were ok depending on the context of the sentence, as you demonstrated as well. Anyways, from your example, you demonstated nicely the different uses of Magyarorszagba/magyaroszagra which is what I was trying to do and I am sorry if the examples I used added more confusion. Nevertheless, I am curious myself now, and if you do have an explanation or resource as to why “Magyarorszagba” is incorrect when speaking of going to Hungary I would like to see it. I am from a largely Hungarian speaking city in Slovakia, so it is possibly that older/outmoded figures of speach remained popular there.. if this is in fact a regional difference, as you suggest.

January 16, 2018

That is okay. But the point of the original question was that "Magyarország" is special. When talking about going TO a country, all the other "...ország" country names will take "-ba", but Hungary will take "-ra":


This is the point. Why is this? All of my answers here are referring to this. And if you take the course and read the comments, you will see this point, as well.

January 16, 2018

I was not able to infer this from the original question, but I see now that is likely what the poster meant in the query. I was hoping to have this magyarorzsagba being incorrect/magyarorszagra being a special case as you say, confirmed by a second resource outside the duolingo course notes (as I have noticed mistakes and typos in the course notes in other instances) but I will have to take your word on this one. Thanks for taking the time to answer and cheers to you too.

January 16, 2018
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