Singular vs plural

There are differences between how Hungarian and English uses plurals.

The main one, as most of you noticed already, if you are doing this course, that after numbers, Hungarian doesn't use the plural form. Egy kutya, két kutya, három kutya (one dog, two dogs, three dogs)

Similarly for Sok/kevés/néhány.

Látok sok kutyát / néhány kutyát.

The following refers to the Possessives skills and this is trickier:

If the object is usually in pairs: boots, shoes, socks: Plural in English but singular in Hungarian. Leveszem a cipőmet. I take off my shoes. (You could say Leveszem a cipőimet, but that sounds less natural in Hungarian.)

If multiple people own something. Our toothbrushes. Their phones.

Here, if usually everyone has one each (everyone has their own toothbrush), you can still use the singular in Hungarian. A ti fogkefétek koszos. Your toothbrushes are dirty. Az ő telefonjuk nem csöng. Their phones don’t ring.

But it is ambiguous, a ti fogkefétek can also be a shared tootbrush. Then use singular in English.

Also, if you think from context that it is not one for each, but just one thing, it is singular for both Hungarian and English. Our dog. A mi kutyánk. (We are a family and we have one dog.)

Feel free to add your own thoughts or correct me:)

April 19, 2018


What about scissors and trousers which are really singular but are treated as plurals in English.

How do you distinguish between "I'm going to take of my shoe" and "... shoes" if shoes is sungular

April 19, 2018

Yes, scissors and trousers are peculiar in English, they are singular in most other languages.

Leveszem a cipőmet. I take off my shoes.

Leveszem az egyik cipőmet. I take off my shoe. (only one shoe)

Well, maybe "Leveszem a cipőmet" can be just one shoe too. It depends on context.

April 19, 2018

well scissors is plural at least in Russian, Finnish, French, Spanish, Polish, Ukrainian so I doubt it's singular in most languages

April 20, 2018 says: "USAGE NOTE The words "tijera" and "tijeras" can be used interchangeably in Spanish to refer to a single pair of scissors." This counts as half:)

Ok, I should have written "it is singular in Hungarian and German"

April 21, 2018

Also singular in Turkish. And Turkish also uses the singular after numbers.

April 23, 2018

Hungarian don't use

it's "doesn't"

April 20, 2018

or "Hungarians don't use".

April 20, 2018


April 22, 2018

Singular in Hungarian, but plural in English, in a table:

Hungarian English
given quantity öt kutya five dogs
sok alma a lot of apples
kevés alma few apples
paired body part Kék a szeme. He has blue eyes.
paired clothing item Leveszem a cipőmet. I take off my shoes.
one for each A lányok szoknyában vannak. The girls are wearing skirts.
always plural in English farmer jeans
nadrág pants (US), trousers (UK)
olló scissors
pizsama Pajamas (US) pyjamas (UK)
in general Szeretem az almát. I like apples.
unknown quantity?? Hoztam virágot. I brought flowers.
March 4, 2019
Learn Hungarian in just 5 minutes a day. For free.