Welcome to Basic Hungarian - A section of the Living In Hungary website that was created for English speakers who are currently, or will be, living, studying and/or working in Hungary, perhaps with a Hungarian partner, whereby you want/need to learn basic but useful, everyday, Hungarian words and conversational sentences with the focus on Hungarian pronunciation (syllable-by-syllable) and basic, useful, grammar.
For those looking for more advanced/complex grammar, take a look at the YouTube videos, official grammar books and other useful resources I have mentioned and/or linked on this website; including Hungarian Language App reviewsHungarian Language App reviews.
Although it is said that Hungarian is one of the most difficult languages to learn, especially its grammar and pronunciation, I would say with a few months of practise you should begin to realise that a good percentage of Hungarian (around 60%-70%) is actually pronounceable and easy to learn; especially as many of its syllables (phonetic sounds) are in the English language and therefore easy to pronounce. I would also say that basic Hungarian grammar is not particularly difficult, but more a case of 'remembering it all'.
At the end of the day, as with any language, you need to immerse yourself in Hungarian - Start off by memorising Hungarian words via apps. Listen carefully to the spoken Hungarian syllables. Associate the Hungarian words with something. When you go shopping, write down your shopping list with Hungarian fruit/veg words. Practise for at least 1 hour a day. And so on.
If you speak the Hungarian syllables and Hungarian words slowly at first, to get comfortable with them, you should find yourself speaking, reading and writing basic Hungarian within a 1-2 year period; depending on your learning ability, time and dedication. You could become fluent in 3-4 Years.
Examples of Basic Hungarian words and sentences are:
In contrast: If you want to learn Hungarian on a more advanced level you will find it extremely difficult, mainly due to its more complex grammar and awkwardness of rolling the much longer words off your tongue, but this does not mean Hungarian is 100% difficult. Even with some of the really unpronounceable and non-English syllables, you could still learn around 60% (if not more) of the Hungarian language whereby you become fluent within 3-4 years.
Do NOT stress about Hungarian pronunciation - Hungarians will know you are "Foreign" and will therefore not expect you, as an English speaker, to speak perfect native Hungarian; just as you and I would not expect a "Foreigner" learning English to speak perfect native English. They might correct you, in a helpful way, and/or ask for clarification of your wording (by repeating your words, so they are sure they have understood you) but this is normal behaviour in many cultures; including English culture. This is a good thing because it means you will be forgiven for your imperfections!
MENNYI is an example. Its correct pronunciation is actually MEN-NYEE, but you can get away with MEN-YEE; especially when used with Be (BEH) simply because Mennyibe (MEN-NYEE-BEH) sounds similar to MEN-YEE-BEH and can therefore be understood as, or at least be accepted as, Mennyibe. This is especially true when used with Kerül (KEH-RULE) - Mennyibe Kerül? / How Much Is It? Saying MEN-YEE-BEH KEH-RULE will still be understood, heard and accepted as MEN-NYEE-BEH KEH-RULE.
The Hungarian words, sentences and pronunciation notes on this website and in Language Learner have been compiled by me, John Cairns (native English), and translated by Tünde (native Hungarian) with the aim of creating useful words and conversational sentences that you could and would use in everyday Hungarian life; as opposed to creating stupid border control scenario questions for example and useless never-used phrases, as found in tourist phrasebooks and inside language apps.
As well as taking tremendous time to translate and spell check the list of Hungarian words (standard dictionary words) and everyday sentences I wanted compiling, Tünde also made sure those words and sentences were translated in the way a Hungarian would write, speak and ask them; as opposed to just doing straight forward word-for-word translations.
This means many of our compiled Hungarian sentences will not be found inside a tourist phrasebook, on other language websites or in language apps simply because they do not cater for someone wanting actual everyday life, useful, conversational sentences.
Now that I have more or less finished the example words and sentences I wanted to put on this website, words and sentences I feel will be useful to a beginner both practise-wise and grammar-wise, I have now begun speech for many of those words and sentences.
With me speaking mainly syllable-by-syllable (so you have slower pronunciations whereby you can clearly hear how each syllable should sound and be pronounced) and Tünde speaking in syllables, words and sentences (many of which she has purposely slowed down for you), you should get a feel for how an English "Foreigner" would attempt to speak Hungarian while hearing correct Hungarian pronunciations and speech from Tünde.
Recording and editing audio (speech) files is time consuming and laborious, so please be patient if you are interesting in this aspect of the Basic Hungarian website. Furthermore: As we cannot afford to buy or rent out a professional sound recording studio and because our recordings are 'average priced laptop' amateur recordings with natural audio/home hissing and humming sounds/noise in the background, I recommend you use and set up your headset to 'cancel out background noise' when listening to our recordings.
I noticed when playing the MP3 audio files back on Tünde's Acer Aspire F5-271, the laptop they were recording on, the humming and hissing wasn't too bad (in some recordings almost not noticeable). The same cannot be said when played back on my cheaper Asus X553MA. The playback was full of noticeable hisses and hums. I have since bought an HP Stream 11-yoxx laptop and the sound quality is much better than my Asus. It is as clear as Tünde's Acer Aspire.
Over time I will try and remove some of those natural background noises, which aren't too bad at the moment, by re-recording the words with a better sound system. However, I believe the sound quality will still sound bad if you have cheaper playback equipment; as my two laptops scenario proves. Either way, you can still clearly hear the syllables and words in the current audios.