…as briefly explained as I could possibly make (sorry).
If you haven’t already studied Vowel Harmony or Vowel Lengthening, I suggest you look at that post first, so you can have a base for understanding the rest of this!
Consider this a brief overview, as it doesn’t go in depth about the different cases, but hopefully gives you an idea of what they are used for.
Hungarian, if you don’t already know, is an agglutinative language – which is just a fancy word meaning that it attaches suffixes to the end of words to form different meanings. It can get really intimidating when you look up stuff like “3500 different forms of 1 verb in Hungarian!”, but when it comes down to the stuff you’re actually going to use – it’s really not that difficult or convoluted.
HOW many cases??!
Hungarian has around 17 cases, depending on what you consider to be “cases”. For this post, I’m going to focus on the ones I consider to be technically “cases” (which is…17). Genitive is included in this list, but I’m going to cover it in a separate post where I talk about possession!
Sometimes you’ll see additional suffixes listed under “cases” in Hungarian grammar books or websites, but I think it’s easier to focus on them as more like “noun modifiers” instead of cases. We’ll look more into that later!
Don’t be discouraged by the number!
17 can seem like an intimidating number when you consider that languages like German only have 4, but the additional number of cases actually means that Hungarian is a lot more specific and there are more rules and guidelines for how to say things. In my experience, that actually makes things a bit easier. Sure, it’s a lot to memorize at first for some people, but once you get used to it, you’ll find that it makes a lot of sense!
Consider that English has many prepositions which function like cases do in Hungarian – at, about, to, from, toward, in, into, out of, etc… So 17 isn’t an irrational number when you think about what the cases are being used for!
Also, don’t worry about memorizing the official Latin names (besides maybe the accusative, dative, and genitive). If you just want to think of the other cases in terms of what they correspond to in English (or another language), then that’s fine!
The cases are obviously used in many different ways and in addition to having prepositional meanings, they are used with idioms, expressions, and all sorts of other things. But for the purpose of learning the basics, I’m going to focus more on the simple or prepositional meanings. Idioms and expressions will be covered in each case-specific post that goes into more depth on each one.
This is also going to be under a “read more” because this post is incredibly long, BUT I tried to make it kind of funny and entertaining at least – so I hope you can learn and have fun as well!
Continue reading “[Hungarian] Cases explained…”