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Hungarian Negation: Learn How to Say No!

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Learning how to negate is an essential part of studying a language. How else would you tell your friend that no, you’re not going to do their homework for them? Or tell your grandma that you don’t want any more soup after the third round? 

It’s through negation that we’re able to fully express our emotions, give our honest opinions, and set healthy boundaries. 

In this article, you’ll learn…

  • …how to make negative sentences in Hungarian.
  • …how to give negative responses to questions.
  • …how the double negative in Hungarian works.
  • …some useful words of negation you can start using right away. 

Don’t worry—it’s easy as pie! (That said, you might want to read our article on Hungarian word order before you dig in…)

Asian Woman in Glasses and a Yellow Tee Thinking
Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Hungarian Table of Contents
  1. Negating Statements, Questions, and Commands
  2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question
  3. Double Negatives
  4. Other Negating Words and Phrases
  5. How HungarianPod101.com Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

1. Negating Statements, Questions, and Commands

First, let’s cover the basic Hungarian negation rules and introduce you to the two most important words of negation in Hungarian: ne and nem

A- Statements

To get a better idea of how to make a negative sentence in Hungarian, check out the example below: 

  • Ma este moziba megyek. / “I’m going to the movies tonight.”
  • Ma este nem megyek moziba. / “I’m not going to the movies tonight.”

In Hungarian, the word nem means both “not” and “no.” 

As you probably noticed, making a sentence negative in Hungarian is as simple as adding the word nem before the verb or adjective you wish to negate. Would you have thought Hungarian negation was this easy?

B- Questions

Now, how would you form a negative question or give a negative answer? 

Here’s an example: 

  • Mész ma este moziba? / “Are you going to the movies tonight?”
  • Nem mész ma este moziba? / “Are you not going to the movies tonight?”
  • Nem, nem megyek (ma este moziba). / “No, I’m not going (to the movies tonight).”

As you can see, you simply put the negative word nem at the beginning of a question to make it negative. And to give a negative answer, you use the Hungarian equivalent of “no, I’m not” (nem, nem).

Here are some more examples, this time using the verb félni (to be afraid):

  • Félek az egerektől. / “I’m afraid of mice.”
  • Nem félek az egerektől. / “I’m not afraid of mice.”
  • Félsz az egerektől? / “Are you afraid of mice?”
  • Nem félsz az egerektől? / “Are you not afraid of mice?”
  • Nem, nem félek az egerektől. / “No, I’m not afraid (of mice).”

C- Commands

Now that you know how to form negative statements and questions in Hungarian, let’s talk about how to give negative commands. Here are some examples:

  • Ne érj az állathoz! / “Do not touch the animal.”
  • Ne üljetek oda, gyerekek! / “Do not sit there, children.”
  • Ne mondd ezt! / “Do not say that.”

There are two things you probably noticed:

1) Hungarian commands always end in an exclamation mark (rather than a full stop, like in English).
2) The Hungarian equivalent of “do not” is ne + the conjugated imperative verb.

D- Practice! 

Based on what you’ve learned so far, try to translate and then negate the following sentences in Hungarian:

    ❖ “We are going out to have lunch.” 
    ❖ “Did you write a book?” 
    ❖ “Be afraid of a new language!” 

Write your answers below in the comments section.

Girl in Yellow T-shirt Thinking, Pink Background

2. Giving a Negative Response to a Question

We touched on this briefly in the previous section, but we’ll cover it in greater detail here. This is an important topic, so we want to make sure you really get the hang of it

Here are a few examples for you: 

  • Mérges vagy? / “Are you angry?”
  • Nem, nem vagyok (mérges). / “No, I’m not(angry).”

  • Hoztál esernyőt? / “Did you bring an umbrella?”
  • Nem, nem hoztam (esernyőt). / “No, I did not (bring an umbrella).”

  • Fogsz tanulni holnap? / “Will you study tomorrow?”
  • Nem, nem fogok (tanulni holnap). / “No, I will not (study tomorrow).”

A Ballot with No Marked

3. Double Negatives

Double negatives in Hungarian are not only not ungrammatical—haha—but they’re actually necessary in many negative sentences. This type of sentence is usually formed with a negative word (see them in greater depth in the next section) and nem.

Let’s see a few examples of sentences using double negation in Hungarian:

  • Soha többet nem iszom. / I’ll never drink again.

    This sentence implies that the thing we’re swearing not to do again has just been done. Without többet (“more”) this sentence would be more like a general statement, not a resolution or promise. See:

    Soha nem iszom.
    “I never drink.”

  • Nem parancsol nekem senki. / Nobody gives me orders.

    The two negatives here are nem and senki (“nobody”).

  • Sehol nem maradok sokáig. / I don’t stay anywhere for long.

    Here, the two negative words are nem and sehol (“nowhere”).

    If you were to carry the double negative over into English, this would be like saying: “I don’t stay nowhere for long.” (But, of course, that would be ungrammatical.)

  • Semmit nem ettem még ma. / I haven’t eaten anything today.

    Semmit literally means “nothing.”

  • Soha többet nem leszek alkalmazott. / “I’ll never be an employee again.”
Someone Hand-signaling No to Someone Offering Them a Beer

I never drink.

4. Other Negating Words and Phrases

As you saw in the previous section, double negatives in Hungarian are extremely common (and even necessary in some cases). There are several different negating words and phrases that are used in conjunction with nem to make a sentence negative. 

Here are the most common Hungarian negating words and phrases, along with example sentences. Keep in mind that nem is required for every sentence, except for the first one. 

alig 
barely
Alig ismerlek.
I barely know you.
szinte soha
hardly ever
Szinte soha nem találkozunk.
We hardly ever meet.
soha
never
Soha nem találkozunk.
We never meet.
soha többé
no more
Soha többé nem fogom ezt eltűrni.
I will endure this no more. 
senki
nobody
Senki nem marad délután 5 után.
Nobody stays after 5 o’clock p.m.
sehol
nowhere
Sehol nem találom a szemüvegemet.
My glasses are nowhere to be found.
semelyik…sem
neither…nor
Semelyik nem tetszik, sőt, rám sem jönnek.
Neither of these are to my taste nor do they fit me.
semmikor
never
Neked soha nem jó.
It is never good for you.
semmiért
for nothing
Nem fogok a semmiért dolgozni.
I won’t work for nothing.
senkiért
for nobody
Senkiért nem fogom megégetni magam.
I will do overtime for nobody. 

A Confused Man Scratching His Head

5. How HungarianPod101.com Can Help You Achieve Your Goals

Now that you’ve learned all about Hungarian negation, you should be able to tell your gran “no” when she wants you to eat that fifth slice of cake after a full three-course meal.

But if there’s anything we neglected to cover, or if you still have questions about something we did cover, let us know in the comments below. We’ll be glad to help and offer additional explanations.

By the way: If you see a fellow Hungarian student struggling with something and think you can help, feel free to offer an explanation yourself. After all, we’re an encouraging family of Hungarian learners striving to help each other thrive! 

Don’t forget to comment your translation and negation of these sentences down below!

    ❖ “We are going out to have lunch.”
    ❖ “Did you write a book?”
    ❖ “Be afraid of a new language.”

Happy language learning!

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