Learn New Words FAST with this Lesson’s Vocab Review List

Get this lesson’s key vocab, their translations and pronunciations. Sign up for your Free Lifetime Account Now and get 7 Days of Premium Access including this feature.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Notes

Unlock In-Depth Explanations & Exclusive Takeaways with Printable Lesson Notes

Unlock Lesson Notes and Transcripts for every single lesson. Sign Up for a Free Lifetime Account and Get 7 Days of Premium Access.

Or sign up using Facebook
Already a Member?

Lesson Transcript

Michael: How do you ask for the time in Hungarian?
Boglárka: And how do you tell the time?
Michael: At HungarianPod101.com, we hear these questions often. During a school break, Sasha Lee asks her classmate Orsolya Olah about the time. They don't want to be late for their next class. Sasha asks,
"What time is it?"
Sasha Lee: Hány óra van?
Sasha Lee: Hány óra van?
Oláh Orsolya: Negyed négy.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: Hány óra van?
Michael: "What time is it?"
Oláh Orsolya: Negyed négy.
Michael: "It's a quarter past three."

Lesson focus

Michael: Knowing how to ask for the time, as well as how to tell time, is essential when you're learning Hungarian. In this lesson, you will learn how to do both. The Hungarian word for "time," by the way, is
Boglárka: idő
Michael: and, in Hungarian, telling time is easy. First of all, Hungarians do not use A.M. or P.M. Instead, they can add words like "morning," "afternoon," or "evening" to the time to express which part of day is being referred to. The word for "morning" is
Boglárka: reggel,
Michael: the word for "afternoon" is
Boglárka: délután,
Michael: and, finally, the word for "evening" is
Boglárka: este.
Michael: These words are not necessarily needed when expressing time. In fact, in most cases, it is fairly obvious whether it is 9 in the morning or 9 in the evening. Moreover, it is worth noting that Hungarians can also express time using the twenty-four hour system, making a clear distinction between 9 o'clock and 21 o'clock, the latter meaning 9:00 pm. Whether you use the twelve-hour system or the twenty-four hour system is entirely up to you and there is no clear preference towards one or the other.
[Recall 1]
Michael: This time, let's take a closer look at the dialogue.
Do you remember how Sasha Lee says "What time is it?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Boglárka as Sasha Lee: Hány óra van?
Michael: Earlier, we gave you the Hungarian word for "time." You won't find it in this sentence because, in this context, "time" is referred to as "hour," which in Hungarian is
Boglárka: óra
Michael: It's like saying "What hour is it?" Another way to ask for time in Hungarian would be
Boglárka: Megkérdezhetem, hogy mennyi az idő?
Michael: "Can I ask you what time it is?" And here's a more common way to ask for time in Hungarian:
Boglárka: Meg tudná mondani az időt, kérem?
Michael: "Could you tell the time, please?"
[Recall 2]
Michael: Now, let's take a look at our second sentence.
Do you remember how Orsolya Olah says "It's a quarter past three?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Boglárka as Orsolya Olah: Negyed négy.
Michael: Now, you may be wondering how the number word here translates to "four" or
Boglárka: négy
Michael: instead of
Boglárka: három
Michael: or "three." That's because, unlike in English, Hungarians refer to the next hour when talking about partial hours. So, if you want to say "5:15," you say
Boglárka: negyed hat
Michael: instead of
Boglárka: negyed öt,
Michael: which means "quarter past four" or "4:15." The same rule applies when telling time half past an hour. So, if you want to say "half past nine," you say
Boglárka: fél tíz van
Michael: instead of
Boglárka: fél kilenc van
Michael: which is "half past eight" or "8:30."
Michael: In this lesson, you learned three different ways to ask for the time. You also learned that, when telling partial time in Hungarian, you refer to the next hour rather than the current one. Let's take this time to review some of the things we've learned, starting with
Boglárka: Hány óra van?
Negyed négy.
Michael: "What time is it? It's a quarter past three."
Boglárka: Megkérdezhetem, hogy mennyi az idő?
Negyed hat.
Michael: "Can I ask you what time it is? It's 5:15."
Boglárka: Meg tudná mondani az időt, kérem?
Fél kilenc van.
Michael: "Could you tell the time, please? It's half past eight."
Michael: Perhaps you're wondering how Hungarians use the adverb "o'clock" when telling the time. In Hungarian, the word for "o'clock" is the same as the word for "hour," so they just say
Boglárka: óra.
Michael: So, if it's 9 o'clock, Hungarians would say
Boglárka: 9 óra.
Michael: As mentioned earlier, Hungarians do not use A.M. and P.M. when talking about time. So, how do they know if the time refers to three in the afternoon or three in the morning? Well, they just do. In everyday conversations, everyone is aware what time of the day it is, so telling the time is much simpler. You only have to indicate which part of the day it is when you're telling time in written form or if you are referring to a point in time that is not in the present, hence it might be ambiguous which part of the day you are referring to. So, if someone asks you in the early morning what time it is and it's 8 o'clock, you simply say
Boglárka: 8 óra
Michael: However, if you want to (or have to) emphasize the part of the day, we have already seen three basic words to use. You can use the Hungarian word for "morning,"
Boglárka: reggel
Michael: to express that it's, for example, 8:00 am:
Boglárka: reggel 8 óra.
Michael: Similarly, you can specify that a time is in the afternoon by using the word for "afternoon,"
Boglárka: délután
Michael: to express that it's, for example, 4:00 pm:
Boglárka: délután 4 óra.
Michael: And you can use the word for "evening."
Boglárka: este
Michael: for example, if it's 8:00 pm,
Boglárka: este 8 óra.
Michael: There are two additional words that are worth knowing. What if it's 3:00 am? In English, we might sometimes say "3 in the morning," but, in Hungarian, you must use the word for "dawn" if you need to specify the time of day. The word for "dawn" is:
Boglárka: hajnal
Michael: so, if it is 3:00 am, in Hungarian, you would say
Boglárka: hajnal 3 óra.
Michael: When talking about time late in the evening or early dawn, you can also use the word for "night." In fact, just like in English, you could just use the word for "evening":
Boglárka: este
Michael: until midnight, and the word for "dawn,"
Boglárka: hajnal
Michael: from midnight until the morning; however, using the word for "night" is a bit more natural for expressing time in the middle of the night. The word is
Boglárka: éjjel.
Michael: So, if it is late in the evening, say 11:00 pm, you would say
Boglárka: éjjel 11 óra
Michael: or early dawn, such as 2:00 am, you would say
Boglárka: éjjel 2 óra.
Michael: Now you know how to express hours throughout the day. But how do you read time with minutes and seconds? The Hungarian word for "minute" is
Boglárka: perc.
Michael: So, if it's 2:25, you say
Boglárka: 2 óra 25 perc
Michael: such as in
Boglárka: 2 óra 25 perckor kezdődik.
Michael: "It starts at 2:25." And the Hungarian word for "second" is
Boglárka: másodperc.
Michael: If the fastest runner in a race completes the track in 3 minutes 44 seconds, you say
Boglárka: 3 perc 44 másodperc.
Cultural Insight/Expansion
Michael: In some cultures, five minutes could mean half an hour or even more. In Hungary, five minutes is five minutes. Hungarians value and appreciate "punctuality," or
Boglárka: pontosság
Michael: If you're in Hungary for a business meeting, try to be at the meeting at least 10 minutes early. Don't forget to allow extra time for heavy traffic too. If you are invited to a dinner, be sure to arrive on time. However, it's okay to be a little bit "late," or
Boglárka: késni
Michael: if you're attending a large gathering. And if you're ever going to be late for a meeting, don't hesitate to inform your host. Hungarians will appreciate it if you can send them a text message or even call them if you won't be able to make it on time. And, yes, even if punctuality is a big deal to them, they can also be flexible, especially if you have a valid reason for not being on time.


Michael: Do you have any more questions? We're here to answer them!
Boglárka: Viszontlátásra!
Michael: See you soon!