Coverbs

Hungarian language – just like German, Chinese and Yoruba – has coverbs which are linked to the verb and change its meaning a little or heavily. This is a very hard topic because there can’t be attached precise meanings to the coverbs and there are no precise rules for their usage.

the most common types:

  • indicates the direction of the action
    néz = look
    ->felnéz = look up
    -> lenéz = look down, contempt, despise
    megy = go
    -> felmegy = go up
    -> bemegy = go in
    -> kimegy = go out
  • time course of the action or occurrence (e.g. Hungarian lacks present perfect and plurperfect; these are expressed by coverbs)
    csinál = do, csinált = did
    -> megcsinált = has done, had done
    jön = comes
    -> megjön = arrives
    aludt = slept
    -> elaludt = has fallen asleep, had fallen asleep
    alszik = sleep
    ->elalszik = is falling asleep
  • start of the action or occurrence
    hallgat = listen, doesn’t talk, is silent
    -> elhallgat = hush up, fall silent
  • special relation between the verb and object
    lát = see
    -> meglát = descry
  • changes the meaning of the verb
  • slang words are very often formed by coverb (especially be~), in this case the coverb changes the meaning of the verb as well, some cases a coverb-verb pair has a slang and an absolutely different non-slang meaning in the same time
    rág = chew
    -> berág = pissed at sy.
    néz = look
    -> benéz = looks in, bugger sg. up
    rúg = kick
    -> berúg = get drunk

There are some 50 or 60 coverbs in Hungarian. The most common coverbs with approximate meaning (which happens to be true just in case of some of the coverb-verb pairs):

  • meg: mostly used for expressing present perfect or other changes in the time course compared to the original verb (although it’s used not only for this purpose, and not only this coverb is used for this purpose)
  • be = into
  • ki = out
  • el = away
  • fel = up
  • ide = to here
  • = onto
  • oda = there
  • vissza = back
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