- 🧰 My toolkit for learning Hungarian
- 🤔 "How do they say this in Hungarian?"
- 🤯 "How do I decline this? How do I conjugate this?"
- 🧐 My favorite Hungarian dictionaries
- Android dictionary (by TinyAppWorks)
- Szotar.net (by Akadémiai Kiadó)
- The best machine translation for Hungarian
- 🕊️ More tools to make your life easier
- 🙋 Where to get help with your Hungarian
🧰 My toolkit for learning Hungarian
🤔 "How do they say this in Hungarian?"
Hunglish.hu lets you search subtitles and other material in Hungarian and/or English, to find the translation you're looking for. Great to find the translation of natural, everyday expressions, in context (this is critical.)
Tip: use double quotes around your queries for more specific results.
(Linguee.hu serves a similar purpose, but I prefer Hunglish.hu for Hungarian.)
🤯 "How do I decline this? How do I conjugate this?"
To master even basic Hungarian, you need to learn to inflect words. How do you decline this noun? Say, how do you form the plural? Does it take -nek or -nak? How do you form the possessive? And how do you conjugate this verb? What are its definite and indefinite forms? Subjunctive? etc.
To this end, Alaktani táblázatok offers inflection tables: type in any word in its dictionary form to find its declension or conjugation. (Wiktionary also offers inflection tables, though maybe not as many – see below.)
This is not super fun to do, but checking the inflections of any word you have doubts about will make your Hungarian much better.
🧐 My favorite Hungarian dictionaries
en.wiktionary.org and hu.wiktionary.org are possibly the most complete Hungarian dictionaries available online for free. What's great about it is that translations are clearly organized by meaning. It also often includes audio and a phonemic transcription.
Android dictionary (by TinyAppWorks)
On Android, this Hungarian dictionary by TinyAppWorks is my favorite. It's simple and without clutter. It keeps a history of the last 128 words you looked up, which makes it convenient to review words in your spare time (say, while you wait for the bus or whatever.)
💡 Tip: search in Hungarian as much as possible to force yourself to use the language – I do this with words I don't recall exactly, or right after learning a new word.
Szotar.net (by Akadémiai Kiadó)
Wiktionary is nice, but it lacks too much data in Hungarian and is based on volunteer work, often making it hard to tell if something is correct. This is where Szotar.net comes in: it offers electronic versions of paper dictionaries published by Akadémiai Kiadó, so you can trust their content is accurate. (Akadémiai Kiadó offers arguably the best bilingual dictionaries.)
The site offers a basic free dictionary, a 2-hour free trial for any of their dictionaries, and many dictionaries. A one-year subscription to Angol szótárcsomag will cost you 5490 Ft.
It's not perfect (too few example sentences to my liking) and it can be hard to find the meaning you're looking for.
e.g. to confirm how to say rusty in the sense of "out of practice", I had 10 dictionaries to choose from, but only one of them offered enough information to confirm this was the translation I was looking for.
But, even then, it's a great resource and the only pro dictionary I know of on the computer. In short, if you need a professional Hungarian dictionary, it's either this or their paper dictionaries.
The best machine translation for Hungarian
Yandex Translate is the best machine translation for Hungarian (with 81% accuracy vs. 65% for Amazon and only 42% for Google in our tests) So not perfect, but still the best.
Here's an example:
I'll publish the details of our tests for 36 languages or dialects soon.
🕊️ More tools to make your life easier
If you want to learn Hungarian faster, it's simple: you need to practice more often! And so having tools that save you time will help.
Alfred (Mac only) is a great utility to perform a quick search on a website of your choosing. In short: I just press ⌘ Space from anywhere on my computer, and then type in a short command to launch one of many different searches. For example:
alak eszik will open an inflection table for the verb "eszik";
dic micsoda will open Wiktionary for the word "micsoda".
Because it makes it fast & easy for me to look things up, I do it more often and practice more.
(An alternative to Alfred for Windows is Wox.)
To write in Hungarian on the computer, I like using Sublime Text 3 + a Hungarian spellchecker.
Sublime Text 3 is a popular text editor. You will need to add a Hungarian dictionary file to it to make the most of it.
To type in Hungarian, I use the so-called U.S. International keyboard layout available on both Mac and Windows alike. But I had to customize it a bit to get all of the Hungarian letters. In short, with this method, I type:
- ' then o to get ó
- " then o to get ö
- ~ then o to get ő
If you'd like to do the same, see:
🙋 Where to get help with your Hungarian
Books and sites are all nice and dandy, but languages are meant to be used with people! We need feedback to learn from our mistakes. This is where I get help with my Hungarian:
- My Hungarian teacher. I mean, that's what a teacher is for! (This one may be sort of obvious, but I see people trying to learn on the cheap without a teacher and the time they waste is worth more than the money itself. If you wanna do something, do it right.)
- The Learn Hungarian Facebook group. Check it out if you haven't already! It's a great place to get help with all things Hungarian or about Hungary. I found the people on it most helpful. (This post encouraged me to start this site.)
- If you were lucky enough to create an account on Lang-8.com when it was still open to registrations, good for you! It's a great place to receive free corrections on your Hungarian texts and learn from your mistakes. (They're now sadly closed to new registrations.)
- If you can't use Lang-8, use HiNative, their newer site where you can ask questions.
- I found Hungarians themselves in general very encouraging and willing to help whenever I had a question. That is: pretty much anyone can help you with your Hungarian! Be it language partners, friends, or even just random people in cafés or in the street. Life's too short to be shy! 😙 😁
Hungarians have a reputation for being negative, but I found it easy to break the ice with the vast majority of people I talked to. They're glad to see a foreigner learn their (difficult) language and take it as a sort of compliment; they get curious and warm up to you. You will need to go beyond simple greetings or ordering something to experience this. But this is a story for another day!
I hope you liked this first article and – most importantly – that you found it helpful! If you'd like me to cover a specific topic in an upcoming article, please leave a comment here.
Jó tanulást kívánok!