A "shopping" question

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New Member
Russian and Ukrainian

I know only basics of Hungarian, but I would like to practice a little when I go to Budapest next month. Here is one of the questions for which I cannot find a clear answer. As a foreigner, I will often be uncertain on which produce should be bought in which shops. And I find a sparse and contradictory information on how to ask the salesmen the basic question in this case:
"Do you have [the name of the article]?", for ex. "Do you have wine?"

Basing on various sources, I consider the three principal possibilities:

Van önöknél bor?
Van bor?
(without "önöknél", but optionally with (?) "önöknék")
Van (önöknék) bora?

but I presume that there can be more than one correct answer, so I would be very much obliged if someone explained me:

1) presence/absence of the word "ön(ök)"
2) if such word is present, which case should be used, -nél or -nék
3) should the word like "bor" attach the possessive suffix (-a)
4) should it be ön or önök? I can suppose that the answer may be different in a tiny shop with just one person at the cashier's desk and in a supermarket.
5) Perhaps there are different questions depending on whether one would like to know
(a) "Do you (in a shop like that) usually/normally sell wine?
(b) "Did you not accidentally run out of the stock of wine (which is normally sold here)?

Thank you in advance!
Even a short answer will help.
  • arlett

    Your sentences are grammatically correct.

    Van bor? - is a very terse and therefore a bit impolite version. Don't say that.
    Van önöknél bor? - is a much better and polite choice. It would sound more appropriate to me in a restaurant but it's fine to use in a shop as well.
    Van önöknek (not önöknék) bora? - sounds a bit unnatural. It's not ungrammatical, but we would probably say "Van boruk?" instead, which means the same.

    To sum up, van önöknél bor? or van boruk? are fine to use (the first one sounds more polite).

    1. you can omit önöknél or önöknek but that makes your sentence a bit impolite. Van bor? means "is there wine?" which might sound ok in English but it's not a polite question in Hungarian.
    2. Önöknek and önöknél are both acceptable but önöknek sounds unnatural in this case (as I've mentioned before)
    3. the -a suffix is not needed in your first two sentences
    4. however tiny the shop may be, önöknél/önöknek sounds OK, since the plural form refers to the shop / company itself

    I hope this helps a bit. You can use your first sentence with no problem, but the latter two don't sound very natural.


    New Member
    Russian and Ukrainian
    Thank you, Encolpius! I'll keep that in mind too - when I am in need of a more direct question about the specialization of the given shop.
    Actually I wanted also consider various similar situations, like for example inquiries about the the today's offer at a certain restaurant, or the availability of a certain variety of pastry in a street kiosk at a certain moment, so I believe that the phrases validated by arlett will also be of use.


    Senior Member
    NONE of them, nor the others (although they r better but they r grammarbook Hungarian). Simply: "Jó napot! Bor van?" Polite enough n totally common for always n for everything, shops n restaurants, etc.
    "árulnak" is ok in certain situations but not always.


    New Member
    Russian and Ukrainian
    Thank you uress!

    That gives me a real freedom of choice :) – as I believe that your opinion is as much correct as those of arlett and Encolpius, and everything depends on the small details of particular situation and – not in the least – on the image of the asker. As I am a man in my 50s, I think that I should generally prefer more polite versions, but as my foreign accent will be inevitably prominent, shorter (and simpler) options will also be forgivable. That is what I mean by a real freedom of choice :)

    However, all that brings me back to my starting point, albeit with some grammatical refinements. The type of situation I was talking about allows under different conditions three principal options:

    (1) Van önöknél bor?

    (2) Van boruk?

    (3) Bor van?

    (I do not forget about very practical questions with Árulnak and Kapható, but at this point I am trying to be more of a linguist that a tourist)

    I am trying to summarize the differences between these three possibilities to translate the English sentence Do you have wine? From what I understood, the option (1) is the most polite and the option (3) is the most “terse”.

    But what I am wondering about now, are the motives of the speakers of Hungarian to use the possessive suffix (like -uk) in this kind of sentences, that is the motives to select the option (2). From what I read in the textbooks, it is precisely the model

    (2) Van boruk?

    which is the direct equivalent of the English Do you have wine? Your replies, however, have shown that the options (1) and (3), i.e. without possessives, are not only widely used, but may even be recognised as preferable. So why do Hungarians (not) use the possessive suffixes in such situations?

    I realise that the subject of my present question – why use or not use the possessive suffixes in the equivalents of the English Do you have wine? becomes very abstract, but if there is anyone who have any ideas, I will be very much obliged to hear them.


    Senior Member
    1 and 2 are more for restaurants, sound quite neutral, but now I remembered what I still wanted to write but forgot finally: Bort tartanak?
    2 is also for home, e.g. before going to see friends, for restaurants: Boruk van? if you dont see it on the menu. -uk, -ük is for more personal tones, more a chatting way of asking.
    3 is not terse if your tone isnt it. Its totally polite and nice if you are, too.
    Sorry, in a hurry, I ll be back.
    Last edited:
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