Forms of participles with prefixes and in plural


Serbian - Serbia
Dear all,

I have two questions about the participles with prefix: 1) When do the prefixes split?, and 2) Do the participles have plural forms?

My understanding is that when the participle is used predicatively then the prefix behaves much like with verbs:
Mikor hagyható abba ez a dolog?
A dohányzás nehezen hagyható abba.

When used attributively then it does not separate:
A nehezen kimondható szavak általában hosszúak.

However, I have found this recent example in the media:
Megküzdöttünk a jogainkért, visszautasítottuk a zsarolást és mindazt, ami nem elfogadható nemzeteink számára.

So, why is this ’nem elfogadható’ rather than ’nem fogadható el’? Or could it be ’el nem fogadható’?

And the second question is: Do the participles get plural form when used predicatively? For example:
Ezek a hangok nem mondható(k) ki
(or would it be: nem kimondható(k)?)

And also in case of future participles, for example:
Ezek a papírok kidobandó(k)

And what would that be when negated:
Ezek a papírok nem dobandó(k) ki
(or would it be: ki nem dobandó(k)?)

The grammar books don’t really get into those details and I haven’t been able to see clearly how this is used in the media.

Thank you!
  • Dear Lazar,

    Your questions are very good and they made me think really hard about my own native language. :) :thumbsup:

    I'm not a trained linguist so I don't think I can give you a detailed explanation about separating prefixes, but I'll try and make some guesses.
    Such structures are often confusing for native Hungarians, too. "L'usage hésite", as the French say.

    1) a) In the case of 'nem elfogadható', I would say that this particular participle is so common that it gets treated as a 'fixed' adjective, that's why the prefix "el-" remains attached.
    1) b) 'Nem fogadható el' is also possible, but perhaps less common.
    1) c) 'El nem fogadható' is grammatically correct, but depending on the context, it may sound literary/archaic/emphatic.

    To use another example, "előrelátható" means "foreseeable/predictable".

    It's possible to say:
    2) a) "Az eredmény nem látható előre". = "The result is not foreseeable".
    2) b) "Az eredmény nem előrelátható" is also correct, but maybe less common.
    2) c) "Az eredmény előre nem látható" is a possible structure, but even less common than b).

    However, the word order in c) is normal in some phrases when the negative participle is used attributively:
    "előre nem látható okokból" = "for unforeseeable reasons"
    "előre nem látható körülmények" = "unforeseeable circumstances"
    "előre nem látható események" = "unforeseeable events"

    I hope this helps.:) I'll get back to your second question about plurals later.
    Please note that fellow Hungarians on this forum may disagree with me.:D
    Last edited:
    Dear AndrasBP,

    Awesome! Thanks a lot! This totally answers the first part of my question.

    By the way, I've found another topical example in the media that seems to corroborate what you say about 'nem elfogadható':

    A Hír tévében már arról beszélt, hogy semmiképp nem elfogadható, ha ugyanabban a pozícióban valakit hátrány ér azért, mert nő, ez ellen küzdeni kell.

    So, she strongly rejects the thing being 'elfogadható' and still the prefix stays at the front. Good to know that there are exceptions to the rule, now at least I won't be puzzled when I see something similar.

    Look forward to the bit on plural forms... :)
    Last edited:
    And the second question is: Do the participles get plural form when used predicatively?
    Yes, they do. In this respect, they work like adjectives, so where you put the "-k" in brackets, it should definitely be there.
    However, these structures with prefixed participles sound rather awkward/formal to me and I wouldn't use them in speech: the sentences on the right would be more natural.

    Ezek a hangok nem mondhatók ki >>> Ezeket a hangokat nem lehet kimondani.
    Ezek a papírok kidobandók >>> Ezeket a papírokat ki kell dobni.
    Ezek a papírok nem kidobandók (!) >>> Ezeket a papírokat nem kell/szabad kidobni.
    I would like to emphasize what AndrasBP wrote about how the opinions may differ about the meaning of the various forms (of different word order) in the case of nem elfogadható and the such... How true.
    In my opinion nem elfogadható is now part of the bureaucratic, journalistic and political language that aims to sound less harsh than it should be.
    In consequence, it sounds a bit "wishy-washy" (but trendy :D ), in the sense that it is just a euphemistic form of el nem fogadható (when there is a strong emphasis on the refusal, very categorical) or nem fogadható el (the standard equivalent of "not acceptable").
    But then it is not fashionable to formulate your messsage in a clear, direct way anymore.