-nak/-nek + lenni

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Serbian - Serbia
Hello everyone!

Is there a rule about when you have to add -nak/-nek to adjectives and nouns that go just before the verb lenni? I am now not talking about cases when the verb ‘kell’ is involved like in: “Az információnak világosnak és érthetőnek kell lenni” because ‘kell’ always requires this ending.

My question is about cases like the following (examples picked randomly from the internet):
Nagyon jónak lenni, az egyik legrosszabb dolog, amit tehetsz.
Most Még Jobb Gyereknek Lenni! (title of a book for kids)
De rossz vicc, tizenhárom évesnek lenni!
Nem is olyan rossz nagypapának lenni.
Rossz magányosnak lenni.

What confuses me is that I also come across cases when the adjective or noun has no ending, like in:

Ez kezd furcsa lenni.

Thank you!
  • AndrasBP

    Senior Member

    It took me some time to figure out the rule, but here it is (I guess):

    "noun/adjective + -nak/-nek + lenni" is used when this structure, which could be translated as "being + noun/adjective", is the subject of the sentence in itself:
    Nagypapának lenni jó. / Jó nagypapának lenni. = Being a grandfather is good. / It's good to be a grandfather.

    However, the structure is different if there's a subject such as a person/thing + the verb "kezdeni" (to start/begin) + the verb "lenni" (to become, in this case):
    Ez kezd furcsa lenni. = This is starting to become/get strange.
    Az idő kezd hideg lenni. = The weather is starting to get cold.
    A nagypapa kezd feledékeny lenni. = Grandpa is beginning to become forgetful.
    A helyzet kezdett feszült lenni. = The situation started to get tense.

    I hope this helps.:)


    Hungarian - Hungary

    It doesn't look very "clear cut" to me, but see also the I. 4. and 6. points in this link.
    The explanation for the meaning in I.6. "a szóban forgó személy v. dolog az v. olyan, ami(lyen)nek a kifejezés mondja" (= the person or thing in question is such as described in the expression) is fairly clear to me but seems odd put it like this.

    Reading your examples, the first thing I thought of was that the subject of the sentence "fulfills" whatever is attributed to it/him/her in the sentence. This wouldn't be a translation but may be another way to understand the role of -nak/-nek.


    Serbian - Serbia
    Yes, this actually makes sense, this differentiation according to subjects... And it also works with other verbs (for example 'gazdag akarok lenni').

    Great, thanks a lot!


    Senior Member
    I just wanted to add that the structures with "kezdeni" also work if the subject is implied and understood from the conjugated verb form:

    Kezdek ideges lenni. = I'm starting to get annoyed.
    Kezdtünk fáradtak lenni. = We were starting to get tired.
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