Verb particle "meg"

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mstr

New Member
English
Does adding the 'perfective' case to a verb ('meg') always imply the English perfective verb construction or must the perfective case be memorised?
 
  • Ateesh6800

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Does adding the 'perfective' case to a verb ('meg') always imply the English perfective verb construction or must the perfective case be memorised?
    In short, I'd say it always implies the English perfective verb construction.

    However... don't just use this as a mechanical solution for translating something.

    First try to feel the difference between the two Hungarian options, and then decide whatever way you'd put that in English.

    Halnak az emberek. (There's an epidemic and people drop dead like flies.)
    Az arzéntől meghalnak az emberek. (People die if they are exposed to arsenic; "perfective" in the sense that you don't come back from death.)

    Sometimes the "meg" is a perfective that only works with one of the specilised meanings of the verb.

    Alszik a gyerek. (The kid is sleeping/asleep.)

    The perfective or resultative or whatever is:

    Elalszik a gyerek. (The kid falls asleep.)

    "Meg" cannot be used with a child:

    *Megalszik a gyerek.

    However, it may be used with milk:

    Megalszik a tej. ("Milk turns into curd and whey.")

    Another set of examples:

    Éppen most nézem a filmet. (I am watching the movie right now.)
    Szombaton megnézem a filmet. (On Saturday, I will watch the (whole) movie.)
    Megnézem, hány óra. (let me go and check what time it is (perfective: my action will have a result).

    - Miért babrálsz a telefonoddal? (Why are you fidgeting with your cell phone?)
    - Nézem, hány óra. (I'm checking what time is is. <I am talking about the process I am involved in.>)
    - Megnézem, hány óra. (I'm checking what time is is. <I am talking about the purpose of the process I am involved in.>)

    Some verbs don't have a form without "meg" because they don't make a sense without the result:

    Az orvos megállapítja a halál időpontját. (The doctor establishes the time of death. <I am talking about the result of the process.>)
    *Az orvos állapítja a halál időpontját. (We'd never say this. It's like naming a baby means that at one point, the baby had no name, and at the next moment it did have a name. You never talk about naming a baby as a process like "I was naming my baby for two days on end" without mentioning what name the baby finally got.)

    Does this answer your question?


    Attila
     

    mstr

    New Member
    English
    I am aghast that I received such well written answers to my questions.

    The second solution answers my question. I can recognise that the form of the perfective represents an action to completion with respect to a temporal phase akin to the English interpretation. I do not see why 'meg' cannot be used with the word 'gyerek' however.

    Thanks for the replies.
     

    Ateesh6800

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I can recognise that the form of the perfective represents an action to completion with respect to a temporal phase akin to the English interpretation.
    Yes.

    I do not see why 'meg' cannot be used with the word 'gyerek' however.
    Here the problem is that the word "megalszik" is not generally the perfective of "alszik" -- instead it has a different, specialised meaning: to coagulate, to turn into curd and whey. A child normally does not do that. :D

    So átkoz (curse) can be made into a perfective (megátkoz).
    Átkozza a politikusokat.
    (He is swearing about the politicians, calling them names, bléaming them, etc.)
    Or:
    Megátkozza a politikusokat.
    (He casts a curse on politicians as a result of which they might die unhappy or sopmething like that.)

    But alszik is different: alszik is to be asleep; megalszik is to coagulate or turn into curd and whey (said of milk).

    If you hear the proverb "Megalszik a tej a szájában!", it means "He is so slow/passive that milk will turn into curd and whey before he swallows it."

    Is this clear? :)

    Attila
     

    FRENFR

    Senior Member
    English
    Here we go again.

    No matter how many websites I read about this word, I will never understand why dictionary entries have meg sometimes as an option for a verb.

    Here are some examples which have meg as an option as well as the main verb:

    enged
    tör
    számol
    vág
    eszik
    magyaráz

    From what I have accumulated, it is a 'perfective' concept but all the examples I find talk about it in the past tense; that I was running, or ran. It can't be possible in the present, though, because the hungarian does not have the present continuous.

    Must one use meg only in the past? That seems a bit daft.

    Just to make things complicated, I have discovered 'megtalál' - but why is this with meg and not without but with meg as an option? Talál does not exist?

    Must one use meg only in the past? That seems a bit daft.

    Thanks in advance again,

    FRENFR.
     
    Last edited:

    Ateesh6800

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Welcome to the wonderful world of verbal prefixes! :D

    In Hungarian, pretty much every verb can be used without a verbal prefix:

    "Vak tyúk is talál szemet."
    "Even a blind hen might find a grain of cereal every once in a while."
    Meaning: "Anyone may be lucky sometimes."
    It's a general statement like "The sun rises in the easts" or "The sun rises every day."

    "Nem enged a 48-ból."
    "He's not willing to compromise." "He insists on his position."
    (This may be a reference to the Revolution of 1848.)

    The verbal prefix meg-, as a rule, adds an aspect to the verb; it may in fact be considered as a perfective aspect. However, it is not a tense and it is not restricted to any tense.

    Megtaláltam a kulcsom. (I have found my key [and now have it].)
    Megtalálod a címet? (Will you be able to find the address?)
    Meg fogják találni a megoldást. (They will find the solution.)

    In comparison, talál without meg- is mostly used in general statements:
    "Ősszel a vaddisznó könnyen talál élelmet."
    "In the fall, the wild boar finds food easily."

    It is a general rule; a habitual action (just like the example with the lucky hen above).

    With the verbal prefix meg-, you add the perfective aspect to the verb talál. It is not a general, habitual action anymore; instead, it is this thing: "search--search--search--find it--have it".

    "Megtalálták a rák ellenszerét."
    "They have found the cure for cancer [and now they have it]."
    It implies that for a long time they have been searching or looking for it; the new piece of information is that they have (just) found it and now they have it.

    Now, this is not a strict rule, but you often find that the verb is used without meg- when it is used with an indefinite object:

    - Találtak egy kismacskát. (They have found a kitten; any old kitten.)
    - Megtalálták a kismacskát. (They have found the kitten that has been missing for two days.)

    -- Törjek diót?
    -- Shall I crack some nuts?

    But when you already have the nuts on the table and you're about to make bejgli for Christmas, you might say (using the definite):
    -- Megtörjem a diót?
    -- Shall I crack the nuts (that we have bought for the bejgli)?

    Számol is just to count. Megszámol is to count and then to have the final result.

    -- Meddig számolod még a pénzed?
    -- How much longer are you going to keep counting your money?
    <an activity without a result>

    -- Megszámolod a gyerekeket?
    -- Can you count the children (and tell me how many are on the bus already)?
    <an activity with a result>

    -- Vágok kolbászt. [present, indefinite]
    -- I'll slice some sausage.

    -- Jujj, megvágtam a kezem. [past, definite]
    -- Ouch, I (have just) cut my hand.

    Eszik is simply to eat. Megeszik is to eat it all.

    Magyaráz is simply to explain something. Megmagyaráz is to explain something with the result that the explanation is accepted.

    -- A tanár sokáig magyarázott, de nem tudta megmagyarázni, miért kaptam kettest.
    -- The teacher kept on explaining things at length but has not been able to explain (give an explanation) as to why I only scored a D.

    * * *

    In addition to adding a perfective aspect, the verbal prefix meg- sometimes also acts as a prefix of word formation; that is, a verb without the prefix may have meanings other than the form with the prefix and vice versa.

    So, enged may be yield to (as in enged az erőszaknak = yieald or concede to force):

    -- Nem akarta ideadni a kulcsot, de végül engedett az erőszaknak.
    -- She did not want to give me the key but finally she yielded to brute force.

    In this case (in this meaning), you cannot use meg-:
    -- Nem akarta ideadni a kulcsot, de végül *megengedett az erőszaknak.

    Megenged is more to permit.
    -- Megengedte, hogy bemenjek.

    This second meaning may also be used without meg-, but then it does not have the perfective aspect:
    -- Általában engedi a gyerekeket késő estig tévézni.
    -- Usually she allows the kids to watch TV until late in the evening.
    Here, once again, it's a general rule or habitual action.

    * * *

    The perfective aspect works in all tenses and not only in the past:

    Not perfective:
    - Soha nem eszem nyulat. I never eat rabbit. (A habitual thing.)
    - Régen sem ettem nyulat. I never ate rabbit in the past either. (A habitual thing.)
    - A jövőben sem fogok nyulat enni. I will not eat rabbit in the future either. (A habitual thing.)

    Perfective:
    - Tegnap megettem a reggelimet. I ate (all) my breakfast yesterday.
    - Ma megeszem a reggelimet. I eat (all) my breakfast today.
    - Holnap is meg fogom enni a reggelimet. I will eat (all) my breakfast tomorrow as well.

    Short answers:

    (1) Basically, all verbs may be used without the verbal prefix meg-; in these cases, they simply don't have the added perfective aspect.
    (2) The perfective aspect added by the verbal prefix meg- does in fact work in all tenses.
    (3) The verbal prefix meg- sometimes creates a verb form that has slightly different meanings as compared to the verb without it. These meanings must be learned as separate lexical entries (like enged valaminek = yield to sg as opposed to enged, megenged = allow or permit).

    A.
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Short answers:
    (1) Basically, all verbs may be used without the verbal prefix meg-; in these cases, they simply don't have the added perfective aspect.
    (2) The perfective aspect added by the verbal prefix meg- does in fact work in all tenses.
    (3) The verbal prefix meg- sometimes creates a verb form that has slightly different meanings as compared to the verb without it. These meanings must be learned as separate lexical entries (like enged valaminek = yield to sg as opposed to enged, megenged = allow or permit).
    A.
    A good and practical explanation, I'd like to add one more point (for "completness"):

    (4) Basically, all verbs may be used with the verbal prefix meg-; in these cases they have a perfective aspect. However, there are some verbs (like *megmenni, *melélegezni ...) that have no practical sense, so they are not used.
     

    FRENFR

    Senior Member
    English
    I'm just working on an EU translation right now, but I'd like to endlessly thank you all again, especially Ateesh for his in-depth analysis!

    Eszter explained just before anybody had responded (but after I had posted the question). I now get this MEG thing, so that's jolly good.

    I have translated the top 100 verbs used in English into Hungarian (with her verifications) - and added some which were not in the list. I shall spend a few days memorising them (and if they can use meg or not).

    All examples from here will be written down too, as always.

    Thanks again! :)
     

    haitran

    New Member
    Vietnamese
    Moderator's note:
    The following has been merged with the previous for its identical subject.


    how to conjugate meg with verbs and nouns ?In which cases can we use?Thanks!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello haitran and welcome to our forum!:)

    The use of meg does not change anything about the conjugation of verbs. (It is not used with nouns which are not conjugated in any case.)

    Could you give an example of what causes problems? We may help you better.
     

    haitran

    New Member
    Vietnamese
    in fact,i dont know what i can give you examples(megnezek vs nezek,megeszek vs eszek..) .i am confused with using meg-.Can u summarize the usage of meg-?thanks much!
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Unfortunately, we cannot give you an overall description of any aspect of Hungarian grammar in detail here but I suggest you read the thread jazyk suggested above because you may find some useful hints there. Also, it is worth having a look in the Hungarian Resources for other general information.

    In the case of megnézek vs nézek:
    I'd say that the first can indicate that I have the intention of watching (i.e. carrying out this action until it is completed) a film
    e.g. Megnézek egy jó kis krimit ma este. = I'm going to watch a good detective film tonight.

    meanwhile the second just describes e.g. what I am doing at the moment: Nézek egy filmet = I'm watching a film. (This is what I am doing at the moment.)
     

    Lazar_Bgd

    Member
    Serbian - Serbia
    Welcome to the wonderful world of verbal prefixes! :D

    Now, this is not a strict rule, but you often find that the verb is used without meg- when it is used with an indefinite object:

    - Találtak egy kismacskát. (They have found a kitten; any old kitten.)
    - Megtalálták a kismacskát. (They have found the kitten that has been missing for two days.)

    -- Törjek diót?
    -- Shall I crack some nuts?

    But when you already have the nuts on the table and you're about to make bejgli for Christmas, you might say (using the definite):
    -- Megtörjem a diót?
    -- Shall I crack the nuts (that we have bought for the bejgli)?

    Számol is just to count. Megszámol is to count and then to have the final result.

    -- Meddig számolod még a pénzed?
    -- How much longer are you going to keep counting your money?
    <an activity without a result>

    -- Megszámolod a gyerekeket?
    -- Can you count the children (and tell me how many are on the bus already)?
    <an activity with a result>

    -- Vágok kolbászt. [present, indefinite]
    -- I'll slice some sausage.

    -- Jujj, megvágtam a kezem. [past, definite]
    -- Ouch, I (have just) cut my hand.

    Eszik is simply to eat. Megeszik is to eat it all.

    Magyaráz is simply to explain something. Megmagyaráz is to explain something with the result that the explanation is accepted.

    -- A tanár sokáig magyarázott, de nem tudta megmagyarázni, miért kaptam kettest.
    -- The teacher kept on explaining things at length but has not been able to explain (give an explanation) as to why I only scored a D.

    * * *

    In addition to adding a perfective aspect, the verbal prefix meg- sometimes also acts as a prefix of word formation; that is, a verb without the prefix may have meanings other than the form with the prefix and vice versa.

    So, enged may be yield to (as in enged az erőszaknak = yieald or concede to force):

    -- Nem akarta ideadni a kulcsot, de végül engedett az erőszaknak.
    -- She did not want to give me the key but finally she yielded to brute force.

    In this case (in this meaning), you cannot use meg-:
    -- Nem akarta ideadni a kulcsot, de végül *megengedett az erőszaknak.

    Megenged is more to permit.
    -- Megengedte, hogy bemenjek.

    This second meaning may also be used without meg-, but then it does not have the perfective aspect:
    -- Általában engedi a gyerekeket késő estig tévézni.
    -- Usually she allows the kids to watch TV until late in the evening.
    Here, once again, it's a general rule or habitual action.

    * * *

    The perfective aspect works in all tenses and not only in the past:

    Not perfective:
    - Soha nem eszem nyulat. I never eat rabbit. (A habitual thing.)
    - Régen sem ettem nyulat. I never ate rabbit in the past either. (A habitual thing.)
    - A jövőben sem fogok nyulat enni. I will not eat rabbit in the future either. (A habitual thing.)

    Perfective:
    - Tegnap megettem a reggelimet. I ate (all) my breakfast yesterday.
    - Ma megeszem a reggelimet. I eat (all) my breakfast today.
    - Holnap is meg fogom enni a reggelimet. I will eat (all) my breakfast tomorrow as well.

    Short answers:

    (1) Basically, all verbs may be used without the verbal prefix meg-; in these cases, they simply don't have the added perfective aspect.
    (2) The perfective aspect added by the verbal prefix meg- does in fact work in all tenses.
    (3) The verbal prefix meg- sometimes creates a verb form that has slightly different meanings as compared to the verb without it. These meanings must be learned as separate lexical entries (like enged valaminek = yield to sg as opposed to enged, megenged = allow or permit).

    A.
    Hello Dear Wordreference Community,

    I find this explanation extremely useful regarding the eternal issue of verbal prefixes in Hungarian, and I would just like to ask you to what extent this can be taken as a rule of thumb, i.e. that we use verbs with meg- with the definite object and verbs without the prefix with an indefinte one?

    Recently I was given the following example which is in line with this remark above:

    - Ő elment vásárolni és vett magának egy nadrágot.

    as opposed to:

    - Ő elment vásárolni és megvette magának azt a nadrágot, amit a múlt héten a kirakatban látott.

    Now, I understand why there is meg- in the second sentence but I don't see why we couldn't use it in the first example... To mee it seems as if the action is done entirely... Could we also use meg- in this case and what would be the difference in meaning...?

    Thank you.
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello and welcome to the forum Lazar_Bgd,:)

    Your question is very good and (unfortunately) underlines how vast this topic is. (Probably going even further than what we can deal with here.)

    You are right, meg could be used even if there is an indefinite object in the sentence (in fact, Ateesh6800 didn't exclude this possibility, either, he just gave a list of more frequent uses).

    Elment vásárolni és megvett (magának) egy nadrágot.*

    Now, as to what is the difference in the meaning between this sentence and your first... it is very difficult to explain with precision.
    Yours relate what happened: "he went off... and bought something..." - no surprise or contradiction in the way of relating these two events. We are informed about what type of actions happened and that's all.

    My version starts to relate ("...went off...") and then something specific happened: bought himself a pair of trousers.
    The "balance" between the two actions and the way they are presented is "broken" (= different with a slight surprise element, I would think) because of the nature of the second action (the meg preverb makes it rather definite, specific).
    It is possible that the person just popped out to buy some bread and milk for breakfast originally and came back (with or without those and) a pair of trousers!
    Without a particular context different scenarios can be imagined but the point is that the balance of the narration has changed.

    *the ő (personal pronouns in general) is not used when not emphasized and magának is optional in the sentence.
     
    Last edited:

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I try to answer in a different way (not denying Zsanna's explanation in the previous post). The prefix meg- (and other prefixes as well) are not necessarily used when they are not really "important". In other words, when the accent/emphasis is not on the fact that the action has been accomplished (however it's intuitable from the context), but rather the proper action is important. Thus:

    Ő elment vásárolni és vett magának egy nadrágot. (it's clear from the context that the trousers have been bought ...)

    Ő elment vásárolni és megvett magának egy nadrágot. (we want to emphasize - for some reason - that the trousers have been bougth [and possibly taken away from the shop]. Depending on the context, perhaps he/she was trying to by trousers more times and finally he/she really has bought them .... Other scenarios are immaginable as well, of course.)

    (This is not a rule ...)
     
    Last edited:

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    Hello francis,

    I'm sure it is interesting to see how native speakers think about the difference in the meaning, so I hope there'll be others who also tell their views.

    I see what you mean although the words "important" and "proper action" may not be easy to interpret for a non-native speaker.
    Does the first mean that the perfective aspect of meg underlines that the action has actually been carried out and completed, and does "proper action" indicate that the nature (= the kind/sort/type: going, coming, eating, etc.) of the verb should be considered in the sentence?

    However, as I have already mentioned, I think it goes probably further than that. (Probably connected to the organisation of the narration, i.e. the relation between actual form and the intended meaning.)
     

    francisgranada

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Ma egy étteremben vacsorázom. Reggel érkezem Rómába. Iszom egy sört és megyek haza.

    In the above sentences we don't use the prefix meg- because we don't feel the "importance" of underlining/emphasizing that the action will really be carried out/competed (it's probable from the context itself or it is irrelevant). However, in some circumstances we prefer to say Ma egy étteremben megvacsorázom, Reggel megérkezem Rómába, Megiszom egy sört és megyek haza, explicitely expressing thus the perfective aspect (the completedness of the "proper action" of vacsorázni, érkezni, inni).

    I don't say this explanation covers all the possibilities, however it's quite simple to understand and may be helpful (I hope :))
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    I think there is a difference between these two
    Elment vásárolni és megvett (magának) egy nadrágot.
    and
    Megiszom egy sört és megyek haza.

    In the first case, I feel some sort of a surprise element ("it is not how the story started!"), meanwhile your example sounds totally natural.
    Also, their relation to their pair sentences that does not have the preverb shows a similar ... difference.
    I mean that the original sentence (Elment... és vett...) sounds totally "smooth" in its form without the preverb as opposed to the one with it, meanwhile in your example, the sentence not containing a preverb (Iszom... és megyek haza.) sounds equally "smooth" as the one with the preverb (Megiszom...).

    So in you examples there isn't any "suprising element", meanwhile there is in our original examples.
    I wonder why.
     

    Lazar_Bgd

    Member
    Serbian - Serbia
    Great, thanks a lot! Now I get it, with your examples and explanations.

    It's interesting also to see how the native speakers' and non-native speakers' minds work. This example with 'Megiszom egy sört és megyek haza' is a typical example that they teach you in textbooks and grammars for Hungarian as foreign language and it makes a perfect sense to me: the 'meg' is here to say that I will accomplish or complete these actions, now or in the future. What the books don't tell you, however, is that in the past tense one can use the verbs without the prefix (with the indefinite object) and still have the meaning of action being done or completed. I was also (mis)led a bit by the imperfective aspect of the verbs in my mother tongue where we could say something like 'he was buying the trousers' without really knowing whether he eventually did it or not.

    Thanks again and keep up the good work!
     

    Zsanna

    ModErrata
    Hungarian - Hungary
    You are welcome.:)
    You brought up an important point with the verb tenses used. (Having only three verb tenses in Hungarian obviously doesn't have only advantages for the language learner...;))
    As there is no continuous tense in Hungarian, I think that could be a next problem for the interpretation... There is no problem if it is expressed by words like "(akkor) éppen", etc. but sometimes it could be included in the nature of the verb chosen: it is not the case of vesz - although it could be of vásárol.
     
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