Verb conjugation 3 – verbs that break vowel harmony

As you already know, vowel harmony is especially important in Hungarian. It is there… everywhere!
So let us repeat the main rules:

  • words containing back vowels (a, á, o, ó, u, ú) take endings with back vowels
  • words containing front vowels take endings with front vowels (e, é, i, í, ö, ő, ü, ű)


magyar igeragozás


Also, you have to know, that:

  • words that have both back and front vowels will mainly take back vowel endings, but sometimes will take the front vowel endings, e.g. because the word is a compound word. You have to consider the second part/component of it (e.g. Buda|pest – Budapesten, számító|gép – számítógépek, nyak|kendő – nyakkendőket)
  • if the word has a single i or í in itself which is often considered a neutral vowel, then instead of front vowels it will take back vowel endings. These are true mainly about original Hungarian words or those that has been long in our language (but “lift” /lift, elevator/ has not been borrowed too long a ago, so the plural of it is “liftek”).


So if you know this little trick you already understand that these verbs don’t really break the vowel harmony 🙂 Just that is how most grammar books call this thing 🙂

Are they really exceptions? Or do they follow a rule? The second! 🙂



Híd – hidak

BUT! víz – vizek, tíz – tizet 🙂  exceptions always exist!

Ok, these were nouns but let us see such verbs now! They all contain i or í and most of them are one syllable verbs!


hív – to call

én hívo                 mi hívunk

te hívsz                   ti hívtok

ő hív                       ők hívnak


As you can see, instead of front vowels you can see the back vowel endings. Not -ek in 1st person sg. (én), but -ok. Not -ünk in 1st person pl. (mi) but -unk and so on.




iszik – to drink

én iszo               mi iszunk

te iszol                   ti isztok

ő iszik                    ők isznak


To understand -ik verbs read this post. To understand verbs that have a stem ending in -s, -sz or -z, read this post.


The following verbs follow the same pattern:

sír – to cry

ír – to write

nyit – to open

nyír – to trim

bír – to have / bear / hold




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