10 basic phrases every volunteer should know before arriving in Hungary


In this article, you will read 10 basic Hungarian phrases and words that will be useful for you once you arrive in Hungary (with explanations of why and where you should use these phrases).

1. Szia/sziasztokHello

This is the most basic way to greet someone in Hungary. But you might be wondering what is the difference between “szia” and “sziasztok”. You should say “szia” when you want to greet !one! person. “Sziasztok” is used to greet more than one person and it is extremely rude to say “Szia” when greeting a bigger group of people. But that’s not all! It is also rude to use “Szia” when talking to a person who is seemingly older than you, in that case you should use “Jó napot”.

2. Jó reggelt/ jó napot/ jó estétGood morning/good day/good evening

These expressions took me a whole month to get right! To make it easier for you “Jó reggelt/napot/estét” is basically a politer way to approach someone. I would recommend using these when meeting people on the street! Try not to mess it up though!

3. Hogy vagy?How are you?

Hungarians are pretty impressed if a foreigner can ask them how they are doing. Surprisingly, the answer is 99% of the time “Jól vagyok, köszönöm. És te?”

4. Köszönöm (szépen)Thank you (very much)

This is pretty much self-explanatory.

5. Egészségedre!Cheers!

Also, pretty self-explanatory but this is something You should use whenever You are drinking pálinka (for example), which you probably will drink a lot of. The typeface of the word might look difficult but the pronunciation is actually way easier. And it gets easier with every shot of pálinka.

6. Én <insert your name> vagyok – I am <name>

This is the simplest way to introduce yourself in Hungarian.

7. Nem értemI do not understand

This is a must-have especially in Hungary because a lot of people might try to talk to you in Hungarian on the streets or in the store. But don’t be fooled, even if you use this sentence they might keep going! In that case, just smile and nod and hope it was not a question.

8. BocsánatI am sorry

“Bocsánat” is what you have to say when you step on someone’s foot or break something by accident. Also, a very useful word if you are a clumsy person like me.

9. Biztos? /BiztosAre you sure? /Sure

Prepare yourself. You are going to hear this sentence at least once per day in Hungary. One might say that Hungarians are very uncertain people.

10. Boldog születésnapotHappy Birthday

I have to admit, this is a pretty random one but it’s fun, so why not include it in this article. Why not learn this phrase to surprise someone on their special day.

Eva Poll (Estonia) – 2020/21