hungarian meg

Mini Hungarian Lesson: Everything You Need to Know about “Meg”

The Hungarian “meg” is an awesome little word and prefix and is kind of ubiquitous in the Hungarian language. It doesn’t mean a lot by itself, but it shapes the meaning of multiple Hungarian words and sentences. “Meg” is hard to grasp and often difficult to explain. Still, it’s something you’ll definitely encounter while learning Hungarian, so we decided to dedicate a mini-lesson to it. This little Hungarian lesson has not the aim to explain you everything there is to know about “meg”, since that would be way too complex and, frankly, unnecessary for 90% of the time when using the Hungarian language. Instead, as the title says, it’s everything you need to know about it, in order to understand its usage at almost all times. Note that “meg” often is about subtle linguistic nuances; some of its forms are super difficult to explain. But we’ll give our best, so here we go:









1. “Meg”: A Word or a Prefix?

As you might’ve noticed already, you can find “meg” either as a stand-alone word in a sentence (word with a definite meaning) or as a prefix, mostly (but not always!) attached to a verb. Since explaining “meg” as a detached prefix would go beyond the scope of its article, we’ll show you all usages of “meg” as a single word in its own right. In all other cases when you see a lonely “meg”, note that it will be part of the verb of the sentence.


Now let’s get to the practical part and see some examples for all kinds of “meg”s!




2. “Meg” as a Word


2. 1. “Meg” as a Conjunction

The easiest application of “meg” is definitely its function as a conjunction. Let’s see a few examples:



  • “And” (similar to “és”) – In a series of items: “alma, körte meg barack” – “apple, pear and peach” or in the case of special emphasis: “újra meg újra” – “again and again”; “ezer meg ezer” – “thousands and thousands”.



  • “However” (to emphasise a difference) – “Én okos vagyok, te meg szép” – “I am smart, you however are beautiful.”



  • “Besides”, “Furthermore” & “Moreover” – “Másnapos vagyok, mert sokat ittam. Meg a hasam is üres volt.” – “I’m hungover, because I drank a lot. Moreover, my stomach was empty.”




2.2. “Meg” as the Emphasis of Surprise

We use “meg” also, if we are surprised about someone’s presence or their actions:


Te meg mit keresel itt?! – What are YOU doing here?!

Ő meg mit csinál?! – What is he/she doing?!




2.3. “Meg” as “Yes” – Answering a Question Starting with “Meg”

Sometimes, “meg” can simply function as “yes/igen”. This is only the case, when a question starting with “meg” was asked beforehand. Sounds more confusing than it actually is, so let’s see two examples:


Megetted a reggelidet?” – “Meg!” – “Did you eat your breakfast?” – “Yes!”

Megcsináltad, amit kértem?” – “Meg!” – “Did you do what I asked for?” – “Yes!”


Both questions might as well be answered with “igen”, but oftentimes are answered with simply repeating “meg”.




3. “Meg” as a Prefix

In many cases, you will find “meg” at the beginning of a word, attached to what you thought you already knew  and ask yourself, what the hell it’s doing there and what it means. The bad news is, there are myriads of applications of “meg” and to explain all of these would go beyond the scope of this article. The good news is, that most of these applications are rarities which you won’t encounter probably ever. So lets’s focus on those you will deal with frequently.




3.1. Enhancing the Meaning of a Verb

The most important thing to remember about “meg” as a prefix is, that in most cases it indicates that something is, was or intends to be completed, accomplished, finished and done. 


Note that you can literally add “meg” to the beginning of lots and lots of words in the Hungarian language to slightly modify and enhance their meaning. Good news is: You don’t necessarily have to. You can speak perfectly understandable Hungarian, even if you don’t add the “meg” in the following cases. Therefore, these examples aim to make you understand “meg” the next time you’re reading or hearing it.



  • to make – “csinál” vs. “megcsinál” – Both mean to make something, but “megcsinál” bears the sense of accomplishment and certainty. “I’ve finally made it!” for exampe would be “Végre megcsináltam!”


“Csinálok palacsintát.” – “I’ll make some pancakes.” vs. “Megcsinálom a házimat.” – “I’ll finish my homework.”



  • to find – “talál” vs. “megtalál” – Both mean to find, but “talál” is more incidental, while “megtalál” is to find something you’ve been searching for:


“Találtam 1.000HUF-ot az utcán” – “I found 1.000HUF on the street.” vs. “Megtaláltam a kabátomat, amit kerestem.” – “I’ve found the jacket I was looking for.”



  • to search / to look for sth. – keres vs. megkeres – Both mean to search, but “megkeres” bears the clear intention and certainty to be successful:


“Keresem a helyes utat.” – “I’m looking for the right way (to do things).” vs. “Megkeresem a kulcsom.” – “I’m gonna search for my keys right now.”*


*Note that “Keresem a kulcsom” would also be correct, but it suggests uncertainty – you are not sure that you will find the keys anytime soon.




  • to be bored of sth. – un vs. megun – both express the boredom of something, but once you “megun” something there is no way back; it is a more permanent state of being over with something.


“Unom a munkám” – “My job bores me.” vs. “Meguntam a munkám.” – “My job bores the hell out of me and I’ve so had it with it.”.



  • to eat – “eszik” vs. “megeszik” – Both mean to eat, but “megeszik” is to eat something up – finish it.


“Eszek levest.” – “I’ll eat some soup.” vs. “Megeszem a levest.” – “I’ll eat all the soup.”



  • to understand – “ért” vs. “megért” – You “megért” something, if you truly understand someone’s situation or really grasp a mathematical problem. You mostly “ért” something, if you understand it acoustically, language-wise or when it’s not about actually really “feeling into” something:


“Nem értem a filmet, mert németül van.” – “I don’t understand the movie, because it’s in German.” vs. “Megértelek.” – “I truly understand you, I know where you’re coming from, I feel with you.”



  • to change sth. actively – “változtat” vs. “megváltoztat” – You “változtat” something, if you modify some of its attributes, but don’t induce a complete change. “Megváltoztat” is the word for a more complete, overall alteration:


“Változtattam az étrendemen.” – “I’ve made some changes to my diet.” vs. “Megváltoztattam az étrendem – I changed my diet (completely).”



  • to arrive – “érkezik” vs. “megérkezik” – “Érkezik” is the process of arriving, while “megérkezik” is the final arrival -the action is done.


“5 perc múlva érkezem.” – “I`ll be arriving in 5 minutes.” vs. “Megérkeztem” – “I’ve arrived.”




3.2. Indicating, that something just started or only lasts for a few seconds

In a few cases instead of finishing something, “meg” indicates that something has just started or only lasts for a few seconds:



  • to push, to press – “nyom” vs. “megnyom” – “Nyom” rather stands for pressing and squeezing, than pushing, like when your shoes are too tight and are pressing your feet. You would use “megnyom” for pushing a button and calling the elevator – an action that only lasts for a few seconds.


“Új a cipőm és nagyon nyom.” – “My shoes are new and are really squeezing my feet.” vs. “Megnyomom a gombot.” – “I’ll push the button.”



  • to know, to get to know – “ismer” vs. “megismer” – When someone or something is already familiar you would use “ismer”, while “megismer” stands for just getting to know or meeting someone or something – the beginning of the process of knowing.


“Ezer éve ismerem a legjobb barátom.” – “I’ve known my best friend for several years.” vs. “Megismertem egy új srácot Tinderen.” – “I met / got to know a new guy on Tinder.”



  • to hold, to grab – “fog” vs. “megfog” – If you’re in the process of holding something, you go with “fog”, while grabbing something – the beginning of holding is expressed by “megfog”.


“Fogom a kezedet, amíg átmegyünk az úton!” – “I’ll hold your hand until we cross the street.” vs. “A randin hirtelen megfogta a kezemet.” – “During the date he/she suddenly grabbed my hand.”



  • to see – “lát” vs. “meglát” – You “lát” something if you’re seeing it in the form of a longer process, while “meglát” indicates to starting to see someone or something – to recognise it.


“Láttam három madarat az égen.” – “I saw three birds in the sky.” vs. Hirtelen megláttam három madarat az égen.” – I suddenly saw three birds in the sky.”




3.3. Changing the meaning of a verb

In some cases, “meg” changes the meaning of a verb and forms a new one. Still, the words are in some sense related and you will see, how their word root shapes their prefixed meaning:


  • tart vs. megtart – to hold (so. / sth.) vs. to keep (so. / sth.)
  • hív vs. meghív – to call vs. to invite
  • ráz vs. megráz – to shake vs. to electrocute and to shock / unsettle
  • beszél vs. megbeszél – to speak vs. to agree on sth.
  • győz vs. meggyőz – to win vs. to convince someone
  • hat vs. meghat – to make an impact on so. or sth. vs. to move or touch so. emotionally
  • van vs. megvan – to be vs. to be all right / fine and to be found finally (after searching)
  • játszik vs. megjátszik – to play vs. to pretend, to feign, to simulate
  • jegyez vs. megjegyez – to make notes vs. to remember
  • köszön vs. megköszön – to greet so. vs. to thank so.
  • hajol vs. meghajol – to bend vs. to bow




One important note for the end: Just like all other prefixes, in some cases and sentence constructions “meg” gets detached from its root word:


“Nem csináltam meg.” – “I didn’t finish it.”: “Megcsinál” gets split up in “csinál” + “meg” in the case of a denial.


To deal with these would go beyond the scope of this article and will be covered separately and together with the other prefixes.




We hope that our mini lesson genuinely helped you to understand “meg” a little bit better. Please let us know in the comments if we have left anything open or if any of its usage isn’t clear to you. We’ll do our best to help and we also encourage you to help each other in the comments, if you know the answer to anyone else’s question.




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4 replies
  1. Joyce says:

    Great description!

    Question about “Hirtelen megláttam három madarat az égen.” Would this sentence mean more or less the same thing without “hirtelen?”

    • catchbudapest says:

      Thank you Joyce!!:) Yes, indeed, I just used the “hirtelen” (“suddenly”) to emphasize that “megláttam” is something that happens with a bit of a surprise effect, as opposed to “láttam”.


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