Mini-Lesson: Hungarian Pronunciation Training

We cannot emphasize the importance of the right pronunciation enough. Pronunciation is more than just to know how each letter roughly sounds. When it comes to Hungarian it’s about adapting a sound structure that might be fundamentally different from what you’re used to.


You can learn as much vocabulary as you want – it’s of no use if nobody gets what you want to say or if you don’t understand what people say to you.


To get the pronunciation right from the beginning also means you’ll spare yourself years of unlearning mistakes.


If you feel like the Hungarian pronunciation often gets the best of you, rest assured you’re not alone. To understand all these new sounds is one of the biggest challenges Hungarian learners face.


We’ve designed the following pronunciation training to help your ear 1) get used to unusual Hungarian sounds and 2) recognize the often fine nuances between very similar sounds.


If you’re not yet familiar with the Hungarian alphabet, check out our mini-lesson about the alphabet first.

How It Works

What you’ll find below is a list of pairs of similar-sounding words and their pronunciation.

In English, these would be words like pay vs. bay, be vs. bee, mass vs. mars, or dessert vs. desert.

You can either listen to the words here online or download them.

We strongly suggest you download them. This is how you can test yourself and your understanding of the pronunciation:


The download includes a list of all the pairs and each word as separate files.

We’ve named each file according to the corresponding word.

You can pull them all into your preferred audio player, click shuffle play and guess which word you hear.

The Word List

adok –
adók   (I give – taxes)


állam –
alom –
álom (state – bed (for animals) – dream)


borsot –
borsòt (pepper(acc.) – pea(acc.))


budi –
bugyi (colloq. for toilet – knicker)


csípés –
csípős (sting (n.) – spicy)


doboz –
toboz (box – fir cone)


elvesz –
elvész –
élvez (to take away – to get lost – to enjoy)


épen –
éppen (unhurtly – right now, at that moment)


fog –
fok (will (v.), tooth – step, tier)


hagy –
hogy (to leave – that (conj.))


hitem –
hittem (my belief – I believed)


ijed –
ilyet (to get scared – such thing)


kerek –
kerék –
kérek  (round – wheel – I’d like to have…)


kéz –
kész (hand – finished, ready)


látom –
láttam (I see, I saw)


menni –
mennyi (to go – how much)


méhen –
mélyen (on the bee – deeply)


mondat –
mondod –
mondott (sentence – you say – he/she/it said)


nèz –
nèzz (to look – look (2nd pers. sing. imp.))


örülök –
őrülök (I’m happy – I’m going crazy)


savas –
szavas (acidic – with words)


sertés –
sértés (pork – insult)


sok –
sokk (many – shock)


szár –
zár (stem (of a flower) – to lock)


szervez –
szerves (to organize – organic)


szervezet –
szervezett (organism, system – organized)


szülök –
szülők (I’m giving birth – parents)


talál –
tálal (to find – to serve (food))


tiszta –
tészta (clean – pasta, noodles)


ujj –
új (finger – new)


varr –
vár (to sew – to wait, fortress)


ver –
vér (to beat, blood)


Again, here is where you can download the word list with the sound files and test your pronunciation.



Did we miss any pairs? Any similar-sounding Hungarian words you can think of? Let us know in the comments!


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3 replies
  1. Howard Fee says:

    Köszi! Még néhány.

    agy – ágy : brain – bed
    bór – bőr – bor : boron – skin – wine
    sző – szó : loom, weave – word
    tól – toll – től : from – pen – from
    vágy – vagy : desire – or, you are
    zselés – szeles : jelly – windy


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