Hungarian language/Alphabet

See also the corresponding artice on Wikipedia.

The alphabet

letter a á b c cs d dz dzs e é f g gy h i í j k l ly m n ny o ó ö ő p r s sz t ty u ú ü ű v z zs
name a á csé dzé dzsé e é ef gyé i í el ely em en eny o ó ö ő er es esz tyé u ú ü ű zsé
Some consonants look like two (or three) English symbols and represent a single Hungarian letter.
Long vs. short
The alphabet lists all the short and long vowels, but not the long consonants[1]. Nonetheless each letter has a long variant, which alters the meaning of the word. Long vowels are indicated by acute (ˊ) or double acute (˝) -- the only diacritic in Hungarian. Long simple consonants are written doubled (fusson); long digraph consonants have only their first letter doubled (messze). Thus, long digraphs are written as followed:
ccs (=cs+cs), ddz (=dz+dz), ddzs (=dzs+dzs), ggy (=gy+gy), lly (=ly+ly), nny (=ny+ny), ssz (=sz+sz), tty (=ty+ty), zzs (=zs+zs)
unless they are cut from each other at the end of the line, in which case they are written separately (visszavisz-sza). It may happen that two identical digraph consonants meet in a compound word on the roots' boundary, but from grammatical view that is not a long consonant and is written accordingly (nynyak).
Foreign letters
Note that there are no q, w and x letters in the (official) Hungarian alphabet because they do not occur in native Hungarian words. Also there is no y letter on its own, but it occurs in digraphs gy, ly, ny and ty. In exceptional cases, unusual letters may occur in Hungarian words, such as the x in Xénia (name), or ch in pech (=hard luck) being a single letter pronounced as in German. Other similar words, such as szex (=sexuality, sexual intercourse), are widely spread and used, but they eventually have their own translation without foreign letters[2].
When sorting words alphabetically, diacritic is not taken into account, unless it is the only difference between the two words, in which case the acute comes later. For example: kád, kar, kár, kor, kór, kos, kör are alphabetically sorted[3]. Long consonants are treated like two short ones, and digraphs are taken into account. For example: egzotikus, egyéb, lócukor, loccsan, locsog are alphabetically sorted. Note that distinct consonants may accidentally look (and may or may not sound) like digraphs, but those are treated as separate letters when sorting.




short long
a ɒ like a in car but shorter á like a in the German "guten Tag"
e ɛ[4] like a in man é like é in the French enchanté but longer
i i like i in gift í like ea in please
o o like o in no ó like oo in door
ö ø like eu in the French bleu ő øː like ö in the German schön
u u like u in put ú like oo in cool
ü y like ü in the German über ű like üh in the German Führer

The pronunciation of a vs. á and e vs. é noticeably differ from each other, while the others only differ in duration.

Vowels in groups like ie, eu etc. are always pronounced independently.


Simple consonants
b like b in bed
c like ts in tsunami (except for cs)
d like d in door (except for dz, dzs)
f like f in finger
g like g in guitar (except for gy)
h like h in how; may be silent at the end of some words
j like y in you
k like c in cat
l like l in let (except for ly)
m like m in man
n like n in need (except for ny)
p like p in pet
r like r in the German rot
s like s in sugar (except for cs, sz, zs, dzs)
t like t in tow (except for ty)
v like v in Vienna
z like z in zero (except for dz, dzs, sz, zs)
cs like ch in child
dz like dz in adze
dzs like j in juice
gy like dj in adjust
ly like y in you (exactly as for j)
ny like n in news
sz like s in sit
ty like t in Tuesday
zs like s in visual

The letters j and ly are pronounced exactly the same. The latter is less common. There is no general rule by which the spelling of an unknown word containing j or ly could be deduced.

It is not unusual that a simple consonant is accidentally followed by such a digraph that it looks like a long digraph (meggyón, vasszeg). In that case the pronunciation may and may not be affected.



Primary stress is always on the first syllable of a word. Elongated vowels in non-initial syllables can also seem to be stressed to the ear of an English speaker, since length and stress correlate in English.


  1. The Slovak language, for example, has two long consonants ĺ and ŕ and the alphabet explicitly lists them.
  2. I believe that the number of generally accepted words containing x is comparable to the number of words containing dz or dzs.
  3. Even though I've seen a dictionary which took kör before kos.
  4. I took ɛ from phonetic transcriptions on Wikipedia and Wiktionary. It is important to notice that the e/é from Slavic languages and the Spanish and Italian e (which are sometimes noted ɛ too) are clearly between the Hungarian short e and long é.