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The Doubled Postpositions

In Hungarian, you often need your postpositions doubled. This is a very simple rule, now remained only one simple question. What the heck is that?


Hungarian has a lot of suffixes, including case that denote spatial and conceptual relation like in, out, for, at, by, up, down and so on. However, some relations are expressed by postpositions. They are separate words, unlike suffixes, they stand behind the noun they concern to, and they obey to the doubling rule.
  Let’s see a list of them first.

alatt – under
  alól – from under
  alá – to under
  fölött – above
  fölül – from above
  fölé – to above
  felől – from the direction of
  felé – towards
  előtt – in front of
  elől – from the front of
  elé – to the front of
  mögött – behind
  mögül – from behind
  mögé – to behind
  mellett – beside
  mellől – from beside
  mellé – to beside
  között – between
  közül – from between
  közé – to between
  körül – around
  köré – to around
  után – after
  iránt – towards, after, about
  hosszat – at the length of (time)
  belül – inside of
  kívül – outside of
  innen – on this side
  túl – beyond
  át – over
  keresztül – through
  óta – since
  közben – during
  múlva – after (time)
  kezdve – beginning from
  fogva – caught by, caused by
  együtt – together
  által, révén, útján – by means of
  miatt – because of
  végett – for the purpose of
  nélkül – without
  gyanánt – in the role of
  szerint – according to
  helyett – instead of

Using Them

A great part of the list consists of triplets differing only in their ending.
  Those with -att, -ett, -ött refer to a location:
  A fa alatt ül. He is sitting under the tree.
  Those with -ól, -ől, -ül refer to the origin of a movement:
  A fa alól jön. He comes from under the tree. He was there, but now he’s coming from there.
  Those with -á, -é refer to the target of a movement:
  A fa alá ül. He sits down (to) under the tree. He is or was moving, and that movement ends in sitting under the tree.

Some examples with the others:
  1992 óta írok. I’m used to write since 1992.
  Fred helyett Joe jött. Instead of Fred, Joe has arrived.
  Betegség miatt zárva. Due to an illness, it’s closed.

With Pronouns

Pronouns make the postpositions take special forms:
  az that → a(z)-
  azalatt – under that
  afölött – above that
  aköré – to around that
  anélkül – without that
  azelőtt – in front of that, before that
  In some cases, azon-: azonfölül, azonkívül. Some postpositions can’t be paired with a pronoun, like hosszat, keresztül, gyanánt.
  ez this → e(z)-
  Works the same way. Azon- is replaced by ezen-.
  én I → -am, -em, after a vowel: -m
  te you → -ad, -ed, after a vowel: -d
  ő s(he) → -a, -e, after a vowel: -ja, -je
  mi we → -unk, -ünk, after a vowel: -nk
  ti plural you → -atok, -etek, after a vowel: -tok, -tek
  ők they → -uk, -ük, after a vowel: -juk, -jük

The Doubling

The doubling happens when there are three words present:
  – either that, this, those, these;
  – a noun;
  – a postposition.
  In such a case, you create the sentence the following way:
  1. az, ez, azok, ezek + the postposition
  2. definite article + noun + postposition
  Yes, the postposition appears twice. Twice. Nobody else but the postposition.

A ház előtt. In front of the house.
  Az előtt a ház előtt. In front of the house. („In front of that in front of the house.”)
  Azok mögött az emberek mögött. Behind those people.
  Ez alatt az idő alatt. During this time.
  Ezek elé a fák elé. To before these trees.

One Word Or Two

Amögött or a mögött? The rule is simple. Single postposition, one word – double postposition, two words.

– Hol van a mozi? Where’s the cinema?
  – Látja azt a házat? See that house?
  Amögött. Behind that.
  A mögött a ház mögött. Behind that house.