There are two ways in which the subject–verb number agreement cue in Hungarian differs from subject–verb number agreement cues in languages like English, German or Spanish. One difference involves the way in which agreement interacts with quantiers. In Hungarian, one says
öt férfí (“five man”) instead of
öt férfiak(“five men”). The singular noun is also used with other quantiers such as “many”, “some” and “all”. Whenever the quantier expresses inherent plurality, the marking of plurality on the noun is considered redundant and is suppressed. Furthermore, for the purposes of agreement with the verb, a quantied subject noun phrase is treated as singular, even when the noun is conceptually plural (Pollard & Sag, 1988).
Second, this treatment of a plural subject as singular can also arise with coordinated subjects. For example, Hungarians can say either
Mari és Feri jön(“Mari and Feri comes”) or
Mari és Feri jönnek(“Mari and Feri come”).
When the coordinated subject is treated as singular, one gets the sense of the two people coming as a unit. When the verb is plural, one gets the sense that two different people are coming perhaps from different places at slightly different times. If processing of the agreement cue relies heavily on conceptual form, these two mismatches in Hungarian between conceptual number and grammatical number could serve to weaken the uniform application of the subject–verb agreement cue.