GRAMMAR OF TURKISH
A suffix (ek) is attached to a stem (gövde). This stem may be a root (kök), or it may be further analysable. The suffixes used in Turkish fall approximately into two classes:
- constructive suffixes (yapım ekleri), and
- inflexional suffixes (çekim ekleri).
The distinction here involves the distinction between words as found in dictionaries and words as found in sentences. A constructive suffix makes a new dictionary-word from an old one; an inflexional suffix allows a dictionary-word to take its proper place in a sentence. Thus the distinction between constructive and inflexional suffixes is somewhat arbitrary, depending on the judgements of grammarians and lexicographers. The present article is concerned mainly with inflexional suffixes; the article on Turkish vocabulary treats the structural suffixes.
This article assumes familiarity with the Turkish alphabet and its phonetic use in writing down the language. Spelling changes, such as those reflecting vowel harmony, will be used without further comment. But let it be noted that a Turkish suffix can be called enclitic if its vowel does harmonize with the last vowel of the stem that the suffix is attached to. All suffixes mentioned here can be assumed enclitic unless otherwise specified.
Because Turkish has no gender, where English has the three personal pronouns "she", "he", and "it", Turkish has one: o. Since many given names in Turkish are not sex-specific, it is possible to tell somebody all about somebody else without the listener's knowing the sex of the person being described. In this article, translations from Turkish will use expressions like "he or she" or "s/he"; even then, the possibility of "it" should be remembered.
Also, in translations, this article will use the archaic "thou/thee/thy/thine" in translating Turkish second-person singular forms. As English always does now, so Turkish sometimes uses second-person plural forms to refer to individuals, especially as a sign of respect. That is, Turkish has a T-V distinction.
As has already been done under #Suffixes, this article gives some grammatical terminology in Turkish as well as English. The Turkish terms themselves serve to illustrate features of the grammar. For example, in the Turkish terms for the structural and inflexional endings, three roots are involved:
- ek "supplement, affix" (but note that Turkish has no prefixes);
- yap- "make";
- çek- "pull, draw".
To the latter two roots, both verbal, the constructive suffix -im can be added to form nouns for instances of the actions denoted by the roots:
- yapım "construction";
- çekim "[a] pull or draw" (or a "take" in cinema).
Either of these nouns can be compounded with the noun ek; the result is an indefinite compound (belirtisiz tamlama), the sign of which is the inflexional suffix -i attached to ek:
- yapım eki "structure-suffix";
- çekim eki "inflexion-suffix".
The inflexional suffix -ler goes before the -i to make the plural: yapım ekleri, çekim ekleri.
It should be noted that many words in Turkish—in particular, many grammatical terms—are neologisms invented to replace earlier words borrowed from Arabic or Persian. (See the main article for more on this point.) In some cases, the old term is also still in use. In such a case, no consistent attempt will be made below to indicate whether the old or the new term is the more prevalent. (However, literal translations of the terms may be offered.)
Parts of speech
By one count, there are nine parts of speech (sözcük türleri "word-kinds"):
- noun (isim or ad "name");
- pronoun (zamir "inner being", or adıl from ad);
- adjective (sıfat "role, quality", or önad "front-noun");
- verb (fiil "act, deed", or eylem "action" from eyle- "make, do").
- adverb (zarf "envelope", or belirteç from belir- "determine");
- postposition (ilgeç from ilgi "interest, relation");
- conjunction (râbıt [obsolete], or bağlaç from bağ "bond");
- particle (edat);
- interjection (nidâ [obsolete], or ünlem from ün "fame, repute, sound").
Postpositions are like prepositions in English, except that they follow their objects. Postpositions can be considered merely as particles, but there are particles in Turkish that are not postpositions. The notion of a part of speech applies both to a dictionary-word and to a word in a sentence. In Turkish, only nouns, pronouns and verbs are inflected. (An adjective can usually be treated as a noun or pronoun, so that it can be inflected too.) By inflexion, a noun can be given features of a verb (such as person, tense and so forth). Also by inflexion, a verb can become one of the following:
- verbal noun (isim-fiil);
- verbal adjective (sıfat-fiil) or participle (ortaç);
- verbal adverb (called a gerund by Lewis (1967)).
These have peculiarities not shared with other nouns, adjectives or adverbs. For example, some participles take a person the way verbs do. Also, a verbal noun can take a direct object. Some verbal nouns are not inflected forms in Turkish, but are borrowed from Arabic or other languages.
The dictionary-form of a noun (or pronoun) can make a complete sentence:
köpek "dog"; Köpek "It is a dog."
Most dictionaries give verbs as infinitives, which usually will not be construed as complete sentences:
koşmak "(to) run".
However, instead of the infinitive, the Redhouse Turkish-English Dictionary gives the stem of a verb as its headword, and the present article follows this convention. The verb-stem is also the second-person singular imperative:
koş- "run"; Koş! "Run!"
Thus both a noun and a verb, with no endings, can be a sentence.
Many verbs are formed from nouns by addition of -le:
köpekle- "make like a dog" (in any of several ways).
The aorist tense of a verb is formed by adding -(i/e)r. The plural of a noun is formed by adding -ler. Hence:
Köpek + ler "(They are) dogs." Köpekle + r "S/he cringes (like a dog)."
Thus -ler can indicate either a plural noun or a finite verb.
As noted above, most adjectives can be treated as nouns or pronouns:
genç "young" or "young person" or "the young person referred to".
An adjective or noun can stand, as a modifier, before a noun, where the latter word gets the inflexional suffix -i if the modifier is also a noun (but not a noun of material):
beyaz diş "white tooth"; altın diş "gold tooth"; köpek dişi "canine tooth".
Comparison is achieved, not by inflexion of adjectives (or adverbs), but by other means (described below).
Adjectives can serve as adverbs, sometimes by being repeated:
yavaş "slow"; yavaş yavaş "slowly".
A general rule of Turkish word-order is that the modifier precedes the modified. Therefore, usually,
- adjective (used attributively) precedes noun;
- adverb precedes verb;
- object of postposition precedes postposition.
Also, in a sentence,
- subject precedes predicate;
- objects precede verb;
- indirect object precedes direct object.
In particular then, Turkish is SOV. However, because the distinction between subject, indirect object, and direct object is shown also by inflexion, the rules of word-order are not inviolable.
The order of morphemes in Turkish is often opposite to English:
Avrupa Europe Avrupalı European Avrupalılaş become European Avrupalılaştır Europeanize Avrupalılaştırama cannot Europeanize Avrupalılaştıramadık whom could not Europeanize Avrupalılaştıramadıklar those whom could not Europeanize Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımız those whom we could not Europeanize Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan one of those whom we could not Europeanize Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mı? one of those whom we could not Europeanize? Avrupalılaştıramadıklarımızdan mısınız? Are you one of those whom we could not Europeanize?
The use of the following endings will be discussed in more detail later.
The plural suffix (çoğul eki) can be used with nouns and with third-person verbs:
The case-endings (durum ekleri from dur- "stop, last", or hâl ekleri from hâl "state, condition") can be named (in English) and used roughly as in Latin:
|abolute (yalın "bare" durum)||—|
|definite accusative (belirtme "clarifying" durumu)||-(y)i|
|dative (yönelme "going-towards" durumu)||-(y)e|
|locative (bulunma "being-found" durumu)||-de|
|ablative (çıkma "going-out" durumu)||-den|
|genitive (tamlayan "compounding" eki)||-(n)in|
If a case-ending is attached to a demonstrative pronoun (which ends in o or u), or to a noun that has already taken a third-person ending of possession (given below), then the case-ending is preceded by n (and the parenthetical y is not used).
Nouns derived from verbs in several ways. The number of ways of forming verbal nouns from verb-stems can be debated; here are three:
Several series of endings show distinctions of person (kişi); they are given here, along with the personal pronouns for comparison:
|Indicators of person|
|suffixes of possession (iyelik ekleri)||-(i)m||-(i)miz||-(i)n||-(i)niz||-(s)i|
|personal endings (kişi ekleri)||predicative (I)||-(y)im||-(y)iz||-sin||-siniz||—|
The names given to the personal endings here are not standard. These endings are often just referred to as type I, II, III, and IV respectively; but the order in which the types are numbered is also not standard. It should also be noted that Lewis (1967) refers to the suffixes of possession as "personal" endings. However, of the endings called personal in Turkish and in this article:
- those labelled "predicative" above can be used to turn nouns into verbs;
- those labelled "verbal" attach only to verb-stems.
The plural ending can be combined with a third-person pronoun or ending. The order in which they are combined depends on the ending. The results of combination are, respectively,
However, a third-person verb with a separate plural subject does not always take the plural ending itself.
A suffix of possession gives the person of a possessor of the object named by the noun to which the suffix is attached; it also indicates a subject for a participle.
A predicative ending can assign a person to a noun, thus creating a complete sentence:
ada "island"; Adayım "I am an island."
See also Copula#Turkish and Turkish copula.
All of the personal suffixes can be used in the formation of verbs. Verb-stems have been mentioned. A verb-base is obtained from a verb-stem by attachment of certain suffixes or characteristics given below. Then the personal endings here called "predicative" and "verbal" attach only to verb-bases; the optative and imperative endings attach to verb-stems.
|with predicative endings||progressive||-mekte|
|with verbal endings||definite past||-di|
The present characteristic is not fully enclitic: the first syllable shows vowel harmony, but the second is invariable. The aorist negative and impotential characteristics are given here because they are anomalous. The non-aorist characteristics can be suffixed to the following endings:
See #Negation and potential in verb-stems under #Verbs below.
Some third-person verbs are also participles. Participles can be classified as personal, if they take a suffix of possession, and impersonal, if they do not. The following suffixes attach to verb-stems:
The interrogative particle (soru eki) is not written as a suffix, but it is enclitic:
A Turkish noun has no gender. The dictionary-form of a noun can take up to four (kinds of) #inflexional suffixes, generally in the following order:
- plural suffix;
- suffix of possession (iyelik eki from iye "owner");
- personal suffix (kişi eki from kişi "person").
Through its presence or absence, the plural ending shows distinctions of number.
A noun is made into an indefinite plural by addition of -ler. If a numeral is used with a noun, then the plural suffix is not used:
baş "head", başlar "[some] heads", beş baş "five head(s)".
The plural ending also allows a family (living in one house) to be designated by a single member:
Aliler "Ali and his family"; teyze "maternal aunt", teyzem "my maternal aunt"; teyzemler "my maternal aunt and her family".
In the last example, the first-person singular suffix of possession comes before the plural ending; this is an exception to the order of suffixes given above. In the usual order, we have
teyzelerim "my maternal aunts".
Nouns are pluralized in standard temporal greetings.
gün "day", İyi günler! "Good day!"; yıl "year"; Mutlu yıllar! "Happy new year!"
As noted earlier, the suffixes of possession give the person (and number) of the possessor of what is named by the noun:
teyzem "my maternal aunt", teyzeniz "your maternal aunt", teyzeleriniz "your maternal aunts".
Note well that, when a word takes one of the endings of possession, the word becomes the name of something possessed, not possessing: the word for the possessor, if present, takes the genitive case-ending, as discussed below.
The plural ending will not be attached twice to the same word; therefore ambiguity is possible:
fikir "idea", fikirleri "their idea" or "their ideas" or "her [or his] ideas".
Ambiguity can be resolved with #pronouns.
The absolute case combines the uses of the nominative and vocative cases. It is for subjects, and for names of people being addressed. It is also used for indefinite direct objects; definite direct objects are in the definite-accusative case:
şiir "poem", so: Şiir okur "S/he reads a poem"; Şiiri okur "S/he reads the poem."
The dative case tells whither, that is, the place to which. Thus it has roughly the meaning of the English prepositions "to" and "into", and also "in" when it can be replaced with "into":
Birayı buzdolabına koy- "the-beer in-icebox put", that is, "put the beer in the fridge".
The dative also is for objects: usually indirect objects, but sometimes objects that in English would be considered direct:
Güneşin batışına bak- "sun's at-its-sinking look", that is, "look at the sunset"; hükümete güven- "in-government trust", that is, "trust the government".
The locative case tells where, hence corresponds to the English prepositions "at" and "on", and "in" when it does not mean "into".
evde "at home" (ev "house"); Buzdolabında dört bira var "in-icebox four beer exist," that is, "There are four beers in the fridge."
The ablative case tells whence, that is, the place from which (or through which), hence:
- material out of which something is made;
kumdan yapılmış kale "of-sand made castle", that is, "castle made of sand";
- a cause by which something is effected;
açlıktan öl- "of-hunger die";
- that to which other things are being compared (see #adjectives below).
In the Turkish terminology, the genitive case indicates a "compounding" (tamlayan) word. The corresponding "compounded" (tamlanan) word will take the appropriate suffix of possession. The pair of these words is then a definite compound (belirtili tamlama):
anne "mother", annesi "her mother", Ayşe'nin annesi "Ayşe's mother".
(The apostrophe in Turkish is used before suffixes attached to proper nouns.)
However, if two nouns are connected, but not by ownership, then the second noun generally takes an ending of possession, while the first takes no ending. The result is an indefinite compound (belirtisiz tamlama):
Türkiye'nin Cumhurbaşkanı "The President of Turkey" (definite); Türkiye Cumhuriyeti "The Republic of Turkey" (indefinite).
If one noun names a material, the other noun need not take an ending:
nikâh yüzüğü "wedding ring"; altın yüzük "gold ring".
If a noun is to be in the first or second person, one of the predicative suffixes (or type-I personal suffixes) will show this:
Dünyayız "We are the world" (dünya "world"). Çocuklarsınız "You are the children" (çocuk "child").
In the third person, no ending is required. However, the ending
can be used; it is said (Lewis, 1967: VIII,3) to be the remnant of a verb turur "S/he stands". Again in the third person, the plural suffix may be used:
Türk or Türktür "S/he is Turkish"; Türkler or Türktürler "They are Turkish"; Türklerdir "They are the Turks" (Lewis, 1967: VIII,5).
Several suffixes can be combined:
Evinizdeyim "I am at your house." Ya benimsin, ya toprağın "Thou art either mine, or the earth's (that is, dead)."
(The last was spotted on a minibus in Turkey.)
The infinitive, formed with -mek as noted earlier, does not take a suffix of possession, or the genitive case-ending. It does take all other case-endings. In particular, the progressive characteristic given earlier is the infinitive ending with the locative ending:
Konuşmaktayız "We are in (the act of) speaking." Savaşmaktayız "We are in warfare."
The verbal noun in -me is called a gerund above, since it corresponds roughly to the English gerund. It can take a suffix of possession and any case-ending:
bekleme odası "waiting room" (bekle- "wait"; oda "room"). Beklemeniz lâzım "Your-waiting necessary", that is, "You have to wait"; Sesini duymayı seviyorum "Thy-voice hearing I-love", that is, "I like to hear thy voice."
The dative form of a Turkish gerund can correspond precisely to an English infinitive with to:
Ülkemizde nano teknolojik ürünler üretilmeye başladı "In-our-country nano technological products to-be-produced began"
that is, "Nano-technological products began to be produced in our country" (source: Cumhuriyet Bilim-Teknik 13 August 2005, p. 1).
Yet another verbal noun is from -iş:
yürüyüş "walk, walking" (yürü- "walk"); yağış "rain" (yağ- "rain"); alışveriş "getting [and] spending", that is, "shopping" (al- "take" or "buy"; ver- "give" or "spend"); yaratılış "creation" (yara- "be of use", yarat- "create", yaratıl- "be created").
The verb et- "make, do" can be considered as an auxiliary verb, since for example it is often used with verbal nouns borrowed from other languages, such as Arabic:
kabul et- "accept" (kabul "[an] accepting"); reddet- "reject" (ret "[a] rejecting"); ziyaret et- "visit" (ziyaret "[a] visiting").
Considered as units, these are transitive verbs; but the nouns in them can, by themselves, take direct objects:
Antalya'yı ziyaret "visit to Antalya".
What looks like an ablative gerund is usually an adverb; the ending
has the sense of "without":
Bir soruyu cevaplamadan tartışmak, tartışmadan cevaplamaktan iyidir "A particular-question without-answering to-debate without-debating from-to-answer is-good," that is, "It is better to debate without answering than to answer without debating."
(Source: Joseph Joubert as quoted on p. 20 of Gündelik Bilmeceler by Partha Ghose and Dipankar Home, translated by Özlem Özbal, Tübitak Popüler Bilim Kitapları 25, Ankara, 1996.)
An infinitive in the absolute case can be the object of a verb such as iste- "want":
Kimi eğitime devam etmek, "Some-of-them towards-education continuation make kimi de çalışmak istiyor. some-of-them also work want."
(Source: Cumhuriyet Pazar Dergi, 14 August 2005, p. 1.) Note here that the compound verb devam et- "continue, last" does not take a direct object, but is complemented by a dative noun.
Another way to express obligation (besides with lâzım as in the earlier example) is by means of zor "trouble, compulsion" and an infinitive:
Gitmek zoru "Go compulsion", Gitmek zorundayız "We must go".
(Source: same as the last example.)
Both an infinitive and a gerund are objects of the postposition için "for" in the third sentence of the quotation within the following quotation:
Tesis yetkilileri, Facility its-authorities "Bölge insanları genelde tutucu. "District its-people in-general conservative. Sahil kesimleri Shore its-sections yola yakın olduğu için to-road near their-being for rahat bir şekilde göle giremiyorlar. comfortable a in-form to-lake they-cannot-enter. Biz de We and hem yoldan geçenlerin görüş açısını kapatmak both from-road of-passers sight their-angle to-close hem de erkeklerin rahatsız etmemesi için and men's uncomfortable their-not-making for paravan kullanıyoruz" screen we-are-using" dedi. they-said. Ancak paravanın aralarından But curtain's from-its-gaps çocukların karşı tarafı gözetlemeleri children's other side their-spying engellenemedi. cannot-be-hindered.
Source: Cumhuriyet, 9 August 2005, Tuesday, p. 1. A free translation is:
The facility authorities said, "The people of this district [Edremit] are generally conservative. They cannot enter the lake comfortably, because the shore areas are near the road. So we are using a screen, both to close off the view of passersby on the road, and so that men will not cause discomfort." However, children cannot be prevented from spying on the other side through gaps in the screen.
Adjectives used attributively precede the noun; used predicatively, they follow, unless something other than word-order shows that they are being used predicatively:
yeşil çim "[the] green grass" Çim yeşil(dir) or Yeşildir çim "Grass is green."
In a positive comparison, the object takes the ablative case; the adverb daha "more" is optional, unless the object is left out.
tüyden (daha) hafif "lighter than a feather".
In a negative comparison, the adverb az "less" is needed; the object still takes the ablative; daha can still be used as well.
kurşundan (daha) az ağır "less heavy than lead"
The superlative degree is expressed by the adverb en "most".
en büyük yalancı "the biggest liar" (büyük "big", yalan "lie"); en az güvenilir "least trustworthy" (güven- "trust").
Most adjectives in the dictionary are descriptive. The most fundamental descriptive adjectives are two:
These are used only predicatively:
- with the sense of the English "There is" and "There is not":
Gökte bir bulut yok "There is not a cloud in the sky";
- in the construction that supplies the lack of a verb "have":
Balcının var bal tası, "Honey-seller's exists honey his-pot, oduncunun var baltası. wood-cutter's exists his-axe."
(This is a proverbial expression: "The honey-seller has a honey-pot; the wood-cutter has an axe"; bal "honey", odun "(fire) wood", tas "bowl", balta "axe"; the more usual order would make the saying Balcının bal tası var, oduncunun baltası var).
The cardinal bir "one" can be used as an indefinite article. Word-order can make the difference:
güzel bir gün "a nice day"; bir güzel gün "one fine day".
Unless it is being used by itself, elliptically, the adjective hiç "no" requires an additional word with negative force:
Hiç param yok "I have no money" (para "money"); Hiç bir adam ada değildir "No man is an island" (adam "man", ada "island", değil "not"). Bir şey görüyorum "I see something", but Hiç bır şey göremiyorum "I can't see anything."
It is noted under #Parts of speech that Turkish participles (sıfat-fiiller) can be classified as
- personal, if they take a suffix of possession;
- impersonal, if they do not.
In a personal participle, the suffix of possession signifies the subject of the underlying verb; if this possessor is third person, then the possessor may be further specified with a noun in the genitive case.
The noun modified by a personal participle as an adjective may be the direct object of the underlying verb; the connexion may also be more vague.
The noun modified by an impersonal participle is generally the subject of the underlying verb (but see Lewis (1967: IX,2)).
The aorist tense (geniş zaman "broad time") is for habitual actions; the present tense (şimdiki zaman "time that is now") is for actions ongoing or contemplated.
akarsu "water that flows", hence "stream" (ak- "flow", su "water"); akaryakıt "fuel oil" (yakıt "heating fuel"); çıkmaz "not going out, cul-de-sac"; inilir "got down from" (sign at rear door of bus; in- "go down") sürdürülebilir turizm "tourism that can be continued", that is, "sustainable tourism" (sür "drive"; sürdür "continue")
geçen hafta "passing week", that is, "last week"; Silahları çekip "Guns pulling-out-and havaya ateş açan to-air fire opening AKP'liler hakkında AKP-members about-them yasal işlem başlatılmadı legal process was-not-begun"
that is, "No legal process has begun concerning the AKP members who pulled out guns and fired them in the air" [Birgün Halkın Gazetesi, 25 July 2005]; for -ip see #Adverbs below.
gelecek hafta "week that will come", that is, "next week"; okunacak bir kitap "a book that will be read" (okun- "be read"); okuyacağım bir kitap "a book that I shall read" (oku- "read").
okunmuş bir kitap "a book that was read"; okuduğum bir kitap "a book that I read"; 'Yaşamın bittiği yer'de hayat "Life in the place where life ended."
(The last example is a newspaper headline [Birgün, 20 July 2005] about cemetery workers; bit- "end"; yer "place"; hayat [Arabic] and yaşam [neologism from yaşa-] "life".)
A personal participle can be construed as a noun and used in parallel with verbal nouns:
Çocukarın yüzde 68'i evinin ihtiyaçlarına katkıda bulunmak, yüzde 21'i ailesi istediği için, yüzde altısı iş öğrenmek ve meslek edinmek için, yüzde 4'ü ihtiyaçlarını karşılaşmak için çalışıyor "Children's in-100 their-68 house's for-its-needs in-aid be-found, in-100 their-21 their-family that-they-wanted for, in-100 their-six work learn and profession be-made for, in-100 their-4 their-needs meet for are-working."
(Source: Birgün Halkın Gazetesi 13 August 2005, Saturday, p. 1.) That is,
Children are working, 68% to provide for their family's needs, 21% because their family wants it, 6% to learn a job or profession, 4% to meet their [own] needs.
The following sentence from a newspaper headline contains twenty-two words, nine derived from verbs, four of these as participles, three as gerunds. Note also the use of kontrol from French as a verbal noun with et-:
Türkiye'nin AB'ye girmemesi ve "Turkey's to-the-EU its-not-entering and İslam dünyasına yaklaşması halinde Islam to-its-world its-drawing-near in-its-state şeriatçılığın kucağına itilmiş sharia-favorer-ness's to-its-embrace pushed olacağını that-it-will-be söyleyen Fransız senatör Duireux, saying French senator Duireux, İslami akımların Islamic current's kontrol edilmesi control its-being-made gerektiğini that-it-will-be-necessary belirtti. he-made-clear."
Source: Cumhuriyet, 17 July 2005; more smoothly:
Saying that, by not joining the EU and by drawing close to the Islamic world, Turkey would be pushed into the lap of those who favor sharia, French senator Duireux made clear that it was necessary to control the Islamic tide.
The adverb of negation is değil. It is used to negate sentences that are without verb or var; then it takes the appropriate personal ending:
Evde değilim "I am not at home."
It may also negate part of sentence:
İŞGALE DEĞİL DİRENİŞE DESTEK "To-invasion not to-resistance support", that is, "Support the resistance, not the invasion"
(slogan on placard at demonstration).
A number of adverbs are derived from verbs:
The ending -e is seen in:
Güle güle "[Go] smilingly" (said to somebody departing); Güle güle kullanın "Use [it] smilingly" (said to somebody with a new acquisition); Beşe çeyrek kala kalktım "To-five a-quarter remaining I-got-up", that is, "I got up at a quarter to five"; Onu yirmi geçe uyudun "You slept at twenty past ten" (uyu- "sleep", although uy- "heed").
The ending -erek denotes action at the same time as, or preceding, that of another verb:
Geceyi konuşarak geçirdik "The-night talking we-caused-to-pass", that is, "We spent the night talking." Akıl yürüterek bu sonuca ulaşıyorum "By using reason, I arrived at this conclusion"
[the latter is Bülent Ecevit as quoted in Cumhuriyet, 20 July 2005].
Doğaya en az zarar vererek yaşamak "To live while giving the least harm to nature"
[Buğday magazine, 7–8/2005, no 32].
From ol- "be, become", olarak forms adverbial phrases corresponding to those in English with "as":
Size bir dost olarak söylüyorum "To-you a friend as I'm-telling", that is, "I'm telling you this as a friend"; ciddi olarak "seriously" (ciddi "serious").
The ending -meden on a verb-stem looks like the ablative gerund, but it is not (Lewis [IX,12]). It indicates an action not occurring at all, or following that of the main verb:
Bakmadan atlama "Don't leap without looking"; Bakmadan önce atlama "Don't leap before looking."
Complementing önce "before" is sonra "after", which can follow a verb-stem given the ending -dikten:
Baktıktan sonra atla "After looking, leap"; Ayşe baktıktan sonra Neşe atladı "After Ayşe looked, Neşe lept."
Simultaneity is expressed by iken or its (not enclitic) suffixed form -(y)ken; but if it follows a verb, then the verb appears, not as a stem, but as a base; see #Bases of verbs:
Eve girmekteyken, bir şey hatırladım "As I was entering the house, I remembered something"; Ben eve girmekteyken, telefon çaldı "As I was entering the house, the telephone rang."
If two verbs of the same grammatical form have the same subject, the endings on the first verb can be replaced by -ip; see the example under #Participles.
The third-person personal pronoun o "she/he/it" is declined as if it were the noun on. The other persons, ben "I", sen "thou", biz "we", siz "you", are declined like nouns, except for a vowel change in the dative, and an anomalous genitive; also the plural forms do not involve -ler:
The absolute case is generally needed only for emphasis:
- Nasılsınız? "How are you?"
- İyiyim; siz nasılsınız? "I am fine; how are you?"
- Ben de iyiyim "I too am fine."
The third-person pronoun can clear up an ambiguity mentioned above:
- onların fikri "their idea";
- onların fikirleri "their ideas";
- onun fikirleri "her [or his] ideas".
The pronoun o is also one of the demonstrative pronouns:
- o "that";
- bu "this";
- şu "this or that" (thing pointed to).
The latter two are declined like o (that is, treated as if they were bun and şun).
The interrogative pronouns (and adjectives) are:
- kim "who";
- ne "what";
- hangi "which";
- kaç "how many" or "much".
These serve as relative pronouns only in a limited way:
- Buzdolabında kaçtane var, o bilir "S/he knows how many are in the refrigerator."
There is a suffix -ki, usually not enclitic, acts as a relative pronoun in that it creates what, in English, would be called relative clauses:
- benimki "mine (that which is mine)";
- buzdolabındaki bira "beer that is in the refrigerator".
The reflexive pronoun (dönüşlü zamir from dön- "turn") is kendi "own, self":
- Kendi kendinden korkma "Do not be afraid of thyself."
Many of the indefinite adjectives can function as pronouns, taking case-endings.
Stems of verbs
Many stems in the dictionary are indivisible; others consist of endings attached to a root.
Verb-stems from nouns
The verb-stem temizle- "make clean" is the adjective temiz "clean" with the suffix -le; this suffix was mentioned earlier under #Parts of speech in connexion with the verb köpekle-. Many verbs are formed from nouns or adjectives with -le:
başla- "make a head", that is, "begin" (intransitive; baş "head"); kilitle- "make locked", that is, "lock" (kilit "lock"); kirle- "make dirty" (kir "dirt").
A verbal root, or a verb-stem in -le, can be lengthened with certain extensions. If present, they appear in the following order; they indicate distinctions of voice:
|Extensions for voice|
|causative||-t||after polysyllabic stems in -l, -r, or a vowel; and|
|-dir||in other cases; except:|
|-ir, -er, -it||after some monosyllabic stems; and|
|there are some other exceptional forms as well.|
|passive||-l||after stems ending in a consonant; otherwise, same as reflexive.|
These endings might seem to be inflexional in the sense of the #Introduction above; but their meanings are not always clear from their particular names, and dictionaries do generally give the resulting forms, so in this sense they are structural endings.
The causative extension makes an intransitive verb transitive, and a transitive verb factitive. Together, the reciprocal and causative extension make the repetitive extension -iştir.
bul- "find", buluş- "meet", bulun- "be present";
yıka- "wash [something else]", yıkan- "wash oneself", yıkanıl- "be washed";
kayna- "(come to a) boil", kaynat- "(bring to a) boil";
öl- "die", öldür- "kill", öldürt- "have [someone] killed";
ara- "look for", araştır- "investigate".
Negation and potential in verb-stems
A dictionary-stem is positive; it can be made:
- negative, by addition of -me;
- impotential, by addition of -e and then -me.
Any of these three (kinds of) stems can be made potential by addition of -e and then -bil. The -bil is not enclitic, but represents the verb bil- "know, be able"; the first syllable of the impotential ending represents an obsolete verb u- "be powerful, able" #Lewis [VIII,55]. So far then, there are six kinds of stems:
|Paradigm for stems negative, impotential and potential|
|English infinitive||English finite form|
|gelme-||"not come"||"do not come"|
|geleme-||"be unable to come"||"cannot come"|
|gelebil-||"be able to come"||"can come"|
|gelmiyebil-||"be able not to come"||"may not come"|
|gelemiyebil-||"able to be unable to come"||"may be unable to come"|
Such stems are not used for aorist forms, which have their own peculiar means of forming negatives and impotentials.
Bases of verbs
The characteristics with which verb-bases are formed from stems are given under #Inflexional suffixes. Note again that aorist verbs have their own peculiar negative and impotential forms.
The progressive base in -mekte is discussed under #Verbal nouns. Another base, namely the necessitative (gereklilik), is formed from a verbal noun. The characteristic is -meli, where -li forms adjectives from nouns, and -me forms gerunds from verb-stems. A native speaker may perceive the ending -meli as indivisible; the analysis here is from #Lewis [VIII,30]).
The present base is derived from the ancient verb yorı- "go, walk" #Lewis [VIII,16]; this can be used for ongoing actions, or for contemplated future actions.
The meaning of the aorist base is described under #Adjectives from verbs: participles.
There is some irregularity in first-person negative and impotential aorists:
Gelmem "I do not come"; Gelmeyiz "We do not come".
The definite past or di-past is used to assert that something did happen in the past. The inferential past or miş-past can be understood as asserting that a past participle is applicable now; hence it is used when the fact of a past event, as such, is not important; in particular, the inferential past is used when one did not actually witness the past event.
A newspaper will generally use the di-past, because it is authoritative. The need to indicate uncertainly and inference by means of the miş-past may help to explain the extensive use of ki in the newspaper excerpt at Turkish vocabulary#The conjunction ki.
The conditional (şart) verb could also be called "hypothetical"; it is used for remote possibilities, or things one might wish for. (See also #Compound bases.)
The various bases thus give distinctions of tense, aspect and mood. These can be briefly tabulated:
|First-person singular verbs|
|gelmekteyim||"I am in the process of coming"|
|gelmeliyim||"I must come"|
|gelmem||"I do not come"|
|gelemem||"I cannot come"|
|geleceğim||"I shall come"|
|gelmişim||"It seems that I came"|
|geliyorum||"I am coming"|
|gelsem||"if only I came"|
The interrogative particle mi precedes predicative (type-I) endings, but follows the complete verb formed from a verbal, type-II ending:
Geliyor musunuz? "Are you coming?" Geldiniz mi? "Did you come?"
Optative and imperative moods
Usually, in the optative (istek), only the first-person forms are used, and these supply the lack of a first-person imperative (emir). In common practice then, there is one series of endings to express something wished for:
(The longer second-person plural imperative ending -(y) iniz is generally used only in writing.)
|Geleyim||"Let me come"|
|Gelelim||"Let us come"|
|Gelsin||"Let [her/him/it] come"|
|Gelsinler||"Let them come"|
The defective verb i-
The ancient verb er- #Lewis [VIII,2] exists in Turkish in three bases:
The form iken given under #Adverbs from verbs is also descended from er-. Since no more bases are founded on the stem i-, this verb can be called defective. In particular, i- forms no negative or impotential stems; negation is achieved with the #Adverb of negation, değil, given earlier.
Verbs i- are often made into suffixes; the corresponding bases then are
where the y is used only after vowels.
The verb i- serves as a copula. When a copula is needed, but the appropriate base in i- does not exist, then the corresponding base in ol- is used; this stem otherwise means "become".
The verb i- is irregular in the way it is used in questions: the particle mi always precedes it:
Kuş idi or Kuştu "It was a bird"; Kuş muydu? "Was it a bird?"
The bases so far considered can be called "simple". A base in i- can be attached to another base, forming a compound base. One can then interpret the result by reading backwards. The following list is representative, not exhaustive:
- Past tenses:
- continuous past: Geliyordum "I was coming";
- aorist past: Gelirdim "I used to come";
- future past: Gelecektim "I was going to come";
- pluperfect: Gelmiştim "I had come";
- necessitative past: Gelmeliydim "I had to come";
- conditional past: Gelseydim "If only I had come."
- Inferential tenses:
- continuous inferential: Geliyormuşum "It seems (they say) I am coming";
- future inferential: Gelecekmişim "It seems I shall come";
- aorist inferential: Gelirmişim "It seems I come";
- necessitative inferential: Gelmeliymişim "They say I must come."
By means of ise or -(y)se, a verb can be made conditional in the sense of being the hypothesis or protasis of a complex statement:
- önemli bir şey yapıyorsunuz "You are doing something important";
- Önemli bir şey yapıyorsanız, rahatsız etmeyelim "If you are doing something important, let us not cause disturbance."
The simple conditional can be used for remote conditions:
- Bakmakla öğrenilse, köpekler kasap olurdu "If learning by looking were possible, dogs would be butchers."
- Kaya Can (1991). Yabancılar İçin Türkçe-İngilizce Açıklama Türkçe Dersleri, Ankara: Orta Doğu Teknik Üniversitesi, Fen ve Edebiyat Fakültesi. "Turkish lessons with Turkish-English explanation[s] for foreigners."
- G. L. Lewis (1967). Turkish Grammar, Oxford University Press. 0-19-815838-6.
- G. L. Lewis (2000). Turkish Grammar, Oxford University Press. Second edition. Structural differences between the two editions are not named in the second, but appear to be as follows: IV,4 "-çe", VI,7 "Arithmetical terms", XI,16 "-diğinde", and XII,25 "tâ" are new, while XV,1 "Nominal sentences and verbal sentences" in the first edition was dropped.
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