9 Turkish Verb Moods Explained [STEP-BY-STEP]

We can investigate Turkish verb moods under nine different categories:

Indicative mood
Passive mood
Potential mood
Obligation mood
Imperative mood
Causative mood
Reflexive mood
Subjunctive mood.

On this page, we are going to learn these verb moods in Turkish with details and examples but let’s learn what exactly does a ‘mood‘ mean? (lat. modus, mode, mood, Modus)

Google defines mood as ‘a category or form which indicates whether a verb expresses a fact (indicative mood), or a command (imperative mood), question (interrogative mood), wish (optative mood), or conditionality (subjunctive mood).’ In Turkish grammar, ‘kip‘ is used to refer to the word ‘mood‘ which means shape, pattern, or sample.

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Turkish verb moods are formed either by conjugating a verb (with personal pronouns) or by simply adding a suffix. (e.g. -dir,-t) Turkish verb moods are easy to understand both the concept and the form. So let’s just begin with the imperative form.

Turkish Imperative Mood (How to give a command in Turkish?)

The imperative is the verb mood that is used to give commands and instructions. In Turkish, it is called “Emir kipi“. Giving order/command is called “Emir vermek” in Turkish. Forming this mood is quite easy for the second-person-singular.

In English, the imperative is formed by the infinitive form of the verb only (without “to”)

to go
gitmek

Go!
Git!

Not too different in Turkish. When you eliminate -mek/-mak, you form the imperative for the second person singular. Among other Turkish verb moods, the imperative must be the easiest and the most useful. However, if you want to be polite while giving a command, things get a little bit complicated:

Turkish Imperative Mood Examples

Odaya gir
Enter the room

Lütfen odaya giriniz (siz)
Please enter the room (in a polite way)

Giriniz‘ is formed for the second person singular, not the second person plural. If it was the second person plural:

Lütfen odaya girin
Please enter the room

Kendine gel, lütfen!
lit. Come to yourself
Pull yourself together

Note that there is no problem using imperative with “lütfen” in the sense of politeness. If you do not want to look like someone impolite, always use “lütfen” no matter whom you are talking.

Negative Imperative Mood

Forming negative imperative is not hard. You simply add the negative suffix -me/-ma:

Gelme
Don’t come

Kızma
Don’t get angry

Bana kızma
Don’t get angry at me

Question form of Imperative

Gelsin mi? gelmesin mi?

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Subjunctive Mood

Some grammar books also call optative mood. Subjunctive mood refers to ‘dilek kipi‘ in Turkish and is used to express wish or desire. Its suffix is -e/-a attached to the verb stem. Then, for the first person singular, it becomes -eyim/-ayım.

The subjunctive mood of English has been used less frequently in the recent five-six centuries. Instead, Modals such as could or would have been used to give the meaning of imaginary, contrary to reality meanings. However, subjunctive mood survives in some structures like ‘let‘ and the meaning is very similar to the one of Turkish.

Subjunctive Mood Example:

Kar
to mix/stip up

Karayım
Let me mix

İç
to drink

İçeyim
Let me drink

Su içeyim, iyileşirim
Let me drink water and I get better (If I drink water, I’ll get better)

Alayım
Let me buy

Alalım
Let us buy

But,

If the verb stem ends with a vowel, buffer letter ‘y‘ is added before the suffix so that the vowel-consonant sequence will be accomplished.

Let’s see with an example:

Temiz
Clean (adj.)

Temizle
to Clean (v.)

Temizleyeyim
Let me clean

Temizleyelim
Let us clean

Bu sefer evi ben temizleyeyim
Let me clean the house this time

Bu sefer evi biz temizleyelim
Let us clean the house this time

The subjunctive is a kind of mood that can be formed by adding -e/-a (without personal pronoun). Its English equivalent is “let” for the first-person-singular and first-person-plural.

If you have realized we didn’t use for other personal pronouns but only the first person singular/plural. In modern language, the subjunctive is not used with other personal pronouns.

Another function of the subjunctive mood is to describe an imagined action related to the speaker.

Gideyim ister misin?
Do you want me to leave?

This structure is very similar to the Spanish Subjunctive. For those who speak Spanish, this example will be very helpful:

Gideyim ister misim?
Quieres que me vaya?
Do you want me to go?

Gidesin istemiyorum
I don’t want you to leave

Note that natives often use “gitmeni” (lit. I don’t want your-going) instead of “gidesin istemiyorum“. Again, the Turkish subjunctive is mostly used for first-person singular/plural. But don’t worry, another use is also acceptable.

In some parts of Turkey, first-person-singular and third-person-plural forms differ. This change is related to provincialism and not used in formal texts. Instead of saying “geleyim” one says “gelem” or “gelelim” or “gelek”. You may hear these, but avoid using them.

Desiderative mood (dilek-şart kipi) (subjunctive conditional)

Let’s shortly remember what was the subjunctive conditional mood of English. It is used to state or describe a hypothetical thing:

If I were a rich man, I’d only sing.
Zengin olsam, sadece şarkı söylerim/söylerdim.

We call the conditional of subjunctive mood ‘desiderative mood‘. As the concept, it is not very different nor hard. Its suffix is -se/sa and both in past and present can be formed.

Subjunctive Conditional – Conjugations

Ben Sen O
VERB+ sem/sam sen/san se/sa
tara- tarasam tarasan tarasa
kır- kırsam kırsan kırsa
sev- sevsem sevsen sevse

Plural

Biz Siz Onlar
VERB+ sek/sak seniz/sanız seler/salar
tara- tarasak tarasanız tarasalar
kır- kırsak kırsanız kırsalar
sev- sevsek sevseniz sevseler

Subjunctive Conditional – Examples

It is often translated into English as an if clause with the subjunctive.

Bardağı kırsam annem kızar.
If I were to break the glass, my mom would get angry.

Bardağı kırarsam annem kızar.
If I break the glass, my mom gets angry.

Check that the verb of the second sentence is formed differently.

More examples:

Bardağı kırsam, güzel olur.
If I were to break the glass, it’d be good.

Keşke bardağı kırsam.
I wish I break the glass.

It must express a desire, a wish.

Negative Subjunctive Conditional

Negative is formed with the negative suffix -me/-ma before the subjunctive suffix -se/-sa. All the Turkish verb moods have the same pattern for negatives without exception. Let’s see with an example:

Bardağı kırmasam, güzel olur.
It’d be good if I were to not to break the glass.

Turkish Passive Mood : il

Turkish passive mood and the English are quite similar in the sense of meaning. The suffix of passive mood is -il/-ıl/ul/ül. Turkish passive mood is mostly used impersonally. For instance, when declaring public rules, the passive form is preferred.

Passive Mood Examples:

Havuz başında sigara içilmez.
lit. the cigarette is not smoked at poolside.
do not smoke at poolside.

Buraya ev yapılmaz.
a house can not be built here

Bu havada uçulmaz.
one cannot fly with this weather

If you have realized, Turkish passive does not give much formality or ‘elegance’ as in English.

Turkish Reflexive Mood: in

Wikipedia defines reflexivity as: In grammar, a reflexive verb is, loosely, a verb whose direct object is the same as its subject, for example, “I wash myself”.

In Spanish, we encounter this concept a lot: If you wash something/one, you’d use ‘lavar + noun’ (to wash) if made reflexive, it becomes ‘lavarse’. In Turkish, it is quite similar:

Yıkamak
to wash (sp. lavar)

Yıkanmak
to wash yourself/take a shower (sp. lavarme)

Here is a couple of example.

Sar-
to wrap

Sarın-
to wrap someone up

Note (1): You may confuse the reflexive mood and the passive mood for some verbs. No need to worry, distinguishing between them is not an easy job (even for natives). Also, Turkish verb moods are not the same as the subjunctives of your mother tongue. Nevertheless, the examples above clarify correctly for which situations they’re used and what they mean.

Note (2): It should be noted that these mood suffixes are not applicable to all Turkish verbs. However, knowing the features will help you identify new forms of verbs and guess the meaning without checking a dictionary. Yet If you can reach a dictionary, you should check its meaning because sometimes meaning can say something different than the structure is dictating (rarely).

Turkish Causative Moods

There are five different suffixes to make a verb in a causative mood in Turkish. Compare to other Turkish verb moods, it is plenty.

Turkish Causative mood is responsible to give the meaning of ‘make’ + verb of English. For example:

kız-
to get angry

kızdır
to make someone angry

babanı kızdırma
don’t make your father angry

There are numerous suffixes to make a verb in causative mood. And there is not a certain rule when deciding which suffix should be attached to which type of verb. These suffixes (-dir), (-r), (-it), (-er), (-t)

This is the morphology : Make + Verb (English) = Verbstem + Suffix (Turkish)

a. (-(t)dir)

inan-
believe

inandır
to make someone believe, persuade

Anlattıkları pek inandırmadı
What s/he said didn’t convince me

sat-
to sell

sattır
to make someone sell something

yap-
to do, make

yaptırmak
to make someone make something

kazmak
to dig

kazdırmak
to make someone/something dig

b. Turkish Suffix: (-ir)

içmek
to drink/take

sigara içmek
to smoke

içirmek
to make someone drink something

Çocuğunuza kola içirmeyin
lit. Don’t make your child drink Coke.
Don’t let your child drink Coke.

ilaç içmek
to take a medicine/pill

Hastaya ilaçlarını içirdiniz mi?
Did you make the patient take his/her medicine?
lit. Did you make the patience drink his/her medicine?

c. Turkish Suffix : it

kork- (eng. fear); korkut (eng. frigthen)

d. Turkish Suffix : er

kop-
break off

kopar
make something break off

Turkish Suffix : t

ara(mak)
search, look for, call

arat
make someone search/call

Sekreterine polisi arat.
Make your secratary call the police.

oku-
read

okut-
make someone read, also for supply expenses for someone’s study

Yurtdışında üç çocuk okutuyorum.
lit. I make three people read abroad
I pay for the education of three people abroad

Kuru
to get dry

Kurutmak
to (make) something dry

As mentioned before, there is a variety of suffixes in Turkish. It’s not effective to memorize all at once but you should take notes and when you come across similar verbs, you’ll automatically figure out there is a similarity going on. Many textbooks prefer to teach these verbs separately as if “okumak” and “okutmak” are totally different. In fact, they are just variations of the same verb.

Learn Authentic Turkish Right From the Streets of Istanbul, Not the Boring Text-Book Stuff That Doesn’t Exist in Real Life.

At the end of the course, you will be able to have actual conversations with your Turkish neighbour, watch Turkish TV shows, or pass B1 level in official exams.

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