Turkish/Converbs

Converbs are a feature that is quite unique to Turkish grammar. If your native language isn't a Mongolic or Tungusic language, relating ideas through converbs should be pretty new to you.

Converbs allow us to use subordinate clauses adverbially. While English uses conjunctions for this purpose, in Turkish, the verb receives a special ending instead. Compare the following examples:

  • Sınavın bitince beni ara. Call me after your exam is over.

While Turkish does have conjunctions, they are used way less than converbs, and sentences with converbs sound better in most cases. Some meanings on the other hand may only be achieved through converbs, and as such, learning converbs is fundemental to speaking Turkish fluently.

Simple converbsEdit

Simple converbs may only be attached directly to verb stems, and are not declined for person. The subject of the subordinate clause is thus implied to be the same as the main clause unless explicitly stated. The following suffixes are the most common ones (all suffixes below undergo vowel harmony):

-(y)ıpEdit

-(y)ıp is a suffix that connects two equivalent sentences, and can be thus loosely translated as and.

  • Eve gidip uyuyacağım. I'm going to go home and sleep.

When a verb is suffixed with -(y)ıp, it is assumed to have the same tense markers as the main verb, and the subject of the -(y)ıp clause is always the same as the main clause.

  • Sınava girip iyi not almalısın. You should take the exam and get a good grade.
  • Ahmet önden gidip bizi bekleyecek. Ahmet will go beforehand and wait for us.

Thus, -(y)ıp can be replaced by the conjunction ve in most cases.

  • Sınava girmelisin ve iyi not almalısın.
  • Ahmet önden gidecek ve bizi bekleyecek.

When the main clause is affirmative, the clause with -(y)ıp can take the negative suffix -ma if it is negative.

  • Hiçbir şey yapmayıp konuşuyor. He is talking without doing anything.

However, if the main clause is negative, the subordinate clause is also implied to be negative, and thus can't receive the negative suffix -ma.

  • Lütfen öyle susup bakma. Do not shut up and look at me like that.

When the main clause is negative, but the subordinate clause is not, the word da/de is used to emphasise this.

  • Bana hakaret edip de sonra yakınma. Do not insult me, and then complain about it.

When combined with the verb durmak, it means to keep doing something.

  • Yalan söyleyip duruyor. He keeps telling lies.
  • Şu soruyu bana sorup durma, bilmiyorum. Don't keep asking me this question, I don't know.

The verb may be doubled to stress this.

  • Yalan söyleyip söyleyip duruyor.
  • Şu soruyu bana sorup sorup durma.

-(y)ıncaEdit

The suffix -(y)ınca corresponds closely to the English conjunction when. It represents a sequential relationship between two events.

  • Taksim'de buluşunca konuşuruz. We can talk about it when we meet in Taksim.
  • Kahve içince kendime geliyorum. When I drink coffee, I (am able to) pull myself together.
  • Dün evden çıkınca beni aradın. You called me when I left home yesterday.

The sub clause with -(y)ınca may also have a subject different than the main clause. When this happens, the subject is in nominative, and no personal suffixes are added to -(y)ınca.

  • Sen konuşunca bana bakıyorlar. They look at me when you talk.
  • Kerem eve gelince annesi onu karşıladı. When Kerem came home, his mother greeted him.

-(y)arakEdit

The converb -(y)arak is used to describe the manner an action is performed in, or the means used to achieve the said action. It roughly corresponds to the English preposition by.

  • Eve yürüyerek gidiyorum. I go home by walking.
  • Beni aşağılayarak ne kazanıyorsun? What do you gain by humiliating me?
  • Hocayla konuşarak bu işi halledeceğim. I will get this job done by talking with the teacher.

The subclause with -(y)arak almost never receives a subject other than that of the main clause. Very rarely, an item possessed by the subject of the main clause may act as the subject.

  • Elleri titreyerek konuşuyordu. He was talking with his hands shaking.

The verb olmak, when declined as olarak, has a special meaning, roughly corresponding to that of the English preposition as. It may be used to produce adverbial clauses from adjectives...

  • Başvurumuzu toplu olarak atacağız. We will send our application together.

...to show status or classification...

  • Başkanınız olarak bu fikri onaylıyorum. As your leader, I approve this idea.

...or to show that a group is being involved in an action.

  • Haberi duyunca tüm sınıf olarak ayağa kalktık. When we got the news; we, as the entire class, stood up.

Both the suffix -(y)ınca, and the suffix -(y)arak are stressed on the first syllable.

  • yapınca
  • yaparak

-madanEdit

The suffix -madan means without doing ... and as such, it is always negative. The last syllable of the stem is always stressed in pronunciation, since it contains the negative suffix.

  • Seninle konuşmadan bir karar veremem. I can't make a decision without talking with you.
  • Yüzüme bakmadan gitti. She went away without looking at my face.

ikenEdit

iken is an exceptional converb, as it is appended to a declined verb, or a noun, similar to other copular suffixes. When it is appended to a word, it becomes -(y)ken. It is important to note that the e in -(y)ken is invariable. It can be roughly translated as while, as it is used to state an ongoing event that happens while the main clause is occuring.

When the suffix -(y)ken is attached to a verb, the verb references a time relative to the main clause. Moreover, -(y)ken is never declined for person, and works similar to -(y)ınca in that sense. Let's examine the different meanings produced by appending -(y)ken to different tenses.

Aorist or PresentEdit

The most common way of using -(y)ken is in conjunction with the aorist tense. In this form, it closely correpsonds to the English while. The present tense may also be used, albeit less commonly, with the same meaning.

  • Eve giderken bakkala uğra. Stop by the grocery store while going home.
  • İşimi yaparken kapı çaldı. The door was knocked while I was doing my work.
  • Hırsızı kaçarken yakalayacağız. We'll catch the robber while he is fleeing.

PastEdit

The suffix -(y)ken may only combine with the -mış past tense, and never the -dı past tense. It is used to talk about events that were already complete while the main clause was occurring. Thus, it produces a meaning that can be roughly translated as having done ....

  • Sınav başlamışken tuvalete çıkamayız. We can't go for a toilet, since the exam has started.
  • Annemiz odayı terk etmişken şu işi halledelim. Let's get this job done while our mother is gone.
  • Parasını vermişken tatile gidelim bari. Having given the money, let's go on holiday at the least.

This meaning can be further stressed with the adverb hazır.

  • Hazır işim bitmişken seninle konuşabilirim. Having already completed my job, I may talk with you.

FutureEdit

When -(y)ken is used with the Future Tense, it specifies that the action had not yet occured when the event at the main clause occurred. Often, this also implies that the event did not get realized as it was supposed to.

  • Seni arayacakken kapı çaldı. Someone knocked the door when I was about to call you.
  • Ödevimi yapacakken elektrikler kesildi. There was a blackout as I was about to do my homework.

OptativeEdit

On less formal registers, -(y)ken may combine with the optative tense -malı to talk about obligations that were present when the event occurred. Similair to the future tense, this often implies that the obligation was not realized.

  • Öğretmenle konuşmalıyken konuşmadın. You didn't talk with the teacher even though you were supposed to.

NounsEdit

-(y)ken may also combine with nouns, var/yok and değil freely.

  • Evdeyken raporu yaz. Write the report while you are at home.
  • İşim varken senin gibi takılmıyordum. I didn't hang around like you do while I had a job.

Reduplicated ConverbsEdit

Reduplicated converbs are special, since two verbs are used instead of one. There are two converbs with this form.

-(y)a -(y)aEdit

There are two ways this converb may be utilized.

By using the same verb twiceEdit

The most common form of this converb is used by repeating the same verb twice. This converb is a more stressed version of -(y)arak, stressing the continuity or the repeatedness of an action.

  • Bilgisayara baka baka gözüm kızardı. My eyes got red by looking at the computer.
  • Seninle dolaşa dolaşa sana benziyorum. I keep resembling you more by hanging out with you.

By using two different verbsEdit

Sometimes, two different verbs may be used for this converb. The two verbs are usually either similar, or opposite in meaning. Forms with these construction are mostly idiomatic.

  • Düşe kalka öğreniyoruz. We learn through great struggle.
  • Bağıra çağıra kendisini kabul ettirdi. He had himself accepted by shouting and yelling.

-(a)r -mazEdit

This converb is formed by repeating a verb twice, once with the affirmative and once with the negative forms of the Aorist. This converb is translated as as soon as in English.

  • Üniversiteyi bitirir bitirmez işe başladı. He started working as soon as he finished university.
  • Haberi alır almaz bize getir. Bring us the news as soon as you receive it.

Compound ConverbsEdit

Compound converbs are formed by combining a declined verb with a postposition.

-mış gibiEdit

-mış here can either be the past tense suffix -mış, or the copular suffix -(y)mış. This produces a counterfactual meaning, similar to English as if... . It may be stressed with the adverb sanki.

  • Hayalet görmüş gibi bana baktı. He stared at me as if he saw a ghost.
  • Her şeyi biliyormuş gibi konuşuyor. He is talking as if he knows everything.
  • Sanki üstüme atlayacakmış gibi bekliyorsun. You are waiting as if you will jump at me.

When combined with the verb durmak, it means to look as if ... .

  • Yarışmayı Sinan kazanacakmış gibi duruyor. It looks as if Sinan is going to win the race.

-dıktan sonraEdit

This converb means after ... .

  • Ödevi verdikten sonra konuş. Talk after turning your homework in.
  • İstasyona vardıktan sonra beni bekle. Wait for me after arriving at the station.

It may combine with pronouns in a similar way to -(y)ınca.

  • Ben işimi bitirdikten sonra sen başla. After I complete my job, you go in.

-madan önceEdit

This converb means before ... and functions very similar to -dıktan sonra. However, since it contains the negative suffix -ma, the last syllable of the stem is stressed in pronunciation.

  • Okuldan çıkmadan önce bana söyle. Tell me before going out of the school.
  • Seninle konuşmadan önce fikrim farklıydı. My opinion was different before I talked to you.

-ana kadarEdit

This converb means until ... and functions very similar to -dıktan sonra and -madan önce.

  • Okul başlayana kadar vaktimiz var. We have time until the school starts.
  • Irmak arayana kadar her şey yolundaydı. Everything was fine until Irmak called.

-dığından beriEdit

This converb means since ... and functions very similar to the converbs described above. However, as we will see in Turkish/Relative Clauses, -dığından is declined for person.

  • Buraya geldiğimden beri sana benzemeye başladım. I started being like you since I came here.
  • Bu işi üstlendiğimden beri evden hiç dışarı çıkmıyorum. I've never left home since I took on this job.

-dığı içinEdit

Similar to the converb above, this converb is declined for person, and will be covered in greater detail in Turkish/Relative Clauses. It is used to express cause, and is a better alternative to the conjunction çünkü.

  • Annen olmadığı için ben imzalayacağım. I'll sign it since your mother is away.
  • Haklı olduğum için kazanacağım. I'll win because I'm right.

-mak içinEdit

This converb was already covered in detail in Turkish/Infinitives. It is used to express aim.

  • Para çekmek için geldim. I came to withdraw cash.
  • Dersi bitirmek için daha çok erken. It's too early to end the lesson.
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