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You want to describe yourself but you don't know how? Well then, learn!

Contents

BeginningEdit

Can you understand the following passage below?

Benim adım Bob. Ben İngiltereli bir mimarım. Kısa boylu ve biraz şişman bir adamım. Kızıl saçlı ve mavi gözlüyüm. Benim hobilerim okumak, basketbol oynamak ve uyumak.

Any idea what he said? No? Well, then, let's get cracking! There's a translation at the bottom of the page, but please wait until the end of the lesson!

Learning how to describe yourselfEdit

The only way you can really do this is to learn the appropriate vocabulary you could use to describe yourself. Let's start learning!

Physical traitsEdit

The colorsEdit

With the modern-day conveniences of hair dye and colored contact lenses, we can now have all sorts of different hair and eye colours. Therefore we need to learn how to say the colors in Turkish before we can start describing physical aspects of ourselves.

Let's start with the most common hair colors. If you are having any trouble reading them, highlight them with your mouse:

  • kahverengi - brown
    • açık kahverengi - light brown
    • koyu kahverengi - dark brown
  • siyah - black
    • Ben siyah saçlıyım - I am black-haired
    • Benim siyah saçlarım var - I have black hair
  • sarı - yellow
    • sarışın - blond(e) (person)
  • kır - gray (Note: kır would only be used to describe hair or eye colors, otherwise you would use gri (grey))
  • kırmızı - red

...and eye colors: All of the above, plus:

  • açık kahverengi - hazel (Lit. light brown)
  • mavi - blue
    • Ben mavi gözlüyüm
    • Benim mavi gözlerim var - I have blue eyes
  • yeşil - green
  • kehribar - amber
  • menekşe - violet
  • siyah - black
    • karagöz - an expression (more like a compliment) used to describe someone with dark eyes

Now let's learn a bunch of random colors:

  • turuncu - orange (color)
  • pembe - pink
  • mor - purple
  • beyaz - white

Please note: yüz - face, göz - eye, and saç - hair.

Grammar noteEdit

Forming pluralsEdit

From the examples above, you may have noticed the word gözler. Well, this is the plural form of the word göz. It's actually very easy to form plurals in Turkish. All you have to do is add lar or ler (depending on the vowel harmony) to a singular noun in order to pluralize it. There are some examples below:

Turkish singular noun English translation Turkish pluralized form English translation
çocuk child çocuklar children
balon balloon balonlar balloons
çiçek flower çiçekler flowers
kalem pen kalemler pens
The genitive caseEdit

In other words, the grammatical form of saying something belongs to someone. In Turkish, it's slightly different from English, but if you think about it, actually quite a bit easier.

Let's take a look at the following phrase:

Benim topum - My ball

To construct this phrase, you take ben (meaning I or me) and add -im to it. The second part of this is to take the object (in this case top) and add one of the following to the end of it:

  • -m (e.g. çantam - my bag, lalem - my tulip)
  • -ım (e.g. sırtım - my back)
  • -im (e.g. kalemim - my pen)
  • -um (e.g. okulum - my school)
  • -üm (e.g. gülüm - my rose)
Person lale
Benim lalem
Senin lalen
Onun lalesi
Bizim lalemiz
Sizin laleniz
Onların lalesi

Now that we know these two things, let's carry on!

Your bodyEdit

Here are some basic phrases to describe your or someone else's looks and physique.

  • boy - height
    • uzun (boylu) - tall (Note: Uzun can also mean long. If the person you're talking to understands the context of the conversation, then you can just say uzun. However, if they don't, it would be a good idea to say uzun boylu).
    • kısa (boylu) - short
      • Ben kısa boyluyum - I am short
    • orta (boylu) - average (height)
  • form - figure
    • şişman - fat
      • Ben şişmanım. - I am fat.
    • zayıf - thin

JobsEdit

Unfortunately due to the massive number of jobs out there, we can't go through the entire list. Instead, I will just list the most common.

  • doktor - doctor
    • Ben doktorum - I am a doctor
  • mühendis - engineer
  • öğretmen - teacher
  • hemşire - nurse
  • tesisatçı - plumber
  • kapıcı - janitor Lit. doorman
  • sekreter - secretary
  • borsa tellalı - stockbroker
  • garson - waiter
  • bayan garson - waitress bayan means woman
  • dilbilimci - linguist dil means tongue or language
  • avukat - lawyer
  • politikacı - politician
  • öğrenci - student


  • emekli olmak - to be retired
  • işsiz olmak - to be unemployed

Cultural noteEdit

I put doctor and engineer on the list first for a specific reason. In Turkey, particularly amongst poor families, parents attempt to raise their offspring to be either doctors or engineers, as doctors and engineers in Turkey earn a lot of money (I would know this, because my family friend is married to a wealthy engineer). I'm not saying that to be wealthy in Turkey, you must be either a doctor or an engineer (Turkey's billionaires aren't, either), I'm merely explaining a common stereotype.

Where are you from ...Edit

Here is a short list of the countries of the world and how to say someone is from a certain country. For a longer list see here.

Country name (EN) Country name (TR) Demonym (EN) Demonym (TR)
 Turkey Türkiye Turkish Türk
 Australia Avustralya Australian Avustralyalı
 Canada Kanada Canadian Kanadalı
 England İngiltere English İngiliz
 Germany Almanya German Alman
 India Hindistan Indian Hintli
 Ireland İrlanda Irish İrlandalı
 New Zealand Yeni Zelanda New Zealand Yeni Zelandalı
 Pakistan Pakistan Pakistani Pakistanlı
 Philippines Filipinler Filipino Filipinli
 Scotland İskoçya Scottish İskoç
 United Kingdom Birleşik Krallık British Britanyalı
 United States of America (USA) Amerika Birleşik Devletleri (ABD) American Amerikalı
 Wales Galler Welsh Galli
  • (Siz) nerelisiniz? - Where are you from?
  • (Ben) Avustralyalıyım. - I am from Australia.

See? Simple!

HobbiesEdit

SportsEdit

Use oynamak (to play):

  • futbol - soccer (Yup, just like the other Europeans!)
  • Amerikan futbolu - American football
  • beyzbol - baseball
  • basketbol - basketball
  • tenis - tennis
  • eskrim - fencing
  • voleybol - volleyball
  • golf - golf

Use yapmak (to do/make):

  • boks - boxing
  • karate - karate
  • judo - judo
  • tekvando - taekwondo

Use kullanmak (to use):

  • bisiklet - bicycle

Use etmek (to do):

  • dans - to dance

Other:

  • yüzmek - to swim
  • halter yapmak - to lift weights
Grammar noteEdit

Before you can use the set of words above, you need to know their auxiliary verbs. Unlike French, auxiliary verbs are used almost all of the time. However, there are only a couple you will need to learn, and in most cases you will be able to tell which one to use.

In this case, they are the following: oynamak (to play), yapmak (to do/make), kullanmak (to use), and etmek (to do). Try not to get yapmak and etmek confused.

Below are their verb conjugations:

to play     oynamak
I play Ben oynuyorum
You (sing.) play Sen oynuyorsun
He/she plays O oynuyor
We play Biz oynuyoruz
You (pl.) play Siz oynuyorsunuz
They play Onlar oynuyorlar
to do     yapmak
I do Ben yapıyorum
You (sing.) do Sen yapıyorsun
He/she does O yapıyor
We do Biz yapıyoruz
You (pl.) do Siz yapıyorsunuz
They do Onlar yapıyorlar
to use     kullanmak
I use Ben kullanıyorum
You (sing.) use Sen kullanıyorsun
He/she uses O kullanıyor
We use Biz kullanıyoruz
You (pl.) use Siz kullanıyorsunuz
They use Onlar kullanıyorlar
to do     etmek
I do Ben ediyorum
You (pl.) do Sen ediyorsun
He/she does O ediyor
We do Biz ediyoruz
You (pl.) do Siz ediyorsunuz
They do Onlar ediyorlar

Hopefully you will have noticed a pattern amongst these verbs. This is true of all verbs in Turkish, as unlike in most other languages, there are no irregular verbs. They all follow the same pattern. All that really matters is that you recognize the vowel harmony.

I have color-coded those verbs in accordance to the above vocab. For example, futbol and oynamak are both red, therefore to say "to play football" in Turkish, you say "futbol oynamak". The sentence structure is as follows: Ben futbol oynuyorum - I play football. Turkish is a S-O-V (Subject-Object-Verb) language. So, in this case, Ben, which is the subject, goes first, then the object, futbol, goes second, and lastly the verb, oynuyorum, goes last. This is true in all cases, no exceptions.

Ah, by the way, yes, there is something strange with etmek. You will see why it is like this below.

Non-sportive activitiesEdit

  • televizyon izlemek/seyretmek - to watch television
  • okumak - to read
  • film izlemek/seyretmek - to watch movies
  • dışarı çıkmak - to go out
  • fotoğraf çekmek - to take photos
    • Benim hobim fotoğraf çekmek. - My hobby is to take photos.
  • alışveriş yapmak - to go shopping
Grammar noteEdit

Although I have already given you the verbs for the non-sporting activities, let's conjugate them just in case you still haven't worked out the verb patterns.

to watch     izlemek
I watch Ben izliyorum
You (sing.) watch Sen izliyorsun
He/she watches O izliyor
We watch Biz izliyoruz
You (pl.) watch Siz izliyorsunuz
They watch Onlar izliyorlar
to watch     seyretmek
I watch Ben seyrediyorum
You (sing.) watch Sen seyrediyorsun
He/she watches O seyrediyor
We watch Biz seyrediyoruz
You (pl.) watch Siz seyrediyorsunuz
They watch Onlar seyrediyorlar
to read     okumak
I read Ben okuyorum
You (sing.) read Sen okuyorsun
He/she reads O okuyor
We read Biz okuyoruz
You (pl.) read Siz okuyorsunuz
They read Onlar okuyorlar
to go out     çıkmak
I go out Ben çıkıyorum
You (sing.) go out Sen çıkıyorsun
He/she goes out O çıkıyor
We go out Biz çıkıyoruz
You (pl.) go out Siz çıkıyorsunuz
They go out Onlar çıkıyorlar
to take (a photo)     (fotoğraf) çekmek
I take (a photo) Ben (fotoğraf) çekiyorum
You [sing.] take (a photo) Sen (fotoğraf) çekiyorsun
He/she takes (a photo) O (fotoğraf) çekiyor
We take (a photo) Biz (fotoğraf) çekiyoruz
You [pl.] take (a photo) Siz (fotoğraf) çekiyorsunuz
They take (a photo) Onlar (fotoğraf) çekiyorlar
Finding the patternEdit

If you haven't found the pattern already, let me explain it to you:

To say, for example, I read, in Turkish, you would take the stem of okumak, which is oku- (the stem is the part of the infinitive preceding -mak or -mek), then add any of the following:

  • -yorum for I
  • -yorsun for you (singular)
  • -yor for he/she
  • -yoruz for we
  • -yorsunuz for you (plural or polite)
  • -yorlar for they

In our case, we would pick -yorum. After adding this on, you get okuyorum! See, simple!

However, what if the stem ends in a consonant. Let's take an example from the verbs above: seyret-. Seyret- + -yorum doesn't work because it just doesn't sound natural. To remedy the situation, you add an auxiliary vowel after the stem, which depends on the vowel harmony of it (in this case it would be i). So: seyret- + -i- + -yorum = seyretiyorum. This thing about the vowel after the stem applies to all verbs with stems that end in consonants, but remember, the auxiliary vowel always depends on the vowel harmony of the stem.

But... Wait a minute. Seems like I have skipped something. Seyretiyorum is not correct!

You must have noticed in the verb etmek (to do), that when conjugated, it doesn't exactly follow the whole stem rule. That's because something we call the softening of consonants. Sounds confusing? It's not at all!

Now, let's take et-. Add the -i and the -yorum. What do you get? Etiyorum. But that doesn't sound nice! (Yes, according to Turkish speakers.) So in order for it to sound nice, you take the t at the end of "et-" and make it "d". That's because it is followed by a suffix which begins with a vowel. And as a result, our correct conjugation is ediyorum.

Sensible, right? Two other verbs like this are are tatmak (to taste) and gitmek (to go). Conveniently, they follow the exact same pattern as etmek, and conjugate to tadiyorum, gidiyorsun, etc.

And of course, I have not forgot seyret-. And... It becomes seyrediyorum!

By the way, it would be a good idea to know that the verb çekmek on it's own means to pull away.

Here it goes...Edit

So, you've learnt everything you need to both translate that passage and to give a basic description of yourself.

TranslationEdit

The translation of that passage is below:

Translation

My name is Bob. I am an architect from England. I am a short and slightly fat man. I have red hair and blue eyes. My hobbies are to read, play basketball and sleep.

So let's work through it, one step at a time.

This is the layout of this translation:

  • Original Turkish phrase - Literal English translation with original sentence structure - Proper English translation

OK, let's get translating!

  • Benim adım Bob - My name Bob - My name is Bob
  • Ben İngiltereli bir mimarım - I England-from an architect-am - I am an architect from England
  • Kısa boylu ve biraz şişman bir adamım - Short heighted and slightly fat a man I am - I am a short and slightly fat man.
  • Kızıl saçlı ve mavi gözlüyüm - Red haired and blue eyed I am - I have red hair and blue eyes.
  • Benim hobilerim okumak, basketbol oynamak ve uyumak(-tır). - My hobbies to read, basketball to play and to sleep. - My hobbies are to read, play basketball and sleep.

See? It wasn't so hard! You just have to remember that the sentence structure in Turkish (Subject Object Verb) is different from English (Subject Verb Object).

ReviewEdit

So, what have we learnt this lesson? Well, we have learnt...

  • ...colors.
  • ...how to form plurals in Turkish.
  • ...the genitive case.
  • ...how to describe one's physique.
  • ...basic jobs.
  • ...the countries of the world, and how to say something belongs to a certain country.
  • ...hobbies (and their auxiliary verbs).
  • ...sentence structures.
  • ...verb patterns.

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY

  • ...how to describe yourself!
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