Infinitives are used to create fully-fledged nouns out of verbs or subordinate clauses. The main infinitive endings we are covering in this article are -ma, -mak and -ış. This topic is quite advanced, so this article assumes you have a good grasp on vowel harmony, noun and verb declensions, and basic sentences.

-ma and -mak do not have any difference in meaning. However, -ma is used in some declensions, and -mak is used in others, so they are not interchangable. A subordinate clause without a subject may be constructed using -ma/mak + case suffixes, and the logical subjects of these clauses are either the subject of the main clause, apparent from context, or is left unknown on purpose.

Meanwhile, in order to state the subject explicitly, -ma is used in conjunction with possessive suffixes. This formation will be elaborated later on.

-ış on the other hand, is used less extensively, and is used to stress the way of doing an action, rather than the action itself.

Formation edit

Both -ma and -mak obey the 2-way vowel harmony. There aren't any exceptions, and no consonant harmony either. -ış on the other hand, obeys 4-way vowel harmony, and the buffer consonant y is added if the verb ends in a vowel.

okumak okuma okuyuş
görmek görme görüş
bakmamak bakmama bakmayış

Stress is used to distinuguish the verbal noun suffix -ma and the negative suffix -ma. While the verbal noun suffix -ma obeys the usual stress pattern of stressing the last syllable, the syllable preceeding the negative suffix -ma is always stressed. When both are used in conjunction, the negative suffix -ma takes precedence and the last syllable of the stem is stressed.

  • Okuma (verbal noun)
  • Okuma! (negative imperative)
  • Okumama (negative verbal noun)

Case suffixes and possessive suffixes may be added after either one, and the usage of these will be discussed below.

Declension for case edit

As stated above, -ma and -mak differ only in usage. -ma is mandatory in accusative, dative and genitive, while -mak is mandatory in nominative, locative and ablative.

Use cases of -ma vs -mak
Case Suffix Example Notes
Nominative -mak yapmak There is one use case of nominative

-ma, elaborated below.

Genitive -ma yapmanın
Accusative yapmayı -mak prefered in older

texts (yapmağa)

Dative yapmaya
Ablative -mak yapmaktan
Locative yapmakta Some speakers prefer -ma.

(yapmayla, yapmada)

Instrumentative yapmakla

Building subordinate clauses edit

In verbal sentences edit

Creating subjectless subordinate clauses are easy. The order of objects is the same as in a normal sentence, and simply suffixing the verb with the appropriate suffix is sufficient.

  • dün gece kitap okumak reading books last night
  • kalemini kaybetmek losing one's pencil

In order to turn a full sentence with a subject into a subordinate clause, the subject of the sentence is declined into genitive, and a possessive suffix is attached to -ma corresponding to the subject.

Subject Objects and Adverbs Verb Translation
Benim senin kadar uyumam for me to sleep as much as you
Senin üç ödül kazanman for you to win three awards
Çocuğun ikide bir konuşması for the child to keep talking

Clauses like this can also be further declined for case.

In nominal and var/yok sentences edit

These suffixes, however cannot be attached to nouns. In order to create subordinate clauses from nominal sentences, the verb olmak is used.

  • Öğrenci olmak being a student
  • Benim bu kadar iyi olmam for me to be so good

In sentences with var, var is replaced with olma-.

  • Soğanın olması that there are onions
  • Üç çocuğumun olması to have three children

In sentences with değil and yok, both are replaced with olmama-

  • Senin yerinde olmamam for me to not be in your place
  • Hiç ümidimizin olmaması for us to not have any hope

-ma-/-mak in Nominative edit

A -ma/mak subordinate clause in nominative can function as the subject of a sentence...

  • Ölmek beni çok korkutuyor. Dying scares me a lot.
  • Eve dönmen lazım. You need to return home.

...or, with copular markers, the predicate.

  • En büyük amacım öğretmen olmaktı. My biggest goal was becoming a teacher.

The verb istemek takes a -mak clause in nominative. However, if a -ma- clause with a subject is used, or if the clause isn't directly before the verb, accusative is used instead.

  • Uyumak istiyorum. I want to sleep.
  • Konuşmayı çok istiyorum. I really want to talk.
  • Görünmeni istemiyorum. I don't want you to be seen.

The postposition için may be used in conjunction with -ma-/mak in nominative to express aim or purpose.

  • Görebilmek için gözlük takıyorum. I'm wearing glasses in order to see.
  • Senin rahat yaşaman için çok uğraşıyoruz. We are working very hard for you to live comfortable.

-ma-/-mak in nominative can also be used with other nominative postpositions.

  • Seni görmek gibi bir haz yok bu dünyada. Тhere is no pleasure in this world as good as seeing you.

-mak üzere means be about to ...

  • Sıkıntıdan patlamak üzereyim. I'm about to explode out of boredom.
  • Sanırım ağlamak üzere. I think he's about to cry.

-mak zorunda means must, but this construction isn't used as extensively as in English.

  • Acilen eve dönmek zorundasın. You must return home urgenty.
  • Uçağa binmek için kimliğinizi göstermek zorundasınız. You must show your ID to get in the plane.

-mak yerine means instead of.

  • Okula gitmek yerine evde dinleniyorum. I'm resting at home instead of going to school.
  • Vapura binmek yerine otobüse binelim. Let's take the bus instead of the ferry.

Declined -ma/mak edit

Declined versions of -ma/mak are used as objects of most verbs.

  • Eve dönmekte ısrar etti. (S)he insisted on returning home.
  • Seni görmeye geliyorum. I'm coming to see you.
  • Annenle konuşmayı düşünüyorum. I'm thinking about talking to your mom.
  • Borcumu ödemekten vazgeçtim. I changed my mind about paying back my debt.

In such cases, -masını may replace -mayı in informal speech in a small amount of verbs.

  • Bana Osmanlıca okumasını öğretsene. / Bana Osmanlıca okumayı öğretsene. Why don't you teach me how to read Ottoman Turkish?

Ablative -mak can be used in comperative sentences.

  • Evde kalmak, okula gitmekten daha iyi. Staying home is better than going to school.

-makla birlikte can mean although in formal speech.

  • Üç gün beklemekle birlikte, hiçbir şeyimiz kalmadı. Even though we waited 3 days, we have nothing left.

-maksızın can mean without in formal speech.

  • Bir hafta dinlenmeksizin çalıştık. We worked one week without resting.

-maktan öte/başka means other than.

  • Bu ödevi yapmaktan başka bir şeyimiz yok. We have nothing to do other than doing this homework.

-maktansa means rather than.

  • Eve dönmektense sinemaya giderim. I'd rather go to the cinema than return home.

There are many other use cases for declined -ma/mak, but they are too numerous to list here.

Bare -ma and -ma in Genitive edit

-ma without suffixes or in genitive is used in noun constructions.

  • eve dönme vakti time to go home
  • lokantaya gitme fikri idea of going to restaurant
  • kitap okumanın zararları disadvantages of reading books

-ış edit

The ending -ış is used less frequently than -ma/mak, and it can't replace -ma/mak. Just like -ma, infinitives with -ış may receive a possessive ending, and the subject of an -ış clause is in genitive. It is used to talk about either the manner of the action being performed, or a single occurrence of the action.

  • Kitabı okumanı beğendim. I liked that you are reading the book.
  • Kitabı okuyuşunu beğendim. I liked the way you are reading the book.

When it is used to talk about a single occurrence of an action, it is countable.

  • Bizim son üç görüşüşümüzde de bir şeyler oldu. Something happened in all three of our last meetings.

It shouldn't be confused with the derivational suffix -ış, and the reciprocal suffix -ış.

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