Turkish/Noun Constructions

This chapter will be about noun constructions. We will be covering all the ways we can modify a noun with another noun, or an adjective.

Possessive endings edit

While English has words like my, your, his, her; we primarily use suffixes in Turkish instead. While possessive pronouns do exist, they are often dropped, as we will see later.

Possessive Suffixes
benim (ı)m my
senin (ı)n your
onun (s)ı his/her
bizim (ı)mız our
sizin (ı)nız your
onların (lar)ı their

Like most suffixes, these follow vowel harmony. The vowels in paranthesis are dropped when the word stem ends in a vowel, while the s in the third person gets dropped when the word ends in a consonant. The lar in paranthesis will be explained below. A few example words are given below.

benim evim my house
senin evin your house
onun evi his/her house
bizim evimiz our house
sizin eviniz your house
onların ev(ler)i their house
benim odam my room
senin odan your room
onun oda his/her room
bizim odamız our room
sizin odanız your room
onların oda(lar)ı their room
benim gözüm my eye
senin gözün your eye
onun gözü his/her eye
bizim gözümüz our eye
sizin gözünüz your eye
onların göz(ler)i their eye

One should also keep the consonant harmony and other alterations in mind, as these suffixes begin with a vowel. A few examples are given below.

benim çocuğum my child
senin çocuğun your child
onun çocuğu his/her child
bizim çocuğumuz our child
sizin çocuğunuz your child
onların çocuk(lar)ı their child
benim oğlum my son
senin oğlun your son
onun oğlu his/her son
bizim oğlumuz our son
sizin oğlunuz your son
onların oğul(lar)ı their son

Finally, there are two irregular nouns, su meaning water and ne meaning what.

benim suyum my water
senin suyun your water
onun suyu his/her water
bizim suyumuz our water
sizin suyunuz your water
onların su(lar)ı their water
benim neyim my what
senin neyin your what
onun neyi his/her what
bizim neyimiz our what
sizin neyiniz your what
onların ne(ler)i their what

Order of suffixiation edit

Since suffixes are employed very frequently in Turkish, it is important to keep the order of suffixes in mind.

Plural suffix lar - the possessive endings - the case endings
ödevlerimizden from our homeworks

Another thing to note is the interactions between the possessive endings and the case endings. The third person possessive ending (s)ı becomes (s)ın- when a case ending is added.

Nominative Accusative Possessive Possessive + Accusative
araba arabayı arabası arabasını
ev evi evi evini

Genitive Constructions edit

The Genitive case, whose formation was explained in its article, is used to denote possession in Turkish. The formula for such a construction is simple. A few examples may be found below.

Genitive form of the possessor + the noun being possessed + appropriate possessive ending

  • benim kalemim My pencil
  • senin baban Your dad
  • bizim öğretmenimiz Our teacher

When the possessor is not a pronoun, the third person possessive ending is always preferred.

  • Büşra'nın çanta Büşra's bag
  • başbakanın araba Prime minister's car
  • kahvenin tadı The taste of the coffee
  • okulun kapı The door of the school

The plural ending always comes before the possessive ending,

  • sizin kitaplarınız Your books
  • bilgisayarın tuşları The computer's keys

And case endings always come after the possessive endings. When the 3rd person possessive endings are used, a n is inserted in all cases before the case ending.

  • kahvenin tadına
  • bilgisayarın tuşları
  • okulun kapısından

This also allows us to create chain constructions, where the possesser is another construction.

  • bizim kahvemizin tadı The taste of our coffee
  • Esra'nın okulunun kapısı The door of Esra's school
  • Yunanistan'ın başbakanının arabası The car of Greek's prime minister

var/yok sentences edit

A genitive construction in a var/yok sentence is used in Turkish instead of using a verb for have.

  • Soğanımız var mı? Do we have any onions?
  • Hayır, soğanımız yok. Ama soğan tozumuz var. No, we don't have any onions. But we have onion powder.

Pronoun dropping edit

Since the possessive endings are inflected for person, the pronoun isn't necessary to show possession. Therefore, they get omitted most of the time.

  • zamanımız Our time
  • çocuğun Your kid

Remember how the third person plural possessive ending had a lar in paranthesis? That part is used only when the pronoun is dropped, otherwise the singular ending is preferred.

  • anneleri
  • onların annesi

Actually, when the possessor is the same as the subject of the sentence, dropping the pronoun is mandatory.

  • Sen kalemini nereye koydun? Where did you put your pencil?
  • Fatma ödevini yapıyor. Fatma is doing her homework.

If the pronoun is not omitted, it is understood that the object in question belongs to someone other than the subject.

  • Kedi bacağına ne yapıyor? What is the cat doing to its/his/your leg. (the actual owner of the leg is ambiguous)
  • Kedi, senin bacağına ne yapıyor? What is the cat doing to your leg. (pronoun used to resolve ambiguity)
  • Kedi, onun bacağına ne yapıyor? What is the cat doing to his/her leg. (pronoun used to resolve ambiguity)
  • Kedi, kendi bacağına ne yapıyor? What is the cat doing to its leg. (pronoun used to resolve ambiguity)

In other cases, the rules described in Turkish/Pronouns apply to possessive constructions as well.

Indefinite constructions edit

Another way of combining multiple nouns into one is using an indefinite noun construct. This is done very similarly to the genitive construct, but the first noun is in nominative rather than genitive.

Nominative form of the modifier + the noun being modified + appropriate form of -(s)ı

  • okul bahçesi School garden
  • kitap kapağı Book cover
  • yemek masası Dining table

Bare constructions edit

In a few cases, constructions without any declensions are preferred. The most common use cases for this are:

  1. Specifying the gender of a human
    • erkek çocuk
    • kadın doktor
    • kız öğrenci
  2. Specifying the material of an object
    • demir kapı
    • tahta kutu
  3. In the name of some dishes, and in street names ending with sokak
    • döner kebap
    • kuzu çevirme
    • Susam Sokak

Adjective constructions edit

When a noun is being modified by an adjective, no declensions are needed.

  • kırmızı kazak
  • küçük böcek
  • sarhoş adam
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