Turkish/Pronouns

Personal PronounsEdit

ben beni bana bende benden benim
sen seni sana sende senden senin
o onu ona onda ondan onun
biz bizi bize bizde bizden bizim
siz sizi size sizde bizden sizin
onlar onları onlara onlarda onlardan onların

Declension of personal pronouns is more or less regular, with the only exceptions being ben and sen in dative, and ben and biz in genitive.

Formal biz and sizEdit

Like many languages, the second person plural pronoun siz may be used in formal contexts as a singular pronoun. This is mostly done while talking to someone of higher rank than you, while talking to a stranger to indicate distance, and in formal contexts.

Biz is also used, albeit rarely, to talk about oneselves when to express the speaker's humble attitude, or ironically to imitate such an attitude.

Genitive onunEdit

The genitive onun may never be used to refer to the subject of a sentence. Wherever it is used, it refers to someone other than the sentence subject.

  • Kerem, Leyla'ya onun kitabını verdi mi? Did Kerem give Leyla her book?
  • Kerem, Leyla'ya kitabını verdi mi? Did Kerem give Leyla his/her book?

In the first example, onun refers to Leyla, as Kerem is the subject of the sentence. Second example however, is ambiguous, as the possessive suffix can refer to both the subject and the object.

  • Hüseyin, onun anahtarını kaybetmiş. Hüseyin lost (someone else)'s keys.
  • Hüseyin, anahtarını kaybetmiş. Hüseyin lost his keys.

Since onun can't refer to the subject of a sentence, the first example must be referring to someone else's keys, who was mentioned earlier. However, the second example probably refers to Hüseyin himself.

Pronoun droppingEdit

Pronoun dropping is an important feature of the Turkish language. In most cases, the pronoun is omitted, but in the following cases, the pronoun is retained:

When the subject contrasts with the subject of another statement,

  • Ahmet bile ödevini verdi, peki sen neyi bekliyorsun? Even Ahmet gave his homework, so what are you waiting for?
  • Sen bu konuyu umursamıyor olabilirsin, ama ben çok umursuyorum. You may not care that much about this topic, but I do.

In order to stress the subject,

  • Bu yemeği ben yaptım. I made this food.

When the subject is a part of a bigger group of potentially involved people in an action:

  • Yerin ortasına kusan kim? Who threw up in the middle of the ground?
  • Ben kustum. I did.

When there is a shift from a specific event to a general one:

  • Bekirin testi pozitif çıkmış. O zaten hiç maskesini takmıyordu. Bekir has tested positive. He never wore his mask anyways.
  • Yine kimliğimi evde unuttum. Ben niye her şeyi unutuyorum? I forgot my ID card at home again. Why do I keep forgetting everything?

While introducing a new topic, or beginning a new conversation.

  • Alperen, sen hiç bir yaban domuzu tarafından saldırıldın mı? Alperen, have you ever been attacked by a hog?
  • Arkadaşlar, ben bugün yola çıkıyorum. Friends, I'm departing today.

Demonstrative PronounsEdit

bu bunu buna bunda bundan bunun
şu şunu şuna şunda şundan şunun
o onu ona onda ondan onun

All demonstrative pronouns can also function as adjectives:

  • Bu telefon
  • Şu ağaç
  • O ev

The following demonstratives are used to describe the manner of an action:

böyle
şöyle
öyle

These pronouns usually mean like this/like that, and may also mean such (a) when used adjectively.

And spatial versions as well (roughly meaning here/there):

burası burayı buraya burada buradan burasının
şurası şurayı şuraya şurada şuradan şurasının
orası orayı oraya orada oradan oranın

The distinction between these corresponds to the distinction between o/bu/şu. Burası/şurası/orası are often shortened to bura/ora/şura in colloquial speech.

Bu and OEdit

Bu and o correspond to this and that in English, respectively. While bu refers to objects near the speaker, o refers to objects far away from speaker.

  • Bu kalem kimin? Whose pencil is this?
  • O çocuk ne yapıyor? What is that child doing?

O is also used when the item isn't visible, but has been mentioned before.

  • Dün gelen çocuk vardı ya? İşte o çocuğa ver bunu. Remember the child that came yesterday? Give this to that child.

Using bu to refer to humans is considered rude and belittling.

  • Bu yaramaza hemen haddini bildirin! Put this naughty boy in his place immediately!

ŞuEdit

The difference between şu and bu/o can be hard to understand for Turkish language learners. Most Turkish courses and textbooks explain it as a three-way distinction based on distance (like the demonstrative pronouns in Spanish). However, this is wrong. The pronoun şu is used to refer to objects or concepts that haven't been mentioned yet or don't have the listener's attention, regardless of distance. That's why it can be used for items in the speakers' hand or far away. Compare these with the examples above:

  • Şu kalem kimin? Whose pencil is this?
  • Şu çocuk ne yapıyor? What is that child doing?

While they are translated to be the same into English, this second example is more natural if the said pencil and child weren't in discussion beforehand, and have just been noticed by the speaker.

This distinction is highlighted even more in the adverbial pronouns böyle and şöyle:

  • Annem şöyle düşünüyormuş: Okula gitmem ve derslerime çalışmam geleceğim için önemliymiş, ve her gün okuldan kaçmam doğru değilmiş.
  • Okula gitmem ve derslerime çalışmam geleceğim için önemliymiş, ve her gün okuldan kaçmam doğru değilmiş; ve annem de böyle düşünüyormuş.

Şöyle is used in the first example, because the mother's opinion is presented afterwards, while böyle is used in the second example, because the mother's opinion was already presented beforehand.

Reflexive pronoun kendiEdit

Uninflected kendiEdit

kendi, when uninflected, is used in posessive constructions to mean my own/his own etc.

  • Kendi elleriyle kedimi katletmiş. He murdered my cat with his own hands.
  • Bu senin kendi görüşün. This is your own opinion.
  • Annemin kendi psikolojik problemleri var. My mother has her own psychological problems.

In this way, kendi may refer to any person in the sentence, but usually it is understood as refering to the subject.

  • Yusuf, Kemal'i kendi problemleriyle baş başa bırakmalı. Yusuf should leave Kemal alone with his own problems.
  • Yusuf, Kemal'e kendi problemlerinden bahsetmeli. Yusuf should talk to Kemal about his own problems.

Depending on context, the problems may belong to Yusuf or Kemal, as illustrated above.

kendi with possessive inflectionsEdit

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