In Turkish, not every sentence has to have a verb. In fact, even a single noun can be a sentence. There are two types of these sentences, copular sentences and var/yok sentences, both of which will be covered in this article.
In Turkish, there is no verb to be. Instead, the following suffixes are appended into a noun to convey the meaning of to be:
|ben –(y)im||I am|
|sen –sin||you are|
|o ∅||he/she is|
|biz –(y)iz||we are|
|siz –siniz||you are|
|onlar –(ler)||they are|
All of these suffixes are subject to vowel harmony, as explained in its article. The y in parenthesis is added if the word stem ends in a vowel. However, in the third person, no suffix is used. This means, a sentence in Turkish may be as simple as this:
- O bir öğretmen. He is a teacher.
Speakers of Russian may be familiar with this.
In Turkish, similar to many other languages, the pronoun is usually omitted while forming a sentence. The rules of pronoun dropping are rather complex, and are covered in Turkish/Pronouns. It is for now enough to know that the pronoun isn't necessary. Therefore, the following examples are completely valid:
- Evdeyim. I'm home.
- Aptalsın. You are dumb.
- Öğrenciyiz. We are students.
- Bizimlesiniz. You are with us.
The suffix for onlar is used only when the pronoun is dropped.
- Onlar evde. They are home.
- Evdeler. They are home.
In order to negate a copular sentence, the word değil is used. Copular suffixes are appended to değil instead.
- Öğretmen değilim. I'm not a teacher.
- Zeki değilsin. You aren't smart.
The word değil is pronounced /dɛjil/ in formal speech, and /diːl/ in casual speech.
Questions are formed with mı/mi/mu/mü, which undergoes vowel harmony, but is written as a separate word. The question particle comes before the copular suffixes, but after değil.
- Aptal mısın? Are you dumb?
- Sırada mıyız? Are we next?
- Öğretmen değil misin? Aren't you (a/the) teacher?
To say that a thing exists, we just use the word var.
- Vakit var. There is time.
- Üç çocuk var. There are three children.
To say that a thing does not exist, we use the word yok.
- Hiç vakit yok. There isn't any time/There is no time.
- Evde soğan yok. There aren't onions in the house.
Questions may be formed by adding the word mı after var and mu after yok.
- Domates var mı? Are there tomatoes?
- Kimse yok mu? Isn't there anyone?/Is there no one?
Turkish also lacks a verb for to have. Instead, we just use var/yok together with possessive suffixes.
- Kaç çocuğun var? How many children do you have? Literally: How many of your children are there?
- Yakıtım yok. I don't have fuel. Literally: My fuel doesn't exist.
Noun constructs and possessive suffixes are covered in greater detail in another article.