Origin of the words in Turkish vocabularyEdit

The 2005 edition of Güncel Türkçe Sözlük, the official dictionary of the Turkish language published by Turkish Language Association, contains 104,481 words, of which about 86% are Turkish and 14% are of foreign origin.[1] Among the most significant foreign contributors to Turkish vocabulary are Arabic, French, Persian, Italian, English, and Greek.[2]


Nouns from nouns and adjectivesEdit

The suffix -ci attached to a noun denotes a person involved with what is named by the noun:

işçi "worker" ( "work"; işadamı "businessman" uses adam "man");
balıkçı "fishmonger" (balık "fish");
gazeteci "newsagent" or "journalist".

The suffix -lik attached to a noun or adjective denotes an abstraction, or an object involved with what is named by the noun:

iyilik "goodness" (iyi "good");
tuzluk "saltcellar" (tuz "salt");
günlük "daily" (gün "day");
gecelik "nightgown" (gece "night")

Nouns from verbsEdit

The noun in -im denoting an instance of action was mentioned in the introduction to Turkish grammar.

yat- "lie down",
yatır- "lay down",
yatırım "investment".

For more examples on word derivations, see the related article: List of replaced loanwords in Turkish.


Classification of adjectivesEdit

Adjectives can be distinguished as being

  • descriptive (niteleme "qualifying"), or
  • determinative (belirtme): in particular:
    • demonstrative (gösterme "to show" or işaret "sign"),
    • numerical (sayı "number"),
    • indefinite (belirsizlik or belgisiz),
    • interrogative (soru "question").

For an intensive form, the first consonant and vowel of a (descriptive) adjective can be reduplicated; a new consonant is added too, m, p, r, or s, but there is no simple rule for which one:

başka "other"; bambaşka "completely different";
katı  "hard";  kaskatı  "hard as a rock";
kuru  "dry";   kupkuru  "dry as a bone";
temiz "clean"; tertemiz "clean as a whistle".

The determinative adjectives, or determiners, are an essential part of the language, although Turkish takes some of its determiners from Arabic and Persian.

Demonstrative adjectivesEdit

  • o "that",
  • bu "this",
  • şu "this" or "that" (thing pointed to).

These are also demonstrative pronouns. Used with plural nouns, these adjectives represent the English "those" and "these"; there is no such inflexion of adjectives in Turkish.

Numerical adjectivesEdit

The cardinal numbers are built up in a regular way from the following:

nsıfırbirikiüçdört beşaltıyedisekizdokuz
10·nsıfıronyirmiotuzkırk ellialtmışyetmişseksendoksan
10nbironyüzbinmilyon milyar

Units follow multiples of ten; powers of ten come in descending order:

yüz kırk dokuz milyar beş yüz doksan yedi milyon 
sekiz yüz yetmiş bin altı yüz doksan bir metre "149 597 870 691 metres".

The cardinals are generally not used alone, but a general word for a unit is used, such as:

  • tane, literally "grain";
  • kişi "person".

Remembering that the plural suffix is not used when numbers are named, we have:

dört tane bira "four beers";
Altı kişiyiz "We are six."

From the cardinal numbers, others can be derived with suffixes:

  • ordinal -(i)nci;
  • distributive -(ş)er;
  • collective -(i)z.
Sırada yedincisiniz "You are seventh in line";
birer, ikişer "one each, two each";
ikizler "twins".

Indefinite adjectivesEdit

The cardinal bir "one" can be used as an indefinite article. Other so-called indefinite adjectives might be listed as follows:

  • universal: her "each, every", tüm "the whole", bütün "whole, all";
  • existential: bazı "some", biraz "a little", birkaç "a few, several";
  • negative: hiç "none";
  • quantitative: az "little, few", çok "much, many";
  • distinguishing: başka, diğer, öteki, öbür "other";
  • identifying: aynı "same".

Interrogative adjectivesEdit

  • hangi "which?";
  • kaç "how much?" or "how many?";
  • nasıl "what sort?" (this is also the interrogative adverb "how?").
Saat kaç? "What time is it?"
Kaç saat? "How many hours?"

Adjectives from nounsEdit

Added to a noun, -li or -siz indicates presence or absence of what is named by the noun:

tuzlu/tuzsuz "salted/salt-free";
ümitli/ümitsiz "hopeful/hopeless".

Also, -li indicates origin:

Ankaralıyım "I am from Ankara."

Finally, added to the verbal noun in -me, the suffix -li creates the necessitative verb:

Gitmeliyim "I must go".

The pattern is

(verb-stem) + meli + (personal ending).

The native speaker may perceive -meli as an indivisible suffix denoting compulsion; the analysis here is in #Lewis [VIII,30].

Added to a noun for a person, -ce makes an adjective #Lewis [IV,4]:

çocukça "childish" (çocuk "child");
kahramanca "heroic" (kahraman "hero").


Adjectives can generally serve as adverbs:

iyi "good" or "well".

The adjective might then be repeated, as noted earlier. A repeated noun also serves as an adverb:

kapı "door"; kapı kapı "door-to-door".

The suffix -ce makes nouns and adjectives into adverbs. One source [Özkırımlı, p. 155] calls it the benzerlik ("similarity") or görelik (from göre "according to") eki, considering it as another case-ending.

  • Attached to adjectives, -ce is like the English -ly:
güzelce "beautifully".
  • Attached to nouns, -ce can be like the English like:
Türkçe konuş-, "speak like Turks": "speak Turkish".

Adverbs of place include:

  • aşağı/yukarı "down/up";
  • geri/ileri "backwards/forwards";
  • dışarı/içeri "outside/inside";
  • beri/öte "hither/yon";
  • karşı "opposite".

These can also be treated as adjectives and nouns (in particular, they can be given case-endings). Also, to the demonstrative pronouns o, bu, and şu, as well as to the interrogative pronoun ne, the suffix -re can be added; treated as a noun, the result has cases serving as adverbs of place:

  • nereye/buraya/oraya "whither?/hither/thither";
  • nerede/burada/orada "where?/here/there";
  • nereden/buradan/oradan "whence?/hence/thence".


Some samples include:

  • secular:
    • Öf [disgust];
    • Haydi "Come on": Haydi kızlar okula "Girls to school!" (slogan for an education campaign);
  • invoking the Deity:
    • implicitly:
      • Aman "Mercy";
      • Çok şükür "Much thanks";
    • explicitly:
      • Allah Allah (pronounced as Allahallah) "Goodness gracious";
      • Hay Allah;
      • Vallah "By God [I swear it]".


The verb-stem temizle- "make clean" is the adjective temiz "clean" with the suffix -le-. Many verbs are formed from nouns or adjectives with -le:

  • başla- "make a head", that is, "begin" (intransitive; baş "head");
  • kilitle- "make locked", that is, "lock" (kilit "lock");
  • kirle- "make dirty" (kir "dirt")
  • köpekle- (from köpek "dog", discussed at Turkish grammar#Parts of speech).

The suffix -iş- indicates reciprocal action, which is expressed in English by "each other" or "one another".

  • görüşmek "to see one another" (from görmek "to see", for example Görüşürüz, "Goodbye"

(literally "We see one another"))

(But there are exceptions: sevişmek does not mean "to love one another" (from sevmek "to love") but rather "to make love with each other."

Many causative verbs are formed with -dir-.

  • öldürmek "to kill" (from ölmek "to die")
  • yaptırmak "to have something done" (from yapmak "to do")



  1. "Güncel Türkçe Sözlük". Turkish Language Association. 2005. http://www.tdk.gov.tr/TR/BelgeGoster.aspx?F6E10F8892433CFFAAF6AA849816B2EFB40CE59E171C629F. Retrieved 2007-03-21. Template:Tr icon
  2. "Türkçe Sözlük (2005)’teki Sözlerin Kökenlerine Ait Sayısal Döküm (Numerical list on the origin of words in Türkçe Sözlük (2005))". Turkish Language Association. 2005. http://www.tdk.gov.tr/TR/BelgeGoster.aspx?F6E10F8892433CFFAAF6AA849816B2EF1A46C5FBFA979D0C. Retrieved 2007-03-21. Template:Tr icon