Adding word endings (agglutination)

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Prerequisites for this Turkish Grammar Lesson

Intro to the Turkish Alphabet

Turkish letters
Audio samples

What is aggulutination?

Turkish is an agglutinative language, meaning that it tends to rely on suffixes (word endings) to convey grammatical meaning rather than using separate words. Each suffix tends to have a single grammatical meaning, and the suffixes often stack on top of each other. In contrast, English rarely has more than one suffix on a word and often uses separate words (“at,” “from,” “to,” etc.) to form the grammar of the sentence.

In agglutinative languages like Turkish, the meaning of a word can be understood by breaking it down into the base word and its word endings. For example, in the word “evlerimizde,” “ev” means “house,” -ler indicates plurality, -imiz means “our,” and -de means “in”. Therefore, “evlerimizde” means “in our houses.”

For instance, consider the example sentence, “Go to your room.” In English, this sentence has four separate words. In Turkish, however, the sentence has only two words: “Odana git.” Here, the word “oda” (room) is modified by two word endings: -n (“your” – second person possessive) and -a (“to” – the dative case). This is followed by the verb “git” (“go,” the command form of the verb “gitmek” ‑ to go). By adding suffixes to the word “oda,” Turkish conveys several things in a single word, including possession and direction.

Another example is the sentence, “They are coming from the store.” In English, this sentence comprises six words, while the Turkish equivalent, “Dükkandan geliyorlar,” uses only two words. The word “dükkan” (store) is modified by the suffix “dan” (“from,” – the ablative suffix), followed by the verb “gel” (come) with the present continuous -iyor ending combined with the the third person plural -lar ending.

As you are beginning to learn Turkish, pay attention to the endings on words that you are hearing and try to find patterns in how they are formed. Since the grammar of Turkish so heavily relies on suffixes, most Turkish grammar lessons will focus on one Turkish suffix at a time.

This lesson was made with the assistance of ChatGPT, a language model powered by OpenAI.

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