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Prerequisites for this Turkish Grammar Lesson

Intro to the Turkish Alphabet

Turkish letters
Audio samples

Pronouns for people

The basic pronouns for people are simpler in Turkish than those for English.

Ben (I, me) Biz (we, us)
Sen (you) Siz (you, plural)
O (he, she, it) Onlar (they, those)

Pronouns for things

Although the pronouns for people are simpler in Turkish, the pronouns for things are more difficult to understand because there is a middle category between “this” and “that”.

Bu (this) Bunlar (these)
Şu (this, that) Şunlar (these, those)
O (he, she, it) Onlar (they, those)

Using the “şu” pronoun for directing attention

For English speakers, it is fairly easy to learn how to use “bu” and “o” because their usage is roughly equivalent to the English words, “this” and “that.” However, the addition of a third pronoun, “şu,” has caused quite a bit of confusion among language learners. And it’s not just foreigners who struggle with it. A recent linguistic study suggests that even native speaking children struggle to learn the three-way pronoun system, so children often use it incorrectly until later stages in development. Also, while native speakers as adults always use the pronoun instinctively, they generally are unable to explain how to use it properly. It often gets explained by Turkish teachers and textbooks as a kind of middle category between “this” and “that.” That is, it is often explained as being farther away than things referenced by “bu” and closer than things referenced by “o.” While this popular explanation seems logical, it is not accurate.

Rather than being a middle category in between “near” and “far,” the şu pronoun is primarily used to direct the listener’s attention to a new object or concept that was not previously mentioned or that is not currently in focus.

Example: passing forward a bus card
If a Turkish native speaker gets on the back of a crowded bus in Istanbul, he or she will typically tap on the shoulder of the person in front of them and ask

    Şunu alır mısın?” (could you take this?)

The function of the sentence is to draw the attention of the listener to the object represented by the pronoun. That is why şu was chosen over bu. If the person in front of them happened to already be looking at the card in their hand, they would say,

    Bunu alır mısın?” (could you take this?)

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

Yes or no questions

mı/mıyım/mıyız/mısın(ız)/-lar mı
Emphasis in questions

To be or not to be

Changing ç/p/t/k to c/b/d/ğ

Noun possession

benim, senin, onun

Beginner commands

-(no ending)/-ın
Singular and plural
Pronouns with commands
Handling irregular verbs

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