adjectives > About Turkish Adjectives

Position of Turkish Adjectives

Words that describe or modify nouns A blue house, a rich man.

Turkish adjectives always precede the nouns that they describe and cause no suffix to be added to the described noun. he noun can be singular or plural.

The noun can be unspecific or specific according to context. English uses "the" to make nouns particular and specific.

  • Adjectives Precede Nouns
  • güzel kız (the) beautiful girl
  • sarı çıçekler (the) yellow flowers
  • açık kapı (the) open door
  • beyaz evler (the) white houses
  • mavi ev the blue house
  • mavi evler (the) blue houses
  • zengin adam the rich man
  • yorgun çocuklar tired children

When adjectives follow a noun the meaning is entirely different. It is a "Statement of Fact" :

  • Adjectival Statement of Fact
  • ev, mavi the house is blue
    evler mavi the houses are blue
    adam, zengin the man is rich
  • Uzun geniş yol. The long wide road.
    is different to
    Uzun yol, geniş. The long road is wide.
  • Geniş yol, uzun. The wide road is long.
    is different to
    Yol, uzun geniş. The road is long and wide.
  • This shows that the verb to be -dir is lacking in the third person in Turkish.
    However, it is used in public statements and notices: Sigara içmek yasaktır. Smoking is prohibited.

Emphasized and Public Forms of Turkish Adjectives

  • Uzun yol, geniştir. The long road is wide.
  • Uzun yol, geniş midir? Is the long road wide?

Turkish generally places a comma after the subject.
The emphasis is is stressed by the use of the verb to be suffix -dir
This makes it a "statement of fact" Yol geniştir [geniş-tir] The road is wide.

Non-agreement of Turkish Adjectives

Adjectives do not have to agree with the noun they describe in either number as in Spanish or gender as in French. The adjective precedes the noun as it does in English.

Basic Rules for using adjectives in Turkish

  1. Adjectives describe nouns.
  2. The adjective is always invariable.
  3. Adjectives don't have a singular and plural form OR a masculine, feminine and neuter form.
  4. Adjectives are always the same! Never add a final s (in English) or lar/ ler (in Turkish) to an adjective.
  5. Adjectives are placed before the noun.
  6. Adjectives can be formed from both nouns or verbs as in English.
    These rules apply both in English and in Turkish.

Adjective Suffixes in Turkish

In Turkish, words can often be recognized as adjectives by their endings. This is similar to English where words can also be recognized as adjectives by their endings.

For instance the suffix -ful in the word beautiful "They built a beautiful house on the hill."

The -ful suffix adds the concept of beauty to the house.

There are other adjectival endings in English where English speakers recognize instantly the attribute being added by its ending. One of these adjectival endings is used above, in the heading "Attributable".

This example also uses the "Ability Attribute" -able "They have built a beautiful, desirable house on the hill".

Some other adjectival endings in English:

  • English Adjectival Suffixes
  • -ly as in the lovely view.
  • -ing as in the shaking branch.
  • -ive as in the positive result.
  • -en as in the broken arrow.

There are some other forms; each ending giving us a differing degree or meaning in concept.

This is the way that Turkish follows and if one learns the Adjectival Endings it is easier to recognize the concept of meaning as we automatically do in our own tongue.

Turkish adjectives can often be recognized by their endings, these are words in their own right and should not be considered as words with an added suffix.

As with English an adjectival suffix on the word often points to the type of attribute that the adjective supplies to its noun. In English there is a different type of attribute supplied by the adjectives lovely, loving, loveable, lovelorn, loved although the root word carries the same meaning.

Some Turkish Adjectival Suffixes

Turkish Adjectival Suffix -ik -ık - uk - ük
This suffix forms adjectives where the described noun is in a state from which it cannot return that is it has assumed a permanent state.

From yanmak to burn the adjective yanık is formed meaning burnt (as a permanent state)

  • Adjectival Suffix -ik -ık - uk - ük
  • bir düşük yaprak a fallen leaf
  • from: düşmek to fall
  • bazı kırık tabaklar some broken plates
  • from: kırmak to break
  • kesik parçalar cut (up) parts
  • from: kesmek to cut

By recognizing the -ik suffix we can see a permanent adjectival state has been attained.
We must take care however not to mistake actual nouns which end in -ik such as balık fish or sözlük dictionary as being adjectives.

Using the present participle düşen which falls /which is falling as an adjective then the meaning changes:

  • bir düşen yaprak a falling leaf
  • (a leaf which is falling)
  • düşen yapraklar falling leaves

Similarly using the past participle:

  • düşmüş olan which has fallen düşmüş olan yapraklar nemlidir the leaves which have fallen are damp/the fallen leaves are damp.

Position of the Article in Turkish

bir a, an, one can interpose between the adjective and its noun.

This has the effect of putting the emphasis on the adjective and/or causes the noun it describes to become definite.

bir güzel kız güldü a beautiful girl laughed.
In this example some girl or other laughed an indefinite girl, therefore the adjective follows bir.

Güzel bir kız gördüm. I saw a beautiful girl.
In this example a definite girl was seen and moreover she was definitely beautiful.

güzel followed by bir emphasizes all these points.
Generally speaking if the indefinite article is used with its noun, then Turkish will not separate them as we do in English

  • büyük beyaz bir ev(dir) it is a big white house
  • yaşlı bir adam an old man
  • boş bir kutu an empty box

Turkish Adjectives used as Nouns

Turkish adjectives can also be used as nouns:

  • hasta ill, sick
  • bir hasta a patient
  • Hastalar hastanede. The patients are in hospital.
  • zengin rich
  • bir zengin a rich person
  • Otelde kalan bir zengin var There is a rich [person] who is staying at the hotel.

Intensified Turkish Adjectives

Many adjectives have an Intensified Form, for instance:

yeni new
yepyeni brand new
beyaz white
bembeyaz snow white
dolu full
dopdolu full to the brim

Many of these are in daily use all the time.

Intensified Forms

Turkish Intensifying Doubled Adjectives

There are different intensification of meanings methods in Turkish. Some of them are "doublets"

(1) Repetition of Adjectives and Nouns in Turkish

In this version the adjective is repeated:

  • sabah sabah early in the morning(s)
  • Ahmet'i gördüm sabah sabah nereye gidiyordu merak ettim?
  • I saw Ahmet early in the morning and wondered where he was going?
  • akşam akşam later in the evening
  • Akşam akşam konuşmayalım şimdi çok yorgunum.
  • Let's not chat so late in the evening, I am very tired now.
  • sıcak sıcak really hot and fresh
  • İç şu çayı sıcak sıcak, soğutmadan hadi!
  • Drink that tea it's hot and fresh, come on don't let it cool down!
  • usul usul gently, quietly
  • Geldiğinde kapıyı usul usul çal, çocuk uyanmasın.
  • When you come knock the door gently and quietly so the child does not wake up.
  • yavaş yavaş slowing down
  • Burayı sevmediğini biliyorum, ama yavaş yavaş (zamanla) alışacaksın.
  • I know that you don't like it here, but you'll gradually get used to it (in time).
  • korka korka getting scared
  • Yeni arabayı almak istedim. Fiyatını korka korka sordum.
  • I wanted to buy a new car, I fainthartedly asked its price.

Many are in use.

Reduplicated Forms

Yavaş yavaş is a little bit different. It indicates that something will happen in time. So we can say:
Yavaş yavaş her şey düzelir, merak etme. Don't worry, everything will be alright in (good) time.

When a "doublet" is used with a verb then it becomes a normal adverb:

Double adjectives form mostly adverbs:

ince adjective thin as an adverb ince ince adverb thinly
Soğanları ince ince doğramalısın. You must chop the onions up thinly.

When used as an adverb another word is required to intensify its meaning:
Soğanları çok ince doğramalısın. You must chop up the onions very thinly.

(2) Differing Adjectives used jointly in Turkish

In this version, for strengthening two very similar, sometimes the same, or opposite words are used:

  • sessiz sedasız quietly
  • Sonunda sessiz sedasız ortadan kayboldu.
  • In the end he slipped away calmly.
  • utana sıkıla timidly, ashamedly
  • Utana sıkıla patronun karşısına çıktı zam istemek için.
  • He went to the boss timidly because he wanted a rise.
  • sorgusuz sualsız beyond question, take for granted
  • Polis, herefi sorgusuz sualsız salıverdiler.
  • The polise released the chap without any questioning!
  • hesap kitap calculate, sort out (finances)
  • Evimizin yeni dekorasyonu için hesap kitap yapmamız lâzım.
  • We need to calculate the cost of our house's new decoration.
  • bata çıka with difficulty
  • Çamurlara bata çıka sonunda lokantaya vardılar.
  • After wading through the mud they reached the cafe at last.

(3) Meaningless Adjectives used for Repetition in Turkish.

Two words are used, the second is meaningless.

  • karman çorman hodgepodge
  • Eve geldiğimde ortalık öyle karman çormandı ki iki saattır toparlamaya çalışıyorum.
  • It was such a hodgepodge around the house that I took two hours to clear it up.
  • karışık kuruşuk all mixed up
  • Karışık kuruşuk işlerinizinden bıktım!
  • I'm fed up with these mix ups of yours!
  • kayıt kuyut restrictions, paper work
  • Kayıt kuyut tamam, ancak ofısa giderim.
  • All the paper work is completed, I'll go on to the offıce.
  • zar zor hardly, scarcely
  • Çok kilo aldığımdan, oturduğum koltuktan zar zor kalkabiliyorum.
  • Because I've had put on so much weight, I hardly get up from my armchair.

(4) Adjective Repetition in Turkish with the letter "m"

The second word is changed to begin with letter m. This is called an m-doublet and can be applied to nouns and verbs indiscriminately.

If the second word is changed with a letter m it means and the suchlike.

While I was in Turkey I heard a mother say to her small child: Sokağa çık, oyna moyna! Go on the street and play about!

  • "m"-doublet examples
  • Cebimde para mara yok.
  • I have no cash or suchlike in my pocket.
  • Bugün sokakta araba maraba görülmez.
  • Today there are no cars or anything to be seen on the street.
  • Bira mira'yı ister misin?
  • Do you want a beer or anything?

If the original word already begins with an m then filan and/or falan is used to arrive at the suchlike meaning:
Müdürler falan de geliyor. The managers and all that lot are coming as well.

(5) Meaningless Prefixes to Turkish Adjectives

In fifth version only one word is used with meaningless prefixes

  • sımsıcak sım-sıcak nice an warm and comfy
  • kaskatı kas-katı totally rigid
  • darmadağınık darma-dağınık in a mess/disheveled
  • güpegündüz (in) broad daylight
  • Gelin güpegündüz kaçırıldı.
  • The bride was kidnapped in broad daylight.
  • kıpkırmızı bright red
  • Mehmet'in suratı utançtan kıpkırmızı döndü.
  • Mehmet's face turned bright red with embarrassment.
  • dapdar so very narrow
  • Pantolon dapdar görünüyor, kilo almışsınız ki.
  • The trousers look to be so narrow, It seems that you have put weıght on.
  • sapsarı bright yellow/blonde
  • Sapsarı saçlarıyla çekici görünüyor.
  • She looks very attractive with her bright yellow hair.
  • kupkuru dried out
  • Nehir kupkuruydu, hiç akan su yok oldu.
  • The river was so parched, there was no flowing water at all.

(6) Two Meaningless words are used to produce a Turkish Adjectives

This is similar the the English constructions like pell-mell, helter-skelter, higgledy-piggeldy, mumbo-jumbo

  • hort zort/paldır küldür/zart zurt like a bull a a gate, rudely and noisily
  • O kabadayı, tartışınca daima zart zurt/paldır küldür eder.
  • When that bully argues he is always very rude.
  • harala gürele hustle and bustle
  • İşte ne yapalım, harala gürele gidiyor hayat.
  • What ever we do, life goes on with a hustle and bustle.
  • zırt pırt so often, so frequently
  • Belediye bugünler zırt pırt su kesintisi yapıyor.
  • The town corporation are so often cutting off the water (supply) these days.
  • palas pandıras helter skelter
  • Babam hastaymiş, hemen birgün sonra palas pandıras Manisa'daki babamın evine gittim.
  • It seems my father was ill, straight away a day later I went helter-skelter to my father's house in Manisa.

(7) Use of "mi" Interrogative Particle to Intensify Turkish Adjectives.

In seventh version "mi interrogative particle" is used:
çirkin mi çirkin really ugly, kötü mü kötü really bad

  • zengin mi zengin rich or rich!
  • Mehmet zengin mi zengin!
  • Mehmet is really loaded!, Is Mehmet rich or is he rich!
  • korkunç mü korkunç really frightening
  • Film korkunç mu korkunçtu!
  • The film was so scary!

No other intensification should be used with this form: "Mehmet o kadar zengin mi zengin." is incorrect.

(8) Normal Intensification of Turkish Adjectives

Normal intensifying Words are Used "very, quite, etc."

  • çok much, many
  • Olay yerine kısa sürede çok sayıda jandarma ve sağlık görevlisi sevk edildi.
  • A large number of gendarmes and medical officers were despatched to the scene ın a short tıme.
  • bayağı common, quite, a sort of
  • ABD, Erdoğan'ı bayağı komik bulmuş!
  • Erdogan has found the USA quite/sort of funny!
  • epey a good deal of, goodish amount
  • Üzerinden epey/hayli/çok zaman geçti tam hatırlayamıyorum şimdi.
  • Since than quite a lot of time has passed I cannot remember completely now.
  • hatırı sayılır miktarda/oranda considerable amount/ratio
  • Üyelerimiz hatırı sayılır bir oranda yurtdışı gezisine katılacaklarını belirttiler.
  • They have indicated that a considerable number of our members will join the overseas tour.
  • hayli fair amount, pretty much
  • Aile üyeleriyle sohbet eden Sayan'ın hayli kilo verdiği görüldü.
  • Sayan, who chatted with family members, was seen to lose a lot of weight.

Turkish Adjectives and their Opposites

betterdaha iyiworsedaha kötü
first oneilklast oneson
next onegelecekpast onegeçen
oldihtiyar / yaşlıyounggenç


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