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Turkish Causative Verb

The active form of the verb gives the sense of: "doing something" and the passive form "something is being done". The Causative sense is "to have something done by somebody, to get something done by something." In the case where English uses "get done by" or "to have done by" Turkish uses the Causative form of the verb.

In English one might say:
The Active Verb I'm going to clean the car [to clean it myself]
The Causative Form I'll get John to clean the car [to get, to cause John to clean it.]

Causative Uses

One of the duties of the Causative is to make a Transitive Verb (one which takes an Object) out of an Intransitive Verb (which has no Object). This can readily be seen in the examples above:
Pişmek to cook (by itself) i.e. The eggs are cooking in the pan. which is intransitive as it has no object.
Pişirmek to cook something i.e. Ali is cooking the eggs in the pan. which is transitive as Ali (the subject) is cooking the eggs (the object) and therefore the verb is the transitive form.

In these examples some of the active forms are intransitive whilst their causative form is the transitive Verb.
This is the reason that the Turkish verb for to eat is yemek yemek The first yemek means food and the second yemek means to eat. Yemek is a transitive verb in Turkish so therefore must always take an object, whereas in English the verb to eat can be transitive or intransitive.
Ali, lokantada yemek yiyor. Ali is eating food in the cafe. Turkish must supply an object yemek food for the verb yemek to eat. In n English we can say Ali is eating in the cafe., intransitive, no object is required.

One of the duties that the Causative Verb form carries out is to make intransitive verbs which do not take an object into a transitive verbs which do take an object.
The verb durmak to stop/to halt is such a word:
Araba caddede durdu The car stopped in the street. There is no object in this sentence, it is intransitive.
Mehmet, arabayı caddede durdurdu Mehmet stopped the car in the street. The object in this sentence is arabyı the car. It is a transitive sentence.

English may use a different verb entirely for its causative meaning

The translation of the causative is literal here, but in translation a different verb may be used in English. In first example, the causative of "to know" has been literally translated as "to make know, to cause to know". In English this may be "to notify, to publish, etc." This difference in English verb use must be considered when translating causative verbs from Turkish into English and vice versa.

Turkish Causative Verb Formation

The causative verb stem is usually formed by adding -dir-/-tir- -dır-/-tır- -dur-/-tur- -dür-/-tür- The suffix follows vowel Harmony Rules and is subject to consonant mutation. The resulting causative verb stem can have all mood and tense endings added as required.

Most verbs are regular in their causative formation:

  • bakmak to look [Active Verb Stem]
  • baktırmak to cause to look [Causative Verb Stem]
  • itmek to push
  • ittirmek to cause to push
  • koşmak to run
  • koşturmak to cause to run
  • satmak to sell
  • sattırmak to cause to sell
  • sevmek to love
  • sevdirmek to cause to love
  • gülmek to laugh
  • ona güldüm I laughed at him
  • bana güldü He laughed at me
  • güldürmek to make laugh/cause to laugh
  • onu güldürdüm I made him laugh
  • beni güldürdü He made me laugh
  • bilmek to know
  • onu biliyorum I know that.
  • bildirmek to make known
  • Mehmed' e haberi bildirdik We made the news known to Mehmet
  • çalışmak to work
  • Bugün çalışıyorum I am working today
  • çalıştırmak to cause to work
  • Bugün, arabamyla Mehmet'i çalıştırıyorum Today, I am getting Mehmet to work on my car.
  • unutmak to forget
  • Çantamı unuttum I forgot my bag
  • unutturmak to cause to forget
  • Mehmed'e çantasını unutturduk We've let Mehmet forget his bag.

Turkish Causative Verbs Extended with Verb Moods

  • Potential Causative Verb Stem
  • onu güldürebilirsiniz you can make her laugh
  • beni güldüremeyecek he will not be able to make me laugh
  • bizi güldüremediler they couldn't make us laugh
  • Necessitative Causative Verb Stem
  • Mehmet seni güldürmeliydi. Mehmet should have made you laugh.
  • onu yaptırmalıyım. I should have it done.

Turkish Irregular Causative Forms

The Formation of the Turkish Causative is one area where there is some irregularity in the language.

  • 1. Basic verb Stems ending in a vowel or -r form their causative by the addition of the suffix -t to produce the causative verb stem:
  • oturmak to sit [ Active Verb Stem]
  • oturtmak to seat somebody [Causative Verb Stem]
  • anlamak to understand
  • anlatmak to make understand [ENG: to explain]
  • boyamak to paint
  • boyatmak to get/have something painted

2. Single Syllable Verbs - Causative Formation
Some single syllable verbs form their causative by the addition of -ır, that is the initial -d/-t of the causative verb sign is dropped. This generally happens when the basic verb stem terminates in or but there are other verbs included in this group. Some verbs which end in or take the full -tir suffix. However the problem of these irregularities is not too great as the number of verbs involved is quite small although some of them are fairly common. These verbs are best learned separately.

Irregular Single Syllable Causative Verb Stems
Basic VerbCausative Verb
artmak to increase artırmak to cause to increase
batmak to sink batırmak to cause to sink
bitmek to finish bitirmek to finish off
doğmak to be born doğurmak to give birth
doymak to be filled doyurmak to fill up s.o.
düşmek to fall düşürmek to cause to fall/to drop s.o
geçmek to pass geçirmek to cause to pass
göçmek to move/migrate göçürmek to evict
içmek to drink/smoke içirmek to cause to drink
kaçmak to escape kaçırmak to miss/let escape
pişmek to cook (by itself) pişirmek to cook something
şaşmak to be surprised şaşırmak to surpise s.o.
şişmek to swell şişirmek to cause to swell
taşmak to overflow taşırmak to cause to overflow
uçmak to fly uçurmak to cause to fly
  • 3. A few verbs ending in -k take -ıt as their causative sign.
  • akmak to flow [Active Verb Stem]
  • akıtmak to cause to flow [Causative Verb Stem]
  • sarkmak to hang down
  • sarkıtmak to hang s.o. up
  • ürkmek to have a scare
  • ürkütmek to startle
  • 4. There are few verbs which take -ar or -er as their causative sign
  • çıkmak to go out/to exit [Active Verb Stem]
  • çıkarmak to send out [ENG: to extract] [Causative Verb Stem]
  • gitmek to go
  • gidermek to send away/to remove
  • kopmak to snap itself
  • koparmak to break
  • onmak to mend
  • onarmak to have repaired
  • 5. One verb is completely irregular.
  • görmek to see [Active Verb Stem]
  • göstermek to show [Causative Verb Stem]

All these are common verbs and should be learnt as irregularities

Causative Verb differences in English

It can be seen from the meanings in English of the Causative Verb that it is used when an instrument or a person causes a verb action, and as such can have a different verb used in English to show the causative sense. It is therefore sometimes difficult to select the correct English verb in translation from Turkish. Practice and observation are necessary to ensure correct understanding and use of this verb form:
Mutfakta yemek pişiyor. The food, subject, is cooking in the kitchen. [the food is cooking by itself]
Mehmet, mufakta yemeği pişiriyor Mehmet, the subject, is cooking the food [Causative Verb Mehmet is cooking the food.]
In the case above the same verb to cook is used in English for both basic and causative verbs.

But in the following a different verb is used in English:
Active Verb anlamak to understand Cevabı anladım. I understood the answer.
Causative Verb anlatmak to explain [Lit: to cause to understand] Cevabı anlattım. I explained the answer.
We have to realise that in English the causative verb is often a different verb altogether from the active verb whereas Turkish uses the causative form of the active Form.

Examples of Different Verb Use in English

Active CausativeLiteral
to dieto kill/to murder[Lit: to cause to die]
to seeto show [Lit: to cause to see]
to haltto stop[Lit: to cause to halt]

Causing a Third Party to Act In Turkish

This is a doubled causative verb formed by adding -t or sometimes -tir to the regular causative verb.
I made him paint the car. I got him to paint the car. I had him paint the car
All the above are translated: arabayı ona boyattırdım. [ boya-t-tır-dım]. In this case we are causing a third party to act as an agent. In these type of sentences the agent has the -a or -e (indirect object) case endings: ie. I caused FOR him to paint the car. The verb is basically a doubled causative form. boya -t -tir -mak. Other doubled causatives are formed similarly:

The Turkish Double Causative

The Doubled Causative is used when you get someone else to do the job ie. You cause them to have the job done.
I got my car repaired at the garage. Arabamı garajda tamir ettirdim. uses a single causative, whereas I got the garage to repair my car. Arabamı garaja tamir ettirttim. uses a double causative.
anlattırmak [anla-t-tır-mak] to have something explained
tamir ettirtmek [et-tir-t-mek ] to have something repaired
yaptırtılmak [yap-tır-t-ıl-mak] to have something done
If two letters -tt- occur together, then they are both pronounced individually. These forms do crop up quite regularly, especially in newspaper reports about agencies, ministers, governments etc. having something carried out by a third party