Turkish Language -The Conditional Tenses

In English the Conditional Tenses are formed with that very important little word - if
Conditional - if - sentences are often introduced with the word -eğer - if or less commonly - şayet - lest, unless In Turkish these words are pointers alerting the listener that a Condition and Result are following. But they do not have any direct meaning, they are "alerters"

Condition, Result

Here are a few examples of Conditional Sentences. We recognize them and use them with ease in our Mother Tongue- English. As we shall see below Conditional Sentences are not so easy to recognize in Turkish, as they appear as a Mood of the verb itself. It needs practice!
If we leave at noon, we will arrive on time.
If you hit me, I shall tell my mother.
If we had left at noon, we would have arrived on time.
If (ever) you join the club we would welcome you.
Unless you work hard, you will not be successful.
If you do not work hard you may not be successful.
We can not go to the races whenever it rains.
We can not go to the races if it rains.
If it had not rained we could have gone to the races.
If ever you go to London you must visit Bucking ham Palace.
When(ever) you go to London you can visit Bucking ham Palace.
[If ever you go]
Please take whichever one that you want. - [If you want that one then take it.]
If the sweets are not too dear then we will buy them
Sometimes in the place of - if not we can use - unless and in the place of if we can use - if ever, whenever, whatever, whichever, however, or even the simple forms - when, what, which, how, etc. All the modal forms of the verb can be used - can, must, would, might, may, should, etc. The same of course is true for Turkish as we shall see.. However these pages on the Conditional Tense are not written to teach the use of that tense in English so Manisa Turkish is appending a short overview of the Conditional to make it more understandable for our fellow Turkish Learners.

English Methods

The Real Conditional is used to express condition and result based on fact in both the Present and the Future.
If the kettle gets too hot then it boils. - [Present Tense Condition and Result]
Whenever the kettle gets too hot it boils. - [Simple Present Condition - Wide Tense Habitual- Result]
It the kettle gets too hot it will boil. - [Future Result of Present Condition]
If you practice hard you will win a prize. - [Future Result of Present Condition]
If you do not practice hard you will not win a prize. - [Future Result of Present Condition - Negative]

The Unreal Conditional used to express unreal results or wishes and desires in the Present and Future.
If I practice hard I might win a prize. - [Result - Present Desire]
If I was richer I would buy a new house. - [Result - Future Wish]
If I were you I would stay in England. - [Result Future Habitual]

The Past Conditional is used to state Conditions in the Past that did not happen. often use to express criticism or regret.
If I had practiced harder I would have won a prize. - [Regret]
If I had been richer, I would have bought a bigger house. - [Unrealized due to Condition]
If I were you I would not have stayed in England. - [Criticism of Past Condition]
It can be seen that the changes of tense and mood of the verbs show our meaning in English. The same is of course true for Turkish - the Correct tenses and mood of Condition and Result must be used to adequately communicate the correct meaning of the statement. We can see from the above that English uses its normal tenses and the condition is produced by insertion of that little word - if. Turkish however, (along with many other languages) has a special Conditional Tense Form..

The Conditional Suffix.

The Turkish Conditional is characterized by the suffix -se- or -sa- (according to Vowel Harmony rules).
A simple example is - var - there is, there are - which becomes varsa - if there is, if there are - with the addition of the -sa Conditional Suffix.
The negative of course is based on: yok - there isn't, there aren't - which becomes: yoksa - if there isn't, if there aren't
Paranız varsa bana verin. - If you have (any) money (then) give it to me.
Bir taksi yoksa burada kalalım. - If there isn't a taxi (then) let's stay here.
We can extend this simple example to verb formations as follows:
The Conditional Tenses are formed by adding the Conditional Personal endings to the -(y)se- or -(y)sa- suffix to the verb in any suitable tense or mood. The mark of the Conditional Suffix follows Vowel Harmony Rules, therefore there are two forms -se or -sa to choose from. Some examples in differing Tenses and Moods are shown below to exhibit how Vowel Harmony affects the -se, -sa Conditional Suffix.

The Conditional Suffixes

If I -sem or -sam example yaparsam - if I do
If you -sen or -san example giriyorsan - if you are entering
If he -se or -sa example kesilecekse - if it will be cut, if it is to be cut
[In our example above the verb is in its passive form - kesilmek - to be cut - from - kesmek - to cut]
If we -sek or -sak example anlaşmıyorsak - if we are not agreeing
If you -seniz or -sanız example mutlu olmayacaksanız - if you will not be happy
If they -seler or -salar example gelebilecekseler - if they will be able to come

Thanks to A.E.R.T for corrections to the above section - JG. Oct. 2009
The Simple Present ConditionalThe Present Continuous Conditional
gelsemIf I comegeliyorsamIf I am coming
yazsan If you writeyazmıyorsanIf you are not writing
gülseIf he laughsgülecekseIf he will laugh
içsekIf we drinkiçiyorsakIf we are drinking
görebilirsenizIf you can seegörmüyorsanızIf you are not seeing
yapıyorsalarIf they are doingyapabilirselerIf they can do

The Conditional Positive

Here are some examples of the main tenses in use of gelmek - to come - and - gelmemek - not to come

Simple Actual Conditional
gelsemif I were to come
gelsenif you were to come
gelseif he were to comes
gelsekif we usually come
gelsenizif you were to come
gelselerif they were to come
Present Continuous
geliyorsamif I am coming
geliyorsanif you are coming
geliyorsaif he is coming
geliyorsak if we coming
geliyorsanızif you are coming
geliyorsalarif they are coming
Simple Habitual
gelirsem if I (usually) come
gelirsen if you (usually) come
gelirse if he (usually) comes
gelirsek if we (usually) come
gelirsenizif you (usually) come
gelirselerif they (usually) come
Future Intention
geleceksemif I (will) come
geleceksenif you (will) come
gelecekseif he (will) come
geleceksekif we (will) come
geleceksenizif you (will) come
gelecekselerif they (will) come
Past Reality
geldiysemif I came
geldiysenif you came
geldiyse if he came
geldiysek if we came
geldiysenizif you came
geldiyselerif they came
Past Unreality
gelseydimIf only I had come
gelseydinIf only had come
gelseydiIf only had come
gelseydikIf only we had come
gelseydinizIf only you had come
gelseydilerIf only they had come

Conditional Negative Tenses

Negative Simple Actual Conditional
gelmesemif I were not to come
gelmesenif you were not to come
gelmeseif he were to not comes
gelmesekif we usually do not come
gelmesenizif you were not to come
gelmeselerif they were not to come
Negative Present Continuous Conditional
gelmiyorsamif I am not coming
gelmiyorsanif you are not coming
gelmiyorsaif he is not coming
gelmiyorsak if we are not coming
gelmiyorsanızif you are not coming
gelmiyorsalarif they are not coming
Negative Simple Habitual Conditional
gelmezsem if I (usually) do not come
gelmezsen if you (usually) do not come
gelmezse if he (usually) do not comes
gelmezsek if we (usually) do not come
gelmezsenizif you (usually) do not come
gelmezselerif they (usually) do not come
Negative Future Conditional
gelmeyeceksemif I (will) not come
gelmeyeceksenif you (will) not come
gelmeyecekseif he (will) not come
gelmeyeceksekif we (will) not come
gelmeyeceksenizif you (will) not come
gelmeyecekselerif they (will) not come
Negative Past Real Conditional
gelmediysemif I had not come
gelmediysenif you had not come
gelmediyse if he had not come
gelmediysek if we had not come
gelmediysenizif you had not come
gelmediyselerif they had not come
Negative Past Unreal Conditional
gelmeseydimIf only I had not come
gelmeseydinIf only you had not come
gelmeseydiIf only he had not come
gelmeseydikIf only we had not come
gelmeseydinizIf only you not had come
gelmeseydilerIf only they had not come

Examples in other tenses

There are other tense form (such as the Inferential Tense) which are used in conditional sentences and one should learn to recognize the -se- or -sa- form of the verbal suffix to realize that the conditional - if - should be used.
Erken varırsanız, beklemelisiniz. - If you arrive early, you will have to wait.
Erken varırsanız, beklersiniz. - If you arrive early, you would have to wait.
Erken varsaydınız, bekleyecektiniz. - If you had arrived early, you would have had to wait.
Sana yardım edebilirlerse, yardım edecekler. - They will help you if they can.
Sana yardım etseler, yardım ederler. - They would help you if they could.
Sana yardım edebilseydiler, (yardım) ederlerdi. - [or edeceklerdi] - They would have helped you if they could have.
Fazla içersen sarhoş olursun. - If you drink too much you get drunk.
Çok çalışmazsan, sınavı geçemeyeceksin - Unless you work hard you will not be able to pass your test.
Sigara içmeyi bırakırsan, daha uzun yaşarsın. - If you stop smoking you will live longer.
Yağmur yağmasaydı dışarı çıkmayacaktık. - We would not have gone out if it had not stopped raining.
Eğer buradan gitseydim sana yazardım. - If I had gone away, I would have written to you.

Verbs of Condition

There are some verbs in the Turkish vocabulary that already have a "conditional feeling" within themselves. The can be recognized as they contain "-sa-/-se-" conditional sign within the verb stem itself. The meaning of these verbs is best translated as "to regard as.. + verb".

An example of this effect is the verb gülümsemek - to smile which becomes gülümsüyorum - I am smiling. The "conditional sign" -s(e)- + (üyorum) is part of the verb stem, so the verb itself can have the meaning "to regard as laughing". If this method is applied to other "conditional verb stems", then very often we can translate the Turkish easily. However if we want to say the True Conditional af the verb "to smile" the we say: gülümsüyorsam meaning If I smile/am smiling

küçümsemek - to belittle [to consider as small]
kötümsemek - to disparage [to consider as bad]
benimsemek - to appropriate [to consider as personal]
çekimsemek - to refrain from [to consider as absent]
gereksemek - to consider as necessary
hafifsemek - to take s.o lightly [to consider as light]
yakınsamak - to converge [to consider as nearing]
umursamak - to care [to have consideration]
çıkarsamak - to infer, to deduce [to consider as resulting in…]

The resemblance between the conditional structure and the suffix "-m-semek" in Turkish is quite by chance.
Although this is not really part of the conditional tense itself, it is mentioned here as an aid for understanding when reading Turkish.