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Turkish Imperative

The imperative mood is used in issuing commands. It is formed by using the verb in its simplest root form: Listen!, Sit!, Eat! The imperative mood in English occurs only in the second person, and the subject you is generally not expressly stated, because it is implied. When the speaker gives a command regarding anyone else, it is still directed at the second person as though it were a request for permission, although it may be a rhetorical statement.
This form of the verb is used mainly for giving direct orders, requests, suggestions and in some cases warnings, or even a mixture of all these to a second person. Some examples in English might be:
(You) Look at that.). [order]
Don't (you) leave your valuables in the car. [suggestion]
Bring me another fork please. [request]
Take us to Taksim Square. [order]
(You) Be careful in the traffic. [warning]
The imperative does not seem so abrupt in Turkish as it is in English, and it would be difficult to upset anyone when using the imperative.

Formation of the Turkish Imperative

Vowel harmony operates on the Imperative Suffixes.

The First Person let me, let us
The Imperative in the first person singular adds the suffix (y)ayım/-(y)eyim, as examples alayım let me buy, bekleyeyim let me wait. The first person plural adds (y)alım/-(y)elim,

  • alayım let me buy/take, I should buy (from almak to take)
  • yapamayım let me not do, I should not do
  • bekleyelim let us wait, we should wait (from beklemek to wait)
  • beklemeyelim let us not wait, we shouldn't wait
  • bakayım let me look. (from bakmak to look)
  • görelim let's see. (from görmek to see)

These forms are not considered true imperatives by the grammar experts, they categorise them elsewhere. They are included as they are heavily used in daily speech.

The Second Person let you
The second person singular (familiar and immediate for addressing friends or showing urgency) is just the basic verb stem after removing the infinitive Sign -mek/-mak. This most direct imperative uses the basic verb stem itself.

  • Bak Look! Positive Verb (Direct Form)
  • Bakma! Don't look! Negative Verb (Direct Form)
  • Gel! Come!
  • Gelme! Don't come!

Turkish Polite Imperative

There are two forms of the second person plural:
1. Formal Imperative
Used for addressing strangers or being polite adds -in to the verb stem.

  • Bakın! Look! Positive Verb (Polite Form)
  • Bakmayın! Don't look! Negative Verb (Polite Form)
  • Gelin! Come!
  • Gelmeyin! Don't come!

This Polite Form is used for addressing one person or a number of people in a group.
The verb stem is always accented in speech. BAKmayın! - Don't LOOK!, GITmeyin! - Don't GO!
When speaking the imperative there is always heavy vocal stress on the verb stem:.
Yapmayın onu Don't do that! Spoken YAPmayın onu! Don't DO that!
Çiçeklere doKUNmayınız! Don't TOUCH the flowers!

2. Public Imperative
Used for notices, advices or being extra polite, adds -iniz to the verb stem.
This form is characterized by the addition of the suffix -iniz in its various forms. It is used mainly in public notices and signs and also in newspapers and on the television. The publicform is the most polite of all, and can also be used in direct conversation if you wish to be extra polite

  • Bakınız! Look! [Positive Public Imperative]
  • Bakmayınız! Don't look! [Negative Public Imperative]
  • Geliniz! Come!
  • Gelmeyiniz! Don't come!

In all the above forms the negative particle -me-/-ma- always remains in it absolute form, it does not close to -mi-/-mı-

Third Person Imperative Let him do, let him not do

The Third Person let him, her
The third person singular adds -sin directly to the verb stem and the third person plural adds -sinler directly to the verb stem as in the examples below.
(You) Let him do the talking.
(You) Let them build the bridge.
(You) Give him an allowance.
(You) Let sleeping dogs lie.

Turkish is similar as it also uses the second person endings -sin/-sın/-sün/-sun and its plural forms -sinler/-sınlar/-sünler/-sunlar as a request for the third person imperative by attaching this suffix directly to the Verb stem (ie. there are no tense signs like -iyor- or -ar etc.. used)
baksın (You) let him look
bakmasın (You) let him not look
girsin (You) let him enter
girmesinler (You) let them not enter

The third person form of verbs which is in wide use especially in "formula speak". We re-iterate that this is formed by adding -sin (singular) or -sinler (plural) directly to the basic verb stem (there is no tense sign intervening.)
Although this form of the verb appears to be of the second person in -sin it actually is not; it cannot be construed as so because the -sin suffix is added directly to the verb stem and not to a verb tense base.

  • Singular Forms
  • olmak to become, to happen/occur
  • olsun let it be
  • olmasın let it not be
  • koşmak to run
  • koşsun let him run
  • koşmasın let him not run
  • Plural Forms
  • olsunlar let them be
  • olmasınlar let them not be
  • koşsunlar let them run
  • koşmasınlar let them not run

While in the Hamam Turkish Bath you might say Keseci gelsin! I am ready for the masseur! [Lit: Let the masseur come]
The third person imperative ending is added directly to the verb stem Gelsın Let him come! but if it is added to a tense sign as in Geliyorsun! then it is the second person tense sign You are coming. - so Don't get mixed up.!

Daily Turkish and "Formula Speak" Turkish Imperative Examples

(1) Sağ ol. (Sağol), Sağ olun, Sağ olunuz. Thanks very much. [Lit: Be healthy.]
This form is used a lot to thank someone for some extra service or for something that has put them out. It is far more stronger than Teşekkür ederim. Thank you. If for instance you ask a stranger for the time you could answer Sağol Stay healthy! as a thank you for his trouble.

(2) Eksik olmayın(ız) [Lit: Don't go missing!]
This is used for telling someone you like their company and they should "stick around".

(3) Sakın!, Sakınınız!, Be careful! Watch out! Protect yourself!
The imperative of the reflexive verb sakınmak to avoid, to beware is used as an interjection to warn or advise.
Sakın ha! Just mind out!, Just watch it!
Onu yapmaktan sakınınız! Be careful of doing that!
Sakın bunu bir daha yapma! Don't you ever do that (this) again!

(4) Geçmiş olsun! May it pass! (from you)
A formula used to people who are ill ie: Get better soon or to people who have had an accident or encountered a problem in life ie: Bad luck!

(5) Kolay gelsin! May it come easy! Take it easy!
This is usually said to people who are carrying out a duty or their work.

(6) Neden olmasın? Why let it not be?
This is the same as Why not? in English. I myself used to say Neden yok for Why not? until it was pointed out to me the this actually means There is no reason!

Turkish Positive Imperative Conjugation

Singular Persons
1st. Geleyim! Let me come!
Çarşıya seninle geleyim. Let me come with you to the shops.
2nd. Gel! Come (you)! (familiar)
Buraya gel! Come (to) here!
3rd. Gelsin! Let him come!
Mehmet, pikniğe arabayı sürsün. Let Mehmet drive the car to the picnic.

Plural Persons
1st. Gelelim! Let us come!
Bu akşam televizyonu seyredelim. Let's watch TV this evening.
2nd. Gelin! (formal) or Geliniz! (public and more polite) (You) come..!
3rd. Gelsinler! Let them come!
Kızlar dans etsinler. Let the girls dance.

The Accelerative Imperative

Another form of the imperative involves the use of an auxiliary verb vermek to give this is dealt with on the auxiliary verb page.
Postaneye koşuverin! Run to the Post Office!
koşuvermek [The Accelerative verb formed from koşmak to run + vermek to give] to run hurriedly
Onu yapıver! Do it quickly! [English would say "Just get it done right now!"] from yapmak + vermek

Turkish Negative Imperative Conjugation

Singular Persons
1st. Gitmeyeyim! Let me not go!
Saçımı kestireyim mi kestirmeyeyim mi? Should I get my hair cut or not? {Let me, Let me not]
2nd. Gitme! Don't go (you)! (familiar)
Sakın ha, onu yapma! Careful, don't do that!
3rd. Gitmesin! Let him not go!
Mehmet, Ayşe'yi öpmesin! Don't let Mehmet kiss Ayshe!

Plural Persons
1st. Gitmeyelim! Let us not go!
Bugün yüzmeyelim! Let's not go simming today!
2nd. Gitmeyin! (formal) or Gitmeyiniz (public and more polite) (you) do not go..!
Sigara İçmeyiniz No Smoking [on a public sign]
3rd. Gitmesinler! Let them not go!
Çocuklar mesajımı görmesinler! Don't let the children see my message!

Vowel Harmony operates on the Imperative Suffixes
Görsün! Let him see!
Alın! Take (you)!
Bulsunlar! Let them find!
Bulmasınlar! Let them not find!
Onu yapmayın! Don't do it (you)!
Gülünüz! Laugh (you)!

Some Turkish "Formula Speak"

There are many other Formula Speak with this aspect of the verb in daily use in Turkey and a good dictionary or phrase book will always contain them. As the barber might say to you when he has finished cutting your hair Sıhhatler olsun! Good health to you! said to one who is having a bath, a haircut or a shave.
This regular expression is used wrongly by many people. It should be Sıhhatler olsun! Sıhhat is the Arabic for Sağlık. When people say this expression quickly, it sounds like Saatler olsun! "May the hours pass!", but it should definitely be Sıhhatler olsun! Good Health!

Present Continuous Tense Base Example
yazıyorsun you are writing Attached directly to the basic verb stem it becomes the Let him… let them… form:
Yazsın!- Let him write! yazmasın! Let him not write!

Simple Present Tense Base Example
beklersiniz you usually wait Attached directly to the basic verb stem it becomes the Let him… let them… form:
Beklesinler! Let them wait! Beklemesinler! Let them not wait!

Turkish Form of the Imperative Showing Impatience

There is another form of the imperative which can be a little petulant or sound impatient. It may be used if you have been waiting too long or in cases where notice has not been taken. This form should be used with care by the learner. It is at first best translated as: Why do you? or Why don't you? The suffix -sana or -sene is added to the Positive Verb stems, this becomes -sanıza or -senize when addressing a group of people.

Positive Verb (Impatient Form)
Baksana! Now look here!
Gelsene! Come on then! or Come along!
Otursanıza! Oh DO sit down! or Why don't (you all) sit down!!
Here we can see that although there is only a positive form in Turkish we can sometimes translate it as negative in English to arrive at the meaning.