The Infinitive - description.
In grammar, the infinitive is the form of a verb that has no inflection to indicate person, number, mood or tense. It is called the infinitive because the verb is usually not made finite, or limited by inflection (change in meaning - tense, person). The infinitive is often used as the noun form, as for many languages this is the basic form of a verb which is usually presented in dictionaries. In language classes, children are sometimes taught to think of it as the name of the verb. The Infinitive being the name of a verb, therefore per se it is a noun. This is characterized in English by the word - to - ie to walk, to swim. The Turkish Infinitive has four forms of the infinitive, all of which can be used as nouns and can therefore take case endings and personal pronouns when required. The Standard Infinitive ending in -mek or -mak which is often abraded to -me or -ma by dropping the final -k.
To form the Infinitive of Turkish Verbs -mek or -mak is added to the verb stem. gelmek [gel-mek] - to come - almak [al-mak] - to take The choice of adding -mek or -mak is bound by the Rules of Vowel Harmony.
There is a separate Infinitive form for the negative verb
The negative is characterized with the negative particle -me- or -ma (according to vowel harmony rules) added to the positive verb stem. Thus the negative verb root becomes gelme- not come - and alma- not take. By adding the infinitive suffix -mek or -mak we arrive at the negative verbs - gelmemek [gelme-mek] - not to come - and almamak [alma-mak] - not to take. This method of forming the negative is true for all verbs in Turkish.
For verbs of the E-Dotted Group with e i ö ü in verb stem the suffix -mek signifies the positive verb and -memek signifies the negative of the verb. Applying Vowel harmony rules then:
-mek is added to verbs whose final root vowel is -e
vermek [ver-mek] - to give
vermemek [verme-mek] - not to give
-mek is added to verbs whose root vowel is -i
bilmek [bil-mek] - to know
bilmemek [bilme-mek] - not to know
-mek is added to verbs whose root vowel is -ö
görmek [gör-mek] - to see
görmemek [görme-mek] - not to see
-mek is added to verbs whose root vowel is -ü
gülmek [gül-mek] - to laugh
gülmemek [gülme-mek] - not to laugh
For verbs of the A-Uotted Group with a ı o u in verb stem the suffix -mak signifies the positive verb and -mamak signifies the negative of the verb. Applying Vowel harmony rules then:
-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -a
yapmak [yapmak] - to do, make, perform
yapmamak [yapmamak] - not to do
-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -ı
ağrımak [ağrımak] - to ache
ağrımamak [ağrımamak] - not to ache
-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -o
kopmak [kopmak] - to snap
kopmamak [kopmamak] - not to snap
-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -u
kurumak [kurumak] - to dry
kurumamak [kurumamak] - not to dry
The Infinitive being a noun can take all the suffixes that any other noun takes - here we show the infinitive of some verbs in the Object case [suffix -i or -yi after a vowel] as an object of the main verb unutmak - to forget. We can also see that very often the main verb has two objects with the -i suffix. For instance in the last example below "The window " together with "its opening" are both in the Objective case of being "forgotten" as the main verb. If you inspect the other examples below you will see many double objects similarly.
Geçen hafta ödevimi yapmayı unuttum. - I forgot to do my homework last week.
Garajdan arabamı almayı unuttum. - I forgot to pick up (take) my car from the garage.
Ali, sana söylemeyi unuttu. - Ali forgot to tell you.
Affedersin, seni aramayı unuttuk. - We're sorry, we forgot to call you. - (a secondary meaning of aramak - to look for - is - to call (on the telephone)
Filmi izlemeyi unuttum. - I forgot to watch the film.
Kediyi beslemeyi unuttum. - I forgot to feed the cat.
Mehmet'i sormayı unuttunuz - You forgot to ask Mehmet.
Kapıyı kapamayı unuttum. - I forgot to close the door.
Pencereyi açmayı unuttular. - They forgot to open the window.
Some main verbs take Movement Towards suffix [-(y)e or -(y)a] as their objects i when the verb itself signifies movement towards. If we say in English - she is starting to write - then the Infinitive yazmak - to write - is the object of the verb - she is starting ... - and consequently must be suffixed to show its relationship to the verb. As the verb başlamak - to start, begin - signifies movement of some sort it governs the Movement Towards Condition in Turkish -a or -e. To effect the addition of the Movement Towards suffix to yazmak the final -k of -mek or -mak is dropped and the resulting verbal noun - yazma - is treated as a normal object by the addition of the Movement Towards Condition suffix -(y)a so yazmak - to write - becomes yazmaya başladı - she started to (to) write. It should be noted that we also use the Verbal Noun (gerund) in -ing while translating in English so the above is often rendered in the following manner: - yazmak - to write - becomes yazmaya başladı - she started writing
Special Case - istemek - to want
The verb istemek - to want - is a special case as it causes no modification of the verb it governs: yazmak istiyorum - I want to write
içmek istiyorlar - they want to drink
kalmak istemedin - you didn't want to stay
çalışmak istemeyecekler - they will not want to work.
Note that this also applies in English - we also cannot say - I want writing - or - they want drinking.. The object pointer is not required by istemek - to want as the concept of "wanting.." does not affect the verb being governed in any way.
However if istemek governs anything other that a verb then the objective case must be used. We can see from the examples below that istemek is not governing the verb kalmak directly, but it governs a person. Hence the direct object pointer is required.
Kalmamanızı istiyoruz - We want you not to stay - [Kalmama-nız-ı]
Kalmanızı istemiyoruz - We do not want you to stay - [Kalma-nız-ı]
Kalmasını istemiyorlar - They don't want him to stay - [Kalma-sı-n-ı]
Kalmamalarını istemiyorum - I don't want them not to stay - [Kalmama-ları-n-ı]
To effect the addition of the suffixes to the infinitive - as an example içmek, the final -k of -mek or -mak is dropped and the resulting verbal noun then ends in -ma or -me becoming içme in this case. It is treated as a normal object the addition of the suffix -(y)i etc. - thus becoming - içmeyi - [içme-y-i uses buffer letter -y-]. Similarly the Movement Toward Object is formed in the same manner: The Infinitive - yazmak - to write - forms Verbal Noun - yazma - the writing - thence forms the Movement Toward Condition Object - yazmaya - to the writing.
Examples of Verbal Nouns in English
Unfortunately we do not realize when we are using Verbal Nouns - but if you want to understand Turkish both written and spoken then we must learn to recognize them.
The writing is on the wall.
The drinking of this water is prohibited.
Smoking is allowed.
Leave your suitcase in the waiting room.
He is working in the drying shed.
The Positive Verb içmek - to drink or to smoke a cigarette - drops it final -k and is used to form içme - drinking, smoking as a noun. With the addition of the accusative case it becomes içmeyi - the drinking, the smoking - as the object of a verb. With the addition of the dative case it becomes içmeye - to the drinking, the smoking - as the dative object of a verb.
The Negative Verb forms its Verbal Noun by dropping its terminal -k in a similar fashion - içmemek - not to drink - forms - içmeme - not drinking, not smoking - as a noun. The Negative Accusative then becomes - içmemeyi - the not drinking, the not smoking - as a direct object and the Movement Toward Object becomes - içmemeye - to the not drinking, to the not smoking.
A note about Conversational Stress
This could be mixed up with the negation suffix -me but the difference is hidden in the stress. When it is a Positive Verbal Noun then the stress is on itself as in - içMEyi. However when it is a Negative Verbal Noun, then the stress is on the preceding syllable - İÇmemeyi. We are already aware the negative suffix -me/-ma - itself is never stressed in conversation but always throws the stress on to the previous syllable.
Examples of Suffixed Infinitives
Note that Vowel Harmony and Consonant Mutation rules are followed when adding the standard suffixes - also the buffer letter -y- is used to keep vowel suffixes apart.
gelmeye çalıştı - he tried [to] to come - [Movement Towards Suffix as the verb çalışmak takes a Movement Toward Suffix = to try to..]
yüzmeyi severim - I like to swim - [I like the swimming]
onu yapmaktayım - I am just doing it - [in/at doing it]
sigara içmeyi bıraktım - I have given up [the] smoking - [Direct Object suffix]
The infinitive is a noun - then it can be suffixed with any of the case suffixes. We are taking for our model the Positive Infinitive - gelmek - to come - and the Negative Infinitive gelmemek - not to come.
|gelmek||to come||gelmemek||not to come|
|gelmeye||to come||gelmemeye||to not to come|
|gelmeyi||to come (obj.)||gelmemeyi||not to come (obj.)|
|gelmekte||in coming||gelmemekte||in not coming|
|gelmekten||from coming||gelmemekten||from not comimg|
|gelmekle||by/with coming||gelmemekle||by/with not coming|
Kesmeyi bıraktı - He stopped [the] cutting
Sürmeyi öğreniyorum - I am learning [the driving] to drive
Gülmemeye çalışıyorlar - They are trying not to [to] laugh
|gitmek||to go||gitmemek||not to go|
|gitmem||my going||gitmemem||my not going|
|gitmen||your going||gitmemen||your not going|
|gitmesi||his/her/its going||gitmemesi||his/her/its not going|
|gitmemiz||our going||gitmememiz||our not going|
|gitmeniz||your going||gitmemeniz||your not going|
|gitmeleri||their going||gitmemeleri||their not going|
gidebilmek - to be able to go
gidememek - to not be able to go
gidebilmem - my being able to go
gidemememiz - our not being able to go
gidebilmesi - his being able to go
gidememeleri - their not being able to go
These personal forms can further be extended by the addition of noun condition suffixes:
Gitmesini bekledim - I expected him to go - [gitme-si-ni - Objective Condition]
Kalmanızı istiyorum - I want you to stay
Kalabilmenizi istiyorum - I want you to be able to stay
Kalmamanızı istiyoruz - We want you not to stay
Kalmanızı istemiyoruz - We do not want you to stay
Kalmasını istemiyorlar - They don't want him to stay
Kalmamalarını istemiyorum - I don't want them not to stay
This is formed by affixing -lık or -lik to the standard Infinitive for the positive verb. The final -k of -mek is often dropped when adding the -lik suffix. The negative is slightly different in that the -mek or -mak changes to -mez or -maz.
gelmek becomes gelme(k)lik
bakmamak becomes bakmazlık
The meaning of the heavy infinitive is the same as the standard infinitive and is only used when there may be ambiguity in the context. The heavy infinitive is little used. The heavy infinitive can also have personal pronouns and or case endings added to it.
It does not however drop its final -k of -lik as does the common infinitive when suffixes are added although this final -k will mutate to a final -ğ when necessary before an added vowel.
|gelme(k)lik||to come||gelmezlik||not to come|
|gelme(k)liğim||my coming||gelmezliğimiz||our not coming|
|gelme(k)likleri||their coming||gelmezliği||his not coming|
The heavy infinitive is little used except for the following "special case":
The use of the Negative of the Heavy Infinitive in the ablative case followed by the verb - gelmek - means - to pretend not to... This pretend not to form is a reduplicated negative ie: bakmazlık - becomes bakMAmazlık meaning - to not NOT to see It is mentioned here because in this form it is daily use.
Bana bakmamazlıktan geldi - He pretended (not) to look at me
Onu görmemezlikten geliyorsunuz - You are pretending (not) to see it
Ayşe hanımı sevmemezlikten gelir misiniz? - Are you pretending (not) to like Miss Ayşe?
This construction is a special locution and only used with - gelmek - as an auxiliary verb.
görmemezlikten gelmek - ignore
görmemezlikten gelmek - turn a blind eye
görmemezlikten gelmek - overlook
görmemezlikten gelmek - look through
görmemezlikten gelmek - give someone the go by
görmemezlikten gelmek - close one's eyes to
görmemezlikten gelmek - pretend not to see