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Turkish Verbs - the Infinitive

The infinitive is a verbal noun form of a verb that has no inflection (changes or addidtions) to indicate person, number, mood or tense as in to walk, to swim.
The suffix of the Turkish infinitive is -mek/-mak as in gelmek to come, the coming bakmak to look, the looking.
It is often abraded to -me/-ma by dropping its final -k as in gelme, bakma.
Personal pronouns and extended suffixes can be added as required:
gelmemiz [gelme-miz] our coming, bakmasından [bakma-sı-ndan] from his looking.

Turkish Positive Infinitive Formation

To form the Infinitive of Turkish Verbs -mek/-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.

Turkish Negative infinitive Formation

The negative of the verb has a separate infinitive form:
The negative particle -me- or -ma is added to the positive verb stem. The negative verb becomes gelmemek [gelme-mek] to not come and almamak [alma-mak] to not take. This method of forming the negative is true for all Turkish verbs.

Turkısh E-Dotted Verb Infinitive Form

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
görmek [gör-mek] to see
görmemek [görme-mek] not to see

-mek is added to verbs whose root vowel is
gülmek [gül-mek] to laugh
gülmemek [gülme-mek] not to laugh

Turkısh A-UnDotted Verb Infinitive Form

For verbs of the A-UnDotted 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 [yap-mak] to do, make, perform
yapmamak [yapma-mak] not to do

-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is
ağrımak [ağrı-mak] to ache
ağrımamak [ağrıma-mak] not to ache

-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -o
kopmak [kop-mak] to snap
kopmamak [kopma-mak] not to snap

-mak is added to verbs whose root vowel is -u
kurumak [kuru-mak] to dry
kurumamak [kuruma-mak] not to dry

Turkish Infinitive as an Object of a Verb

  • The infinitive being a noun can take suffixes:
  • Geçen hafta ödevimi yapmayı unuttum. [yapma-yı = the doing]
  • I forgot to do my homework last week.
  • Garajdan arabamı almayı unuttum. [alma-yı = the taking]
  • I forgot to pick up (take) my car from the garage.
  • Ali, sana söylemeyi unuttu. [söyleme-yi = the telling]
  • Ali forgot to tell you.
  • Affedersin, seni aramayı unuttuk.
  • We're sorry, we forgot to call you.
  • 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.
  • Pencereyi açmamayı unuttular. [açma-ma-yı = the NOT opening]
  • They forgot NOT to open the window.

Turkish Verbal Objects

Some turkish verbs take the Movement Towards suffix [-(y)e/-(y)a] as their object. To say in English: she started to write/she started writing then the infinitive yazmak to write is the object of the verb she started… and is suffixed to show its relationship to the verb başlamak to start, begin to beome yazmaya başladı [yazma-ya] she started to write/ she started to (the) 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.
İçmek istiyorlar. They want to drink.
Kalmak istemedin. You didn't want to stay.
Çalışmak istemeyecekler. They will not want to work.
This also applies in English: I want writing/hey want drinking is incorrect as the concept of "wanting…" does not affect the verb being governed in any way.

When 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 DOES govern 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]

Examples of Verbal Nouns in English
To understand and comprehend Turkish, verbal nouns must be recognised as such.
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.

Examples of Suffixed Turkish Infinitives

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. [çalışmak governs Movement toward = to try to come]
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]

Extended Turkish Infinitive Forms

Turkish Infinitive with Basic Suffix
Positive VerbNegative Verb
gelmekto comegelmemeknot to come
gelmeyeto comegelmemeyeto not to come
gelmeyito come (obj.)gelmemeyinot to come (obj.)
gelmektein cominggelmemektein not coming
gelmektenfrom cominggelmemektenfrom not comimg
gelmekleby/with cominggelmemekleby/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.

Turkish Infinitive with Personal Pronoun Endings

When the standard infinitive takes the personal pronoun endings it drops its final -k of -mek or -mak in all persons.

Turkish Personalised Infinitive
Positive VerbNegative Verb
gitmekto gogitmemeknot to go
gitmemmy goinggitmememmy not going
gitmenyour goinggitmemenyour not going
gitmesihis/her/its goinggitmemesihis/her/its not going
gitmemizour goinggitmememizour not going
gitmenizyour goinggitmemenizyour not going
gitmeleritheir goinggitmemeleritheir not going

Turkish Heavy Infinitive:

This is formed by affixing -lık/-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/-mak changes to -mez/-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.

Turkish Personalised Heavy Infinitive
Positive VerbNegative Verb
gelme(k)likto comegelmezliknot to come
gelme(k)liğimmy cominggelmezliğimizour not coming
gelme(k)likleritheir coming gelmezliğihis not coming

Turkish: How to say: To pretend (not) to…

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 in daily use.

  • It is a reduplicated negative ie: bakmazlık becomes bakMAmazlık meaning to not NOT to see.
  • 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