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Turkish Nouns

Formation of nouns with suffix -lik -lık -luk -lük

The suffix -lik is very heavily used in Turkish. It has four main uses in Turkish.

1. Formation of Abstract Nouns

Forming nouns which equate to English nouns ending -ness, -tion, -ity.
güzel beautiful becomes güzellik beauty
mutlu happy becomes mutluluk happiness
iyi good becomes iyilik goodness
zor difficult becomes zorluk difficulty, complication

  • These nouns can be further suffixed in Turkish according to their function:
  • mutluluğu, mutluluğumdan [mutlu-luğ-u, mutlu-luğ-um-dan] her happiness, from my happiness
  • Kız arkadaşımın mutluluğu mu kendi mutluluğumdan daha önemlidir?
  • Is my girlfriend's happiness more important than my own happiness?
  • güzelliğine [güzel-liğ-i-n-e] to her/its beauty
  • Şu manzaranın güzelliğine bakın!
  • Regard the beauty of this view/vista!
  • zorluklarımız, zorluklarımızdan [zorluklarımız, zor-luk-lar-ımız-dan] our difficulties,from our difficulties.
  • Tabi bu zorluklarımız oldu, ama hiçbir zaman bu zorluklarımızdan yılmadık!
  • We are subject to difficulties, but we have never been afraid of our difficulties!

1B. Turkish Diminutive suffix cik -cık -cuk -cük

This suffix can be added to both nouns and adjectives.

baba father becomes babacık daddy
kedi cat becomes kedicik pussycat
köpek dog becomes köpecik puppy

This suffix mutates to -çık -çik -çuk -çük when added to words ending in voiceless consonants p ç t k f h s ş
Otobüs Hat ve Güzergahları Kitapçiği. Auto-bus Lines and Routes Booklet.
Hoşgeldin arkadaşçığım! Welcome my dear friend!

Final -k in the noun stem is usually dropped when adding this suffix. Because the terminal -k is dropped then the suffix takes its soft form of -cik. The following examples also show this loss of terminal "-k":
küçük small becomes küçücük little
ufak small becomes ufacık tiny, minute
minik small and nice becomes minicik wee, tiny

Sometimes when adding the diminutive Suffix -cik it causes an extra vowel to be inserted in effect the suffix becomes -icik:
az less becomes azıcık little less as in birazıcık just a little
bir one becomes biricik unique
dar narrow becomes daracık -narrowish
Although the inserted vowel is written in azıcık, it is often glossed over in actual speech and spoken azcık, birazcık.

When adding the possessive pronouns -im my to the diminutives babacık + ım becomes babacığım! daddy!.
Child talk often uses the diminutive babacığım [baba-cığ-ım] my daddy, anneciğim [anne-ciğ-im] my mummy and köpeciğim! my little puppy!.

1C. Turkish Collective Nouns with -lik -lık -luk -lük

genç young becomes gençlik youth
yaşlı old becomes yaşlılık the aged
çocuk child becomes çocukluk childhood
insan person/human becomes insanlık human-kind
kişi person/individual becomes kişilik personality/identity
Bakan Minister becomes Bakanlık Ministry - Adalet Bakanlığı Ministry of Justice

The following example shows that noun suffixes can be chained to produce further extended meanings.
balık fish becomes balıkçı fisherman becomes Balıkçılık [Balık-çı-lık] Fishing Club, Group, Association
Altın Yunus Balıkçılığı Akdeniz'in en önemli balıkçılıklarından biridir. [Balık-çı-lık-lar-ı-ndan]
The Golden Dolphin Fishıng Association is one of the most important Fıshıng Clubs of the Mediterranean.

2. Turkish Nouns of Usage with -lik -lık -luk -lük

When adding -lik to concrete nouns or verb stems it forms nouns and adjectives meaning suitable for, intended for, place of..
tuz salt becomes tuzluk salt cellar
biber pepper becomes biberlik pepper shaker
göz eye becomes gözlük spectacles
kira hire becomes kiralık for hire
yağmur raın becomes yağmurluk raincoat, mackintosh, oilskin

2A. Turkish Nouns of Location with -lik -lık -luk -lük

bakan minister becomes bakanlık ministry as in bakanlık binası ministry building
çamaşır linen, laundry items becomes çamaşırlık as in a laundry room
kaya rock becomes kayalık rocky place as in kayalık bahçe rock garden
orman forest becomes ormanlık forest place as in ormanlık alan forested area/woods
In this example of forest we can see that Turkish uses -lik to make a Substantive Noun of Location, as in the following example:
O tepenin arkasında büyük bir ormanlık bulunur There is a large forest (to be found) behind that hill.
Here the word ormanlık is used as a general Substantive Noun of Location.-lik -lık -luk -lük We may go on to talk about this particular orman itself: O ormanda çok yabani hayvan varmış. It seems there are many wild animals in that forest.

Many place names (look at a Turkish map) often end in the suffix -lik. Hence is Ayvalık Place of the Quince [ayva]. A place near Çeşme is called Değirmenlik Place of the Mill [değirmen]

It is difficult to translate this suffix directly into English, we can only say "Quince" or "Quinceville" and "Milltown" or "Millhill" . Arising from the above we can also form nouns of place of… as follows
elmalık apple orchard from elma apple
sebzelik vegetable garden, stall from sebze vegetable
çiçeklik flower garden, stall from çiçek flower
kitaplık book case from kitap book

3. Turkish Suffix -lik with Numbers:

A number is normally used as an adjective thus the number 10 as an adjective becomes on yumurta ten eggs. Turkish changes numbers and numeric expressions into nouns by the addition of the -lik suffix thus the number 10 on becomes onluk the amount of ten. This is like saying Lend me a "tenner" in English, where the number 10 has become a noun of the amount ten. The suffix -lik is often added to counted nouns to produce a complex counted noun. Let us take our example of on yumurta ten eggs. If we say I want a ten egg box. in English we understand that our requirement is "A box that will contain the amount of ten eggs."

Let us look at some possibilities in Turkish:
on yumurta bir kutu ten eggs one box this example has no meaning in Turkish it is just two items "ten eggs" and "one box". Turkish will use a counted noun on yumurtalık ten eggs-amount thus I want a ten egg box becomes: On yumurtalık bir kutu istiyorum. [Lit: I want a ten egg-amount box.]
If we want to say I want a box of ten eggs. the Turkish uses the -li furnished with, containing suffix:
On yumurtalı bir kutu istiyorum. I want a box containing ten eggs.

İki kişilik çadır var mı? [Lit: Is there a tent of two person-amount?] in English Is there a double tent?
Evet var. Kaç günlük? [Lit: Yes, there is. How many day-amount?] in English Yes there is. For how many days?

Turkish Negative Abstract Nouns -sizlik - sızlık -suzluk -süzlük

The -lik suffix is often added to the -siz without, lacking in suffix to form Negative abstract nouns in -sizlik
sabır patience becomes sabırsız impatient and the abstract noun sabırsızlık impatience
dikkat care becomes dikkatsiz careless and the abstract noun dikkatsizlik carelessness

Further suffixes can be added to show the noun condition
Mutsuzluğumdan kimseye söz etmedim. [Mut-suzluğ-um-dan] I have not said a word to anyone about my unhappiness.
Dikkatsizliğimi bağışlayın lütfen! [dikkat-siz-liğ-im-i] Please excuse my carelessness!

dikkat is historically from an Arabic Feminine Plural and as such it does not follow Turkish Vowel harmony Rules as the final letter -a- is pronounced quite long dikkAAt. Consequently any added suffixes take the Dotted form.

Turkish Compound Nouns

Turkish Definite Compound Nouns

Here the first noun possesses the noun it modifies. The second noun is then suffixed as definitive. Both components retain their grammatical function as as nouns.

bisikletimin garajı [Bisiklet-im-in garaj-ı] my bicycle's garage [LIT: the garage of my bicycle]
kapının zili [kapı-nın zil-i] the door-bell
Mehmet'in arabası [Mehmet'-in araba-sı] Mehmet's car
pencerenin perdesi [pencere-nin perde-si] the window-curtain
The above are Definite Compound nouns and each noun is specific.

If we take the last example [the window its-curtain] pencerenin perdesi the window's curtain we can see that it is a particular curtain belonging to a particular window. But we can also make this an Indefinite Compound Noun "any window curtain" pencere perdesi window curtain by removing the ownership suffix from the Possessor "the window".
This is the difference between Definite Compound Nouns and Indefinite Compound Nouns.

The first noun is a DESCRIBING noun which acts as an adjective and "owns" the second DESCRIBED noun and is marked by the ownership (genitive) suffix -in -in -un -ün.
Buffer letter -n- is used with the ownership suffix -nin -nin -nun -nün is added to an owning noun which ends in a vowel.

  • evin anahtarı (ev-in anahtar-ı) - the house key [LIT: the key of the house, the house's key]
  • It is the particular key of a particular house. It is specifically owned.
  • Compare this with the indefinite compound noun for speaking generally:
  • ev anahtarı [ev anahtar-ı] house key [LIT: house the-key]
  • ev anahtarları [ev anahtar-ları] house keys [LIT: house the-keys]
  • arabanın kapısı [araba-nın kapı-sı] the car door (a particular door of a particular car.}
  • Compare this with the Indefinite Compound nouns:
  • araba kapısı [kapı-sı] car door (generally)
  • araba kapıları [kapı-ları] car doors (generally)

Turkish Indefinite Compound Nouns

Here the first noun acts as an adjective to describe the second noun which is suffixed as a definitive noun. When two nouns are joined as in lamp-post, the second noun takes the third person possessive suffix, e.g. ışık direği (ışık direğ-i) lamp-post [Lit: Lamp its-post].
Similarly gece kulübü (gece kulüb-ü) nightclub [Lit: night its-club].

This is the way that Turkish shows a connection between the two words to make an Indefinite Compound Noun. The first noun "lamp" becomes an adjective to describe the second "post" which is made into a definitive noun by the addition of the third person suffix. Of course further suffixes can be added to this complex noun as required:
ışık direği [direğ-i] (from direk) lamp post [lamp its-post]
onun ışık direği [direğ-i] his lamp post
Mehmet'in ışık direği [direğ-i] Mehmet's lamp post
onun ışık direğinden [direğ-i-nden] from his lamp post
Mehmet'in ışık direğinden [direğ-i--nden] from Mehmet's lamp post

kapı kolundan [kapı kol-u-ndan] from the door handle
yaz okulu [yaz okul-u] the summer school
Ali'nin elma ağacı [elma ağac-ı] Ali's apple tree
bilgisayar ekranı [bilgisayar ekran-ı] the computer screen
deniz suyu [deniz su-yu] the sea water

The first noun is a DESCRIBING (tamlayan) general noun which acts as an adjective and remains in its basic form.
The second noun is a DESCRIBED (tamlanan) second noun is made specific by the addition of possessive singular third person suffix -i -ı -u -ü
In effect this makes the noun specific and can be translated as "the" in English

  • kadın doktoru [doktor-u] lady doctor [LIT: lady the-doctor]
  • otobüs durağı [durağ-ı] bus stop
  • cep telefonu [telefon-u]- mobile phone [LIT: pocket the-phone]
  • futbol maçı [maç-ı] football match
  • taksi şoförü [şoför-ü] taxi driver

If the DESCRIBED noun ends in a vowel the buffer letter -s- is used. The added suffix becomes -si -sı -su -sü.

  • çamaşır makinesi [makine-si] washing machine [washing the-machine]
  • posta kutusu [kutu-su] post box [LIT: post the-box]
  • Türk kahvesı [kahve-sı] Turkish Coffee
  • yangın kovası [kova-sı] fire bucket
  • polis arabası [araba-sı] police car

The only exception is the word su water. In noun compounds the buffer letter -y- is used in place of -s-. This is a grammar exception.

  • meyve suyu [su-yu] fruit juice [LIT: fruit the-juice]
  • elma suyu apple juice
  • et suyu gravy
  • pınar suyu spring water

Plural DESCRIBED nouns are made specific by the addition of possessive plural third person suffix -leri -ları.

  • otobüs durakları [durak-ları] bus stops [LIT: bus the-stops]
  • cep telefonları [telefon-ları mobile phones [LIT: pocket the-phones]
  • futbol maçları [Kitab-ları] football matches
  • taksi şoförleri [şoför-leri} taxi drivers
  • çamaşır makineleri [makine-leri] washing machines
  • posta kutuları [kutu-ları post boxes
  • yangın kovaları [kova-ları] fire buckets

Turkish Non-attached Compound Nouns

Used to indicate the material from which the noun is made . Neither noun is made definitive.
Here the first noun of material acts as an adjective describing the main noun which follows:
tahta kapı. wooden door.
alüminyum pencere. aluminium window.
demir köprü. iron bridge.

Summary of Turkish Complex Noun Completion Suffixes

  1. The Describing Noun suffixes are always the ownership suffix [genitive] -(n)in -(n)ın -(n)ün -(n)un
  2. Describing Nouns which end in a vowel always use buffer letter -n-
  3. The Described Noun suffixes are always 3rd person singular (owned suffix) -(s)i -(s)ı -(s)ü -(s)u or plural -leri/-ları
    Described Nouns which end in a vowel always use buffer letter -s-
  4. The single exception su water which takes buffer letter -y- both as:
    Describing noun suyun rengi the color of the water and Described noun maden suyu mineral water