Turkish Language - Turkish Nouns

Formation and recognizing nouns in Turkish

Diminutive and Affectionate - the suffix -cik
This suffix is vowel harmonized forms are cik -cık -cuk -cük.
It also becomes -çık -çik -çuk -çük when it mutates to its hard form when it is added to words which end in a hard consonant.
baba - father - becomes -babacık - daddy
Mehmetçik - [Lit: Little Mehmet] - is the general affectionate word for a soldier. This would be a Tommy in English.
kedi - cat - becomes - kedicik - pussycat
köpek - dog - becomes - köpecik - puppy

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

Vowel Production
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
In the word - azıcık - Although this inserted vowel is written, it is often glossed over in actual speech.
If we add the possessive pronouns such as -im to the diminutives - my - (babacık + -ım becomes babacığım! - daddy!). So you can often hear children crying - babacığım - (baba-cığ-ım) - (my daddy or anneciğim - (anne-ciğ-im) - (my mummy or even köpeciğim! - my little puppy!.

Formation of nouns from adjectives - the suffix -lik

This suffix is vowel harmonized forms are -lik -lık -luk -lük.
The suffix -lik is very heavily used in Turkish. It has four main uses in Turkish as follows;

1. Formation of Abstract and Collective Nouns

The main use of the suffix -lik is to form Abstract Nouns from Adjectives.
güzel - beautiful - becomes - güzellik - beauty
mutlu - happy - becomes - mutluluk - happiness
iyi - good - becomes - iyilik - goodness
çocuk - child - becomes - çocukluk - childhood
zor - difficult becomes zorluk - difficulty, complication
It should be noted that the English Abstract nouns end in -ness, -tion, -ity, etc (generally)

Of course these abstract nouns can be further suffixed in Turkish according to their function in meaning:
mutluluğum - [mutluluğ-um] - my happiness
Hepimiz, çocukluğumuzu mutluluk içinde geçirdik. O zamanlarda mutluluğum sonsuzdu.
- All of us passed our childhood in happiness. At that time my happiness was endless
- [Hep-imiz, çocuk-luğ-umuz-u mut-lu-luk iç-i-nde geç-ir-dik. O zaman-lar-da mutlu-luğ-um son-suz-du.]

Thanks to Murat Açık for corrections to the sections above and below - JG, December 2012

Formation of Collective Nouns
genç - young becomes gençlik - youth
yaşlı - old becomes yaşlılık - age
insan - person/human becomes insanlık - human-kind
kişi - person/individual becomes kişilik - personality/identity
Bakan - Minister becomes Bakanlık - Ministry
balık - fish becomes balıkçı - fisherman becomes Balıkçılık - Fishing Club, Group, Association
This last example shows that noun suffixes can be chained to produce further extended meanings.

Thanks to Kadir Demirel for suggestions in this section - JG - Nov. 2006

2. Forming nouns of Usage

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

3. Forming Nouns of Location

Bakan - Minister - becomes - Bakanlık - Ministry
çamaşır - linen, laundry items - becomes - çamaşırlık - a laundry
orman - forest - becomes - ormanlık - forest place
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. 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 - (have a look at a Turkish map) - often end in the suffix -lik. One that springs to mind is Ayvalık - Place of the Quince - [ayva], there is also a place near Çeşme 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" or whatever. 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

4. The Suffix -lik with Numbers:

A number is normally used as an adjective thus the number 10 (as an adjective) - 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?

An "eggy" question

Here is an "eggy" question from one of our Turkish friends, showing the diference in Turkish logic:
Shouldn't that be? - "I want a ten egged box" - Cafer Bey by Email

My answer: To your suggestion:
"I want a ten egged box". I'm sorry I can not agree, I feel it should be "I want a ten egg box", as I have written.
If we say it your way, it makes the box itself "modified" as in "I want a black coloured box" or "I want a silk lined box".
But a "ten egg box" describes a box that can contain up to "ten eggs" ; that is how it is understood. Let us not forget that supermarkets in England sell their eggs in "egg boxes" not in "egged boxes"
To understand the difference "I want a three key box" - a box to put three keys into, and "I want a three keyed box" - a box which need three keys to open it.

5. Formation of Negative Abstract Nouns - the suffix -sizlik

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
Hepimizin çocuk-luğu mutsuzluk içinde geçti [Hepimiz-in çocuk-luğ-u mutsuzluk iç-i-nde geçti] - All of our childhood(s) passed in unhappiness.
Demin dikkatsizliğini [dikkat-siz-liğ-i-ni] fark ettim - I just noticed your carelessness.

dikkat - is 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.

More about Compound Nouns:
Bisikletimizi bıraktığımız yeri hatırlayamayacağız - We will not be able to remember the place where we leave/have left our bicycle(s) [Bisiklet-imiz-i bırak-tığ-ımız yer-i hatırla-ya-ma-y-acağız]
In these sentences - yer - is the place that we can not remember where we left the bicycle, and - bisiklet - is the bicycle. Therefore both of them should be in accusative case. If we had wanted to say - I can't remember my bicycle's place - then we should have said - Bisikletimin yerini hatırlayamıyorum
In this sentence - Bisikletimin yeri - is a Definite Noun Combination (both nouns are substantive)
The first component is in genitive form. The second component gets the suffix -i (if it ends with a vowel it usually gets the buffer letter -s except the word - su - water - which takes buffer letter -y- to produce suyu - (the only irregular noun in Turkish)

Many thanks to Nilda Ginn for corrections and suggestions to this above - JG Feb. 2006 - and thanks to Kadir Demirel for corrections. - JG Nov. 2006

Definite Noun Completion

Here the first noun possesses the noun it modifies. The second noun is then suffixed as definitive. We should note that both components retain their grammatical function as a noun in their own right. bisikletimin garajı - [Bisiklet-im-in garaj-ı] - my bicycle's garage - (the garage of my bicycle)
kapının zili - [kapı-nın zil-i] - the door-bell - (the bell of the door)
Mehmet'in arabası - [Mehmet'-in araba-sı] - Mehmet's car - (the car of Mehmet)
pencerenin perdesi - [pencere-nin perde-si] - the window-curtain - (the curtain of the window)
All the above are Definite Compound nouns as they are both particular and both Definite.

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 noun "any window curtain" - pencere perdesi - window curtain - This then is the difference between Definite and Indefinite (see below) Compound Nouns.

Indefinite Noun Completion

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 a complex 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

If you say lamp post , that is ışık direği, and his lamp post would be also ışık direği. Why? Because the -i at the very end has the meaning of "Indefinite Noun Completion" as in the first phrase, and "Possession for the 3rd. Person Singular" as in the second. To avoid doubling only one of them is used. This shows the conflict between Indefinite Noun Completion Suffix -i and 3rd. Person Possessed Suffix -i. But how to distinguish between them?  In order to do that, you should bring onun - his, her at the beginning, thus onun ışık direği is clearly about possession.

For example - The minister for tourism would be turizm bakanı. If we want to say England's minister for tourism, we should say Ingiltere'nin turizm bakanı [not "Ingiltere'nin turizm bakanını" (or bakanısı)]. so we can say - England's minister for tourism is very young. - Ingiltere'nin turizm bakanı çok genç(tır).
And if you want to say - from his lamp post - then similarly you would say onun ışık direğinden

ışık direğinden - [direğ-i-nden] - from the lamp post
bisiklet yeri - [bisiklet yer-i] - the bicycle place
kapı kolundan - [kapı kol-u-ndan] - from the door handle
yaz okulu - [yaz okul-u] - the summer school
yolcu gemisinde - [yolcu gemi-si-nde] - on the ferry boat - (Lit: the traveller boat)
Ali'nin elma ağacı - [elma ağac-ı] - Ali's apple tree
ayakkabı boyası - [ayakkabı boya-sı] - the shoe polish
bilgisayar ekranı - [bilgisayar ekran-ı] - the computer screen
kızımın öğrenci karnesi - [öğrenci karne-si]- my daughter's student (school) report
su borusu - [su boru-su] - the water pipe
deniz suyu - [deniz su-yu] - the sea water
In the last example above you will see that the definitive of - su (water) - is suyu - [not susu] - this is an exception, and is the ONLY unique exception in The Turkish Language.

Many thanks to Oytun Arslan for corrections and suggestions to this page. - JG - 19 Sept 2011

Non-attached Completion

Used to indicate the material from which the noun is made . Neither noun is made definitive, thus producing a Combined Noun.
Here the first noun of material acts as an adjective describing the main noun which follows. This shows that adjectives always precede their noun in Turkish; it is important to realize this.
tahta kapı - wooden door
alüminyum pencere - aluminium window
demir köprü - iron bridge

Thanks to Bahaddin Çankurt for the above - JG. Nov 2006