Turkish/Word Order

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In Turkish, the verb usally goes at the end of the sentence. The basic word order is therefore SOV (subject-object-verb). For example the following sentence literally means the woman the book read (in the following examples, stressed element is shown in blue):

  • Kadın kitabı okudu: The woman read the book.

This word order is not obligatory. You can alter the word order to emphasize a particular element. The most stressed element in a sentence is the element which is nearest to the verb. If you want to stress the verb, you put it at the beginning of the sentence. If you want to stress that it is the woman who read the book, you say:

  • Kitabı kadın okudu: The woman read the book.

This would be a good response to the question "Who read the book?". Here are some other examples:

  • Kitabı okudu kadın: The woman read the book.
  • Okudu kadın kitabı: The woman read the book.

In written language, the verb usually goes at the end of the sentence. But in colloquial speech (and in poetry), its place in the sentence can vary.

You can replace the elements but an element can be composed of more than one words. You can't replace the words in the elements. For example:

  • Kadın mavi kitabı okudu: The woman read the blue book. Elements of this sentence are: "Kadın", "mavi kitabı", "okudu". You should consider "mavi kitabı" as a whole.

You can say:

  • Mavi kitabı kadın okudu: The woman read the blue book.

But you can't say:

  • Kadın kitabı mavi okudu

This is because the adjective always comes before the word it's acting on, as in English.

I'm going home. = Eve gidiyorum.

ev = house, home
eve = to the house
gitmek = to go
gidiyor = s/he is going
gidiyorum = I am going

I want to go home = Eve gitmek istiyorum.

istemek = to want
istiyorum = I want

(Note that the verb istiyorum is in the present continuous tense, but it translates to the present tense in English. This verb is almost always used in this form in Turkish, and the present tense of this verb is reserved for some specific cases.)

How are you? = Nasılsınız?

nasıl = how
-sınız = you are (plural you or respect form singular you as in French vous, German Sie)

İyiyim. = I'm well.

iyi = good
-yim = I am

Bugün, iyi değilim. = I'm not well today.

bugün = today
değil = not
-im = I am
değilim = I am not


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