The Pizza Man
Lesson 114beginner Turkish Beginner
The Pizza Man
Today, we're talking about -mekte, which is really just a fancy alternative to -iyor. Sort of like the spinach and goat cheese pizza of Turkish present tense.
Present tense with -mekte.
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Merhaba! I hope I have not missed some explanation in this lesson, but did you say anything about that "y" that seems to come before -miş? After missing a couple of questions on the review, I went back and looked closer at the dialogue and the language points, and I saw that "y" there. I guess it's a buffer letter of sorts? But it is coming before a consonant. Is this something like "y" being used before the past tense in noun sentences, as in "Butün gün evdeydim"?

I also notice that the "y" is used in the "-mekte/-makta" constructions but not in the "-iyor" constructions, except in the question form. So, "-miş" doesn't seem to like to have a vowel in front of it. But when you use "-miş" to indicate past tense, this "y" doesn't appear, does it? For instance: uyumuş.

Sorry to be sleuthing aloud, but I am very puzzled.

May 01, 2014
This is an extremely good and insightful question. I'll try to walk through it one step at a time. Let me know if I lose you anywhere along the way. It sounds like you're already on the right track.

1. When put on verbs, -miş doesn't force a buffer y. This is the plain old -miş past tense that we know and love. Gelmiş. Gitmişim. Uyumuşsun.

This follows the rules of regular past tense (-di), which also doesn't force a buffer y. Geldi. Gittim. Uyudun.

2. When put on adjectives or nouns, -miş *does* force a buffer y. Güzelmiş. Akıllıymış. Öğrenciymiş. This is due to the fact that -miş here is actually a short-hand for the old Turkish copula (a connecting form of the verb "to be") imiş. (This isn't used much anymore, but in older Turkish, you can see "Güzel imiş.") That buffer y is what's left over after the language evolved the separate imiş copula into an existential suffix.

Notice that this follows the rules of regular past tense, for the exact same reasons. Güzeldi. Akıllıydı. Öğrenciydi. This buffer y is also coming from a Turkish copula that used to be a separate word; in this case, idi.

Relevant to this discussion - the past-tense buffer y stays on *all* noun cases, including the locative (-de). Bardaydı. Bardaymış.

3. So, when we add -miş to verbs, we don't use a buffer y. When we add it to noun or adjectives, we do. Geliyor is a verbal form - so, geliyormuş. Uyumuş. Uyuyormuş.

4. Gelmekte (for example), though serving a verbal function, is grammatically not a verb. It's a noun (the infinitive: gelmek), plus a locative (-de). It's literally "in the coming." So, voila, that's why we need a buffer y. Gelmekte isn't a verb. Grammatically, it's closer to "bardaymış" than "gelmiş."

You are right that this is farther down the rabbit hole than we should probably lead people at the beginner level, but we should probably have at least mentioned it to avoid confusion.
May 01, 2014
This is an extremely clear and useful explanation, Justin. Çok teşekkür ederim. I have always had trouble remembering to put that "y" in past-tense noun sentences, partly because it seemed so arbitrary to me. But now that you've explained the logic behind it, I think I will remember. ... It's very interesting that Turkish preserves the buffer letter even when the offending vowel has disappeared, either as in "ile" when it elides with a preceding word, or as in "miş" when the copula has faded into history. I guess this must partly have something to do with pronunciation.

I have been studying Turkish for just short of two years now, but I have never come across an explanation like this. Knowing why something happens in a language helps me hugely. Tekrar teşekkürler!
May 02, 2014
There's almost a geniş zaman feeling to the -mekte/-makta - or am I just reading the english translation too literally?
May 27, 2015
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