What Do You Do?
Lesson 53noobie Turkish Noobie
What Do You Do?
The inevitable question that you can count on always being asked when meeting someone new. Join us for today's lesson so that when you tell people that you make Internet Turkish lessons, you can at least impress them by putting the words in the right order.
Word order.
Hover over words to see their translations and suffixes.
Aygen
Ne Ne
what

work
yapıyorsun? yap + ıyor + sun
you are doing?
Translate |
What do you do?
Aylin
Ben Ben
I
öğrenciyim. öğrenci + y + im
I am a student
Ben Ben
I
İstanbul Üniversitesi’nde İstanbul Üniversite + s + i + n + de
at Istanbul University
okuyorum. oku + uyor + um
I am studying
Translate |
I'm a student. I study at Istanbul University.
Aygen
İstanbul Üniversitesi İstanbul Üniversite + s + i
Istanbul University
iyi iyi
good
bir bir
a
okul. okul.
school
Ne Ne
what
okuyorsun? oku + uyor + sun
you are studying?
Translate |
Istanbul University is a good school. What are you studying?
Aylin
Deniz biyolojisi deniz biyoloji + s + i
marine biology
okuyorum. oku + uyor + um
I am studying
Translate |
I'm studying marine biology.
Aygen
Derslerin ders + ler + in
your classes
zor zor
difficult
mu? mu?
(question article)
Translate |
Are your classes hard?
Aylin
Çok Çok
very
zor zor
difficult
değil. değil.
not
Ya sen? Ya sen?
and you?
Ne Ne
what

work
yapıyorsun? yap + ıyor + sun
you are doing?
Translate |
They're not very hard. And you? What do you do?
Aygen
Akvaryumda akvaryum + da
at the aquarium
çalışıyorum çalış + ıyor + um
I am working
ben. ben.
I
Translate |
I work at the aquarium.
Aylin
Gerçekten Gerçekten
really
mi? mi?
(question article)
Ben Ben
I
sana sen + e
to you
bir çok bir çok
many
soru soru
question
sormak sormak
to ask
istiyorum. iste + iyor + um
I want
Translate |
Really? I want to ask you so many questions.
 
 
Play Dialog
Turkish Word Order

English sentences are constructed Subject - Verb - Object: The man bought the book.. Turkish is different; Turkish sentences follow Subject - Object - Verb: Adam kitabı aldı. (literally, the man the book bought). Of course, sentences don't have to contain all of these; personal pronouns (I, you, we, etc.) in particular are usually left out as the subject of the sentence, since the person of the sentence is already contained in the verb. For example:

Ben kitabı aldım.
I bought the book.
Kitabı aldım.
I bought the book.
Aldım.
I bought.

One trick to parsing Turkish sentences is to remember that the verb almost always comes at the very end of the sentence. When translating particularly complicated sentences, it's sometimes useful to work backwards from the verb. In fact, even Turks are taught to do this in school, starting from the end verb and identifying the tamlamas (noun phrases) preceding it.

Sen onu seviyorsun.
You love him.
O seni seviyor.
He loves you.
Seni seviyor.
He loves you.

Some sentences don't have verbs and use the to be personal suffix instead. In that case, the word with the personal suffix comes last, in place of the verb.

Sen güzelsin.
You are beautiful.
O doktor.
He is a doctor.

Practice this language point.

Adjectives and Objects

So, very broadly speaking, Turkish is Subject - Object - Verb. Of course, there are other things that make up a language. Like adjectives. Adjectives go before nouns, like in English.

Yeşil çanta.
Green bag.
Yeni bilgisayar.
New computer.

Adverbs go before verbs.

Yavaşça git.
Go slowly.

Indirect objects usually go before the direct object.

Ben ona hediyeyi verdim.
I gave the gift to her.
Ben onlara "Merhaba" söyledim.
I said "Merhaba" to them.

Otherwise, sentences generally follow this order: Subject - Time - Place - Indirect Object - Direct Object - Verb.

Ben dün gece restoranda ona hediyeyi verdim.
Last night, I gave the gift to her at the restaurant.

Practice this language point.

Well, Actually. . .

Alright, so nearly everything we just told you above is a general guideline, not a hard rule. Word order in Turkish is extremely fluid. Usually, a good rule of thumb is that the later in the sentence something appears, the more important it is to the speaker. It's therefore very possible to hear a single sentence jumbled into different orders based on what the speaker wants to emphasize.

Also keep in mind that languages aren't like equations. Sometimes certain constructions just sound better to a native speaker. Don't stress about word order if you see something that looks different from what you see in your grammar book. Just stick to Subject - Object - Verb for now and the little colloquial nuances will come with time.

Geliyorum ben.
I am coming.
Evde kitap okuyor şimdi.
She's at home reading right now.
Ne iş yapıyorsun?
  • Türkçe öğretmeniyim
  • Çalışıyorum.
  • Derslerim zor.
  • Gerçekten.
What is the best way to say "a good school?"
  • iyi okul
  • bir iyi okul
  • iyi bir okul
  • bir okul iyi
Which of the following represents the most common Turkish word order?
  • Bu ceketi ben çok sevdim.
  • Ben çok sevdim bu ceketi.
  • Bu ceketi çok sevdim ben.
  • Ben bu ceketi çok sevdim.
Translate: what (work) do you do?
    Translate: I am studying Turkish.
      You must answer every question.
      Öğrenci
      love it :)
      May 10, 2013
      Diane
      re: One trick to parsing Turkish sentences is ...to work backwards from the verb...

      But how does one 'listen' backwards? What advice do you have for understanding/translating spoken vs written Turkish?

      Thanks!
      May 12, 2013
      Justin
      That's a good point.

      Working backwards is a nice trick for getting a grasp on the language in the early stages on paper. Eventually, you'll strengthen those neural connections enough that the reverse word-order will begin to feel intuitive. I guess it's sort of like long division, where you have to slowly work through the steps in the beginning, but you eventually find yourself starting to do the majority of the work in your head.

      Getting quick enough to digest full-speed Turkish is hard to give advice on because it's mostly just a matter of listening to a massive amount of spoken Turkish. Using our site, I would listen to our dialogs without looking at the transcript until you feel really comfortable with what the characters are saying.

      One trick that helped me a lot was to try and memorize the flow of dialogs without literally memorizing the words. So, taking this dialog as an example, I would remember that I'm supposed to say that my classes aren't very difficult. I might not come up with "çok zor değil," but I'm forcing myself to exercise those connections in my brain that produce that idea.

      Anyway, I hope that helps some. It's definitely hard work, but I promise that with enough focused practice, understanding word order quickly begins to become second nature.
      May 12, 2013
      Diane
      If i could think turkish order in english,then i think. I could understand/speak turkish more quickly. Ie 'talk like Yoda' everyday in english, then i would remember i want to say 'very hard not' ---and my vocab falls into 'place' for the Turkish.
      Obviously not a magic cure but...
      Your site liking i am
      Or is it
      Site your liking I am
      ?
      Whichever way you look at it, you're doing a great job, Justin!
      May 12, 2013
      Armel
      Great podcast. Just one thing - I believe might be a very minor error in the Language points where it says " Ben ona hediyeyi verdım." It should be "verdim" no?

      Also, for some reason I'm not able to listen to the speaking part of this lesson, though I can listen to others... might this be able to be fixed? Might there be something wrong on my end?

      Teşekkürler!
      Aug 22, 2013
      Justin
      Good catch! Just fixed it :)

      Yeah, there's been a problem with the speaking part for awhile. We promise to fix it soon!
      Aug 27, 2013
      Salih
      Hey Justin, just to say...I started this course a couple of days ago and I love the way you guys do it. It's not so formal as most courses, but in this particular lesseon it was a bit all over the place.

      You two were sometimes more busy with each other than us....so to say...
      Oct 18, 2013
      Justin
      Thanks for the feedback Salih. Striking a balance between being chatty and instructive is something we're always trying to get right. There are some lessons where I'm sure we went too far in one direction.

      So, sorry this one wasn't your favorite. Thanks again for letting us know what you think. :)
      Oct 18, 2013
      Eliana
      Merhaba!
      I am really happy with TTT, I found really good information. I think the speaking section of this lesson is not working, since I couldn't listent to it.
      teşekkürler.
      Marcela
      Nov 16, 2013
      Öğrenci
      Merhaba!

      I'm happy with TTT, too and I also would like listen to the speaking session of this lesson.:)

      Teşekkürler.
      Nov 24, 2013
      David
      Thank you so much for starting turkish tea time! My partner is turkish so I've been dabbling a little over the last 6 months to improve my turkish language skills.

      I've been following the noobie lessons in their consecutive order over the last two weeks and have learned everything much quicker and easier than anything else!

      Is continuing through the noobie lessons from here the right thing or should I throw some beginner ones in?
      Dec 05, 2013
      David
      Oh, and what would be a dream is a flash card app that links into the vocabulary learned in the lessons coveted. Tick the lessons you've completed and phrases pop up in random order. I've made my paper version but an app would be awesome!
      Dec 05, 2013
      Justin
      Great! Thanks so much David.

      Yeah, what you're doing totally works. You can tackle the noobie lessons in pretty much any order. We do have a recommended order for all the lessons at https://turkishteatime.com/archive/ordered/. Start jumping into the early beginners. They begin to focus less on situations and phrases and more on grammar.

      Re: flashcard app. Yes, we'd love to have that, too. Building our own app isn't something we'll likely do in the near-term, but we definitely can look at making exporting lists to one of the good existing solutions easy. Give us a couple weeks :)
      Dec 06, 2013
      Pascal
      Im living in polenezkoy with my turkish partner trying to learn turkish over last 6 months before i arrived so damn hard lots of shitty books finally found a good one but no conversational skills in. This is so much more fun and helpful.
      As for smurfs! Gangsta! Have cartoon channels were we are staying all ads are in turkish but none of the shows :(
      Dec 19, 2013
      Öğrenci
      turkish is not so hard lets say but is difficult at the same time even if i love it
      Feb 11, 2014
      Radi
      so good
      Apr 05, 2014
      Patricia
      I keep hearing Busra say "Aynin oyle" (sp?). It seems to mean "Exactly!" like if Justin gives a just-right Turkish example, Busra says, "Aynin oyle!" After much poking around on translation websites, I've come up with "aynen öyle." Is that the correct phrase? (OK to answer "aynen öyle" if it is!) :)
      May 21, 2014
      Patricia
      *Büşra.*
      May 21, 2014
      Justin
      Aynen öyle ;-)
      May 21, 2014
      Patricia
      Harika! These little utterances that I hear you and Büşra and others say are the easiest things to pick up naturally. Podkastinizi çok seviyorum! (Did I get the accusative right in that last sentence?)
      May 22, 2014
      Patricia
      *podkastınızı*?
      May 22, 2014
      Öğrenci
      how did you get the alphabets i mean the one with the dots above
      May 23, 2014
      Justin
      @Patty: evet, haklısın :) Çok teşekkür ederiz!

      @Öğrenci - I have it set up so I just hit a couple buttons on my keyboard (I like control+shift) and it switches between English and Turkish keyboards. It's pretty easy to set up on both Macs and Windows. Just google "turkish keyboard mac" or "turkish keyboard windows" and you'll find perfectly good tutorials.
      May 26, 2014
      Patricia
      Justin's way is good, except my fingers know the English-language keyboard (without looking), so it's hard for me to have to look down and type. Another way is an add-on. In Firefox, you can search for add-ons. The add-on Turkcelister 0.36 enables you to type something and then either highlight it and click F2, or right-click and click "Turkcelister." Then everything you've highlighted turns into the correct Turkish characters.
      May 27, 2014
      Can
      alternative to switching keyboards is to install and use a text-substitution app such as Phrase Express (Windows) or Text Expander or aText (Mac). it works like shortcuts...

      example.. i've set it up so that if i type "~u" it'll change to "ü" or even lazier... if i get tired of typing "görüşürüz", i just need to type "gorusuruz" and it'll change it for me. don't let it make you lazy in knowing what the correct spelling is though...
      Nov 29, 2014
      David
      I am very confused about questions. How much of the language depends on intonation? I've noticed that sometimes there is a question word, like Ne or otherwise in a random phrase it might include the question word Mi, Mu, etc at the end. However, I've noticed that in some cases, the sentence has neither. Ya sen? for example. Is there a rule here or how does that play out exactly?
      Jan 22, 2016
      Anonymous Commenter
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