-in, -iniz, -sin, -sinler

The imperative is the command tense. While in English, giving commands can come off as rude, the imperative is far more common and acceptable in Turkish. Just in case, there are also polite forms to soften the tone. And, if you want to add some urgency, there's a form for that, too. In Turkish, the imperative operates in only the second (you) and third person (he, they) cases. The second person case corresponds to a direct command (come!), while the third person suggests an action to be taken by someone else (let him come). Since the two cases occur in distinct contexts, we treat them separately below.

yap! do!
ye eat
oturma don't sit
gelin come
içiniz drink
baksana! look here!
gitsin let him go
gitsinler let them go
dinlesenize! why don't you all just listen!

Commands (Second Person Imperative)

Just as in English, the command is very simply the verb stem itself.

Verb Imperative English
almak al take
koşmak koş run
gitmek git go
uyumak uyu sleep

When you're talking to more than one person, or you want to soften your tone (when talking to a stranger or superior, for example), add -in to the verb stem. -in follows i-type vowel harmony. To avoid vowel collisions with stems that end in a vowel, add a buffer y.

Verb Imperative English
almak alın take
koşmak koşun run
gitmek gitin go
üyümek üyüyün sleep

There is a third, even more polite form that is rarely spoken. You will, however, encounter this form on public signs and in other formal instructions. The suffix is -iniz, added directly to the verb stem. It follows i-type vowel harmony and avoid vowel conflicts with a buffer y.

Verb Imperative English
almak alınız take
koşmak koşunuz run
dinlemek dinleyiniz listen

Finally, there is another imperative form that adds emphasis, urgency, or impatience to commands. Add -sene to the verb stem and follow e-type vowel harmony. When speaking to more than one person, this suffix becomes -senize. Depending on your tone of voice, this suffix can function as a friendly suggestion or rather unpleasant expression of impatience. Think of it as English why don't you?

Verb Imperative English
almak alsana Why don't you take it?
bakmak baksana! Look now!
dinlemek dinlesene Why don't you listen?
oturmak otursanıza! Now just sit all of you!
gelmek gelsenize! Why don't you all just come already!

Negative Commands

To form a negative imperative, simply add the negative suffix -me after the verb stem, followed by whichever imperative suffix you want to use. Put another way, add the imperative suffix to the negative infinitive. There is no negative form of -sene and -senize.

Verb Negative Negative Imperative English
almak ma alma don't take
gelmek me gelme don't come
bakmak ma bakmayın don't look (polite or plural)
dinlemek me dinlemeyiniz don't listen (very polite or public)

You may have noticed that the negative imperative looks just like the short infinitive. For example, yüzme can both mean don't swim and swimming (in its gerund form, as in yüzme havuzu - swimming pool). Since verbs in Turkish almost always appear at the end of the sentence, it's usually immediately clear which form is being used.

Havuzda yüzme!
Don't swim in the pool!

Ben bir yüzme havuzu almak istiyorum.
I want to buy a swimming pool.

Politer Alternatives to Commands

Commands (yap, otur) aren't necessarily impolite, but there are some more graceful alternatives to tell someone what to do. In particular, use questions in the simple present or subjunctive.

Oturur musunuz?
Could you sit?

Ekmek alır mısın?
Could you buy some bread?

Gidelim mi?
Shall we go?

Bakalım mı?
Could you look?

Suggest Another Person's Action (Third Person Imperative)

In the previous section, we covered the second person (you) form of the imperative; that is, the case in which you are applying the imperative to the person with whom you are speaking. The imperative also has a third person (he, they) form that is used to suggest what someone else should do.

The suffix for third person imperative is -sin, added directly to the vowel stem. It follows i-type vowel harmony and means let her do or I hope she does.

Verb Imperative English
gelmek gelsin Let him come. He should come.
bakmak baksın Let her look. She should look.
uyumak uyusun Let it sleep. It should sleep.
koşmak koşsun Let him run. He should run.

Don't confuse this suffix with the you personal suffix (as in hastasın - you are sick). If -sin is added directly to the verb stem with no other suffixes before it, it's the imperative.

To form the negative, add the negative suffix -me after the verb stem and before -sin.

Verb Negative Imperative English
gelmek me gelmesin Let him not come. He shouldn't come.
bakmak ma bakmasın Let her not look. She shouldn't look.
yağmur yağmak ma yağmur yağmasın Let it not rain. I hope it doesn't rain.

The plural form of -sin is -sinler.

Verb Imperative English
gelmek gelsinler Let them come. They should come.
koşmak koşsunlar Let them run. They should run.
yazmak yazmasınlar Let them not write. They should't write.

The Subjunctive as Imperative

There is technically no first person (I, we) form of the imperative. However, in practice, the subjunctive is used to express a very similar meaning. In fact, many grammar books present the imperative and the subjunctive as a single let verb form; it's not a bad approach since, conceptually, they are so similar.

We cover the subjunctive on a page of its own, but present the first person forms here since they are used so often. Similar to -sin, they convey a desired or compelled action. They are -eyim and -elim, follow e-type vowel harmony, resolve vowel collisions with buffer y, and mean let me and let us respectively.

Verb Subjunctive Turkish English
gitmek elim gidelim let's go
bakmak alım bakalım let's look
dinlemek elim dinleyelim let's listen
içmek elim içmeyelim let's not drink
yapmak ayım yapayım let me do
yardım etmek eyim yardım edeyim let me help