-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.
|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.
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.
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.
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?
|almak||alsana||Why don't you take it?|
|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!|
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.
|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.
Don't swim in the pool!
Ben bir yüzme havuzu almak istiyorum.
I want to buy a swimming pool.
Politer Alternatives to Commands
Could you sit?
Ekmek alır mısın?
Could you buy some bread?
Shall we go?
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.
|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.
|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.
|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.
|içmek||elim||içmeyelim||let's not drink|
|yapmak||ayım||yapayım||let me do|
|yardım etmek||eyim||yardım edeyim||let me help|