Accusative case: the direct object ending
(-ı/i/u/ü, -yı/yi/yu/yü)


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Prerequisites

Continuous present tense

-ıyor
Handling irregular verbs
Asking yes or no questions

Compound noun ending

-(s)ı
Exceptions

Beginner commands

-(no ending)/-ın
Singular and plural
Pronouns with commands
Handling irregular verbs

Noun possession

-(n)ın/in/un/ün
-(s)ı/i/u/ü
benim, senin, onun



Using the direct object ending

The Turkish direct object -ı/i/u/ü ending marks a person, place or thing that is having an action done to it. In this lesson, you will learn to make sentences with verbs and nouns together with a direct object. In linguistic terms, the direct object ending is called an accusative case marker.

Let’s get started by looking at an example.

In the English sentence, “I see you,” the direct object is the pronoun “you.”

In Turkish, this sentence would be, “Ben seni görüyorum.”

In this example, the direct object “sen” is marked with the direct object ending “i.”

Grammar form:

  • Noun + (y) + ı/i/u/ü    verb

To add the direct object ending to a noun, first check to see if the noun ends in a vowel. If it does, the direct object ending will have a letter y at the beginning. (That’s because the Turkish language does not like putting vowels together.)

Next, you add an ı, i, u or ü vowel according to i-type vowel harmony rules based on the last vowel of the word.

In the tables below, you will see how this form can be made using the continuous present tense and the basic command forms.

Examples with continuous present tense

Turkish English
(Ben) kapı kapatıyorum. I am closing the door.
(Sen) o konuyu biliyorsun. You know about that issue.
(O) perdeleri açıyor. He or she is opening the curtains.
(Biz) evi satıyoruz. We are selling the house.
(Siz) doğruyu söylüyorsunuz. You (plural) are telling the truth.
(Onlar) masa hazırlıyor(lar). They are setting the table.

Examples with commands

Turkish English
Anahtarı al. Take the keys.
Araba park et. Park the car.
Birinci bölümü okuyun. Read the first chapter.

Knowing when to use it and when not to use it

The hardest part about learning the direct object -ı/i/u/ü ending is knowing when to use it and when to leave it off. There are many sentences with direct objects where you do not use the direct object ending.

So how do you know when to use it?

Most of what you need to know is based on whether the direct object is specific or non-specific. A specific direct object is a certain person, place or thing that the person speaking has in mind. A non-specific direct object is normally a common object, person or place that belongs to a group or category.

Rules for using the direct object ending

  1. You always leave off the ending for direct objects that are non-specific and are right before the verb.
  2. If there is a non-specific direct object that is in a different part of the sentence besides coming right before the verb, you almost always* need to put the direct object ending on it.
  3. You always put the ending on all direct objects that are specific.

Sentences with no direct object ending

For example, if you say that you are buying a house, you do not need the direct object ending. This is because you are not trying to specify which house you are buying. You would say, “ev alıyorum” (with no direct object ending). However, if you have already been talking with someone about a specific house that you are buying, you would say, “evi alıyorum” (I am buying the house).

    Examples of non-specific direct objects
    Su istiyorum.
    I would like some water.

    Kitap okuyorum.
    I am reading a book.

    Kebap yiyoruz.
    We are eating some kabobs.

    Çay iç.
    Drink some tea.

Comparison: differences in meaning with or without the direct object ending

Without -ı/i/u/ü ending With -ı/i/u/ü ending
Ben karpuz alıyorum. (I am buying watermelon.) Ben karpuzu alıyorum. (I am buying the watermelon.)
Ev al. (Buy a house.) Evi al. (Buy this house.)
Köfte yiyorum. (I am eating köfte.) Köfteyi yiyorum. (I am eating the köfte.)

Note: In all the example sentences above, it would only make sense to have the direct object ending if everyone already knew which object (watermelon, house or köfte) you were talking about.

Specific direct objects

In English, we often communicate that something is specific or unique by using words like “the,” “this,” “that,” “these,” or “those.” Sometimes, Turkish uses words like “bu,” “şu” or “o” to communicate that an object is specific. Other times, you have to understand from the context that something is specific. Either way, specific direct objects in Turkish will always get the direct object ending.

Also, a direct object will almost always get the ending when it is a pronoun, a possessed noun, or a proper name. This is because these types of nouns refer to a specific person, place or thing.

    Pronouns
    Seni seviyorum.
    I love you.

    Beni yakala!
    (Try to) catch me!

    Possessed nouns
    Yemeğini ye!
    Eat your food!

    Arabamı satıyorum.
    I am selling my car.

    Names of people or places
    İstanbul’u keşfet.
    Discover Istanbul

    Mehmet’i arıyorum.
    I am looking for Mehmet.

Special rules for putting the direct object ending on certain nouns

There are certain words in Turkish that have special rules for applying the -ı/i/u/ü direct object ending. These words also have the same special rules applied to them when adding the compound noun ending or other endings that start with a vowel.

Exception #1: nouns ending with Ç, K, P, T

The following rules are applied to many Turkish words ending with ç, k, p or t:

  • ç gets replaced with c
  • k gets replaced with ğ
  • p gets replaced with b
  • t gets replaced with d

But these rules do not apply to all words ending in these letters! So you will need to pay attention when you learn a new word to see if it has these special rules or not. For example, here are some common words that do not change their last letter when you add an ending: “at” (horse), “süt” (milk), “risk” (risk), “maç” (sports match) and “top” (ball).

    Araç (vehicle)
    Bu ara sat.
    Sell this vehicle.
    (Quotation from a car insurance blog)

    Köpek (dog)
    Kedi köpeği kovalıyor.
    The cat is chasing the dog.
    (Title of a YouTube video)

    Işık (light)
    Işığı kapat.
    Turn off the light
    (A common command)

    Kitap (book)
    Neden herkes bu kita okuyor?
    Why is everyone reading this book?
    (Title of a YouTube video)

    Kâğıt (paper)
    Kağı okuyorum, orada bir şifre var.
    I’m reading the paper; there is a coded message there.
    (Part of a message in an Internet forum)

Exception #2: nouns with vowels that drop out

There are a few Turkish words that drop the last vowel when adding the direct object ending. In practice, this does not happen very often with the direct object ending, but is more common with the compound noun ending.

    Şehir (city)
    Bütün gün şehri geziyoruz.
    All day we are exploring the city.
    (Quotation from a news story)

    Fikir (idea)
    Bu fikri seviyorum.
    I love this idea.
    (Quotation from a comment on an Internet forum)

Exception #3: nouns that break vowel harmony

There are a few words that were imported into Turkish that do not follow normal vowel harmony when adding word endings. This often happens with words that end with a palatalized L sound.

    Saat (clock, wristwatch, or time)
    Yüzüğü ve saati ver!
    Hand over the ring and the watch!
    (Quotation from a news story about a breakup)

    Kontrol (control)
    Kontrolü kaybediyorum.
    I’m losing control.
    (Quotation from a blog about panic attacks)

    Gol (Goal)
    Beşiktaş golü atıyor!
    Beşiktaş scores the goal!
    (Excerpt from a soccer match summary)

Exception #4: nouns with repeating consonants

There are a few words in Turkish that repeat the last consonant in the word before adding an ending with a vowel.

    Hat (line)
    Günde 14 bin kişi bu hat arıyor.
    14 thousand people per day are calling this hotline.
    (Title of a news story)

    Zam (price increase)
    Zam reddediyorum.
    I reject (this) price increase.
    (Excerpt from a customer complaint)

    Sır (secret)
    Ruhi büyük sır çözüyor!
    Ruhi solves the big mystery!
    (Title of an episode of a TV show)

Exception #5: nouns ending with -nk

There are a few words in Turkish that end in “nk.” For most of these, the “k” turns into a hard “g” for word endings starting with a vowel. The only word like this that is likely to come up in everyday conversation with the direct object ending is “renk” (color).

    Renk (color)
    Bu rengi seviyorum.
    I love this color.
    (From a customer feedback comment)

Exception #6: pointer pronouns o, bu and şu

To add the direct object ending to most Turkish pronouns, you will simply need to add the -ı/i/u/ü ending in the same way that you do for other nouns. However, for the pointer pronouns (“o,” “bu,” and “şu”), you will need to add an extra letter “n” before adding the direct object ending or any other word ending.

Pronouns with -ı/i/u/ü endings

Pronoun With -ı/i/u/ü ending
Bu (this) Bunu
Şu (this/that) Şunu
O (he, she, it) Onu
Bunlar (these) Bunları
Şunlar (these/those) Şunları
Onlar (they, those) Onları

Examples with continuous present tense

Turkish English
(Ben) onu görüyorum. I see him/her/it.
(Biz) şunu görüyoruz. We see this/that.
(Siz) bunu görüyorsunuz. You (plural) see this.

Examples with commands

Turkish English
Bunu yap. Do this.
Onu götür. Take that (with you).
Şunu al. Take this.

Using -ı/i/u/ü with bura-, ora-, şura- and nere-

In Turkish, the three “pointer” pronouns (“bu,” “şu” and “o”) and the “what” question word (“ne”) can be used with a special -ra ending for places. After the -ra ending, you can add a -da/de ending to show where something is: “burada” (here). You can also add a -ya/ye ending to show where something is going: “buraya” (this way). In the same way, you can also add a direct object ending to make the place an object of a verb.

    Nereyi
    Şimdi nereyi geziyoruz?
    What place are we exploring now?
    (From a news story)

    Burayı
    Bura terk et!
    Leave this place!
    (From a news story)

    Şurayı
    Ya arkadaşım, şura düzgün yönetin!
    Hey man, govern that place the right way!
    (From a meme about a video game)

    Orayı
    Ora seviyorum. Her şey güzel.
    I love that place. Everything is great.
    (From a Review of a restaurant)


Footnotes

*There are a few exceptions to this rule, where direct objects can go without the ending in non-standard positions. This typically happens in more advanced sentences that go beyond the scope of this lesson.

For example, if a non-specific direct object is in a list of direct objects that come before the verb, it does not get the ending (e.g. “iki simit, üç açma ve iki su alabilir miyim?”).

Also, the rule does not hold true if the word between the direct object and the verb is either “da” (also) or “mı/mi/mu/mü” (the yes or no question word).

Finally, there are some rare sentences where the direct object comes after the verb and does not get the direct object ending (e.g. “çek bir halay”).

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