Locative case: at, in, and on (‑da/de/ta/te)

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Prerequisites for this Turkish Grammar Lesson

To be or not to be

Changing ç/p/t/k to c/b/d/ğ

Vowel harmony

I-type vowel harmony
E-type vowel harmony

Answering the question, “Where?”

Question form (Where?):

Answer form (at/in/on…):

When the question, “Where is it?” is asked in English, there are three basic grammatical words that could be used to answer the question: at (a place), in (something), or on (something). In Turkish, the answer is simpler. If anyone ever asks the question, “nerede?” (Where [is it]?), the answer always includes a noun with the -da/de ending. This ‑da/de ending corresponds to the at/in/on words in English. In linguistic terms, this is called the locative case.

When using the ‑da/de ending, you first need to determine which vowel to choose according to the E-type vowel harmony rules. After you’ve determined this, you will add a personal ending in the same way that you would do for any other sentence with the basic “to be” verb in Turkish. If you’re already comfortable with vowel harmony and the “to be” verb, then forming the ‑da/de ending will be easy. In the table below you will see a set of example questions and answers using this word ending.

Question Answer
(Sen) neredesin? (Where are you?) (Ben) evdeyim (I am at home)
(Ben) neredeyim? (Where am I?) (Sen) evdesin (You are at home.)
Mehmet nerede? (Where is Mehmet?) Mehmet evde (Mehmet is at home)
(Siz) neredesiniz? (Where are you guys?) (Biz) evdeyiz (We are at home)
(Biz) neredeyiz? (Where are we?) (Siz) evdesiniz (We are at home)
(Onlar) nerede(ler)? (Where are they?) (Onlar) evde(ler) (They are at home)
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Exception: words ending in “voiceless” consonants

Grammar form

  • Noun (ending with ç, f, h, k, p, s, ş or t) + ta/te + (y) + (personal ending)

In linguistics terms, a voiceless consonant is a consonant that is pronounced without vibrating the vocal chords. To tell if a consonant is voiceless or not, try holding your fingers up to your throat while sounding it out.

In Turkish, the voiceless consonants are: ç, f, h, k, p, s, ş and t. If a word ends in one of these consonants, then the “d” in the ‑da/de word ending will change to its voiceless equivalent, “t.” This phenomenon occurs every time a word ending starts with the letter d. For example, the “from” ending ‑dan/den changes to ‑tan/ten, and the past tense ending ‑dı/di/du/dü changes to ‑tı/ti/tu/tü. In the table below are some simple sentences with common words where the ‑ta/te ending is used.

Question Answer
Çocuklar nerede? (Where are the kids?) (Onlar) araçta(lar) (They are in the car)
Neredesin? (Where are you?) (Ben) işteyim (I am at work)
Resim nerede? (Where is the picture?) (O,) bu kitapta (It’s in this book)
Kitap nerede? (Where is the book?) (O) rafta (It’s on the shelf)
(Siz) neredesiniz? (Where are you guys?) (Biz) zemin kattayız (We’re on the ground floor)
Abi, neredesin? (Older brother, where are you?) (Ben) mutfaktayım (I’m in the kitchen)
Baba, neredesin? (Dad, where are you?) (Ben) ofisteyim (I’m at the office)

Here and there

In English, we have only two pronouns for pointing things out: this and that. Turkish has three: bu, şu, and o. In the same way, while English has two words for “here” and “there,” Turkish has three: “burada,” “şurada,” and “orada.” Two of these, “burada” and “orada” are roughly equivalent to the English words, “here” and “there.” The tricky one for foreigners to learn is “şurada.” It can be used for both close places (“here”) and places far away (“there”). The difference is that “şurada” is generally used for calling attention to a place that has not previously been mentioned in the conversation.

Pointer Pronoun English Translation Here/there equivalent English Translation Usage
Bu “This” Burada “Here” Close to speaker
Şu “This” or “that” Şurada “Here” or “there” Used to direct attention
O “That” Orada “There” Far from speaker

Memory trick

It might be helpful for you to remember these by thinking of “-ra/re” as a separate word ending meaning “place.” This ‑ra/re ending only goes on the word, “ne” (what) and on the three pointer pronouns, “bu,” “şu” and “o.” Then, the ‑da/de ending goes on the end of it:

Nerede (where)

Ne re de
What place at

Burada (here)

Bu ra da
This place at

Şurada (here/there)

Şu ra da
This/that place at

Orada (there)

O ra da
That place at

Shortened forms in conversation

Most of the time, while native Turkish speakers use “nerede,” “burada,” “şurada” or “orada” in conversation, they use the shortened form that leaves off the second vowel. This is especially true in more rural areas where the standard Istanbul Turkish is not spoken as frequently.

Official Colloquial
Nerede Nerde
Burada Burda
Şurada Şurda
Orada Orda

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

The “N buffer”: compound nouns with case markings

-sını, -sına, -sında, -sından
The n buffer with pronouns, location words

Ability, permission and possibility


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