Negative verbs


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Prerequisites

Yes or no questions

mı/mıyım/mıyız/mısın(ız)/-lar mı
Emphasis in questions

Continuous present tense

-ıyor
Handling irregular verbs
Asking yes or no questions



When adding one letter gives the opposite meaning

One of the first verb endings you will need to learn in order to have a conversation in Turkish is the negative verb ending. As you will learn in this article, adding just one syllable (and in many cases, just a single letter ‘m’), inverses the meaning of the whole sentence. In this article, we will learn to use the negative verb ending with the continuous present tense “-ıyor” ending and the infinitive (“dictionary form”) “-mak” ending. Once you learn these, it will be easy for you to use the negative ending along with other verb endings as you continue learning.

Grammar form:

In the continuous present tense, the only difference between positive verbs and negative verbs is the single letter ‘m’ placed between the verb stem and the ‑ıyor present tense ending. See the table below for some examples with some of the most common verbs.

Dictionary form Positive (third person) Negative (third person)
Yapmak (to do) Yapıyor (he is doing) Yapmıyor (he is not doing)
Oturmak (to sit) Oturuyor (he is sitting) Oturmuyor (he is not sitting)
Koşmak (to run) Koşuyor (he is running) Koşmuyor (he is not running)
Vermek (to give) Veriyor (he is giving) Vermiyor (he is not giving)
Almak (to take) Alıyor (he is taking) Almıyor (he is not taking)
Gelmek (to come) Geliyor (he is coming) Gelmiyor (he is not coming)
Gitmek (to go) Gidiyor (he is going) Gitmiyor (he is not going)
Anlamak (to understand) Anlıyor (he is understanding) Anlamıyor (he is not understanding)
Yürümek (to walk) Yürüyor (he is walking) Yürümüyor (he is not walking)
Yüzmek (to swim) Yüzüyor (he is swimming) Yüzmüyor (he is not swimming)

Leave that verb stem alone!

When using a verb in the continuous present tense, sometimes it is necessary to slightly modify the verb stem. For example, as you can see in the table above, the ‘t’ in “gitmek” gets changed to a ‘d’ in the continuous present tense for positive verbs: “gidiyor.” Likewise, since the verb stems for “anla-mak” and “yürü-mek” end in vowels, these vowels get dropped in the continuous present tense: “anl-ıyor” and “yür-üyor.” However, using the negative ending is easier. Just leave the verb stem exactly as it is in the dictionary (“-mak/mek”) form, and add the negative ending to it.

Negative questions

Grammar form:

  • Verb stem + m + i/ı/u/ü + yor    mu + (personal ending)

When a negative verb is used in a yes-or-no question, it does not change the basic meaning of the sentence. This is the same as in English. The questions, “are you coming?” and, “aren’t you coming?” are asking the same basic thing and will have the same basic possible answers: “I am coming” or “I am not coming.” However, the difference between the two is emphasis. The same is true for questions in Turkish. The sentence, “geliyor musun?” (“are you coming?”) is the basic form of the question, whereas “gelmiyor musun?” (“aren’t you coming?”) asks the same thing, but is also expressing either surprise or disapproval of the fact that the person doesn’t seem to be coming. As with the examples above, the only difference between the positive and negative is the single letter ‘m’ after the verb stem.

    Example sentences
    Biliyor musunuz?
    Did you know? (literally, “do you know?”)
    (Name of talk show on CNN Türk)

    Gerçekten bilmiyor musunuz?
    Do you really not know?!
    (Title of article criticizing a political figure)

It’s all about the emphasis

Now here’s the part where most foreigners get mixed up, and it often takes months before they get it right. When you’re saying a verb with the negative ending, you always emphasize the syllable immediately before the negative ending. However, when you’re using a verb in the continuous present tense without the negative, the emphasis is on the “yor” syllable in the verb ending. To give some examples, let’s look at the same table from above. But this time, the syllable that gets the emphasis is marked in green.

Dictionary form Positive (third person) Negative (third person)
Yapmak (to do) Yapıyor (he is doing) Yapmıyor (he is not doing)
Oturmak (to sit) Oturuyor (he is sitting) Oturmuyor (he is not sitting)
Koşmak (to run) Koşuyor (he is running) Koşmuyor (he is not running)
Vermek (to give) Veriyor (he is giving) Vermiyor (he is not giving)
Almak (to take) Alıyor (he is taking) Almıyor (he is not taking)
Gelmek (to come) Geliyor (he is coming) Gelmiyor (he is not coming)
Gitmek (to go) Gidiyor (he is going) Gitmiyor (he is not going)
Anlamak (to understand) Anlıyor (he is understanding) Anlamıyor (he is not understanding)
Yürümek (to walk) Yürüyor (he is walking) müyor (he is not walking)
Yüzmek (to swim) Yüzüyor (he is swimming) Yüzmüyor (he is not swimming)

Using the negative with other verb endings

So far, we’ve only looked at the negative verb ending when it’s combined with the continuous present tense ‑ıyor ending. However, it would be helpful to look at how the negative ending gets used with other word endings as well. Most of the time, the negative ending will be either “-ma” or “-me,” following E-type vowel harmony. However, when you combine it with the continuous present tense, the e-type vowel gets dropped and replaced with the i-type vowel at the beginning of that verb ending. That’s why for the examples above, the negative ending was only a single letter “m.” For most other verb endings, however, the E-type vowel in the negative ending will be maintained. To give a simple illustration of this, let’s take a look at how the negative is used with the infinitive (“dictionary”) ending, “-mak/mek.”

Grammar form:

  • Verb stem + ma/me + mak/mek
Dictionary form Negative Dictionary form
Yapmak (to do) Yapmamak (to not do)
Oturmak (to sit) Oturmamak (to not sit)
Koşmak (to run) Koşmamak (to not run)
Vermek (to give) Vermemek (to not give)
Almak (to take) Almamak (to not take)
Gelmek (to come) Gelmemek (to not come)
Gitmek (to go) Gitmemek (to not go)
Anlamak (to understand) Anlamamak (to not understand)
Yürümek (to walk) Yürümemek (to not walk)
Yüzmek (to swim) Yüzmemek (to not swim)

Activity: listen to native speakers

In the early stages of language learning, one of the best things you can do is sit back and listen. If you have a native speaker who is willing to help you, give them a list of all the verbs you know (or as many as you can think of), and have them say the continuous present tense form of it (e.g. “alıyor”) followed by the negative form (e.g. “almıyor”). Have them form basic sentences with these forms as well. While you’re listening, pay attention to how they emphasize the word. What syllables are pronounced louder or more drawn out? If possible, record their speech to listen to it later.

If you don’t have a native speaker available to help you, take advantage of the recordings available on Forvo.com. Here are a few to get you started:

Alıyor https://forvo.com/word/al%C4%B1yor/#tr
Almıyor https://forvo.com/word/alm%C4%B1yor/#tr

Veriyor https://forvo.com/word/veriyor/#tr
Vermiyor https://forvo.com/word/vermiyor/#tr

Anlıyor musun? https://forvo.com/word/anl%C4%B1yor_musun%253F/#tr
Anlamıyor musun? https://forvo.com/word/anlam%C4%B1yor_musun/#tr

Geliyor musun? https://forvo.com/word/geliyor_musun/#tr
Gelmiyor musun? https://forvo.com/word/gelmiyor_musun/#tr

Gitmek https://forvo.com/word/gitmek/#tr
Gitmemek https://forvo.com/word/gitmemek/#tr

Kabul etmek https://forvo.com/word/kabul_etmek/#tr
Kabul etmemek https://forvo.com/word/kabul_etmemek/#tr

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

Simple Present Tense or Aorist

-ar/ır/r
12 uses of the aorist

Past tense verbs

-dı/di/du/dü or -tı/ti/tu/tü
Asking yes or no questions

Future tense

-acak/ecek
Handling irregular verbs
Asking yes or no questions
Pronouncing -acak/ecek

Beginner ‑mış/miş/müş/muş grammar forms

-mış



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