Yes or no questions


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Prerequisites

Vowel harmony

-lar
I-type vowel harmony
E-type vowel harmony
Exceptions

Pronouns

ben, sen, o, biz, siz, onlar
bu, şu, o



The yes/no question word

Grammar form:

  • (Noun or adjective)    mı/mi/mu/mü?

Like in English, most questions are denoted in written form with a single question mark (?). However, in the case of yes or no questions, there is a word that gets added to the sentence to indicate that it is a question expecting a yes or no answer. This word is just the letter m followed by an i-type vowel, based on the last vowel in the previous word. Note that although the yes/no question word is written as a separate word, it functions as if it were actually an ending on the previous word. In fact, the yes/no question word is often mistakenly written by Turks as a word ending instead of a separate word.

In this section, we will cover the simplest yes/no questions. The following sentences are simple because they are asking a yes or no question using the third person version of the verb “to be,” which is easy to do because the “to be” verb is completely omitted in the sentence in these cases.

    Examples
    Ayşe: Şunlar hindi mi?
    Kasap: Hayır, piliç.
    Ayşe: Are those turkeys?
    Butcher: No, they’re chickens.

    Ayşe: İki tavuk döner.
    Usta: Dürüm mü?
    Ayşe: Evet, dürüm.
    Ayşe: Two shaved chicken sandwiches.
    Worker: [In a] wrap?
    Ayşe: Yes, [in a] wrap.

    Ayşe: Hesap, lütfen.
    Garson: Ayrı ayrı mı?
    Ayşe: Evet.
    Ayşe: Check please.
    Waiter: [Are you paying] separately?
    Ayşe: Yes.

    Anne: Mehmet!
    Mehmet: Ben mi?
    Anne: Evet, sen.
    Mother: Mehmet!
    Mehmet: Me?
    Anne: Yes, you.

    Mehmet: Bu bir elma mı?
    Anne: Evet, o bir elma.
    Mehmet: Is this an apple?
    Mother: Yes, that is an apple.

    Mehmet: Bu mavi, doğru mu?
    Anne: Doğru.
    Mehmet: This is blue, right?
    Mother: That’s right.

    Mehmet: Şu hayvan bir maymun, değil mi?
    Anne: Aferin!
    Mehmet: That animal is a monkey, is it not?
    Anne: Good job!

Making it personal

Grammar form:

  • (Optional pronoun or other subject)    (noun or adjective)    mı/mi/mu/mü + (personal ending)?

When the yes or no question is not in the third person, there needs to be an ending added to the mı/mi/mu/mü question word to indicate the person we are talking about. In each of these personal endings, there is an i-type vowel that will match exactly the i-type vowel that we chose for the first part of the question word. Below is a table of all the different personal endings that you can use with the adjective “mutlu” (happy).

Remember that when the personal ending is included in any sentence in Turkish, the addition of the pronoun at the beginning of the sentence is entirely optional. In fact, in most cases the pronoun is dropped. However, when you are starting out in Turkish you may find it helpful to include the pronoun in every sentence in order to make sure they are communicating clearly.

Another thing to note is that with the case of the third person plural “onlar” (they) pronoun, the corresponding personal ending gets placed on the end of the adjective (“mutlu”) instead of on the end of the question word. As you will see in later topics, the third person plural version of many grammar forms in Turkish have an exception like this where the personal ending gets placed in a different spot than the other personal endings. It is also worth noting that the personal ending for the third person plural is often dropped, so instead of “onlar mutlular mı?” it is said as “onlar mutlu mu?”

(Ben) mutlu muyum? Am I happy?
(Sen) mutlu musun? Are you happy?
(Biz) mutlu muyuz? Are we happy?
(Siz) mutlu musunuz? Are you (all) happy?
(O/bu/şu) mutlu mu? Is he (or she, it, this or that) happy?
(Onlar/bunlar/şunlar) mutlular mı? Are they/these/those happy?
    Examples
    Adam sın?
    Are you a man?
    (Common Turkish insult directed toward men)

    Sen iyi misin?
    Are you okay?
    (Common expression of concern for someone who looks ill or upset)

    Ben maymun muyum?
    Am I a monkey?
    (Title of a book)

    Gerçekten özgür yüm?
    Am I really free?
    (Part of a title of a book)

    Geleneksel miyiz? Modern miyiz?
    Are we traditional? Are we modern?
    (Title of blog post)

    Biz bir hayal yız?
    Are we [just] a dream?
    (Philosophical question on religious blog)

    Bunlar gerçek mi?
    Are these real?
    (Title of photo gallery showing strange animals)

    Tavuklar akıllılar mı?
    Are chickens intelligent?
    (Title of news story)

    Bunlar manyak mı?
    Are these [people] maniacs?
    (Part of title of forum post)

    Onlar akraba mı?
    Are they related?

How the question word affects emphasis

One important thing to know about the Turkish yes/no question word is that in any sentence that has the mı/mi/mu/mü question word, the emphasis of the sentence will generally be on the syllable immediately before the question word. This is important to know because this will often change the pronunciation of even the most common words so that the emphasis is on the last syllable of the word instead of the normal place. For example, in the sentence “O mutlu” (he is happy), the main emphasis in the word “mutlu” is on the first syllable, “mut.” That syllable is normally said slightly louder than the second syllable, “lu.” If we make this sentence into a question, “O mutlu mu?” then the emphasis switches to the syllable immediately before the question word, so instead of “mut” the syllable that gets emphasized is “lu.”

So the syllable before the question word is generally the most emphasized (loudest) syllable in the sentence. In addition to this, the word or phrase that this syllable belongs to is generally the main focus of the sentence. Because of this, it is possible to change the meaning of the sentence by changing the word order of the sentence. In a standard sentence, the question word appears at the end of the sentence. In order to change the main focus of the sentence the word order can be changed so that the question word is placed after a different word in the sentence. In this way, the focus of the sentence switches to that word or phrase. See the examples below where the syllable that gets emphasized is indicated with color in the Turkish sentence, and the word or phrase that is the focus of the sentence is indicated with color in the English translation.

    Examples
    Biz suçlu muyuz?
    Are we at fault?

    Suçlu biz miyiz?
    Are we the [ones] at fault?
    (Title of blog post)

    Köy hayatı güzel mi?
    Is the rural life nice?

    Köy hayatı mı güzel yoksa şehir hayatı mı?
    Is the rural life better or is it the city life?
    (Title of blog post)

    Biz çok zeki miyiz?
    Are we really smart?

    Biz mi çok zekiyiz yoksa insanlar çok mu aptal?
    Are we really smart or are people [just] really stupid?
    (Title of forum post)

    Bunlar yeni modeller mi?
    Are these the new models?

    Bunlar mı yeni modeller?
    Are these the new models?

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

Past tense verbs

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

Negative verbs

-mıyor
-mıyor musun?
-mamak

Future tense

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

Existence

Var/yok
Var mı? Yok mu?
Using "yok" to mean "no"

Continuous present tense

-ıyor
Handling irregular verbs
Asking yes or no questions



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