2      Grammar – The Noun Phrase

2.1     Plurals

These are marked by the suffixes -lar, -ler e.g. kitaplar – books. See also The Verb Phrase, Verb paradigms.

2.2     Noun Declension

[pronunciation] Hammer Duck Bird Linguist Case Marker Following a vowel
Nominative çekiç ördek  [ö:rdök] guş


Accusative çekiji ördegi [ö:rdögü] guşy  [guşy] dilçini -y/-i -ny/-ni
Genitive çekij ördeg [ö:rdögün] guş [guşuň] dilçiniň -yň/-iň




Dative çekije ördege [ö:rdögö] guşa  [guşo] dilçä -a/-e -a/-ä (after i)

-na/-ne (

Locative/Time çekiçde [çekişde] ördekde [ö:rdökdö] guşda [guşdo] dilçide -da/-de -da/-de



(separation fr.)

çekiçden [çekişden] ördekden [ö:rdökdön] guşdan [guşdon] dilçiden -dan/-den -dan/-den



Note: the accusative suffix after a noun suffix in a vowel is –ny/-ni rather than –y/-i


e.g.       dilçi + i => dilçini

Men bedreni goýdum – I put down the bucket


although it is permissable to leave the object unmarked if the object would not normally take the definite article in English e.g:

Sen mesge aldyňmy?

Have you bought some butter?

2.3     Question Words

“who” “what” “how much” “which” “where”
Nominative kim – who näme näçe haýsy nire
Accusative kimi – who nämäni näçeni haýsyny nireni
Genitive kimiň – whose nämeniň näçeniň haýsynyň niräniň
Dative kime – to whom nämä näçä haýsyna nirä
Locative/Time kimde – who (has) nämede näçede haýsynda nirede
Ablative kimden – from whom nämeden näçeden haýsyndan nireden

Other question words: haçan (when). NB none of these words can be used as complementizers (see 4.18 Participles and Gerunds), they are used only as question words.

Kimiň telpegi geýýärsiň? – Whose hat are you wearing?

Nirä barýarsyň? – Where are you heading?

Sen nämeni aldyňmy?  – Did you buy that thing (what was it?).

Sen nirede? – Where are you?

Kimde çörek bar? – Who has some bread?

Gawunuň kilesi näçeden? – How much per kilo are melons? Lit: Melon’s kilo is from what [price]?

Sen haçan geljek? – When will you be here?

For the question particle –my/mi see 4.2 below.

2.4     The Personal Pronouns


  1s 2s 3s 1pl 2pl 3pl
NOM men sen ol biz siz olar
ACC meni seni ony bizi sizi olary
GEN meniň seniň onuň biziň siziň olaryň
DAT maňa saňa oňa bize size olara
LOC/TIM mende sende onda bizde sizde olarda
ABL menden senden ondan bizden sizden olardan


NB In speech when d follows n it assimilates to n e.g. mende [menne] i.e. [men:e].

Note the lack of gender marking in the personal pronouns. Neither is there any noun agreement showing gender. The Turkmen language marks gender in other ways.

2.5     Possession

One of the hardest things to master is the agreement on nouns when possessed. Compare the following tables:

maşyn – car s pl
1 (meniň) maşynym (biziň) maşynymyz
2 (seniň) maşyn (siziň) maşynyňyz
3 (onuň) maşyny olaryň maşyny


eje – mother s pl
1 (meniň) ejäm (biziň) ejämiz
2 (seniň) ejäň (siziň) ejäňiz
3 (onuň) ejesi olaryň ejesi


söz – word s pl
1 (meniň) sözüm (biziň) sözümiz
2 (seniň) sözüň (siziň) sözüňiz
3 (onuň) sözi olaryň sözi

Maşynyň barmy?  – Have you got a car?

The locative and ablative cases take the forms –nda/-nde, -ndan/-nden following the 3rd person possessive:

Ejesinde täze köýnek bar – His mother has a new dress.

Men Hudaýberdi köçesinde ýaşaýaryn – I live in Hudayberdi street.

Ejesinden aldym – I got it from his mother.

The genitive personal pronouns meniň, seniň, etc. (with the exception of olaryň) are redundant and therefore optional. When used they emphasise personal possession e.g. Meniň maşynym uly! – My car is large! [Wheras yours is small…]


Predicative Possession [-ky/ki]

e.g.       Şu kitap meniňki – This book is mine.

Bu kimiňki, seniňkimi? Howa, meniňki.

Whose is this, yours? Yes, it’s mine.

The possessive pronoun is used in a predicative sense, rather than attributive as in the table above. In English we always have the verb “to be” between the subject and predicate (e.g. “The book is mine”), whereas the attribute acts like an adjective (“red book”can be substituted for “my book”).

2.6     Going to see someone

Beware of putting a person’s name in the dative case when referring to visiting a person; it means something rather different!

Contrast:          Meniň ýanyma gelip biljekmi? Can you come and see me?

With:                Sen maňa geljekmi?                 Will you marry me? (Literally: Will you come to me?)

ýan                  side                              stem on its own

ýany                his/her/its side              with possessive suffix

ýanyna                        to his/her/its side          possessive suffix + dative case


to s.o.’s side s pl
1 meniň ýanyma biziň ýanymyza
2 seniň ýanyňa siziň ýanyňyza
3 onuň ýanyna olaryň ýanyna


e.g.       Men Baýramyň ýanyna gitjek – I’m going to see Bayram


Notice too that Turkmen rarely go and see one person, even if that person is alone in the house:

Men Orazlara gitjek – I’m going to Oraz’s (including family, friends).

Men häzir Dawudlarda otyryn – I’m at David’s at the moment

Myratdagy häzir geler – Murad and his family will arrive soon

You can also use the predicative possessive suffix:

Men dostymyňkyda boldym, şonuň üçin giç geldim – I was at a friend’s [place], that’s why I arrived late.


2.7     The Reflexive mood

Reflexive pronouns s pl
1 (meniň) özüm (biziň)   özümiz
2 (seniň)  özüň (siziň)   özüňiz
3 (onuň)   özi (olaryň) özleri


Declension of reflexive pronouns (3 are shown as an example):

1s 3s 1pl
NOM özüm özi özümiz
ACC özümi özüni özümizi
GEN özümiň özüniň özümiziň
DAT özüme özüne özümize
LOC/TIM özümde özünde özümizde
ABL özümden özünden özümizden


For the 3rd person (s. and pl.) note that ACC, LOC and ABL become –ni –nde and –nden respectively i.e. following a possessive marker ending in a vowel an n is inserted before the noun declension marker. NB the rounding vowel harmony causes the 3 person possessive i to become a ü so we have –üni –ünde and –ünden.


Özüň nähili? – How are you? (When you have already been asked how you are and replied)

Ol özi aýtdy – He said so himself.

Men özüme işleýärin – I work for myself.

Öz maşynyň sürýärsiňmi? – Are you driving your own car? (Or someone else’s)

Ol öz maşyn süreýär – He drives his car.

2.8     Demonstrative Pronouns

There are two forms for each English word “this” and “that”:


NOM bu şu
ACC muny şuny
GEN munuň şunuň
DAT muňa şuňa
LOC/TIM munda şunda
ABL mundan şundan


NOM ol şol
ACC ony şony
GEN onuň şonuň
DAT oňa şoňa
LOC/TIM onda şonda
ABL ondan şondan


Bu gowy komputermi? – Is this a good computer?

Seniň jaýyň muňa berjekmi? – Do you want to give your house to this person?

Muny aljakmy? – Do want to buy this one?

Şonda men öýe gaýtdym – Then [when that happened] I returned home.

Onda men gitjek däl – Then [for that reason] I won’t go.

Şonuň üçin – therefore.

3      Grammar – The Verb Phrase

3.1     The infinitive

The infinitive is formed with verb stem followed by the suffix -mak/-mek:


almak (to buy/take) gelmek (to come)
almazlyk (not to buy) gelmezlik (not to come)


The verb stem is the second person singular form of the imperative (see “Imperative Mood”).

The infinitive, however, declines as follows:


NOM almak (to buy/take)
ACC almagy
GEN almag
DAT almaga (in order to buy/take)
LOC/TIM almagda
ABL almagdan


Apart from the nominative and dative cases it is almost impossible to translate these without a context, as English simply doesn’t have anything remotely like this. The following examples will help a little:


Un almak kyn boldy – it was difficult to get flour

[U:n almak ky:n boldy]

Un almagyň kyndygyny sen bileňokmy? – don’t you know how hard it is to buy flour?

Men un almaga geldim – I came (in order) to buy flour [purpose: to by flour]

Şu gün un almagy ýatdan çykarma – don’t forget to buy flour today!

Un almakda kynçylyk bar – [in general] it is difficult to buy flour

Un almakdan başga işler hem bar – (I’ve) got better things to do than buying flour!

The infinitive acts in the same way as an English participle: the last example would be “flour buying-(apart) from other work also exists”.


The infinitive can also be possessed as follows:

my studying etc. s pl
1 meniň okamagym biziň okamagymyz
2 seniň okamagyň siziň okamagyňyz
3 onuň okamagy olaryň okamaklary

(notice the k in the 3rd person plural)


It seems that whereas in the English language participles can be possessed, in Turkmen only infinitives can, so again the gloss of a Turkmen infinitive is an English participle.


Kartoçka (boýunça) berilýän zatlary şu gün seniň almagyň gerek
ration-card (by) being-given things this day your buying is-necessary

you need to buy the food we get on ration cards today


            Seniň okamazlygyň saňa zyýan etdi, sen ekzamenden ikilik aldyň

– your lack of study was your downfall, you got two [out of five] in the exam


            Uniwersitetde studentleriň okamaklary üçin şertler döredildi

– The University created conditions under which students could study


3.2     Question particle –my/mi

This forms part of the conjugated verb or predicate in order to turn a statement into a question:

Bazara gitjekmi? Do you want to go to the market?
Süýji-püýji ýokmy? Aren’t there any sweets?
Ony tapmadyňmy? Didn’t you find him/her/it?
Dükanda doňdurma barmyka? I wonder if there is any ice cream in the shop?
Ejeňe hat yazypmysyň? Did you write a letter to your mother?

3.3     The Imperative and Optative Moods (commands and requests)

The imperative, which is used for commands and requests, is simply the root of the verb (or the infinitive minus –mak/mek), with the addition of the plural marker –yň/iň if addressing more than one person. Here is the paradigm for the verb garaşmak – to wait:

person – mood s pl
2 – imperative “wait!” garaş garaş
3 – optative “let him/them wait” garaşsyn garaşsynlar

Note that the plural form suffix in -yň is used for addressing people of importance such as ýaşuly or başlyk, whereas for simple polite requests the suffix –aý/-äý can be inserted to all these forms.

e.g.       Çörek beräý(iň) – please pass the bread (iň = plural form also used in formal speech to show respect for those older than oneself)

Alaý! – Help yourself! [Lit: Please take!]

Another commonly used polite form is -sene/seňizläň (2nd person singular/plural) for polite commands

e.g.       Gazly suwdan bir çüýşe bersene – Would you (please) give me a bottle of carbonated water

Çaý içseňizläň! – go on, please, have a cup of tea! (Extremely formal, rarely used form)

Occasionally you may here the use of the jussive the emphatic particle –da/dä on the verb:

Ol çaý içsin-dä – go on, let him have a cup of tea (before he goes)!

[ol çaý iç’sindä:]

3.4     The Voluntative-hortative Mood (let me, shall I)?

The Turkmen language also includes a way of stating that you would like to do something, or asking whether you might be able to do something (asking for permission) i.e. a 1st person equivalent of the imperative:

“let me/us wait!” s pl
1 garaşaýyn garaşaly(ň)

The suffix -ň is added to the plural form when there are three or more people involved

  1. Garaşaýynmy? – Shall I wait?


Häzir, jaň edaýyn – Just a minute, let me make a telephone call!

Biz gaýdalyň! – Please let us go home now!

Gidelimi? – Shall we (two) go?

Ýör, öýde çaý içäýeli-dä – come on, let’s (the two of us) go home and have a cup of tea!

Ýörüň, çaýhanada çaý içäýeliň-(le) – come, let’s (all) go to the cafe for a cup of tea!

3.5     To have

Uses bar bolmak – “to exist”, but the bolmak usually drops out. Lack of existence is denoted by ýok.

e.g.       Mende çörek bar – I’ve got some bread (to me bread exists).

Çaga entek ýok – (We) haven’t yet got any children (children still don’t exist).

Meniň bir gyzym bar – I’ve got one daughter (my one daughter-POSS exists).

Armaň! – Don’t get tired! (Greeting in workplace)

Bar bol! – We’re fine! (Appropriate reply)

Un barmy? – Is there any flour? (i.e. in the shop/house)

Süýji-püýji ýokmy? – Aren’t there any sweets?

3.6     Verb Paradigms

The most useful tenses when first learning to speak Turkmen are the following:


with negative stem

Definite Past

I did, I came, I took…

Present (Literary form)

I do, I come, I take…

Shortened  Present (spoken form)[6]
  s pl s pl s pl

etmek                  2

(to do)                 3























sürmek                2

(to drive)             3






















almak                 2

(to take)              3






















bolmak                2

(to be)                 3


























Present Perfect negative[7] (spoken form)

I haven’t done…

Indefinite Future

NB see note below

Definite Future

(does not decline)

  s pl s pl  

etmek    2

(to do)   3

neg.    1






























etjek däl


sürmek  2

(drive)   3

neg.    1






















sürjek [sür’jök]



sürjek däl


almak    2

(take)  3

neg.    1






























aljak däl



(to be)














boljak [bol’jok]



boljak däl


Personal markers for past tense (you have seen some of these before – they are similar to the possessive markers):


-m -k


Personal markers for present & future tenses, literary form:





-in -is
-siň -siňiz

Indefinite future declension following a vowel e.g. for aýlamak:

aýlaryn aýlarys
aýlarsyň aýlarsyňyz
aýlar aýlar

The third person future (negative) suffix is not simply a combination of the negative marker

ma/me and the future declension –ar/er, but has the form –maz/mez

e.g.       ol gitmez – he won’t be going (see large table above)



3.7     Tenses, Aspects and Moods

Turkmen exhibits a type of aspect known as evidentuality – a measure of how definitely something has taken place. It is used frequently in both oral and literary forms of Turkmen. There are four levels:

  1. Direct experience – ‘he fixed the car (and I was there when he did it)’
  2. Subjective i.e. using second-hand information – ‘I was told that he fixed the car’
  3. Rumoured – ‘I’ve heard that cars sometimes get fixed’
  1. Objective i.e. apparent – ‘it seems that the car is fixed’

ol… (men)              Evidentuality[10]:

3rd singular (1st singular)

Tenses and moods:

  1. Direct (experienced)

I was there when…

  1. Subjective (“definite” unwitnessed) probably, definitely, depend on me that…
  2. Rumoured (indefinite)
rumoured that,

it is said that,

I heard that, etc.

  1. Objective (apparent)

it seems that, it turns out that

(3rd person s.)

Simple Past           took aldy(m)
Completed Past       have/had taken

(Past Perfect)


had taken – past in the past (pluperfect)

alypdyr(yn) he took (unwitnessed)



he probably took



people say he took)



people say he took




alan eken has taken it seems

Incomplete – pres.   take


                        – past   used to take






he is probably buying, (you know that I am buying)



it is said that he is taking

alýar eken

he is apparently taking

In principle – future will take


– past   would take, would have taken





it is said that he used to take (3rd person – stories)

alar eken

used to take (every day) – story use

Volitional   – future   will definitely take, want to take


                    – past        was going to take






he’ll probably buy, (let me assure you that I’ll buy)


it is said that he’ll buy

aljak eken

apparently going to take (getting ready to take)

Desire    – present   intends to t.


               – past       intended to take






he probably intends to buy (let me assure that I intend to buy)


(ym) it is rumoured that he intends to take

almakçy eken intends to take it seems
Obligation – present  have to, should






                   – “past”      should have.


he should/ought to take, he needs to take




he ought to have taken…


must definitely take


rumour has it that he has to take

almaly eken(im) should take it seems, he should have taken

almalydy(m) eken turns out that he should have taken


NB The -dyr/dir- suffix drops out in the second person forms of column 3

  1. sen bilýäňsiň (bilýärsiň-dir-siň) – you probably know

Türkmen dilini öwrenipsiň – you’ve (already) learnt the Turkmen language

(See below for paradigm)

Hint: when language learning learn the first column, then the second, then the fourth, then the third (which is rarely used). Note especially column two row two -ypdyr is frequently used.

3.8        Subjective past perfect

Since this aspect is used so frequently, declines so differently, yet seems not to correlate with aspects in European languages, it seemed good to have a separate section on it.

  s   pl  
1 alypdyryn I must have taken (smth.) alypdyrys We must have taken (smth.)
2 alypsyň You have taken (smth.) alypsyňyz You have taken (smth.)
3 alypdyr He took (smth.) alypdyr(lar) They took (smth.)

e.g.       Men uklapdyryn! I must have fallen asleep!

Men ters geýinipdirin! I put my clothes on back-to-front!

Biz onuň öýüne aýlandyk. Ol işe gidipdir. We went round to his house but it turned out that he had gone to work.

When is this aspect used? Whenever the action was unwitnessed by the speaker. For instance if someone is sick, and you haven’t yet visited them, you can say ol kesellepdir, but you cannot say ol keselledi. Certain bodily functions are almost always referred to using this aspect e.g. ol gaýtarypdyr – s/he has vomitted. There are some things that it is too polite to mention using the witnessed aspect!

Another case where this aspect is used is when a process has reached some stage of completion e.g. learning a language:

Sen Türkmen dilini öwrenipsiň!  You have learnt Turkmen!

Perhaps only the Turkmen language student’s teacher would be qualified to say, “Sen Türkmen dilini öwrendiň”, and even then, they might not use it, as they were not there when the student did all his/her homework. The process of language acquisition was mainly unwitnessed, yet it has somehow or other reached a stage of completion.

The negative declines as follows:

  s   pl  
1 almandyryn It looks as if I didn’t take almandyrys It looks as if we didn’t take
2 almandyrsyň You haven’t taken almandyrsyňyz You haven’t taken
3 almandyr He didn’t take almandyr(lar) They didn’t take

e.g.       Ol meni işe almandyr – He didn’t give me a job.

Siz Türkmen dilini entek öwrenmändirsiňiz – You haven’t yet learnt Turkmen properly it seems[11].

Nahar örän süýji bolupdyr! – The meal was delicious! (Literally: The food became very sweet)

Questions have another form (notice positioning of the negative particle for 2nd person):

  s   pl  
1 alypdyrynmy? Did it turn out that I took? alypdyrysmy? Did it turn out that we took?
2 alypmysyň? Did you take (in the end)? alypmysyňyz? Did you take (in the end)?
3 alypdyrmy? Did he take (in the end)? alypdyr(lar)my? Did they take (in the end)?

e.g.       Otyrmysyňyz? Are you having a meal? (Literally: Are you sitting?)

Sag-gurgun otyrmysyňyz? Are you all well? (Literally: Are you sitting well and healthy?)

Negative questions:

  s   pl  
1 almandyrynmy? Didn’t I take (in the end)? almandyrysmy? Didn’t we take (in the end)?
2 almanmysyň? Didn’t you take (in the end)? almanmysyňyz? Didn’t you take (in the end)?
3 almandyrmy? Didn’t he take (in the end)? almandyr(lar)my? Didn’t they take (in the end)?

e.g. Yanyňda çörek almanmysyň? Didn’t you bring bread after all?

3.9     Past in the past (pluperfect)

This is formed by taking the gerund form –yp/ip and adding the simple past tense suffix –dy/di. It is used when referring to something that happened previous to the time frame being talked about e.g. alypdym in:

Men onuň ýanyna aýlandym. Men maşyn alypdym, şonuň üçin men ol ýere çalt baryp ýetdim.

I went to see him. I had bought a car, so I got there quite quickly.

The negative is formed by taking the negative past participle –man/män and adding the simple past tense suffix –dy/di e.g.

Men entek maşyn almandym, şol sebäpli men giç galdym.

I hadn’t yet bought a car, so I was late.

3.10  Modal and Auxiliary Verbs

Some of these decline, some do not. Notice that not all take the infinitive of the main verb.

“is necessary, need”:

Maňa ýaşamaga jaý gerek – I need somewhere to live.

(the verb gerek does not decline since it is a modal verb)


“like” type 1:

Men arak içmegi halamok, men suw içmegi halaýa(ry)n – I don’t like do drink alcohol, I like to drink water.

Men ol gyz halaýaryn – I’m in love with that girl.


“like” type 2:

Men şu köýnegi gowy göreyärin – I like this dress.


“want to, would like to”

Men şu kitap aljak – I want to buy this book.

Men şol kitap almak isleýärin – I really want to buy that book.

Men kitap aljak bolýaryn – I’m going to buy a book, I want to buy a book.


“very much want, desire”

Format: Verb-as/es/äs-possessive + gelmek (3s past, present or future)

s pl
1 göresim göresimiz
2 göresiň göresiňiz
3 göresi göresleri

NB the 3rd plural suffix is not quite the sames as normal possessives (it retains [ler])

(Meniň) Türkmenistany göresim geldi – I wanted to see Turkmenistan

(Meniň) turkmen dilini öwrenesim gelýär – I want to learn Turkmen

(Seniň) çaý içesiň gelýärmi? – do you want to drink tea?

(Meniň) Çülä gidesim geler – I shall want to go to Chulee.


There is another form which has: verb + -sa/se (possessive) -dy/di (past):

Türkmen dilini tiz öwrensemdim (öwren-sem-dim) – I would like to learn Turkmen quickly


And it is also possible to say something like this in an impersonal way:

Aftobus wagtynda geläýedi – oh please let the bus come now!


“am able to, can”

Men çörek alyp bilýärin

Men çörek al -yp bil -ýärin
I bread buy -Ger know -1sPst

I am able to buy bread, I can buy bread, I know how to…


“may I, is it possible to?”

(Sizi) surat almak mümkinmi? – Is it possible to take (your)/a photo?

(the suffix -my/-mi changes a statement to a question)


“prepare oneself to, just about to”

Ol suwa bökjek bolyar – she’s just about to jump in the water


“it turns out that, it seems…”

Ol her guýn süýt alýa:n eken – it turns out that she buys milk each day

Sen bilýä:ň eken! – you know it after all! (to a student who has been tested)

NB eken is also used with the present and past participles in the context of stories. Here it simply adds a mythical flavour to the narrative (eg. Bir bar eken, bir ýo:k eken, gurwaga bar eken – Once upon a time there was a frog.). The present participle with eken denotes a repeated action, the past participle a completed action. The future indefinite participle (eg. geler) is also used in stories in this sense (eg. “ …” diýip gezer eken – saying as he walked). See above table for other uses.

“I suppose”

Use verb + öýtmek

Ol ma:mladyr öýdýän – he’s right, I suppose

Siz uniwersitetde öýlän bolmazsyňyz öýtdym – You won’t be at the University this afternoon I suppose

“Might be…”

Onuň geläýmegi mümkin – he might come

3.11  Mood

3.11.1  The Conditional Mood –sa/-se

This is used with eger (if), and for some events that are hoped for like the birth of a baby.


-sa s pl
1 alsam alsak
2 alsaň alsaňyz
3 alsa alsalar

e.g.       Eger sen gitseň, men hem gidärin – If you go, I will go too.

            Men maşyn alaryn, nesip bolsa – I’m going to buy a car, God willing (if destined)

Compare the two following examples:

Ol häzir geler. Gelse biz bazara gideli. – He will arrive soon. When he gets here let’s go to the market.

Ol gelse biz belki bazara gideris. If he comes we might go to the market.

Notice that the word gelse can be translated as ‘when he comes’ or ‘if he comes’ depending on the context.

Negative: almasa(m).

3.11.2  The Subjunctive Mood

This is formed by the use of the future indefinite tense, and the past tense combined.


Sen gideň bolsa gowy bolardy! – It would have been good if you had come too!

Men maşyn alardym, ýöne pulum ýetmedi.  – I would have bought a car, but I didn’t have enough money.

3.11.3  Some Continous Moods

Adding -ber- after the verb stem and before any suffixes gives the sense of “go on doing”

e.g. Oturberäý – please go on sitting!

also the verbs ýörmek, otyrmak, durmak, and ýatmak are used to add a continous sense. Use them with perfect participles:


e.g.       Olar gezip ýörler – they’re going for a walk.

Ol ukläp ýatyr – He is sleeping.

Myrat dynç alyp ýatyr – Murad is resting.

Ýagyş ýagyp dur – It is raining.

            Biz garaşyp otyrys – We are waiting.

Ol heniz hem okap ýör – He is still studying.

The verbs decline like so:

s pl
1 ýörün ýörüs
2 ýörsüň ýörsüňiz
3 ýör ýörler

contrast ‘işläp ýör’, ‘garaşyp otyr’, ‘garaşyp dur’ and ‘dyňç alyp ýatyr’

3.12  Voice

Voice is usually part of the verb formation.

3.12.1  Verb formation – Passive

Passive is formed by the addition of the suffix –yl/-il/-ul/-ül following a consonant and –l following a vowel e.g.

aýtmak             aýdylmak         (to be said)

            okamak                        okalmak           (to be read)

3.12.2  Verb formation – Middle/Reflexive

The middle voice is formed by the addition of –an/-en/-un/-ün following a consonant and –n following a vowel e.g.

geýmek                        geýinmek         (to get dressed)

görmek                        görünmek        (to appear)

Semantically this form can give passive, middle or reflexive senses, though true reflexives would use the reflexive pronoun öz e.g. ol özi geýinip bilýär – he can get dressed himself

3.12.3  Verb formation – Causative

The causative is formed by the addition of suffixes –dyr/dir, –t, –yr/ir, or –yz/iz to the verb stem.


okamak – to study

okatmak – to teach

okatdyrmak – to arrange tuition (for)


turmak to stand turuzmak to get someone up
gorkmak to be afraid gorkuzmak to frighten someone
ýatmak to lie down ýatyrmak to put someone down to sleep
düşünmek to understand düşündürmek to explain
öwrenmek to learn öwretmek to teach


3.12.4  Verb formation – Reciprocal/Cooperative

This is formed by the addition of –yş/iş to the stem. It denotes some kind of reciprocal action, or something that takes time.


ýetmek to be enough, sufficient ýetişmek to be on time; to succeed
öwrenmek to learn öwrenişmek to get used to
gelmek to come gelişmek to suit someone
almak to buy alyşmak to barter

3.12.5  Verb formation – Gradual increase (Reciprocal-Causative)

The combination of the reciprocal and the causative suffixes give rise to a new form denoting either a gradual increase in something, a prolonged action, or getting someone to do something with you:

iýmek to eat iýişdirmek to taste (all or a quantity of)
gelmek to come gelişdirmek to attribute beauty to someone
satmak to sell satyşdyrmak to have a sale
planlaşdyrmak to plan, draw up a plan


3.12.6  Verb formation – Causative-Passive

Formed by addition of first causative then passive suffixes which combine to form –dyryl/-diril or similar (see 4.12.3 and 4.12.1 respectively) e.g. atlandyrylmak – to be named; sadalaşdyrylmak – to be simplified.

3.12.7  Benefactive

This takes the form –yp/ip –aý/äý e.g.

Maňa ýazyp beräý-da!  – Please write it down for me!

See below for a description of the Gerund form –yp/ip.

3.13  Participles and Gerunds

3.13.1  Participles

  Present “Past” “Future”
Type 1


alýa:n      taking


alan      took, having taken


alar     taking (contemp. & story use)


Type 2 (aldyk    that taking…/my taking) aljak    will be taking



Note: the participle aljak is used more frequently in contemporary Turkmen. The aldyk type of participle is only found in old literary Turkmen, wheras alan occurs regularly in both spoken and written Turkmen. The negative suffix  -madyk is, however, regularly used in spoken Turkmen.


Adjectival Participle (Gerund) suffixes yp, -a


e.g.             Alyp           taking               (negative – alman [alma:n], almazdan)


Biz Oraz bilen eleşip görüşdik – Oraz and I greeted each other


Men şu kitabi bir gi:jede okap çykdym – I read the whole book in one night


Men dura dura ýadadym – I’m tired of waiting

3.13.2  Gerunds

Gerunds[12] are often used for the first verbs in a sequence of actions:

Ol bazara gidip, goýun satyn alypdyr – He went to the market and bought a sheep.

Häli aldym-da, şindi aldym bolyp barýarkalar, gapdallaryndan bir towşanjyk çykyp: “Tilki aga, nebeýle gaty gidýärsiň, örän ylgasyň gelipdir öýdýän?” – Well they are chasing after him and just on the point of catching him up, when near them a bunny rabbit pops out: “Mr. Fox, what’s the hurry? I suppose you really fancied a run,” he says.

In the second example bolup barmak  is a compound verb, whereas çykyp is a sequential gerund.

Predicative suffix -dik (to translate this, you need to insert the verb “to be”, and usually a relative conjunction like “that” in the sentence). This takes the place of a complementizer in the Turkmen language:


eg. Sen onuň nirede işleýändigini bilýäňmi?
you his where working               -PRED-POSS-ACC know   -Q?

            Do you know where he is working?Do you know where he works?


  Meniň mugallymdigimi bileňokmy?
my teacher -PRED-POSS-ACC don’t-you-know-   Q?

            Don’t you know that I am a teacher?

Note:      -digimi and -digini are made up of -dik-im-i or -dik-i-ni (predicator, possessive suffix, accusative (after a vowel in case of -ni)).

the k in -dik becomes g before a vowel

NB see appendix A for a drill on the -digini suffix


Use of üçin with nouns made from verb stems:


üçin often needs a noun preceding it, so a participle is used with -lik/-lyk added to turn it into a noun, then the possesive suffix after that (eg. ýaşa-ýan-lyk-ym):


in order to live s. pl.
1 ýaşaýanlygym üçin ýaşaýanlygymyz üçin
2 ýaşaýanlygyň üçin ýaşaýanlygyňyz üçin
3 ýaşaýanlygy üçin ýaşaýanlygygy üçin


  1. Men häzir şu jaýde ýaşaýanlygym üçin pul töleýarin (I’m paying money for my living in this flat/apartment at the moment i.e. I’m renting this flat/apartment)


but sometimes üçin is used with an infinitive as in this example:


Men pul töläp ýaşamak üçin jaý gözleýärin (I’m looking for a house to rent)


4      Other word classes

4.1     Postpositions

4.1.1     Introduction

Postpositions are just like prepositions in English, except that they occur after the noun they are related to rather than before it.

e.g. using the postposition bäri we have:

şäheriň bärisinde – this side of the city

Notice that the noun is in the genitive case, whereas the postposition is both possessed and in the locative case. This same postposition can, however, be used with the nominative case as well:

Ol ýedi aý bäri Türkmenistanda ýaşaýar eken – He has been living in Turkmenistan for 7 months.

The postposition çenli, on the other hand, takes the dative case on the preceding noun:

sagat sekizä çenli – by six o’clock

Aşgabada çenli – as far as Ashgabat

4.1.2     Common Postpositions

The following table shows some of the more common postpositions used in Turkmen, and which cases they usually take on the preceding noun:

Postposition Case on preceding noun Associated meaning
barada Nominative about
bilen with
sebäpli because
üçin for, to, in order to
hökmünde as
ýaly like, as if; so that
garşy Dative opposed to, against
görä according to, reason
derek instead of, in its place
laýyk similar to, in conformity with
meňzeş like
çenli up to, until; by (+ time clause)
ýakyn close to
aňryk Ablative beyond
başga other than, different
bäri since, for
daşary outside of
soň after


4.1.3     Nominal Postpositions

Some postpositions are actually nouns/adjectives in their root form e.g. yz which means track or ýüz which means face. In fact most of the postpositions with the suffix –ynda/-inde/-unda/-ünde and take the genitive are in this category. These nominal prepositions, which are nouns/adjectives in their root form, have been noted in the table below.

Postposition in locative case Case on preceding noun Associated meaning as postposition From noun/adjective Meaning of root noun/adjective
aňyrsynda Genitive behind aňyr other
arkasynda behind arka back
başynda at the start of baş head
boýunda on, along boýun neck; shore
gapdalynda next to, by gapdal side
garşysynda opposite garşy against, opposed
içinde inside inside
ýüzünde all over ýüz face
ortasynda in the middle orta centre, middle
öňünde in front of öň front
tarapynda along the side of tarap side
ugurynda along ugur side, verge
üstünde on top of üst surface
yzynda behind yz track
ýanynda beside ýan side

4.2     Adjectives

Adjectives precede the noun they are desribing e.g.

adyl sud – a just judge

gök önümler – greens

uly baýramçylyk – an important festival

In order to use the adjective as a predicate (in place of a verb), the –dyr/dir suffix is often used:

Aşgabat ulydyr! – Ashgabat is large!

            Biziň Hudaýymyz beýikdir! – Our God is great!

Note that there is no equivalent for the verb ‘to be’ in Turkmen. The verb bolmak is sometimes translated as a rough equivalent of ‘to be’, but never in the present tense.

Many nouns can be used as adjectives in Turkmen e.g. jellat which means ‘hangman’ or ‘merciless’ according to the context.

4.3     Adverbs

Many Turkmen adjectives can be used as adverbs e.g. ömürboýy ‘everlasting, eternal’ which can be used with to describe a verb, in which case it means ‘eternally’. There are other adverbs which can only be used adverbally such as entek, häli, köplenç, käwagt e.g.

ol entek gelenok – she hasn’t come yet

olar köplenç ir gelýär(ler) – they usually come early

4.4     Numerals

4.4.1     Cardinal Numbers

One to ten:



1                        bir

2                        iki

3                        üç

4                        dört

5                        bäş [bä:ş]

6         alty

7         ýedi

8         sekiz

9         dokuz

10       on [o:n]


Eleven onwards:

11          on bir [o:nbir]

12          on iki


Twenty, thirty… ninety

20          ýigrimi             21        ýigrimi bir        22        ýigrimi iki        etc.

30          otuz

40          kyrk

50          elli

60          altmyş

70          ýetmiş

80          segsen

90          togsan

One hundred – nine hundred

100        ýüz

200        iki ýüz

300        üç ýüz


One thousand – a million

1000      müň

2000      iki müň

3000      üç müň



1000000                        bir million

One thousand million (US billion) – milliard

E.g.      1,352,647        bir million üç ýüz elli iki müň alty ýüz kyrk ýedi – one million three hundred and fifty-two thousand six hundred and forty seven.

4.4.2     Ordinal Numbers

These are formed by use of the suffix –ynjy/inji following a consonant and –njy/nji following a vowel e.g.

sekizinji Mart – the eighth of March

ol ikinji gatda ýaşaýar – he lives on the first [US: second] floor

4.4.3     Count Nouns

When asking for a number of items the indeclinable word sany is usually used:

Gazly suwdan iki sany çüýşe bersene – Please give me two bottles of fizzy water.



5       Sentence-level analysis, syntax

5.1     Word order

The usual word order is:

subject (indirect object) object verb phrase (e.g. gerund + main verb.)
e.g. sen çagalara derman aldyňmy?

– have you bought medicine for the children?

5.2     Simultaneous and sequential actions (“when, after, while”)

5.2.1     Sequential present/future actions (before, until) –ça/çä

The suffixes are added to the present participles like so:

“before I come back” s pl
1 men gelýänçäm biz gelýänçäk
2 sen gelýänçäň siz gelýänçäňiz
3 ol gelýänçe olar gelýänçe(ler)

e.g.       Sen şuny ýazýançaň, men daşary çykyp geleýin – while you’re writing this down, let me pop outside briefly. (Literally “until you write this, let me go out and come back”).

Men daşary çykyp gelýä(ri)nçäm, sen şuny ýaz – while I’m outside, you write this down! (lit: I’m going to pop outside, you write this down before I get back!)

Men öýlän bazara gidip gelýänçäm, siz öýde maňa garaşyp oturarsyňyz – This afternoon you wait at home until I get back from the bazaar.

Ol Moskvadan gelýänçe sen maşyny bejermeli – You’ve got to repair the car before he gets back from Moscow.

5.2.2     Simultaneous Past actions of long duration (while, during, when) –ka/kä

Formed by adding -kä/-ka to the verb stem, followed by personal suffixes (-m, -ň etc.). It is used when the action occurs over an extended time period i.e. during a continuous event.


e.g.       Men işden öýe gelýärkäm, Çynar magazinine sowuldym – when (lit: while) I was coming home from work, I stopped off at Chinar magazine.


I wonder if…  –myka/-mikä

Use the suffixes -myka -mikä -muka -mükä

eg.             Ol işleýärmikä – I wonder if he’s working?

Magazinde çörek ýokmuka? – I wonder if there might not be some bread in the shop?





5.2.3     Simultaneous Past actions – punctiliar (when) –da/-de

Formed by adding the possessive and locative (in time) suffixes to the past participle (gelen-imiz-de for example). It denotes an action of short or definite duration occuring in some kind of context (e.g. winter), whereas –ka is a longer action. See table below:



(spoken form in brackets) s pl
1 gelenimde (gelemde) gelenimizde (gelemizde)
2 geleniňde (geleňde) geleniňizde (geleňizde)
3 geleninde (gelende) geleninde (gelende)


e.g.       Men Türkmenistana gelenimde, gyş aýydy – when I came to Turkmenistan, it was winter


5.2.4     Sequential actions (after, when, before) –dan/-den

Formed by adding -dan, -den to the verb stem, followed by soň (soň means “after” – see section 5. Postpositions):

e.g.       Sapak gutarandan soň, men bazara gitjek – when the lesson’s finished, I’m going to the bazaar

For posteriority simply use öň instead of soň. e.g. Sapakdan öň – before the lesson


Contrast (but…) bolsa, -da/-de

There are many different types of contrast that would be translated “but” in English:



Sende gara ruçka bar, mende bolsa gök
to you black pen exist, to me if it is (rather) blue

– you’ve got a black pen, but I’ve got a blue one

5.3        Sub-clauses and reported speech

Reported speech has the following construction:


NPSU    NPDO    diýip aytdy/sorady etc.


Where NPSU is the subject, NPDO is the reported speech, and diýip means “said that” (literally “saying”)


e.g.       Men Myrada “men gitjek däl” diýip aýtym – I told Murad that I wouldn’t be going.


or         Ol “men gitjek” diýdi. – He said “I’m going.”


Sen Marala aýdäý, Gözel “oňa ýaglyk aldym” diýdi – tell Maral that Gozel said that she had bought her a head scarf


For oral story-telling and longer discourses:


Ol şeýle gürrüň berdi: “          men…   ”          – he told this tale, “I… ”


Plan-purpose clauses also have the same construction:


NPSU    NPDO diýip VP


Where in this case the NPDO is a subclause, VP is the verb phrase, and diýip is equivalent to “in order to” in English:


Men seni göreýin diýip geldim – I came in order to see you


Indirect speech uses the dik suffix (predicative suffix):


Ol özüniň gitjekdigini aýtdy – she said that she was going to leave
she her       -own going-to-go-PRED-POSS-ACC said


Or simply has a comma (pause) and uses the 3rd person singular:


Sen Marala aýdäý, Gözel oňa ýaglyk alypdyr – tell Maral that Gozel has bought her a head scarf).


In literary Turkmen the following construction is often found:


Ol şeýle diýdi: “               ”          –           he said, “          ”


Some more examples of indirect speech:

Ol Angliýa gitjekdigi barada aýtdy – he talked about his going to England

Ol Angliýa gitjegini aýtdy – he said that he’s going to England

Ol meniň Angliýa gitjegimi aýtdy – he said that I am going to England

Ol saňa meniň Angliýa gitjekdigimi barada aýtdymy? – has he told you that I am going to England?

Ol saňa meniň Angliýa gitjegimi aýtdymy? – has he told you that I’m going to England?


5.4     Conjunctions and Subordinators

Often sentences that would contain the word “because” in English would be two separate sentences without any conjunction in Turkmen:


Men gitjek däl. Men ýadadym.

I’m not going because I’m too tired.


There are however several words which are used as conjunctions or subordinators:

çünki because Ol gyşgynç. Çünki ol garrapdyr. He’s miserly. It’s because he’s grown old.
-da/-de and, but
emma but
hem also, and
(sebäp reason) sebäbi because, for this reason
soň later
şoňa görä seeing that
şeýlelikde in this way
şonuň üçin therefore
we and
welin however
ýöne but




6      Word Formation


6.1     Verbs to Nouns

Formed by adding the suffixes –ýyş/-ýiş, -lyk/-lik or -ma/-me to the verb stem:


Infinitive of Verb Derived Noun
okamak okaýyş
ýaşamak ýaşaýyş
geplemek gepleýiş


These nouns are often possessed as follows:


e.g.    Şu mesele seniň garaýşyň meni gyzyklandyrýar – your opinion on this matter interests me


Notice that the y drops out when the possessive suffix is added i.e. –ýyş becomes –ýş when followed by -y.


6.2     Adjectives to Nouns and vica versa

Many nouns can simply be used as adjectives, and many adjectives as adverbs, without any changes at all. The suffix –ly/-li sometimes changes a noun to an adjective, and suffix –lyk/-lik sometimes changes an adjective to a noun:


Original word Gloss Generated word Gloss
(azgyn prostitute azgyn immoral)
(batgalyk bog batgalyk boggy)
akyl intellect                     è akylly wise
güýç strength, power güýçli strong, powerful
akylly wise akyllylyk wisdom
abat whole abatlyk wholeness


7      Bibliography

Frank and Tachmouradova, Turkmen-English Dictionary, Dunwoody Press, 1999



8      Appendices

8.1     Appendix A – A drill to help master the “-digini” suffix

The model sentence uses the verb bişirmek – to cook, bake:

Maral Gözel -iň çörek bişir -en -dik -i -ni bil -ýär
Maral Gözel GEN bread bake PPTC EMB POSS ACC know PRES
Maral knows that Gozel has baked bread.


Substitution Item Participle + suffix
(Model sentence) Maral Gözeliň çörek bişirendigini bilýär
  1. alan (having bought/taken)
  1. iýen (having eaten)
  1. satan (having sold)
  1. beren (having given)
  1. getiren (having brought)
  1. soran (having asked)


How to drill:

  1. Tape your language resource person going across each row, including the substitution item in the first column.
  2. Then tape him/her just saying each sentence, with a pause afterwards long enough for you to mimic the sentence.

The best thing to do is to whisper each sentence after him/her while you are recording. Then you can listen to the first recording until it is familiar, and practice repeating the sentence with the second. If you do the repetition drill with your language resource person, instead of the tape recording, s/he should repeat the sentence after you only if you make a mistake.


8.2     Key

ABL Ablative
ACC Accusative
DAT Dative
EMB Embedded
GEN Genitive
LOC Locative
NOM Nominative
p Plural
POSS Possessive
PPTC Past Participle
PRES Present tense (unmarked = 3rd person)
s Singular




8.3     The Case System

English has mostly lost its case system, so we struggle to understand languages with highly-developed systems, as Turkmen has. Here is a brief explanation of each case, with some rough equivalents in English:


Case Explanation Rough Equivalent
Nominative Usually the case the subject is in
Accusative Usually the case the object is in
Genitive Used when two nouns need connecting together of, ‘s
Dative Usually shows motion towards some kind of goal to
Locative It shows where something is at in either space or time in, on, at
Ablative Usually shows motion away from a source, but occasionally shows the reason for something, why something is true from, of


Example in English: I kicked the ball

I is the subject, ball is the object.


[1] Only used when a Russian load-word is pronounced with a Russian accent.

[2] Most dialects do not use these sounds unless for a Russian loan word pronounced with a Russian accent. The inhabitants of Chärjew, however, use them in place of the inter-dental fricatives T, D.

[3] For futher information see Clark:98:79f who describes how this works out in practice for the largest tribe, the Teke.

[4] See the section on Possession

[5] See the section on Possession

[6] This is mainly used by the Teke tribe, the two halves of which live in Ahal welayat and the Mary area. Some dialects only use the long form, or a variant of it (such as the Ärsary edýörin, bolýoryn etc.)

[7] This is actually a shortened form of e.g. edenim ýok but is used very frequently in place of the present negative e.g. men bilamok – I don’t know

[8] In Ärsary these are sürem ýok, bolam ýok etc.

[9] Since plurality can be marked in many other ways using, for example, noun declension (see above), the plural marker is often omitted as being redundant e.g. olar hemmesi gitdi or hemmesi gitdi – they’ve all left.

[10] Evidentuality is a kind of aspect. There is no equivalent in European languages. See 4.8

[11] Notice the overlap with the Objective (apparent) aspect. Turkmen sometimes use these aspects almost interchangeably.

[12] Verbs used as nouns.