These are marked by the suffixes -lar, -ler e.g. kitaplar – books. See also The Verb Phrase, Verb paradigms.
|[pronunciation]||Hammer||Duck||Bird||Linguist||Case Marker||Following a vowel|
|Accusative||çekiji||ördegi [ö:rdögü]||guşy [guşy]||dilçini||-y/-i||-ny/-ni|
|Genitive||çekijiň||ördegiň [ö:rdögün]||guşuň [guşuň]||dilçiniň||-yň/-iň
|Dative||çekije||ördege [ö:rdögö]||guşa [guşo]||dilçä||-a/-e||-a/-ä (after i)
|Locative/Time||çekiçde [çekişde]||ördekde [ö:rdökdö]||guşda [guşdo]||dilçide||-da/-de||-da/-de
|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?
|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.
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.
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) maşynyň||(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”).
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.
|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):
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.
There are two forms for each English word “this” and “that”:
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.
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)|
|DAT||almaga (in order to buy/take)|
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.
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
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?|
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||garaşyň|
|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:]
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|
The suffix -ň is added to the plural form when there are three or more people involved
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!
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?
The most useful tenses when first learning to speak Turkmen are the following:
with negative stem
I did, I came, I took…
|Present (Literary form)
I do, I come, I take…
|Shortened Present (spoken form)|
(to do) 3
(to drive) 3
(to take) 3
(to be) 3
|Present Perfect negative (spoken form)
I haven’t done…
NB see note below
(does not decline)
(to do) 3
Personal markers for past tense (you have seen some of these before – they are similar to the possessive markers):
Personal markers for present & future tenses, literary form:
Indefinite future declension following a vowel e.g. for aýlamak:
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)
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:
ol… (men) Evidentuality:
3rd singular (1st singular)
Tenses and moods:
I was there when…
it is said that,
I heard that, etc.
it seems that, it turns out that
(3rd person s.)
|Simple Past took||aldy(m)|
|Completed Past have/had taken
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
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)
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
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
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.
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.
|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:
|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.
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):
|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?)
|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?
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.
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)
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
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.
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
Onuň geläýmegi mümkin – he might come
This is used with eger (if), and for some events that are hoped for like the birth of a baby.
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.
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.
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:
contrast ‘işläp ýör’, ‘garaşyp otyr’, ‘garaşyp dur’ and ‘dyňç alyp ýatyr’
Voice is usually part of the verb formation.
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)
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
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|
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|
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|
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.
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.
|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
Gerunds 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:
|you||his||where||working -PRED-POSS-ACC||know -Q?|
Do you know where he is working?Do you know where he works?
|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|
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)
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
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|
|üçin||for, to, in order to|
|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|
|çenli||up to, until; by (+ time clause)|
|başga||other than, different|
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|
|başynda||at the start of||baş||head|
|boýunda||on, along||boýun||neck; shore|
|gapdalynda||next to, by||gapdal||side|
|ortasynda||in the middle||orta||centre, middle|
|öňünde||in front of||öň||front|
|tarapynda||along the side of||tarap||side|
|üstünde||on top of||üst||surface|
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.
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
One to ten:
5 bäş [bä:ş]
10 on [o:n]
11 on bir [o:n‘bir]
12 on iki
Twenty, thirty… ninety
20 ýigrimi 21 ýigrimi bir 22 ýigrimi iki etc.
One hundred – nine hundred
200 iki ýüz
300 üç ýüz
One thousand – a million
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.
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
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.
The usual word order is:
|subject||(indirect object)||object||verb phrase (e.g. gerund + main verb.)|
– have you bought medicine for the children?
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.
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?
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
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:
|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
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|
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?
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.|
|(sebäp||reason)||sebäbi||because, for this reason|
|şoňa görä||seeing that|
|şeýlelikde||in this way|
Formed by adding the suffixes –ýyş/-ýiş, -lyk/-lik or -ma/-me to the verb stem:
|Infinitive of Verb||Derived Noun|
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.
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|
|güýç||strength, power||güýçli||strong, powerful|
Frank and Tachmouradova, Turkmen-English Dictionary, Dunwoody Press, 1999
The model sentence uses the verb bişirmek – to cook, bake:
|Maral knows that Gozel has baked bread.|
|Substitution Item||Participle + suffix|
|(Model sentence)||Maral Gözeliň çörek||bişirendigini||bilýär|
How to drill:
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.
|PRES||Present tense (unmarked = 3rd person)|
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:
|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.
 Only used when a Russian load-word is pronounced with a Russian accent.
 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.
 For futher information see Clark:98:79f who describes how this works out in practice for the largest tribe, the Teke.
 See the section on Possession
 See the section on Possession
 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.)
 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
 In Ärsary these are sürem ýok, bolam ýok etc.
 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.
 Notice the overlap with the Objective (apparent) aspect. Turkmen sometimes use these aspects almost interchangeably.
 Verbs used as nouns.