How To Use Possession In Turkish Grammar

avatarMille Larsen
3 mins read

Remember when I said there was a lot you could learn from a social network? I wasn't kidding! I've already written two posts about how much Turkish I'm learning from Yonja, and that was without even logging in!

Today, we're going to change that. I'm going to look at what's inside, after you log in. And I'm going to start with the column of action links on the left.

We see a series of links on the left: mesajlarım, bildirimlerim, hediyelerim, ziyaretçilerim, arkadaşlarım, favorilerim, fotoğraflarım, testlerim, anketlerim, ilanlarım.

All of the links (except three) have two things in common. The first common trait is that they're all plural. We already know that the -lar and -ler endings make them plural.

But the second thing they have in common is that -im or -ım ending, which appears to make them first-person possessives. Mesajlarım - my messages. Testlerim - my tests. One doesn't need a dictionary or translator to figure out what these words mean!

The theory is pretty sound, but just to test it and be sure, I went over to Google Translate and added endings to a few words to see what happens:

I tried adding the ending to kitap in Google Translate, but it choked on kitapım, the ending I was expecting. I tried the other three (-im, -um, -üm), and still no luck. I was almost ready to scrap it and assume that I was wrong...

But on a whim, I did it backward: I tried translating my book from English to Turkish, and I got kitabım! So my ending was right, but there was a consonant shift from p to b happening. I'll have to watch for that in the future.

To confirm, I tried a few more. Indeed, Google Translate informed me that arkadaşım means my friend, but then I got more trouble when I tried köpekim. Fortunately, Google's "did you mean" spell-checking informed me it should be köpeğim, which indeed translates to my dog.

So my understanding of possessive first-person endings is validated, but it appears there are some consonant shifts at the ends of words which I need to pay attention to. My hunch is that this has to do with devoicing, a phenomenon I've already learned about in Russian...