How To Use The -iyor Suffix In Turkish (Ongoing Actions)

Today, I'm excited to share my first grammatical observation about Turkish, which I've learned without studying at all!

As I mentioned recently, I changed my iPod to Turkish on new year's day of this year, and since then I've been interacting with the device in Turkish and learning things as I do.

When I'm checking my email, the status bar says Denetleniyor. I'm sure that means "checking email", or something like that, and I'm sure I could verify that in Google Translate.

When I go to the App Store to check for updates, it says Yükleniyor, which must be conceptually similar to Denetleniyor, but closer in meaning to "checking for updates" or something similar. Again, I'm sure I could verify that using Google Translate.

I see a connection, but I need to verify it. So, I opened the audio notes app (which is now called Sesli Notlar) and pressed the record button. Sure enough, a status message appears which says Kayıt Yapılıyor. I don't know what those words are, but I know that message means "recording..."

Thus it seems pretty clear that ongoing action in Turkish is indicated by the -iyor ending. I don't know if this is a gerund, or some other verb form, because I'm not looking in any books or using any study materials. But I don't need to know the name for this part of speech... all I need is an idea of how to use it.

Fortunately, that's easy to test! You'll remember that I've already discovered the word Kapat, which is written on the "close" button for all of those dialog messages I'm getting. When I type the word Kapat into Google Translate, it tells me that it does indeed mean "close". When I add that ending -iyor, my spell correction changes it to Kapatıyor, and Google Translate tells me that it means "closes". Closes! That's ongoing action!

Just to be sure, I'll try it with kilidi aç, the "slide to unlock" text I mentioned last week. Google Translate says this means "Unlock". When I change it to kilidi açiyor (spell correction says kilidi açıyor), the translation changes to "lock opens". Again, ongoing action!

So now I feel pretty confident that I know how to show ongoing action with a verb. Of course I'll keep testing that as I go. I'm also learning about Turksh "vowel harmony", because in both cases where the previous vowel was a, the i changed to ı.

Learning by discovery isn't difficult at all. And it's actually proving to be kind of fun!


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  • I've also noticed (I think) that a ы or an и is put on the end of words to make them plural. I also taught my self the Spanish past tense (é/ í) by merely noticing. It certainly helps you remember it more when you've discovered it for yourself. Is this year going to be more immersive than when you did Italian ?

  • You've got more to think about with Russian endings, due to cases. Also plural are -я, -а, -ов, -, -ев, -ах, -ых, -ам, -ами, and I've probably forgotten a few others. :)I try to make language learning an immersive experience regardless. But yeah, I think that due to my self-imposed rules, things will have to be a bit more immersive... Or, more accurately, I can't afford to get lazy and back off from my immersion when it becomes inconvenient.

  • Good intuition, your observations are correct. Yükleniyor, Denetleniyor, Yapılıyor has the -iyor -ıyor continuation suffix.But considering the roots of these verbs are Yükle, Denetle and Yap, it seems they have something else in them. Also something is a bit fishy about -iyor and vowel harmony...

  • Wow, great itnuitive learning! I'm going to link this and make every student I ever have read it. I tell them to read something in English, and they all tell me, "I can't read if I don't understand all the words."And I'm certain that whatever you learn consciously is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg when you consider all the stuff that your brain is picking up subconsciously every time you expose yourself to more Turkish...Great example for others here. Thanks!

  • Thanks for your encouragement!

  • Thanks! Please send all your students here! And also encourage them to sign up for my mailing list too, and to pay for any products I make available for sale on my site! :) Or, they can just donate money directly to me, without worrying about the guilt of receiving something in return. :) :) :)

  • If only we could help everyone have this sort of intuitive curiosity! But that's our job ya. Keep up the great example. Sen ögreniyorsun.

  • Thanks!

  • Thanks, but now to forget it all so I can find out myself and make it stick!

  • Well, I don't think you'll have a problem forgetting... :)

  • Sounds a lot like it's a gerund.Also, yes, definitely much more fun learning this way than from a grammar book or workbook or something like that, I'm certainly with you on that.Cheers,
    AndrewP.S. How's Italy?

  • Verb + Passive + Continuous
    Yük-len-iyor, Denet-len-iyor, Yap-ıl-ıyor -Best of luck with the grammar, there are lots of rules...I've been learning Turkish for years. I'm using some of your suggestions to grow my vocabulary.

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