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Learning Turkish Language Difficulties

5 unEasy Pieces

The Too Many Uses of "-den"
(and it's spelling variants, "-dan, -ten, -tan")

In Turkey - Türkiye'de

Tüm içecek fırsatları için tıklayın !

Language-learning pages:
  • How To Learn Basic Turkish --
    A Practical Philosophy for beginners

    (Found in the 'Introduction to The Whole Earth Catalog of Turkish Movies'.)
  • Why Off-color language is important too...
  • Translating Turkish, the basics
  • Translating Turkish, advanced
  • Essential Turkish Vocabulary
  • Turkish Verbs
  • Essential Idioms, Index
  • Essential Suffixes, Index
  • Sentence Structure, Standard
  • Sentence Structure Variations
  • Turkish Pronunciation
  • Turkish Accenting
  • Turkish Numbers Revealed
  • Other Turkish Language Difficulties
  • The Turkish Suffix 'den'

    Who out there remembers the great 1982 comeback season for Saturday Night Live -- the venerable American comedy classic?

    Our favorite lampooning skits of the time starred Joe Piscopo and Robin Duke playing Doug and Wendy Whiner -- and they whined, and they moaned, and they complained about everything, all the time. Nothing made them happy. They just couldn't be satisfied, ever.

    In one segment Doug & Wendy (Joe/Robin) are airline passengers who even find something to complain about when their Economy Class tickets
    have to be upgraded to First Class.
    It seems that the First Class seats are simply
    too uncomfortably large for them --
    and besides that,
    the free Champagne tickles their noses!

    Well, if you do remember them, then…
    do you also remember
    the infamous Whiner episode that got scratched
    by some TV affiliate stations just before air time --
    because of the controversial nature of the subject?

    Do you remember the episode called...
    Whiners Clueless about the 'den' Suffix ???

    It started out like this…
    Wendy: Oh no! Now they've got another suffix they want us to learn…<groan>

    Doug: This is awful, I can't take any more…<moan>

    Wendy: I mostly hate the 5 categories of use/meaning. How can I know which category is which? <whine>

    Doug: That's nothing. What about the 3 spelling variations? I mean, wouldn't 2 be enough? <sigh>

    Wendy: But, that's not the worst of it. Do you realize how easy it is to confuse the 'den' suffix with the endings found on certain 'present participles'? <grrrr>

    Doug: And, they say the only way to find out how to use it correctly is by visiting The Learning Practical Turkish website… <bleat>

    Wendy: Huh? You mean I gotta get an Internet Account? Oh, no! I'm computer-phobic…<argghh>


    Even The Whiners got it right sometimes.

    The 5 Most Common Uses of the 'den' Suffix

    1. To denote directional meaning. Thus, if you attach 'den' to 'İzmir' you get İzmirden which means from (the city of) Izmir. Example:

      Racquel ile Sophia yarın bizi görmek için İzmir'den geliyorlar;
      Racquel and Sophia are coming to see us from Izmir tomorrow.
      [That's Racquel Buttwurst and Sophia Femfrump -- two old acquaintances from our days with the River Rats...]

    2. Mandatory or frequent use with some verbs, such as -den vazgeçmek meaning to give up, abandon (Note: '-den' has no meaning at all here, but it must be attached as the suffix to the preceding word). Example:

      Derste şu pis çiklet çiğneme
      adetinden vazgeçmelisin;

      You must cut out your nasty habit
      of chewing gum in class.

      [or else, we'll pepper your Peppermint!]

    3. In Comparative or Relational Constructions, such as...

      Hayat ölümden daha iyi;
      Life is better than death.
      [Compared to death, life is better.]
      a.k.a. 'Something is better than a blank.'

    4. In Idiomatic 'post-position' Constructions,
      such as -meden/-madan which can mean without or before. Example:

      Hortensia durmadan bütün bir
      paket sigara içti;

      Hortensia smoked a whole pack of cigarettes
      without/before stopping.

      [That was just before she fell over dead...]

    5. In Certain 'Modern' Word and Phrase Interpretations, such as when neden is used to mean reason, cause. Commonly, in Turkish interrogative sentences, 'neden' means 'from what' -- but not in it's 'modern' interpretation... Example:

      Yetersiz ısıkta okumak baş ağrımıza
      neden olur;

      The reason for our headache is
      reading without enough light
      [or is it because of the full bottle of Sour Mash Whiskey
      that we drank for our breakfast?]

    Click following for lots more
    examples of the -den suffix in Turkish...

    Learn Turkish language

    The 3 Spelling Variations of the Suffix 'den' are
    'dan', 'ten', and 'tan'

    This isn't as mysterious as it may first seem. And if you'll remember that the Turkish language always strives for a harmonious sound, it's not such an horrific task to cater for these minor spelling variations.

    So before you set about attaching 'den' to an attachee word you need to be conscious of two points.

    Firstly, if the attachee word ends in ç, f, h, k, p, s, ş, t then the 'd' in 'den' must change to 't' before the attachment takes place.

    Secondly, the 'e' in 'den' (or 'ten') may have to change to 'a' depending on the last vowel in the attachee word -- in accordance with the Rule of Vowel Harmony.

    Let's look at examples with the 'den' suffix and each of its spelling variants:
    Attachee word... Candidate for the suffix 'den'. (Turkish cities) Is the ending letter of the attachee word:
    ç, f, h, k, p, s, ş, t?
    So, should 'd' of the suffix change to 't'? Observe the last vowel of the attachee word.
    What does the Rule of Vowel Harmony dictate?

    Should 'e' of the suffix change to 'a'?

    Resulting Turkish English Meaning
    İstanbul nono yesİstanbul'dan from Istanbul
    Eskişehir nono noEskişehirden from Eskişehir
    Muş yesyes yesMuştan from Muş
    Gaziantep yesyes noGaziantepten from Gaziantep

    Confusion between the 'den' Suffix and
    the Endings Found on Certain Present Participles

    Yup, it's possible to be confused at first, but only with a very few present participles.

    What's a present participle and
    what's the standard way to make one in Turkish?

    So don't fret.


    Yeni Türk yazarlarına en çok tesir eden kitap
    Ince Mehmed'tir
    The book having most influence
    on modern Turkish writers is Ince Mehmed
    (Mehmed, My Hawk).

    In this case, the 'den' in 'eden' is not the suffix. The suffix, in this case, is 'en' -- and it aids the formation of the present participle 'eden' meaning 'having' (in this case, when it's used with with tesir; influence). And the spelling of 'eden' arises as follows:

    The infinitive form of the verb is etmek; to make, do. To make the present participle of this verb, you start in the standard way to create any present participle of any verb.

    That is, you strip the verb ending (in this case 'mek') giving the verb stem 'et' and then add 'en'.

    Ahhh, but that's not quite right because, as you add the suffix 'en' to the stem of this particular (exceptional) verb, you must change the 't' of 'et' to 'd'.


    Because there are just a few verb stems in Turkish for which the final 't' changes to 'd' when a vowel is added. And the stem of etmek is one of them. Another one is the stem of gitmek; to go (and gütmek; to pasture)…

    Example with 'gitmek':

    Ava giden avlanır;
    A person can fall into his own trap.
    [The one going to the hunt will be caught.]

    Turkish Proverb.

    So there you go. Are ya' feeling any better about Turkish suffixes now?

    You are…?!
    Well, iddin tha' nice.

    But, you say you've still got other problems with the language?
    Don't feel bad.
    Remember what
    (our beloved, dearly departed)
    Roseanne Roseannadana
    used to say
    about the Turkish language…

    "There's always somethin'…"


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