Fiilimsi: Turkish Verbal Nouns, Adjectives, and Adverbs

Published on 20 April 2020

This post talks about the concept of “fiilimsi”, which are nouns, adjectives, or adverbs derived from verbs. In English, for example, these include gerunds (“Running is fun”) or participle adjectives (“The dog that I saw”).

This post is not intended to be a comprehensive resource of all fiilimsi. There are three categories of fiilimsi:

  1. isim-fiil: verbal noun
  2. sıfat-fiil: verbal adjective
  3. zarf-fiil: verbal adverb

There’s a noticeable lack of English language resources on the internet about certain Turkish language topics. There’s a few articles about verbal derivations but only with minimal details. I hope this post fills that niche.

Almost all of this material was derived from a lesson on the Türkçe Öğrenelim Discord. Feel free to join the community and support them on Patreon.


This post is not intended for complete beginners of Turkish grammar. Fiilimsi builds on many of the foundations of Turkish grammar. This post assumes prerequisite familiarity in the following topics, and as such will not be explaining any of the following in example sentences:

  • Possessive
  • Buffer letters, consonant mutation, vowel harmony
  • Infinitive form
  • Subjects and objects in Turkish

There are sentence examples and grammar derivations that utilize the following, though it’s possible to grasp the basic idea without a strong understanding of these:

  • Simple present tense, past tense
  • Dative, locative, accusative cases
  • Future tense
  • Reported past tense

Isim-fiil: Verbal nouns

-mak/mek: Infinitive as a subject

Infinitives are the “dictionary form” of a verb ending with -mak/mek, e.g., bakmak (to look).


The verbal noun infinitive form:

  • used as subject
  • cannot be declined – that is, no suffixes are added to it

Example (a line from this song)

Eğlenmek güzel şey.
To have fun is a beautiful thing / having fun is a beautiful thing.

It should be noted that there are many other uses of the infinitive, but here we’re talking only about its usage as a noun derived from a verb.

-ma/me: Gerund form

The gerund form is constructed by adding -ma/-me to the verb root (alternatively, one can think of simply removing the k from the infinitive).

  • yapma (doing)
  • bakma (looking)
  • sorma (sormak)


The gerund form:

  • used as object
  • can be declined


Kitap okumayı seviyorum.
I love reading books.

Dans etmeye başladım.
I started dancing.

Tip: The -ma/-me suffix is also used for the negative conjugation, but do not confuse it with the gerund construction. They can actually stack, for example anla-ma-ma is the noun “not understanding” (anlamak – to understand).

Declension exception: ablative

There is one exception where we use the infinitive instead; for the ablative form (-dan/den), we still use the infinitive form. This also violates the “no declension infinitive” rule. In the example below, eğlenmekten is the object.


Eğlenmekten keyif alırım.
I enjoy having fun.

Likely this is because the gerund form causes ambiguity with -meden/-madan (eğlenmeden), which is also a verbal adverb suffix.

Declension exception: locative

The locative can also be used interchangeably in some contexts. In the example below, both are valid uses of the verbal noun as an object.


Böyle yapmada sorun yok.
Böyle yapmakta sorun yok.
There is no problem in doing this.

However, you cannot use the genitive suffixes with the infinitive, so for the example sentence below, there is only one valid construction (yap-ma-n-da, with the n coming from the second-person genitive).


Böyle yapmanda sorun yok.
There is no problem in your doing this.

To summarize, you cannot use the accusative, dative, or genitive suffixes with the infinitive, but you can use the ablative and locative.

Native speaking: gerund and infinitive

There’s a tricky exception that’s technically not correct but will be seen in daily speech. People add (gerund + possessed) suffixes as a way of creating a verbal noun in lieu of both the gerund and infinitive forms above.

Subject example

Denizde yüzmek eğlenceli. (gramatically correct)
Denizde yüzmesi eğlenceli. (seen in daily speech)
Swimming in the sea is fun.

In this example, we have yüz-me-si, which adds the gerund and possessed suffixes, respectively.

Object example

Denizde yüzmeyi seviyorum.
Denizde yüzmesini seviyorum.

In this example, we have yüz-me-si-n-i, which adds the gerund, possessed, -n- possessed buffer, and accusative suffixes, respectively.

-ıs/iş/uş/üş: “the way of”

DISCLAIMER: “the way of” is not always the exact meaning of this suffix; it can vary phrase by phrase. However, it can give a general idea.

  • yapış (the way of doing)
  • bakış (the way of looking)
  • sor (the way of asking)

There are two words derived in this manner that are very common on signs: giriş and cıkış (entrance and exit).


Bana bakışını sevmiyorum.
I don’t like the way you looked at me.

Onun çıkışını gördün mü?
Did you see how he left? / Did you see the way he left?

Sıfat-fiil: Verbal adjectives

-(y)an/-en: Subject participles

In English, you’ll see this grammar concept associated with the terms relative clause and participle.

We use these to form a verbal adjective that describes a noun. It is called the subject participle because the described noun is the subject performing the action.


evime gelen misafir
the guest who comes / is coming / came to my house

uyuyan adam
the man who sleeps / is sleeping / slept


Negation works as one might expect.


uyumayan adam
the man who is not sleeping

Tip: In practice, the -y- buffer will always be there since -ma/me end with a vowel.


The tense is implied by context. It can take the present continuous, simple past, and simple present (aka wide present) tenses.

-dIk and possessor suffix: Object participles

Recall that -dIk notation indicates it could be -dık -dik -duk -dük. The d also mutates to t when appropriate (consonant mutation).

This adjective is called the object participle, because the noun described by the verbal adjective is the object of the verb. Because of this, we also need to specify who is performing the action of the verb; this is done by the possessor ending.


okuduğum kitap
the book that I read / am reading / read (the past)

okuduğun kitap
the book that you read (…same tenses)

Tip: In practice, the k in -dIk almost always mutates to a ğ since all of the possessor endings start with a vowel. The only exception is when the plural is added to onlar, as below.

Examples (with onlar)

onların okuduğu kitap
onların okudukları kitap
the book that they read / am reading / read (past)

okuduğun kitap
the book that you read (…same tenses)


Negation again works as one would expect.


bakmadığım adam
the man who I am not looking at


The tense is implied by context. It can take the present continuous, simple past, and simple present (aka wide present) tenses.

Usage with sonra

You will also see this suffix used with the word sonra (“after”), but without the possessed ending.


O kahvaltı yaptıktan sonra bir sigara içer.
After eating breakfast, he smokes a cigarette.

Notably, it is not symmetrically used with önce, which uses the -mAdAn suffix with verbs with our previously described gerund form.


Uyumadan önce kitap okurum.
Before sleeping, I read books.

Future and reported past participles

Building upon the two forms we learned above, we can create both object and subject participles using the suffixes of both the future and reported past tenses. These tenses won’t be covered here, so this section can be skipped if the reader is not familiar with them.

Understanding of these derivations follow easily with an understanding of the -acak/ecek future suffixes and the -mış/miş/muş/müş reported past suffixes.

Examples (future tense)

konuşacak adam
the man who will speak

konuşacağı adam
the man he/she will talk to

adam konuşacak
the man will talk (normal future tense)

Examples (reported past tense)

kitap okumuş çocuk
the child who (apparently) read books

boşanmış kadın
the woman who (apparently) was divorced

Other verbal adjectives

There are a bunch of other verbal adjectives, often with different meaning. There’s a Turkish page containing some of them here, but they’re less important and often vary in meaning phrase-by-phrase.

Zarf-fiil: Verbal adverbs

This is not intended to comprehensively cover all zarf-fiil, but it covers a few of the most common ones.

-eli/ali: Since

This suffix means “since” in the sense of time passing (not “since” as in the word “because”, which can also be used in English). It can only be used events happening since a specific time duration.


Okuldan geleli beş saat oldu.
It has been five hours since I came from the school.

If you want to express the concept of “since” relative to an event, then the verb is repeated in the past tense.


Türkiye’ye geldim geleli birçok kişiyle tanıştım.
I’ve met many people since I came to Turkey.

Subject of the since-clause

The subject is optional, but it can be used to clarify the subject of the since-clause when it cannot be derived from context.

Examples (with pronoun)

Sen okuldan geleli beş saat oldu.
It has been five hours since you came from the school.

-madan/meden: before (with önce) / without

Meaning “without”


Maske takmadan dışarı çıkmak yasaktır.
It is forbidden to go out without wearing a mask.

Meaning “before”


Ben polisi aramadan buradan ayrıl.
Leave this place before I call the police.

With önce

In the section on -dIk, it was explained that “(verb + dIktAn) sonra” could be used to say something that happened after an action. The -madan/meden suffix serves is often seen with önce. With or without önce is essentially the same (to my understanding).


Çalışmaya başlamadan önce bir kahve içerim.
Before studying, I drink a coffee.

-madan/-meden modifying a negative verb

There is a second construction using -madan/-meden. In this one, if the modified verb is negative, then the adverb happens first in the sequence of events. This is a bit confusing to explain but easily clarified with equivalent examples. Note the negative suffix in the verbs below.


Kitap okumadan yatmadı.
Kitap okudu ve yattı. (equivalent)
He read a book before he slept.

A direct English translation can be a bit weird due to the negatives.

Question example

Siz ne yapmadan okula gitmiyorsunuz?
What do you do before going to school?

The example could literally be translated as, “you don’t go to school before doing what?”

This video (in Turkish, albeit slow Turkish) is a good explanation of this negative construction. Credit goes to this video for the examples above.

-ar -maz / -er -mez: as soon as

Note that the title isn’t precisely correct, the set of suffixes is the same as those used in the simple present tense, which has a ruleset not within the scope of this article. One can think of this construction as simply the positive and negative simple present tense third person forms in succession.

Like -eli/ali, the subject is implied by context, but can optionally be clarified by a pronoun.


(Biz) Dışarıya çıkar çıkmaz yağmur başladı.
As soon as we went out, it started to rain.

Example constructions

yapar yapmaz
gelir gelmez
görür görmez

-(y)arak/erek: “by”

This adverb indicates that something was achieved in a certain manner.


Türkçe öğrenerek ne yapmayı planlıyorsun?
What do you plan to do by learning Turkish?

A good way to remember this is the word bilerek, which means “on purpose.” But with the literal translation of the suffix, it would mean “by knowing.”


Simply add -ma/-me with a y buffer. For example, istemeyerek (unintentionally, reluctantly, “by not wanting”).

-ıp/ip/up/üp: two actions in succession

Again, notice that the subject is implied in the example sentence below. The suffixed verb is the one that occurs first.


Konuyu anlatıp pratik yapacağız.
We will explain the subject and then do practice.

Usually, there is only one usage of -ip in a sentence.

-ip durmak: idiom

-ip durmak means to keep doing something all the time.


Öksürüp duruyor.
He’s constantly coughing.

Difference from sonradan

Sonradan (“afterwards”) can ostensibly express the same set of sentences, but the connotation is slightly different. With -ip, the implication is that one thing happened very quickly after another, while with sonradan, the time gap could be wider.

Further reference

The end of Unit 10 in The Delights of Learning Turkish is a decent English language resource for these verbal adverbs.