Passive Voice in Turkish

Sometimes the person or the thing that is doing the action is made clear and sometimes it’s not clear. When we don’t know who or what the action is performed by, we use the Passive Voice. In English, the Passive Voice is done with To Be + V3, in Turkish we have a suffix added to the verb root.

 

The suffix changes for verb roots that end in consonants, vowels, certain consonants, and of course Vowel Harmony:

 

After consonants “b,c,ç,d,f,g,ğ,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,r,s,ş,t,v,y,z”“-il/-ıl/-ul/-ül”
After vowels “a,ı,o,u,e,i,ö,ü”“-n”
After the consonant “l”“-in/-ın/-un/-ün”

 

Let’s first see how Passive Voice words are made in the Present Simple tense:

 

Active VoicePassive Voice
İzlemekTo watchİzlenmekTo be watched
OkumakTo readOkunmakTo be read
Satın almakTo buySatın alınmakTo be bought
SilmekTo eraseSilinmekTo be erased
AçmakTo openılmakTo be opened
GörmekTo seeGörülmek*To be seen
KarıştırmakTo mixKarıştırılmakTo be mixed

 

Don’t mistake “görülmek” meaning “to be seen” with “görünmek” meaning “to be understood” which are completely different verbs.

 

Now, let’s see these suffixes in example sentences:

 

  • Ahmet eski bisikletini satar. (Ahmet selşs his old bicycle.)

Eski bisiklet satılır. (The old bicycle is sold)

 

  • Kapıyı yavaşça açar. (She slowly opens the door.)

Kapı yavaşça açılır. (The door is slowly opened.)

 

  • Abim ikinci el cep telefonu satın alır. (My brother buys a second-hand cell phone.)

İkinci el cep telefonu satın alınır. (Second hand cell phones are bought.)

 

  • Çizdiği resimi siler. (He erases the picture he drew.)

Çizdiği resim silinir. (The picture he drew is erased.)

 

 

Negative Present Simple Sentences

In order to make passive voice for negative present simple sentences, we use the negative present tense suffix  “-maz/mez” after the Passive Voice suffix and erase the Infinitive suffix:

 

After “-ıl/-ul/-un/-ın“-maz”
After “-il/-ül/-in /-ün“-mez”
After “-n”“-maz/-mez”

 

First, let’s see some verb conjugation examples for negatives:

 

Active VoicePassive Voice
İzlenmekTo be watchedİzlenmezIs not watched
OkunmakTo be readOkunmazIs not read
Satın alınmakTo be boughtSatın alınmazIs not sold
SilinmekTo be erasedSilinmezIs not erased
ılmakTo be openedılmazIs not opened
GörülmekTo be seenGörülmezIs not seen
KarıştırılmakTo be mixedKarıştırılmazIs not mixed

 

Most negative passive voice phrases can be seen on prohibition or warning signs. The English translation of some sentences from Turkish may not always be in negative Passive Voice, but actually in positive Passive Voice. Sometimes it’s not even in Passive Voice but a Gerund sentence.

 

Here are some sentence examples:

  • Burada sigara içilmez. (Smoking is prohibited here.)
  • Burada sigara içilmeye izin verilmez. (Smoking is not allowed here.)

 

  • Ders sırasında konuşulmaz. (No talking during a lesson.)
  • Ders sırasında konuşulması kabul edilmez. (Talking during a class is not accepted.)

 

  • Türkiye’de çaya süt eklenmez. (Milk is not added to tea in Turkey.)

 

  • Havuza atlanmaz. (Jumping into the pool is prohibited)

 

 

Question Sentences

To make question sentences in passive voice, we add the “-mi/-mı/-mu/-mü” after the passive voice suffix:

  • Burada sigara içilir mi? (Is smoking allowed here?)
  • Hayır, içilmez. (No it’s not)

 

  • Ders sırasında konuşulmaz mı? (Isn’t talking during a lesson allowed?)
  • Hayır, konuşulmaz. (No, it’s not)

 

  • Kantinde su satılır mı? (Is water sold at the canteen?)
  • Evet, satılır. (Yes, it is)

 

Present Continuous Tense

Making passive voice for the present continuous tense is similar to what we saw with the Present Simple tense. The only difference from the Present Simple tense is we add the Present Continuous suffix “-iyor” after the Passive Voice suffix.

 

Be sure to follow the below chart and Vowel Harmony when adding the Passive Voice suffix:

After consonants “b,c,ç,d,f,g,ğ,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,r,s,ş,t,v,y,z”“-il/-ıl/-ul/-ül”
After vowels “a,ı,o,u,e,i,ö,ü”“-n”
After the consonant “l”“-in/-ın/-un/-ün”

 

Let’s first see how Passive Voice words are made in the Present Continuous tense:

Active VoicePassive Voice
AçıyorOpeningılıyorBeing Opened
AnlatıyorTellingAnlatılıyorBeing Told
VeriyorGivingVeriliyorBeing Given
SöylüyorSayingSöyleniyorBeing Said
OkuyorReadingOkunuyorBeing Read
SiliyorErasingSiliniyorBeing Erased
AlıyorBuyingAlınıyorBeing Bought

 

Now, let’s see some example sentences:

  • Türkçe, 200 milyon kişi tarafından konuşuluyor.

(Turkish is being spoken/is spoken by 200 million people.)

 

  • Karşı komşuda futbol maçı izleniyor.

(A football match is being watched at my neigbour’s.)

 

  • Dünyanın yuvarlak olduğu gerçeği herkes tarafından biliniyor.

(The truth that the world is round is known by everyone around the world.)

 

Some Turkish Passive Voice sentences in Present Continuous tense might be translated into the Present Simple Passive Voice as Turkish also uses Present Continuous to talk about general facts.

 

Negative Present Continuous

We add the “-m” in between the passive voice suffix and the present continuous suffix to make negative passive voice sentences in Present Continuous:

  • Bu içecek kimse tarafından sevilmiyor.

(This drink is not liked by anyone)

 

  • Yağmurda futbol maçı yapılmıyor.

(The football match is not done in the rain.)

 

  • Burada Türk kahvesi bulunmuyor.

(Turkish coffee is not found here.)

 

Questions for Present Continuous Tense

Just like in the Present Simple tense, we use the question particle “-mi/-mı/-mu/-mü” after the passive voice suffix to make passive voice questions for the present continuous tense:

  • Haftaya cuma için yağmur bekleniyor mu? (Is rain being expected for next Friday?)

Evet, bekleniyor. (Yes it is expected/being expected.)

 

  • Bu eleman için terfi düşünülmüyor mu?

(Isn’t a promotion being thought of for this employee?)

Hayır, düşünülmüyor. (No, it’s not being thought of)

 

  • Şuan üniversite sınavı yapılıyor mu? (Is the university exam being done now?)

Evet, yapılıyor. (Yes, it’s being done.)

 

Past Simple Tense

Just like with other tenses, we add the passive voice suffix to the ending of the verb root followed by the past simple suffix.

 

Be sure to follow the below chart and Vowel Harmony when adding the Passive Voice suffix:

After consonants “b,c,ç,d,f,g,ğ,h,j,k,l,m,n,p,r,s,ş,t,v,y,z”“-il/-ıl/-ul/-ül”
After vowels “a,ı,o,u,e,i,ö,ü”“-n”
After the consonant “l”“-in/-ın/-un/-ün”

 

Let’s first see how Passive Voice words are made in the Past Simple tense:

Active VoicePassive Voice
BitirdiFinishedBitirildiWas Finished
PişirdiCookedPişirildiWas Cooked
AnlattıToldAnlatılWas Told
BulduFoundBulunduWas Found
OynadıPlayedOynatılWas Played
BildiKnewBilindiWas Known
ÇaldıStoleÇalınWas Stolen

 

Next, let’s see some sentence examples:

  • Cep telefonu faturamı babam ödedi. (My father payed my cell phone bill.)

Cep telefonu faturam (babam tarafından) ödendi.

(My cell phone bill was payed (by my father))

 

  • Paketinizi az önce kurye teslim etti. (The courier delivered your package just now.)

Paketiniz (kurye tarafından) teslim edildi. (Your package was delivered (by the courier).)

 

  • Polis mücevher hırsızını yakaladı. (The police caught the jewellery thief.)

Mücevher hırsızı (polis tarafından) yakalandı. (The jewellery thief was caught (by the police).)

 

As you can see from the example sentences, the “agent” that does in action in the second examples is expressed with a postposition “tarafından” which means “by” in English. Look at the personal pronouns in passive voice below:

 

Benimtarafımdanby me
Senintarafındanby you
Onuntarafındanby he/she/it
Bizimtarafımızdanby us
Sizintarafınızdanby you
Onlarıntarafındanby them

 

Negative Past Simple Sentences

If you want to make negative passive voice sentences for the past simple tense, you add the “- medi/madı” negative past simple suffix instead of the positive one:

 

  • Bu kitabı kimse satın almadı. (No one bought this book.)
  • Bu kitap satın alınmadı. (This book wasn’t bought.)

 

  • Polis kazazedeleri kurtaramadı. (Police couldn’t save the disaster victims)
  • Kazazedeler (polis tarafından) kurtarılamadı. (The disaster victims couldn’t be saved (by the police).)

 

  • ÖSS, üniversite sınavı sonuçlarını henüz açıklamadı. (The ÖSS hasn’t announced the university exam results yet.)
  • Üniversite sınavı sonuçları henüz açıklanmadı. (The university exam results haven’t been announced yet.)

 

Most of the time, Passive Voice sentences in the past simple tense can be translated into the Present Perfect tense in English. We can also include Modal Verbs like “can/could” like in the second sentence by adding the “can” suffix “-a/-e” after the Passive Voice suffix. This can also be done for other tenses too.

 

Questions for the Past Simple Tense

Making passive voice questions for the past simple tense is the same as other tenses. We use the question particle “-mi/-mı/-mu/-mü” after the passive voice suffix to make passive voice questions for the past simple tense:

  • Elektrik faturasu ödendi mi? (Was the electricity bill paid?)
  • Evet, babam tarafından ödendi. (Yes, it was paid by my father.)

 

  • Haberlerdeki hırsız tutuklanmadı mı? (Wasn’t the thief on TV arrested?)
  • Hayır, henüz tutuklanmadı. (No, he wasn’t arrested yet.)

 

  • Uzay’da yeni bir gezegen keşfedildi mi? (Was a new planet discovered in space?)
  • Evet, yüzlerce yeni gezegen keşfedildi. (Yes, hundreds of new planets were discovered.)
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