top of page


  • Writer's pictureGalina Blankenship

Imperatives in English and Turkish: From Direct Orders to Suggestions to Polite Requests (Part 2)

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

In English, an imperative utterance directly starts with a verb in its basic form (without any suffixes or the particle to). Imperatives generally do not have an explicitly expressed subject, although it is implied (as the 2nd-person pronoun you).

Turkish counterparts, however, are far more common and acceptable. Turkish speakers can choose from the available singular 2nd-person pronoun (sen) to express familiarity and the plural 2nd-person pronoun (siz) to convey politeness and formality (the pronouns may be stated explicitly or implicitly by being appropriately encoded into the verb suffix), in addition to at least five verb forms that signal the varying degrees of politeness and formality, as well as a number of formulaic frozen expressions.

English imperative commands are short, sharp verb forms, which are often used in military settings, prohibitions, and urgent messages. Imperatives are also regularly used in instructions, manuals, and recipes.

Nike's logo: Just do it.

Advertisement and marketing materials commonly use imperative sentences to directly appeal to their target audiences and general consumers. Thanks to their directness and conciseness, imperatives are effective in print and digital technical writing and copywriting, including in IT documentation, instructions and commands in guides, manuals, knowledge bases, helpdesk support files, and UI elements:

Front rank, forward, march! Wash your hands before handling the food.

Mind the gap. Put your book away and listen.

Do not enter. Wait to be called. Upload the file and click OK.

Do not take the medication on empty stomach. Set the oven temperature at 350 °F.

Gotta run! Call me later! Just Do It!

Take the electric car, for example. Expect More. Pay Less.

Let me know a.s.a.p. Click Now

Take it easy, love! Contact Us

On their own, English imperative constructions may sound rather “bossy” and impolite. With only one imperative verb form used in both intimate and formal settings, English speakers have to resort to more creative ways to express milder directives or requests by constructing complex and long empathic expressions, in combination with linguistic politeness markers, such as formality markers, softeners, minimizers, hedges, and other formulaic expressions.

Turkish imperatives, on the other hand, are far more common and acceptable, not least thanks to the variety of imperative forms and the easily distinguishable informal and polite formal imperative forms:

Dikkat et. Girmeyin(iz). Haydi, gidelim! Lütfen oturun.

Be careful! Do not enter. Let's go! Please sit down.

Bir bakayım! Anlat, canım. Kahretsin! Kusura bakma.

Let me see? Tell me, love. Damn! Sorry. / Apologies.

Pekâlâ, orada bir yere otur. Haydi, anne, başlasana!

All right, have a seat in there. Hey, mom, have you started yet?

Allah [senden] razı olsun. Düşünsenize, bu çok eğlenceli.

God bless you. Think of it, this is very amusing.

Zahmet etmeyin! Beklesinler!

Don't go to any trouble! Let them wait! They must wait!

What distinguishes Turkish imperatives from English imperatives is the adherence to the so-called pronominal T-V distinction (from the Latin pronouns tu and vos), which refers to the contrasting uses in communication of sen and siz (sizler), and the use of multiple imperative verb forms in Turkish (∅, -in, -iniz, -sene, -senize)—to signal the varying degrees of politeness, which reflect the social relations based on solidarity and power.

Painting "Sadko" by Ilya Repin
"Sadko" by Ilya Repin

Turkish Imperative Sentences

As I explained about English imperatives, in their basic form, they sound rather harsh and may come off as impolite. The Turkish counterparts, however, are far more common and acceptable thanks to the variety of imperative forms and the easily distinguishable polite forms in Turkish.

When we communicate in English or Turkish, the context, intonation, and our tone of voice (or pitch) help us distinguish an order from a request, a warning from an directive, a suggestion from a plea. In writing, this job is largely performed by the context and punctuation marks. For example, the use of a period instead of an exclamation point at the end of an imperative sentence signals its milder nature.

In both Turkish and English, imperative sentences are used to express a range of social situations and emotions. The table below compares the uses of imperatives in both English and Turkish:


T–V Distinction: Turkish Sen/Siz/Sizler

Unlike Turkish, contemporary English does not adhere to the so-called T–V distinction (from the Latin pronouns tu and vos), which refers to the contrasting uses in communication of the different forms of “you”s.

Turkish, however, distinguishes between the familiar and intimate sen (with no verb suffix) and the plural, the singular polite, or the general plural siz (with the verb suffixes being -(y)in or -(y)iniz). As is the case in many languages, the pluralized pronoun in Turkish, when used to a single addressee, indicates deference and/or distance.

Turkish also has the plural and the formal general plural sizler (used with the same verb suffixes -(y)in(iz)), which is usually used to make a clear reference to a plural addressee.

The table below lists the Turkish personal pronouns and their English equivalents, with the comments indicating the ways these pronouns are semantically used:

Personal Pronoun




1st-person singular



specific (pl.)

2nd-person singular



specific & general (sing.)

3rd-person singular

he, she, it


specific (sing.)

1st-person plural


biz / bizler

specific & general (pl.)

2nd-person plural

you (y’all)

siz / sizler

specific & general (sing. & pl.)

3rd-person plural



specific & general (pl.)

Table 1. Turkish Personal Pronouns

Roughly speaking, the more familiar or closer the Turkish speakers are, or wish to become, the greater the tendency for them to use the singular sen reciprocally. On the other hand, with increasing social distance between them, the speakers tend to use the polite siz reciprocally.

Where the status asymmetry in the relationship is perceived, a person of a higher status tends to use sen when addressing a person perceived to be of a lower status, while the lower status speaker is expected to respond using siz:

Neighbors (Equal Status): Sen–Sen Age Difference: Sen–Siz

A: Bir lira bozuğun var mı, komşu? A: Pardon, şunu verir misin, kızım?

B: Var, tabi. Bir dakika bekle, kızım getrisin. B: Tabii, beyefendi, siz rahatsız olmayın.

A: Do you have change for one lira, neighbor? A: I’m sorry, could you hand that down (for me), dear?

B: Sure. Just a minute, let my daughter bring it. B: Of course, sir. Don’t you trouble yourself with it.

Difference in Status: Sen–Siz Coworkers (Equal Status): Siz–Siz

A: Bana bir gazete alsana, Osman? A: Doğum gününüz kutlu olsun, Aysen Hanım.

B: Alırım, beyim. B: Teşekkür ederim, Ayhan Bey.

A: Osman, can you get me a newspaper? A: Happy birthday, Aysen Hanım.

B: Yes, (my) sir. B: Thank you, Ayhan Bey.

Higher formality, or rather generality, may be expressed by using the double plural 2nd-person sizler. When used like this, sizler tends to refer to the general, generic you (you all), e.g., the readers, the listeners:

Sayın dilenciler, röportajın bazı bölümlerini sizler için çevirdik.

Dear listeners, we have translated some important parts of the interview for you.

However, since siz can be ambiguous (as either plural or polite singular), the most common use of sizler is to make a clear reference to the plural addressee:

“Cennethisar'dan gelen ülkücü arkadaşlar sizler misiniz?” “Evet,” dedim.

“Are you with the Young Nationalists from Cennethisar?” “Yes,” I said.

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev

In a even more formal setting, the 3rd-person plural verb form -ler/-lar (correlated with o) used in agreement with a singular noun may also be used to signal increased formality. For example, this is how a waiter may address a customer:

Beyefendi ne alırlar?

What would the gentleman have?

A lower-status person may refer to a much higher-status person by adding -ler/-lar to the verb:

Kurşuni sabahı aydınlatan bir ışık gibi, Âlemin Temeli Padişahımız Hazretleri işte tam o anda içeri girdiler.

At that moment, like an ethereal light that illuminated the leaden morning, His Excellency Our Sultan, the Foundation of the World, entered the room.

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı

When Turkish speakers choose between the two distinct address pronouns towards a single addressee, they may be governed by multiple considerations such as age, gender, or kinship relations; familiarity, closeness, social distance, or formality; and social status and/or social class. Linguists summarize such considerations as the distinction between solidarity and power. These considerations reflect and encode the varying levels of politeness and formality (from intimate to neutral to formal) between the interlocutors.


Other Formal and Informal Ways of Address

In Turkish, there are various terms of address that accompany the use of the second person pronouns, including honorifics, kinship terms, terms of endearment, and diminutives, which distinguish between the formal and informal settings.

Sen can appear with the informality-signaling and solidarity-boosting address terms such as kinship terms (amcam, teyzem, kızım, abim yengem, etc.), kinship terms for non-relatives (abla, kardeş, abi, etc.), terms of endearment (canım, hayatım, bir tanem, etc.), diminutives based on the use of the -cık/-cik suffix (Ayşecik, babacığım, etc.), informal salutations (Sevgili ...), solidarity-marking humble occupation terms (postacı, sütçü, simitçi, etc.).

Siz is preferred in the contexts when power-based deferential and socially distant terms are used: the formality-marking honorifics (bey, hanım, efendi, beyefendi, hanımefendi, bay, bayan, Doktor, Profesör, etc.), formal salutations (Sayın ...), age-/status-marking terms (hoca, usta, etc.).


English Imperative vs. Turkish Imperatives

In English, the same plural 2nd-person imperative verb form is used when addressing a single person, more than one person, a friend, a stranger, an authority, or a general public:

Watch your steps, please. Do come in, Mrs. Norton.

Watch your steps, Jim! Do come in, guys.

Don't think that for one minute! Behave yourself, children.

Don't think much about that, honey. Baby, behave yourself, or I'll have to spank you.

Please be seated and take out your pens and paper. C’mon, give me a kiss, love.

formal, plural informal, singular

Just look at the beautiful scenery here, guys. Stir the spices and season with salt and pepper.

informal, plural neutral, general audience

A: “Ew,” Polly said, pointing at the steaks. “Is that what we’re eating tonight?”

B: “I haven’t decided yet,” Sheba said. “Come on, Polly. Be a love and lay the table.”

H. Heller, The Bridget Jones’ Diary
informal, singular

While the English second-person imperative verb form is grammatically plural but semantically does not distinguish between singular or plural, Turkish has a range of different imperative forms (see Table 2 below).

Personal Pronoun

Direct & Indirect Imperatives

(Commands/ Suggestions)

Pleading Imperatives

(Pleas/Urgent Requests)

Optative Imperatives

(Suggestions / Wishes)



[-(y)e + -(y)im]





[-sen + ya]





-sin (-(y)e)

Biz (Bizler)


[-(y)e + -lim]



Siz (Sizler)



[-seniz + ya]





-sin(ler) (-(y)eler)

Table 2. Turkish Imperative Forms

The most logical addressee of imperative sentences is the second-person you. This is the most direct, and emotive, way of addressing, as well as commanding, ordering, instructing, or directing someone, which may be marked by a sense of urgency. This is probably why the imperative verb (and the imperative sentence) is the easiest to construct: one may need to get to the point as quickly as possible.

In both languages, imperatives are basic bare-infinitive verbs (without to in English and without any inflection suffixes in Turkish). What's more, a typical imperative sentence appropriately starts with the verb, with no explicit subject included, which immediately draws attention to the verb—the main message of the sentence. In Turkish, in fact, if a sentence starts with a verb, the verb receives the strongest focus-stress of the sentence.

While English has only one 2nd-person imperative form (you + ⵁ), Turkish has at least five different 2nd-person imperative forms, reflecting the varying degrees of familiarity, politeness, and formality:

2nd-person direct imperatives forms (the addressee is present):

The essential aspect of the 2nd-person imperative is that it can only be expressed if the addressee is present and addressed directly by the speaker. But can we command someone who is not present?

In English, we cannot: When addressing a third person who is not present, English shifts into the optative form (the “close relative“ of imperatives), the so-called let-imperatives: e.g., Let him go, which in English can be understood as either a suggestion/ plea (Why don't you let him go?), or giving a directive (Let him go, I said), or giving a permission (Sure, let him go). In Turkish, however, one can command addressing a person who is not present. Hence, its name: indirect imperative form. An additional 3rd-person courtly plural verb form (-ler/-lar) is not an imperative or optative form. It's a high-deference verb form indirectly used o refer to a singular person of a very high status:

3rd-person indirect imperatives forms (the addressee is absent):

We cannot really command ourselves, however. Both English and Turkish agree on that, and both “borrow” an optative form to express the 1st-person directive:

1st-person optative forms (the addressee includes the speaker for plural):

Below are the detailed explanations and examples of each of these imperative and other forms.


1) Short (Informal) Singular Form: [sen/ⵁ]

Just as in English, the command (the short informal imperative) in Turkish is the verb stem itself. Semantically, however, the Turkish counterpart is milder than the English imperative.

Gör Görme Yap Yapma

Ye Yeme Kork Korkma


an icon conveying "communication"


Some common situations when the informal sen may be used in communication between two people who may be:

  • Persons who are intimate addressing each other: family members, intimate friends, lovers, neighbors, team players.

  • Persons equal in their social standing addressing each other, especially if they are both of lower status.

  • A higher-status person addressing a lower-status person: parents addressing their kids, teachers addressing their students, older people addressing younger ones, politicians addressing their voters.

  • People speaking to themselves, to imaginary people, to God, etc., in their inner speech.

Yerde cam parçaları var. Dikkat et. “Unutma... Erkenden gel(,) beni gör!”

There are pieces of glass on the floor. Be careful. “Don’t forget now. Get there early.”

Sabahattin Ali, Kürk Mantolu Madonna

Short imperatives in Turkish are often used in proverbs, sayings, and general maxims (short statements believed to contain wisdom or insight into human nature), including blessings, well-wishes, ill-wishes, curses, and other general formulaic expressions:

Bir ver, bin yalvar. Sağol(un).

Loan it once, chase it tons. Thanks.

= proverb (addressing the general you) = gratitude

Elinden gelenin en iyisini yap ama en kötüsünü bekle. Kendine iyi bak.

Do your best, but expect the worst. Take care.

= saying, maxim (addressing the general you) = leave-taking

Su gibi aziz ol! Kusura bakma, bunları vermeyi unuttum.

Live long and prosper! Sorry, I forgot to give you these.

= well-wishing, blessing = asking for apology

Allah'ım, bizi affet! Korkma, o ne yapacağını bilir.

God, forgive us! Don't be afraid; she knows what to do.

= pleading (addressing God) = reassurance

Cehenneme git! Adam gibi yürekli ol!

Go to hell Be brave like a man!

= cursing, swearing = wishing/ challenge

Sanma ki ben her şeyi unuttum. Şunun söylediklerine bak.

Don't think I forgot everything. Can you believe what she is saying!

= warning, challenge = complaining (addressing the general you)

Yeter artık! Defol buradan!“Boş ver(,) ağbi, büyütme,” dedi Serdar.

“Enough already! Just get out of here!” “Why don’t we just forget about it,” said Serdar.

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev

Idiomatic Conditional Constructions

Short imperatives can be found in several idiomatic conditional constructions: for example, anlat anlatabilirsen and çık çıkabilirsen. The constructions are used to convey the futility of someone’s effort to correct a problematic situation. In English, this could be translated using the imperative construction try + -ing verb:

İntihara meyilli bir ergen kaçırdık diye anlat anlatabilirsen.

Try explaining to a judge that we kidnapped a suicidal teenager.

The variation çık çıkabilirsen can be translated into English as the idiomatic go figure:

Babam bira yapardı; çık çıkabilirsen içinden... İşin içinden çık çıkabilirsen.

My father brewed beer, so go figure... Go figure.

Another conditional construction is structured the other way around and used to convey the speaker’s genuine or affected indifference towards the listener’s potential action:

Kırarsan kır, bana ne. Çalışmazsan çalışma, senin problemin.

Break it if you want. I don’t care. / If you don't want to, don’t work; it’s your problem.

If you break it, it’s on you. I don’t care.


2) Plural or Singular/Plural Polite Form: [siz/-(y)in]

When addressing more than one person, or a single stranger or a superior, the suffix -(y)in is added to the verb stem to soften the tone of the imperative. This is the polite singular and plural form, used in speech and writing:

Görün Görmeyin Yapın Yapmayın

Yiyin Yemeyin Korkun Korkmayın


an icon conveying "communication"


The common situations when the polite and/or formal siz may be used in communication between two people who may be:

  • Persons addressing each other who are meeting for the first time.

  • Persons addressing someone and wishing to show respect.

  • Persons of equal social standing addressing each other, especially if they are both of higher status: coworkers, club members, guests in a show addressing each other and the host.

  • A lower-status person addressing a higher-status person: students addressing teachers, younger people addressing older ones.

Gelin, gelin! dedi. Acele etmeyin, dostum, dedi.

“Come, come [here],” she said. “Don’t rush, my friend” she said.

Gayret edin; az kaldı. Güle güle kullanın.

Make an effort; it's not long now. Enjoy your purchase/present!

= encouragement = speech act (specific social situation)

Beni rahat bırakın! Tabii, beyefendi, siz rahatsız olmayın.

Leave me alone (lit. in peace)! Of course, sir. Don’t you trouble yourself with it.

Below is the transcript of the coverage of a lethal car accident. The transcribed remarks are made by the firefighters and the reporter on the scene. Notice the use of the short imperative form as the general command in an emergency situation; the use of the patronizing (in this case) singular usta/-sene (boss, chief, master, buddy), which is often used in a workplace, typically by and among men; and the use of -(y)in as the plural imperative:

1. ADAM Dön, dön, dön, dön, dön! Serbest, dön! Serbest, dön! Dön, dön!

MUHABİR İtfaiye ekipleri, ölen gençleri paramparça olan otomobilin içinden çıkarmakta zorlandı.

2. ADAM – Usta, lambayı getirsene, lambayı! Lambayı! Lambayı getir! Lambayı!

3. ADAM Yardım edin ya! Yardım!

1st MAN – Turn, turn, turn, turn, turn! It's free, turn! It's free, turn! Turn, turn!

REPORTER – Fire crews had difficulty removing the dead bodies from the smashed car.

2nd MAN – Fetch me the flashlight! The flashlight! The flashlight! Fetch me the flashlight! The flashlight!

3rd MAN – Give us a hand! Help!

🎭 In Turkish, the plural/polite form siz/-(y)in is commonly used in print and digital copywriting (commercial writing), instructional and educational texts, and other technical and commercial content. The siz/-(y)in form constitutes the so-called you-viewpoint style of writing, when the writer directly addresses the reader(s) by the 2nd-person pronoun (siz) and the polite verb form -(y)in to create clearer, more direct, and less distant communication, believed to be more persuasive:

Çocuklarınızın bilgisayarda neler yaptığını izleyin.

Monitor your kids' PC activity. It's not spying, it's parenting.


3) Formal Singular/Plural Form: [siz/-(y)iniz]

Turkish has a third, more formal form, -(y)iniz, added directly to the verb stem, which can be used to address one person or more than one person.

Traditionally, the -(y)in and -(y)iniz forms have been viewed as differing in their degrees of politeness. Lately, however, both forms have come to convey the same degree of politeness. However, the -(y)iniz form may signal higher formality:

Görünüz Görmeyiniz Yapınız Yapmayınız

Yiyiniz Yemeyiniz Korkunuz Korkmayınız

As the more formal form, -(y)iniz is preferred in formal speech and formal, official writing, creating the effect of directives:

Giriniz lütfen. Odanızdan çıkarken lütfen pencerelerinizi açık bırakmayınız!

Come in, please. Please do not leave your windows open when leaving your room!

In regular speech, the use of this form implies a greater social distance, a higher level of formality:

Merak etmeyiniz. “Raif bey, siz de beni anlayınız!”

Do not worry about that. “Raif Bey, please try and understand me!”

Sabahattin Ali, Kürk Mantolu Madonna

Here, in the following two examples, the -(y)iniz form is used to mark the affectedly formal address:

-Feride, çocuğum; azıcık aşağı iner misin? dedi.

Ben, gülmeyi kestim; ciddi bir sesle:

-Ne münasebet? dedim.

-Hiç... Seninle konuşacağım var da...

-Benim sizinle konuşacak bir şeyim yok... Rahatımı bozmayınız...

“Feride, my child, can you come down for a little bit?” he said.

I stopped laughing and said with a serious voice: “Whatever for?”

“Nothing, I have to talk to you.”

“I have nothing to talk to you about. Do not disturb me.”

Reşat Nuri Güntekin, Çalıkuşu

This form is especially effective when the speaker means to criticize the addressee, which is aligned with our general tendency to become more formal when we feel angry with people with whom we are not intimate:

-Evet, diyordu. -Onları anlamadığınız için size kırgın olmaları kadar tabiî ne olabilir? Darılmayınız ama(,) sizin insan ve hayat tecrübeniz hiç yok.

“Yes, why wouldn’t these people be a little frustrated with you for not understanding them? What could be more natural? But don’t begrudge them, for you have had no experience with life and humankind.”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü

As with other imperative verb forms, the -(y)iniz form can also be used to convey the general, generic you: it is commonly used on public signs and in other formal instructions, especially if they express prohibitions (formed with a negated verb stem):

Kemerlerinizi bağlayınız. Sefer esnasında şoförle konuşmayınız.

Fasten your seatbelt. Please refrain from speaking with the driver during the ride.

Yerlere tükürmeyiniz. Dokunmayınız.

Do not spit on the ground. Please don’t touch.

Ambalajı yalnızca ilacı almaya hazır olduğunuzda açınız.

Remove a tablet from the package only when you are ready to take the medicine.

🎭 The -(y)iniz form is used in Turkish school textbooks when addressing the students-readers:

Metinde yazarın bakış açısını belirleyiniz.

Please identify the author’s point of view in the extract below.


Siz vs. Sizler (Markedly Plural Form)

Turkish personal pronouns are generally omitted unless they are contrasted or otherwise emphasized as an opening topic, a shifted topic, or something else. Since both -(y)in and -(y)iniz forms are equally polite and can be used with either the siz or sizler pronouns, with siz referring to either a single person or multiple people and with sizler referring to multiple people, siz can be ambiguous:

Yarın siz bize gelin(iz). ⟹ Tomorrow, you (you all) come to our place.

Yarın sizler bize gelin(iz) Tomorrow, you all come to our place.

To disambiguate and to ensure that the plural addressee is understood, sizler may be used:

“Cennethisar'dan gelen ülkücü arkadaşlar sizler misiniz?” “Evet,” dedim.

“Are you with the Young Nationalists from Cennethisar?” “Yes,” I said.

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev

Sizler is also how a writer may address the readers, in which case it is used as referring to the indefinite, general, generic you/you all:

Bu son cümleyi söylemem yanlıştı, ama yine de rahatladıklarını, tekkenin karanlık bir köşesinde onları gırtlaklarım diye artık benden korkmayacaklarım seziyordum. Sizler de inandınız mı bana?

It was a mistake to utter this last sentence; nevertheless, I could sense that they were put at ease and no longer afraid that I’d strangle them in a dark corner of the lodge. Have I gained your trust as well?

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı

The English translations of sizler below as your kind, others, or you humans confirm its generic, general meaning:

Kabilinden itirazlarımı da: -Sizler daima böylesiniz…

And he’d challenge me. “Your kind is always the same ...”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü

İhsan: -Sizi buraya kadar yorsunlar ha?.. diye gülümsüyordu.

-Aldırma erenler. Biz istediğimiz için geldik. Hava aldık, dost gördük. Hep sizler mi bize geleceksiniz. Biraz da biz yorulalım.

İhsan, smiling: “So they deign to wear you out with a trip here, do they?”

“Pay no heed, my holiness. We’ve come here because we so desired. We’ve partaken of fresh air and we’ve commiserated with friends. Is it always others who are to visit us? Allow us to exhaust ourselves a little as well.”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Huzur

Bir köpeğim ben ve sizler benim kadar makul yaratıklar olmadığınız için hiç köpek konuşur mu diyorsunuz.

I’m a dog, and because you humans are less rational beasts than I, you’re telling yourselves, “Dogs don’t talk.”

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı

4) Informal Pleading Singular Form: [sen/-sana]

Another pair of imperative forms is based on the combined expression of the conditional copula -(y)sa/-(y)se and the clitic ya. A pre-stressing clitic ya is used as a repudiative or reminding discourse connective that occurs in sentence-final position:

-san + ya = -sana / -sen + ya = -sene

The conditional copula and the clitic have historically come to merge as the suffix -sene/-sana, which is added to the verb stem to produce an imperative form that adds emphasis, urgency, or impatience to commands or requests.

This is an informal singular imperative form. In speech, it is often accompanied with a sigh.

Görsen Görmesen Yapsan Yapmasan

Yiyesen Yemesen Korksan Korkmasan

Since this form has no equivalent in English, the translation of this imperative construction into English depends on the context:

Ne bekliyorsun, gitsene! Şu sandalyeyi ortadan kaldırsana!

What are you waiting for, go away! Hey, get this chair out the way!

Zeytinden bir kilo tartıversene, usta. Açsana be.

Could you weigh a kilo of olives, expert. Hey, open up!

Hey, ayaklarını toplasana! Çöz! … Recep, neredesin, çözsene!”

Hey you there, pull your legs in! “Untie me! Recep, where are you? Let me out of this!”

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev

“Desene yaşam tekrarlardan oluşuyor...” Söylesene, kimi istiyorsun?

“Well, as they say, life has a way of repeating itself...” So, tell me, whom do you want?

Hasan Ali Toptaş, Gölgesizler

The same goes for the negative form:

Sıkı tut ipi, bırakmasana! Açmasana be.

Hold the rope, don’t let it go, right! Hey, keep it closed!

“Ağlama canım, ağlamasana.” “Babacığım, kolunu çıkarmasana! ...”

“Don’t cry, my dear. Come on, don’t.” “Be careful, dear father! Keep your arms under the covers!”

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev Sabahattin Ali, Kürk Mantolu Madonna

This form is also used for expressing suggestions rather than commands:

Otur, Ali. Otursana, Ali, konuşalım.

Sit down, Ali. Why don’t you sit down, Ali, and tell me all about your problem?


5) Plural/Polite Pleading Form: [siz/-sanıza]

This is the plural and more polite version of the conditional pleading form:

-sanız + ya = -sanıza / -seniz + ya = -senize

Depending on the tone of voice, the suffix -senize/- sanıza can function as a friendly suggestion or an unpleasant expression of impatience. It is somewhat equivalent to the English why don't you…:

Görsenize Görmesenize Yapsanaza Yapmasanaza

Yiyesenize Yemesenize Korksanaza Korkmasanaza

“Şu ümitsizlik dediğinizi anlatsanıza...”

“Why don’t you explain what you mean by despair…?”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Huzur

“Dinlemeyin bunu(,) Allah aşkına... Ter içinde(,) baksanıza...”

“Don’t listen to him, for Allah’s sake. Take a look for yourselves, he’s covered in sweat.”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Huzur

Plea imperatives are often used as encouragement. However, to a certain degree, they may also express annoyance when previous attempts to get something done have failed:

Normal görünmeye çalışsanıza. Acele etsenize, Allah aşkına.

Why don’t you try to look normal? For God's sake, please hurry up!

Gazeteciler birinizde çarsı bilet satış yazıhanelerinin kapatılmasını haber yapsanıza, Allah aşkına. Bu kadar mı korkaksınız.

Reporters, for God's sake, why haven’t any of you written about the closed bazaar ticket offices? Are you that cowardly?

İhanetçiler var,” Ereğli Önder Gazetesi, accessed on January 01, 2022

Atatürk: “Ne duruyorsunuz, burada bir olay olmuş gereğini yapsanıza?”

Atatürk said: “What are you waiting for? Can’t you see something has happened here? Do what you must!”

İsmail Şefik Aydın, “Sabiha Gökçen Atatürk'ü Anlatıyor”, Yeşilgiresun Gazetesi, accessed on November 02, 2018


Emphatic Pleading Imperatives

As a form merged and derived from a clitic (which in Turkish can create stressed positions), the pleading imperatives are highly emotive. This is why a single utterance in Turkish (a phrase) should not contain more than one of such forms:

Artık yatsana, uyukluyorsun. Çocuklar, burada oynamasanıza; çok gürültü yapıyorsunuz.

Why don’t you go to bed now, you’re nodding off. Kids, please don’t play here! You are too loud.


Hedging: Requests (and Proposals) Rephrased as Polite Modal Questions

As in English, the politest way of requesting anything is to rephrase an imperative as a modal question. In Turkish, such questions are commonly formed as aorist modal questions. As with imperatives, Turkish has a singular and plural form, the latter also being used as the polite form:

The aorist modal -(a)r mısın(ız), which is the most common way to make requests in Turkish:

Bir gazete verir misiniz? Şimdi gelir misin?

A newspaper, please. Will you come now, please?

İki tane bira verir misiniz? Biraz kayar mısın?

Can I have two beers, please? Can/Could you move over a little?

As in English, modal variations of a polite request formulated as a question can be used to make the request more polite and/or more compelling and persuasive. As in English, Turkish requests and offers are identical in form.

The negational modal -maz mısın(ız), often used with proposals and offers to enhance their persuasive effect:

Oyuna katılmak istemez misin? Benimle dans etmek istemez misiniz?

Don’t you want to join in (the game)? Wouldn’t/ Would you like to dance with me?

Bir çay içmez misin? Beni evime kadar götürmek istemez misiniz?

Wouldn’t you like a tea? Don’t you want to walk me home?

The ability modal -(y)ebilir mısın(ız), making requests sound more polite:

Size zahmet, şu bardakları doldurabilir misiniz? Garson, bakabilir misiniz?

Would you mind filling those glasses? Waiter, can you help me?

The negational ability modal -(y)emez mısın(ız), often used with proposals and offers:

Babamdan isteyemez misin? Beni genç bir adam olarak göremez misin?

Can’t you ask (it from) my father? Can’t you see me as a young man?

Offers cast as a negative question are more persuasive in tone:

Bir tane almaz mısınız? Fakat bunu bir gün geri bırakamaz mısınız?

Care to have one? But can’t you wait one more day?

Past tensed-modals, negational past tensed-modals, negational ability past tensed-modals, etc., create longer, heavier, more persuasive requests:

Bana yardım edebilir miydiniz? Sahiden böyle bir anneniz olmasını ister miydiniz?

Could you help me? Would you truly like to have a mother like that?


6) 3rd-Person Indirect Singular/Plural Imperative Forms: [o (onlar)/-sın(lar)]

The imperative forms are used in a direct communication between two people who are present during the exchange. As such, they are 2nd-person direct imperatives. Turkish also has 3rd-person indirect imperative forms to express the imposition of one’s will upon someone who is not present during the conversation. Such forms are indirect and may come off as passive-aggressive.

The indirect imperative forms are often compared to the so-called subjunctive mood in English, which is used to express one’s hypothetical desire or suggestion: e.g., I’d rather you didn’t go; It’s vital that he help us. However, the function of indirect imperatives in Turkish is different: They are not just suggestions or wishes but can also be commands or directives that relate to a third person or third persons absent during the conversation. As such, if the context is unclear, 3rd-person indirect imperatives may be ambiguous about whether they are commands, suggestions, or permissions.

This form allows the speaker to avoid direct interaction with the person whose deference or favor is being sought, letting the speaker express a directive indirectly, through another person. Indirectness is also associated with linguistic politeness. So, indirect imperatives can also be viewed as a hedging strategy, which is why indirect imperatives are very common in Turkish.

The different uses of indirect imperatives have their own nuances. Indirect imperatives can express indirect orders, instructions, delicate suggestions, passive-aggressive suggestions, permissions, allowances, wishes, blessings, etc.

Indirect Commands, Directives, Instructions Addressed to Absent Third Person(s)

When used to mean an indirect command (or strong suggestion), this form can be translated into English as a should-modal sentence or as an imperative command with the verb tell (them) to do smth or ask (them) to do smth:

Hasan derhal buraya gelsin. Beklesinler!

Hasan should come here immediately. / Let them wait! /

Tell Hasan to come here immediately. Tell them to wait!

Suggestions, Allowances

Patronizing suggestions or allowances can also be translated as should-modals:

Kendisi sorsun. Biraz fazla çalışsınlar.

She ought to ask it herself. / They should work a little bit harder.

Why won't she ask herself?

Permissions: Asking for, Giving/Not Giving Permission

Using appropriate intonation in speech or punctuation in writing, we can use this form to either give permission or ask for permission:

Sana sonra yardım etsin, oldu mu? Sana sonra yardım etsin! Sana sonra yardım etsin mi?

He'll help you later, OK? Tell him to help you afterwards! Should he help you later?

giving permission command (indirect) asking for permission/suggestion

“Doktorlarla konuş, beni artık çıkarsınlar,” dedi.

“Talk to the doctors. Ask them to finally let me go,” she said.

Sabahattin Ali, Kürk Mantolu Madonna
asking for permission

The opposite of asking or giving permission can also be conveyed by using the negative form of this imperative:

Benden istemesin.

He can’t expect that from me. / He shouldn't expect that from me.

not giving (withdrawing) permission
Passive-Aggressive (Negative) Suggestions: [o (onlar)/-masın(lar)]

If the speaker is only interested in getting an action done or preventing it from being done, the speaker may use a passive form, which is another hedging strategy:

Kardeşin o kadar içmesin.

Your brother shouldn’t drink that much. (Don’t you think your brother has had enough?)

Expressing Directives and Wishes in Hospitality, Service

Turkish has a lot of idiomatic expressions and figures of speech based on the auxiliary verb olmak (here to be interpreted as to be) formed as the 3rd-person indirect imperative.

One such use area is the service and hospitality industry:

A: Ne kadar olsun? A: Çayınız nasıl olsun?

B: Yarım kilo olsun. B: Az şekerli olsun.

A: How much should it be? A: How would you like your tea?

B: Half a kilo. B: With a little sugar.

Kahveniz şekerli mi sade mi olsun? Bana bir bira ver, soğuk olsun.

Do you want your coffee with sugar? Give me a beer, but it must be cold.

Well-Wishes (Blessings), Ill-Wishes, and Other Formulaic Expressions

Another very popular use is in numerous formulaic well-wishing, blessings (which may be translated into English using the archaic subjunctive expression may (they) be …) or ill-wishes:

Fazla çalışmasın. Yolun(uz) açık olsun! Uğurlar olsun!

May he not work too hard. / Have a nice trip! / Bon voyage! Have a nice trip! / Farewell!

I hope he won’t have to work too hard.

Doğum günün(üz) kutlu olsun. Hayırlı olsun! Geçmiş olsun.

Happy birthday! Congratulations! / Congrats! Get well soon!

Kolay gelsin. Afiyet olsun. Yaşasın!

Good luck! Enjoy your meal. / Bon appétit. Hurray!

Allah belanı versin! Allah geçinden versin. Başın(ız) sağ olsun.

Damn you! God bless you! My (our) condolences.

Allah kahretsin! Kahretsin! / Lanet olsun! Olsun ya!

Bloody hell! / Damn it! Damn you! Let it be! / May it be so!

Proverbs & Fossilized Expressions

Turkish has many fossilized expressions and proverbs based on this form:

Alacağın olsun da, vereceğin olmasın.

Hopefully you’ll have money coming to you and not going from you.

Bir elinin verdiğini öbür elin görmesin.

Let your one hand not know what the other is doing.

Commands in Folklore

When used in folklore, fairytales, poetry, songs, this form can be translated as the English let-imperative construction:

Kadınlardan biri:

— Bu kızın yürüdüğü yerde çimenler bitsin, demiş.


— Ağladıkça gözünden inciler dökülsün, demiş.


— Güldükçe güller açılsın, demiş.

One of the women said: “Where this girl walks, let grass grow.” The second said: “When she cries, let the pearls fall from her eyes.” The third said: “When she laughs, let the roses bloom.”

Purpose Clause: [o (onlar) /-sın(lar) + diye]

When followed by diye, this construction expresses a purpose:

Daha fazla rahatsız etmesinler diye gittim.

I went away so that they wouldn’t bother too much.

Bu iyilik duygusunu benden esirgemesin diye Allah’ıma uzun uzun dua ettim.

So that He wouldn’t deprive me of this blessed feeling, I prayed for a long time.

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı

“Kendine boşu boşuna iftira ediyorsun,” dedim konuyu kısa kessin diye.

“You’re incriminating yourself senselessly,” I said so he might be done with his ranting.

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı
Reported Speech: [o (onlar)/-sın(lar) + demek]

With demek (to say), the form expresses reported speech, i.e., it reports on someone else’s giving indirect orders or suggestions. When used this way, the 3rd-person indirect imperative may convey a strong suggestion:

“Başkâtip Bey gelsin diyorum” dedi.

He said: “I feel that mister head clerk should come.”

Bu sefer, komisyona gitsinler diyor.

This time he says that they should go to the commission.

Informal Reported Speech: [o (onlar)/-sın(lar) + istemek]

Forms containing the suffix -sın(lar) can be combined with forms of istemek (to want), resulting in colloquial direct speech forms.

Bir üslubum olmasın istiyorum, ama Şeytan kışkırtıyor, merak da ediyorum.

I wanted nothing to do with style, but the Devil was tempting me and I was, furthermore, curious.

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı
Question Forms: [o (onlar) + -sın(lar) + mi?] / [nasıl o (onlar)/-sın(lar)?]

When a 3rd-person imperative form is used in a question, the speaker means to consult the interlocutor as to whether to go on with an action or not, which can be understood as asking for a suggestion or order (depending on the context):

Çocuklar burada mı kalsın(lar)?

Should the children stay here? / Do you want the children to stay here? / Do you think it would be best for the children to stay here?

Esra çalışmasın mı? Onlar da nasıl bunu yapsınlar?

Is Esra not supposed to work? And how should they do that?

Interrogative Clause: [o (onlar)/-sın(lar) + mi + -sın(lar) + mi?]

Bu gece yapayalnız olduğuna sevinsin mi, üzülsün karar veremedi.

He could not decide whether he should be glad or feel sad to be all alone tonight.

Imperatives Expressed as Present- or Future-Tensed Verbs: Instructions, Expectations & Prohibitions

Verbs in the present and future tense can also be used to express an instruction, expectation, or prohibition, usually by a person of authority:

Sonra üçüncü kata çıkıyorsunuz. Ben anlatıyorum, siz dinliyorsunuz.

Then you go up to the third floor. I do the talking, you do the listening.

Sonunda sola sapacaksınız. Siz şimdi benimle öğretmen odasına geleceksiniz.

At the end, you will turn left. You are now coming with me to the teachers’ room.

Oraya bir daha gitmeyeceksin, anladın mı?

You’re not going to go there again, do you understand? / No more going there, get it?

“Bu akşam sizler gelirsiniz,” dedi Mustafa onlara. Sonra bana döndü. “Sen de buralarda bir daha hiç görünmeyeceksin. Bizi de ne tanıdın, ne gördün?”

“You come tonight,” Mustafa said to them. Then he turned to me. “You don’t show your face around here again. You don’t know us, never saw us!”

Orhan Pamuk, Benim Adım Kırmızı

This type of volitional modality can be projected into the past:

Bütün bunlar atılacaktı.

All these were supposed to be thrown away. / All these should have been thrown away.


7) 3rd-Person Courtly Plural Form [o/-lar]

In some cases, the 3rd-person plural agreement marker can be used to increase formality even higher. Consequently, we could have the highly formal question posed by a waiter to a customer:

Beyefendi ne alırlar?

What would the gentleman have?


8) 1st-Person Optative [ben/-(y)ayım] & Inclusive Optative Forms [biz/-(y)alım]

We cannot really order ourselves, but we can make suggestions about our own actions. Just as English uses special let- and let's-imperatives to express the first-person imperative-like constructions, the Turkish 1st-person singular (ben) and 1st-person plural (biz) forms are also optatives, used to express suggestions or wishes (see Table 3 below):

Personal Pronoun


(Suggestions / Wishes)


-(y)e + yim


-(y)e + sin


-sin / -(y)e*

Biz (Bizler)

-(y)e + lim

Siz (Sizler)

-(y)e + siniz


-sin(ler) / -(y)e(ler)*

Table 3. Turkish Optative Forms (*the form marked with the asterisk is considered outdated and is rarely used)

As you can see from the table, the optative forms are constructed by adding the suffix -(у)а/-(у)е to the verb stem and adding personal suffixes. The third-person optatives, -(y)e(ler), are archaic and are not used. Instead the 3rd-person indirect imperative forms -sin(ler) are used to express indirect directives or suggestions concerning third person(s). These forms are equivalent to the English let-imperative forms and the inclusive let's-imperative forms and are used to make suggestions.

The 1st-person singular optative -(y)ayım expresses an action that the speaker suggests to perform and then usually performs:

Sana yardım edeyim. Size bunun nasıl yapıldığını anlatıvereyim.

Let me help you. Let me quickly tell you how this is to be done.

Just like the inclusive let’s-imperative in English, the 1st-person plural form -(y)alım expresses an inclusive action expected to be performed by the addressee(s) as well as the speaker:

Hadi, biraz konuşalım. Birlikte gidelim.

C'mon, let’s have a chat. Let's go together.

"Peki, tamam!" dedi Serdar. "Boş yere vakit kaybetmeyelim(,) çocuklar. Demek bütün çarşıda bir tek bu dükkân varmış, camının çerçevesinin indirilmesinden korkmayan bir tek bu dükkân... Bari unutmayalım. Hasan, şunun numarasını alsana..."

“Okay, fine,” said Serdar. “Let’s not waste our time, guys. I guess this is the only shop in the whole market, the only one who’s not afraid to have his window taken out. Hasan, what’s the number …”

Orhan Pamuk, Sessiz Ev

-Bunu bilhassa rica edecektim. Yalnız şimdilik fazla insana ümit vermeyelim.

“I was going to ask you the very same. It’s just that for now let’s try not to generate false hopes.”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü
Purpose Clause: [ben/biz + -(y)ayım/-(y)alım + diye]

As with the previous forms, when followed by diye, this construction expresses a purpose:

“Biz evlenmeyelim diye öldürdün onu,” dedi Kara.

“You killed him so we wouldn’t get married,” said Black.

Orhan Pamuk, Kara Kitap
Interrogative Clause: [ben/biz + -(y)ayım/-(y)alım + mi + -(y)ayım/-(y)alım + mi?]

Öyle rahatladım ki, güleyim mi, ağlayayım mı, bilemedim.

I was so relieved that I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry.

Reported Speech: [ben/biz + -(y)ayım/-(y)alım + demek]

Şöyle bir gezineyim, dedim.

“Just taking a stroll,” I said.

Informal Reported Speech: [ben/biz + -(y)ayım/-(y)alım + istemek]

Bir daha göreyim istiyorum onu. Daha mı açık söyleyeyim istiyorsunuz?

I want to see him once more. You want me to say it even clearer/more frankly?


Linguistic Politeness Markers in Turkish

Imperative forms are often accompanied by some expressions that help “soften” the imposition that the imperative verb may cause. As with English, Turkish employs a range of politeness strategies.

For example, directives can be mitigated by several expressions, such as:

Please Excuse me/ Sorry/ Apologies

lütfen, bir zahmet, çok rica ediyorum(uz), buyurun(uz) affedersin(iz), pardon, özür dilerim(iz)

Thank you/ Thanks/ Thank you in advance I am begging you/ Please

teşekkür ederim(uz), teşekkürler ne olur, yalvarıyorum(uz)

English uses the same stock phrases for similar situations, such as please, sorry, and thank you. In Turkish, there are many ways of expressing these sentiments, some of them overlapping.

“Affedersiniz? Bana yardım eder misiniz?”

“Excuse me? Can you help me?”

“Hayri Beyefendi, bir cıgara…”

“Lütfen. Teşekkür ederim(,) beyefendi!”

“Hayri Beyefendi, won’t you have a cigarette?”

“Why, thank you, Beyefendi.”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü

“Lütfen(,) Hayri Beyefendi, izah(,) buyurun,” dedi.

“Would you kindly explain the matter to this gentleman, Hayri Bey?”

Ahmed Hamdi Tanpınar, Saatleri Ayarlama Enstitüsü

Politeness Markers & Softeners: Lütfen (Please)

Mild imperatives are often preceded or followed by the adverb please (lütfen) that adds an extra layer of deference:

Lütfen arabayı durdur. Eğer kuralları anladıysanız lütfen seçiminizi yapınız. Please stop the car. If you understand these rules, please make your decision.

= command = instruction

Turkish does not use the word please as often as English because it has many other ways of expressing the same sentiment.

Sakince “Aslında var ya, cehenneme git. Lütfen.” dedi. Bir Cumhuriyet lütfen.

“You know what? Go to hell. Please,” she said calmly. A Cumhuriyet, please.

= ironic warning = request

Artık oynamayalım, lütfen. Biraz daha bekleyelim lütfen!

Let’s not play anymore, please. Let's wait a little longer, please!

= suggestion = plea, entreaty

🎭 The word please is the staple of the IT language. It is used when the user is asked to do something inconvenient, e.g., to wait, or when the user is inconvenienced by the software:

İsteğiniz işlenemedi. Lütfen daha sonra yeniden deneyin. Sorun devam ederse yardım masanıza başvurun.

Your request couldn't be processed. Please try again later. If the problem continues, contact your helpdesk.


Politeness Markers & Softeners: Affedersin(iz), Özür dilerim(iz)

English speakers can use the same we are/I am sorry regardless of whether they are to blame for the situation they feel sorry about or not. In other words, they can say I am sorry when they mean forgive me (apologies) or how unfortunate.

In Turkish, if the speaker is the responsible party for the cause of the situation they feel sorry about, they say özür dilerim(iz). When they mean to say that the situation is a sorry one but they don't claim any responsibility for that, they can say ne yazık ki or maalesef. As an attention-getter, they say affedersin(iz) (excuse me):

Affedersiniz, efendim, aracınıza binmeniz gerek. Affedersiniz çocuklar, onlardan biri olduğunuzu sandım.

Excuse me, sir, I need you to step back inside the car. Sorry, I thought you were one of them.

Bu, pardon ama düpedüz yalakalık. Evet, pardon, sen bir şeyler söylüyordun.

This, pardon my French, is a pure sycophancy. Yes, sorry, you were saying something.

Özür dilerim, sanırım yanlış yaptım. Özür dilerim, toplantıdan haberim yoktu.

My apologies, I may have made a mistake. Sorry, I didn't realize there was a meeting.

Ama kaybınız için son derece üzgünüz. Şey, maalesef sizi ağırlamamız mümkün olmayacak.

We are extremely sorry for your loss. Er, I'm afraid it'll be impossible to accommodate you.

💥 In the context of digital copywriting, the English we are sorry is often mistakenly translated as üzgünüz, which should be used only in expressions of sadness due to one's loss (death):

Maalesef hizmet şu anda kullanılamıyor. Bu sorun nedeniyle özür dileriz.

We’re sorry, the service isn’t available right now. Sorry for the inconvenience.


Softeners: Ne olur(sun(uz)) (Please, I am begging you)

Yapmayın ya, lütfen, ne olur! Susar mısın artık? Ne olur!

Come on, please, please! Just stop this, please!

Aç şu kapıyı, ne olur! Sultan’ım, ne olur, aç gözlerini, ne olur!

Come on, open the door, please! Open your eyes, my Sultan, please!

Ne olursun, bunu yapma. Sizler, ne olursunuz, vaktinizi çok iyi kullanın.

Don't do that, please. No matter what you do, make sure to use your time wisely.


Politeness Marker-Placeholder: Buyurun(uz) (Please, Go Ahead)

An alternative please, buyurun(uz) (please, look here, go ahead), is formally an imperative:

Yiyecekler ve şarap hazır, buyurun. Eğer gelmek istersen, buyurun, bana katılın

Food, wine, help yourselves. You're welcome to join me if you are up for it.

When addressing another person, the verb buyurun(uz) may be used as a placeholder replacing a number of verbs: girmek, geçmek, gitmek, almak, söylemek, or the auxiliary verb etmek:

Musa size ne buyurdu? Şu odaya buyurun.

What did Moses command you? Come in this room, please.


Politeness Markers: Bana/Bize Müsaade (Excuse Me/Us)

Bana bir dakika müsaade. Pekâlâ, bize artık müsaade.

Just give me one minute. We’ll be on our way.

Müsaade eder misiniz? Müsaade!

Would you excuse me? Coming through!


Informal Markers: Bakalım (C’mon, Let’s See), Hadi (C’mon)

Imperatives are often followed by the expression bakalım (lit. let’s see), meaning come on or c’mon, or ha(y)di (c’mon, hurry up):

Anlat, bakalım. Al, bakalım.

C’mon, let’s have it. / C’mon, tell me. Here you go.

Dur, bakalım. Bakın, bakalım, neler söylüyorlar.

Wait, let me see. Come and see for yourselves what they have to say.

Nelson Mandela yıllar önce cahiller için şu sözü söylemişti: “Cahiller çizgisiz zebradırlar!” Hadi(,) bakalım, arayın şimdi, nedir çizgisiz zebra?

Years ago, Nelson Mandela had this saying for the ignorant: “The ignorant are like zebras without stripes!” Now, tell me, what is a zebra without stripes… I dare you.

Y. Taşkıran, Çizgisiz Zebra, May 31, 2019, Kocaeli

You-Viewpoint in Turkish Writing: Sen vs. Siz

As in English, Turkish employs the you-viewpoint style of writing directly addressing the general, generic reader(s) to achieve emotive persuasiveness in writing. The you-viewpoint style language resembles everyday conversations as opposed to the formal 3rd-person-based language.

The you-viewpoint style tends to be clearer, friendlier, and more concise and direct than other styles. Such qualities make the you-viewpoint style very useful in technical and commercial writing (copywriting): e.g., a specialist-facing manual, a student's textbook, a popular science-type nonfiction publication, or a self-help book on health or personal finances. Online media content, advertisement, and IT-related copywriting are also often presented using the you-viewpoint style.

Generally, the addressee in such writing is the indefinite, general, generic you, although the degree of formality may differ. In Turkish, such you is equivalent to the 2nd-person polite form (siz/-(y)in) or, less often, the 2nd-person short form (sen/ⵁ). So, when it comes to Turkish, it is crucial to know when to use the informal you (sen/ⵁ) as opposed to the polite you (siz/-(y)in).

Informal you (sen/ⵁ) can be used in publications addressing a younger audience and as follows:

In brand taglines:

Işığını yansıt. Yıka ve çık. İyi bak kendine. Nazar etme n’olur, çiğne senin de olur.

Coca Cola Light tagline Rejoice tagline Danone tagline Nazar sakızları tagline

In marketing banners:

E-Bültene Üye Ol, Anında 20 TL Hediye Kupon Kazan!

Sign up for Our Newsletter and Get a Gift Coupon for TRY 20 Now!

In online marketing CTA (call-to-action) buttons:

Gönder Ara Paylaş Devamını Oku

Send Search Share Read more

However, other brands or websites may prefer the polite siz/-(y)in instead:

In marketing banners:

Windows 11'deki olağanüstü Arama özelliğiyle aradıklarınızı hızla bulun.

Find your stuff fast with supercharged Search in Windows 11.

In brand taglines:

Dilinizden Utanmayın! Zıplayın, dijitale zıplayın.

Reklam Yaratıcıları Derneği tagline Digitürk tagline

In CTA links:

Simdi keşfedin Hemen katılın Microsoft takip edin Başa dönün

Shop now Sign up for free Follow Microsoft Back to top

Why this difference? It depends on the addressee.

For example, the informal you (sen/ⵁ) should be used in commands addressing the software or the wizard. This is how users communicate with the app. Such commands include menu commands, shortcut keys, and CTA buttons:

Sonraki pencereyi görüntüle Sonraki ana uygulamaya geç

Display next window Switch to the next primary application

Tümünü Seç Cihazı Ayarla

Select All Set Up Your Device


Save Open

However, in commands addressing the user, the polite you (siz/-(y)in) should be used. This is the voice of the software, the wizard, or the UI (user interface):

Lütfen bekleyin. İşlem tamamlandığında haber vereceğiz.

Please wait and we'll let you know when this is done.

Microsoft Turkish Style Guide

Resimli parolanızı onaylamak için yeniden gösterimi izleyin ve örnek hareketleri resminizde uygulayın.

To confirm your current picture password, just watch the replay and trace the example gestures shown on your picture.

Microsoft Turkish Style Guide

While more formal outlets prefer the formal siz/-(y)iniz form (when addressing the indefinite, general reader(s), listener(s), or viewer(s)), the less formal siz/-(y)in form is generally preferred when addressing the generic user(s), consumer(s), or customer(s) of digital and mobile electronic devices or other online products in marketing print and online materials, brand taglines, user interface (UI) elements, user manuals, knowledge bases, customer support and helpdesk, etc. Yet, again, the formal siz/-(y)iniz form can also be found on Turkish-language websites:

Lütfen bilgi/ders vb. içerikli sorularınız için bu iletişim formunu veya e-posta adresimizi değil “Soru-Cevap” platformunu kullanınız.

If you need any further information or have any questions regarding our lessons, please submit them by using our Questions & Answers forum, and not this contact form, or by contacting us at our email address.

Detaylı bilgi için tıklayınız.

Click for detailed information.

Nonetheless, the polite siz/-(y)in form is the most common way of addressing the general audience in the digital era. Here is an example from a formal educational, religious text with its sermonlike style of writing:

Birbirinizin kusurunu araştırmayın. Biriniz diğerinizi arkasından çekiştirmesin. Biriniz, ölmüş kardeşinin etini yemekten hoşlanır mı? İşte bundan tiksindiniz. O halde Allah’tan korkun.

Don't look for each other’s faults. Don't talk about others behind their backs. Would any of you ever wish to eat the meat of your dead brother? This disgusts you. So, do fear Allah.

Kur’an-ı Kerim 1982: 516

And recipes are typically written using the polite siz/-(y)in form:

Bir tencereye yoğurt, salça, baharat, su ve zeytinyağını güzelce karıştırın, iyice harmanlansın. Tavuk parçalarını sosun içine yatırın ve elinizle ovarak sosu yedirin. Kapağını kapatıp buzdolabına koyup en az 2-3 saat buzdolabında dinlendirin.

Mix yoghurt, tomato paste, spices, water and olive oil well in a saucepan, mix well. Lay the chicken pieces in the sauce and rub the sauce with your hands. Close the lid and put it in the refrigerator and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 2–3 hours.


icon of a flower, orange and yellow colors