In this video from Chapter 7, we tried to demonstrate the use of common expressions, behaviors and formal language as well as use of ability verbs.
You are already familiar with the ability modal from A1 level’s video titled “Pazarda Alışveriş” and “Pidecide” with conversations about shopping and ordering food. In the blogs of those chapters, we also talked about the necessity to teach these uses not from a grammatical perspective, but as common expressions on a basic level.
In teaching Turkish as a foreign language, ability structures are usually taught in A2 or B1 level after present tense because ability is most commonly expressed with present tense. However, since the negative forms of these are similar to each other, but different from other modes, a student who successfully learns present tense experiences no difficulty in learning ability modal.
Since ability structures are frequently used in daily life when expressing “request” or “permission”, I believe teaching some common expressions starting from the most basic level will be more beneficial for students as we mentioned before.
A student who learns some common expressions like “Alabilir miyim? (May I take it?)”, “Gidebilir miyim? (Can I go?)” or “Bir şey sorabilir miyim? (Can I ask something?)” can easily use these in daily life.
Contexts for Ability:
1. Ability in the most basic sense, as the name suggests, is used for actions the subject is able or not able to do.
Hakan çok iyi yüzebilir. (Hakan can swim very well.)
Kediler ağaca tırmanabilirler. (Cats can climb trees.)
Ben Fransızca konuşamam. (I cannot speak French.)
2. The second most common context is probability and prediction sentences.
O seni arayabilir. (He might call you.)
Yeterince çalışmadı, sınavı kazanamayabilir. (He didn’t study enough; he may not pass this exam.)
Uçak rötar yapabilir. (The flight might be delayed.)
3. Another context is permission and request expressions. As we mentioned above, expressions of request, permission or a wish are used in almost every aspect of daily life, especially when shopping or ordering something. In request and permission expressions, ability is commonly used for first person singular while for 2nd person singular, both present tense and ability constructions can be used.
Bir soru sorabilir miyim? (Can I ask a question?)
İki hamburger alabilir miyiz? (Can we have two hamburgers?)
Bana tuzu uzatır mısın? / uzatabilir misin? (Could you pass me the salt?)
Bir bardak su verir misiniz? / verebilir misiniz? (May I have a glass of water?)
One challenging topic in learning the ability mode is the negative expressions of the action since it involves both structural and semantic elements that need attention.
1. In negative expressions of the act of ability apart from “probability” context, the verb “-bil” is not used, but the vowels “e/a” stays in the word as can be seen in the examples below.
şarkı söyleyebilirim. – şarkı söyleyemem. (I can sing – I cannot sing)
hızlı koşabiliyor – hızlı koşamıyor. (she can run fast – she cannot run fast)
2. In negations of probability context on the other hand, “bil” verb is left in the word, but 2 separate usages are seen in probability negations. One of them expresses the possibility of subject not doing the act while the other expresses both the probability of not doing the act and the inability of the subject to perform it.
Akşam gelebilirim. olasılık – olumlu (I may come tonight: probability – positive)
Akşam gelmeyebilirim. olasılık – olumsuz (I may not come tonight: probability – negative
Akşam gelemeyebilirim. olasılık + yeterlilik olumsuz (I may not be able to come tonight: probability + ability negative)
When we look at the example above, in the first two sentences, the performance of the act depends more on the subject, while in the last sentence it depends on circumstances.
Since it is a confusing topic, it might be best to summarize the negations of present tense and ability mode by comparing with their English equivalents.
yaparım (I do) – yapmam (I don’t)
yapabilirim (I can, I’m able to do ) – yapamam (I can’t, I’m not able to do)
yapabilirim (I might do) – yapmayabilirim (I might not do)
yapabilirim (I might able to do) – yapamayabilirim (I might not be able to do)
3. In verbs conjugated with present tense, the negation particle -mA” takes the form of “-mAz” in 2nd and 3rd person singulars. This also applies for the act of ability conjugated with present tense, but not for negative version of probability.
yapabilirsin /iz yapamazsın/ız (2nd persons ability negative)
yapabilir-ler yapamaz/lar (3rd persons ability negative)
yapabilirsin/iz yapmayabilirsin/iz. (2nd persons ability negative)
yapabilir-ler yapamayabilir/ler (3rd persons ability negative)
Job Interviews and Formal Language
In this video you watched, you can hear formal language throughout the conversation.As we talked about in previous articles, the most basic distinction between formal and informal speech in Turkish comes from the way people address each other.
In business and formal settings, you do not usually see Turkish people addressing each other with their first names. Especially conversations between a manager/boss/director etc. and an employee are quite formal. Even if these two persons know each other, they address the other by using the words “hanım” (for women) and “bey” (for men) in business environments. (Hakan Bey, Esin Hanım). In fact, using these words with job titles is also very common. (Müdür Bey, Doktor Hanım). The most formal among these addresses is “Sayın”. In formal communications, the word “Sayın” is sometimes used together with the person’s name and surname, and sometimes only with their surnames. (Sayın Mert Başaran or Sayın Başaran)
In addition to these, the use of “siz” is the most significant indicator of formal language. In second person singular addresses, “sen” is an indicator of intimacy and can only be used for persons that are known beforehand and have an intimate relation. Among Turkish people, addressing one another with their first names or as “sen” in business settings is inappropriate. In the video you watched, you can see the use of “siz” and suffixes “-sİz” and “sİnİz” throughout the dialogue. In Turkish, these uses are an expression of respect and formality, and therefore are not only used in business settings, but also when talking with newly met people or elders.
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