"Bir elma"

Translation:An apple

March 23, 2015



I thought Turkish had no articles. What is going on here?


It doesn't. The "bir" is simply the number "1". "Bir elma" is "one apple", which you can also say as "an apple".

One thing to note about plurals in Turkish: When you add a number in front, the root does not take a plural suffix. So, unlike in English, where you would say "one apple, two apples, three apples, etc", in Turkish, you would say "one apple, two apple, three apple, etc" (notice the lack of the plural-making -s at the end. So you would say "bir elma, iki elma, üç elma, etc. HOWEVER, you CAN say "apples" by itself (without a number specifier). As in, "the apples on the table" (masadaki elmalar).

In terms of the suffixes for making plural forms, there are two possibilities: you can either use -ler or -lar.

What determines when it's -ler vs -lar? A little rule called "vowel harmony", which you'll pick up later. Basically, in order to avoid the vocal strain caused by constant ups and downs due to switching back and forth between different types of vowels, Turkish has grouped its eight vowels into two groups of four: Aa, Iı, Oo and Uu constitute the "hard vowels". Ee, İi, Öö, and Üü constitute the "soft vowels". In essence, vowel harmony dictates that hard vowels should only be used together and soft vowels should only be used together, and that these two vowel types should not mix together. So a word like "kimono" does not fit vowel harmony rules, because it mixes a hard vowel (o) with a soft vowel (i).

Vowel harmony extends into how word roots interact with their suffixes. Again, vowel harmony dictates that the vowels found in a suffix ought to be in the same vowel family (hard vs soft) as the last vowel of the root. So, for example, "masalar" (tables) is composed of the root "masa" (table) and the plural suffix -lar. The "a"s correspond to each other (i.e. both hard vowels), and the word thus fits the vowel harmony rules. Similarly, the word "eller" (hands) is composed of the root "el" (hand) and the plural suffix -ler. The "e"s correspond to each other (i.e. both soft vowels), and the word thus fits the vowel harmony rules.

So now that you know the basic rule, what would you append to the roots "tür" (kind/type), "kalem" * (pencil), "kitap" * (book), "yol" (road), "deniz" (sea), and "göl" (lake) to make them plural? You would say türler, kalemler, kitaplar, yollar, denizler, and göller, respectively.

*You'll notice that the roots "kalem" and "kitap" themselves do not fit into vowel harmony rules. This is because they are foreign language imports, and vowel harmony does not apply to the stem of loanwords. It does, however, apply to what suffixes may be appended to those stems, as we saw with kalemler and kitaplar.


Wow! This is like Hungarian: when you add a number in front, the root does not take a plural suffix + vowel harmony (affecting suffixes used for plural forms and with many other functions).


Also like persian


So cool and useful explanation! Thank you very much!


Thanks a lot you are amazing (:


Really that's amazing explanation


I don't know how long ago you wrote this comment, but it was very helpful. Thanks!


Thanks that was really helpful


You can add the numeral "bir" to disambiguate. It isn't so much an article, as a number.


Eat one apple: Bir/1 elma ye.

Eat an apple: [Bir] elma ye.

So this 'bir' is not just a number, but it's also an article in some cases.

'[]': optional.


I thought it was something like that. Thanks.


I am so confused with this and it is only the first lesson!


It's okay, probably because it's another language family. But you will find it easier by the day. Rules have almost no exception and it's like learning an easy programming language.


Is the "r" in "bir" voiced or voiceless?


R's at the end often voiced a little differently in everyday use. Not like in "raw" or " roof" but imagine a dog making the sound "rrrrrrr, woof!" Now take that "r" and use it for a moment. For a very short time. Voila! It almost sound like "ş" letter in Turkish. Alas, it is not necessary to give effort to that. It is something done out of necessity when speaking, given the sounds in Turkish language.


It's expected to be voiced in formal conversations. In informal conversations you can skip it. This way the word bir is heard as bi (like b in English).

Also you can write down the word bir as bi' in informal writings.


That is certainly NOT a general rule for all Turkish words ending with an 'r'. So don't be misleaded. In spoken Turkish we do that for a few words but they do not have to end with an r. For example: -N'aber? (Proper written form is Ne haber? Meaning literally "what news", used when asking "what's up" to your buddy) -İyidir. Bu akşam bi' (informal spelling for "bir") filme gidiyoruz, geliyo' (in informal language the 'r' sound at the end of present continuous tense suffix -yor drops) musun? (Meaning: Fine. We are going to a movie this evening, are you coming?)


Interesting comparison with Irish, which has broad (a, o, u) and slender (i, e) vowels. And that 'r' sounds like Irish too! (Like athair, father.) Is the Turkish 'r' palatalized in the presence of soft vowels, to give it that soft purring sound?


I just stared to learn Turkish and Irish. I know that you are talking about


so it always responds to the answer...how many apples..?


No, they seem to have constructions like „kırmızı bir elma“ (a red apple) and similar. I would like to read a detailed comment on that myself.


It may, and it may used casually as a/an. "Bir elma al." Is a simple sentence for example "Have an apple." Bir is both number 1 and a/an.


I don't get when it's pronounced "bir" and when it's pronounced "bish". I just recognised that it sound different sometimes. Is that just my imagination or is there a rule?


It is always "bir", there is nothing like "bish". In colloquial when it is used as an indefinite article you may hear "bi" instead. The difference you recognized may be due to the difference between female and male accents. Woman tend to pronounce "r" softer, and vice-versa.


Tamam! But I asked somebody and she told me it needs to be always pronounced "birsh" Now I'm confused... Don't get me wrong I'm just talking about the pronounciation! And I definitly here them say "bir" and sometimes they say "birsch" (Again, just the pronunciation!)


Just like in hayir (pronounced hayish) ..you know..probably not a biggy anyway, but I thought there might be a rule or something..but now I guess there is none ;)


Turkish "r" is unique and has an intrinsic rustling sound in it. So it is not a separate "sh" or "j" sound but something along with it. You can listen to that song with subtitles, it is a good practice for Turkish "r".



Thanks for the recommendation..


Tesekürler, agbey!!! ;) I haven't recognise the software pronunce the plural as "lersch" (-ler) ...I should listen to more Turkish music ! But still..it's wierd sometimes it's "-r" and sometimes it's more like "-rsch" ...guess it's like you said...unique..


You are welcome :)...


Apples! Apples are learnt first in every language.


If you are confused by the grammar , just go on with the course, you will learn the language.. The majority of speaking people in the world don't even know grammar exists. Learn like a child with his/her mother , our mummy is DUO .(


There is no general rule for all Turkish words ending with r. Old don't be misleaded


Does the word Bir also means THE in english?



Bir --> (one/a) in Turkish. "The" in English is used for the "article."

The subject definite article "the" The subject definite article "the" does not exist as a word in Turkish. Subjects are understood as being "specific". There is no Turkish word for the subject definite article, only the context tells us when to insert "the" in English:

Çay pahalı. - Tea is expensive.

Çay soğuk. - The tea is cold.

Araba caddede. - The car is in the road.




Bir --> (one/a) in Turkish. "The" in English is used for the "article" in Turkish. Don't worry you will learn it. Case markers, determiners & quantifiers.

Learn all 8 topics to checkpoint 1. That should do it for now.

Thank you.


bir means water no then apple meams elma no


bir means water no


Water is su.

bir means "one".


Thank you my real name is Siyah and it means black in turkish


Hello god morning


Does Turkish attach gender to nouns?


It doesn't even attach gender to pronouns :)

O is "he", "she", or "it", as well as "xe", "sie", "(singular) they", or whatever other third-person singular pronoun you can think of.


There is no grammatical gender in Turkish :)


Bir means "One." Not "An." ?

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