Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Imperative mood

The imperative mood, as normally understood in English, is easy in Azerbaijani. You want to tell someone to go - verb getmək - you just use the verb root for the 2nd person singular and add a -(y)in4 ending for the 2nd person plural. It gets more complicated when you learn that verbs take suffixes for the other persons as well. This is unlike English, where we use Let me go, Let him go, etc.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Consonant changes

Final consonants k, q, and t change if a suffix is added that places the consonant between two vowels.

For example, çimərlik is Azerbaijani for beach. If you say you are going to the beach, çimərliyə, the K changes to a Y.

Changes are:
  • k to y - göbələk + ə = göbələyə
  • q to ğ - ayaq + a = ayağa
  • t to d - eşit + irəm = eşidirəm
However - it does not happen to a single syllable word such as kök (carrot), so kökə (to the carrot). As well, doesn't happen if the word is Russian. I find Russian words often sound, well, Russian (hem!) or English, so they are easy to spot. Definitely bear no resemblance to Azərbaycanca!

Genitive case (of)

The genitive case deal with inanimate things that have some attribute. I find it easier to think of this as expressions with the English of, what is known as periphrastic genitive. I'm sure that makes everything much clearer! If you think in terms of English of, then the the thing with the attribute is said first, with the attribute second.

The endings are the same as for 3rd person possessive pronouns:
- in, ın, ün, un / -nin, nın, nün, nun for the first word (after consonant, after vowel)
- i, ı, ü, u / -si, sı, sü, su for the second word (after consonant, after vowel)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Accusative case

The suffixes for words in the accusative case are -i4 (for words ending in a consonant) and -ni4 (for words ending in a vowel). See the post on vowel harmony for an explanation of these "to the power of 4" abbreviations.

Some examples of sentences with verbs that take the accusative:

Mən o kişini tanıyıram. I know (am acquainted with) that man.
Mən kişiləri görürəm. I see the men.
but - Mən çoxlu kişi gördüm. I saw some men. If the object is indefinite, use the nominative case.

Mən kitabı oxuyuram. I am reading the book.
but - Mən kitab oxuyuram. I am reading a book. I read books.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Vowel harmony

Yes, you won't get far without knowledge of vowel harmony. Luckily, the more you speak the language the more it seems to come naturally because, well, it just sounds better!
Here's how it works. Azeri uses suffixes to create cases and to change the meaning of words. Whenever a suffix is added to a word, the vowel in the suffix has to agree or harmonize with the last vowel in the original word - that is, the last vowel in the word must agree with the first vowel in the suffix.
If the suffix contains only two first vowels, they will be ə and a. For example -lar and -lər to make a word plural. This type of suffix is represented in Azeri grammar as ə squared. These are the vowels that harmonize:

If the suffix contains four first vowels, they will be i, ü, ı, and u. For example, -si, -sı, -sü, -su. This type of suffix is represented as i to the power of 4. These are the vowels that harmonize:

Typing with an Azeri keyboard

It's really easy to type in Azeri since most of the letters are the same as the English QWERTY keyboard layout. First, add Azeri (Latin) - Azerbaijani with the Latin script - to your computer's list of languages. So > Control panel > Regional and language settings > Azeri (Latin) language with Azeri Latin keyboard. Once installed, hitting Shift-Alt will toggle you from English to Azeri and back. If you have other languages installed, it will go through them one by one as you hit Shift-Alt.

Possessive pronouns

OK - this is a little more difficult than other cases because both words take possessive suffixes. Confused? Let's look at a few examples.

Mənim yoldaşım, sənin yoldaşın, onun yoldaşı, bizim yoldaşlarımız, sizin yoldaşlarınız, onların yoldaşları. Whew! That is, in English, my husband, your husband, her husband, our husbands, your husbands, their husbands. Let's look at this again in a chart.

Var (to exist)

That ubiquitous "var" takes some getting used to for a native English speaker. You simply can't say that you have something in Azeri. OK - you can say that you possess something - but for most purposes you can't get by without var.

Let's look at a few examples first, and then we can go into more of the grammar.

Cheat sheets for shopping

Here is very basic vocabulary to get you by in shops. A chart that you can print as a cheat sheet is provided at the bottom of this post.

How much does it cost?/How much is it? = Bu neçəyədir?
Bu = this / neçəyə = how much / dir = it is
How much are the apples? = Alma neçəyədir?
What is this? = Bu nədir?

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Adjectives and adverbs with li/siz (with/without)

You can add -li (-lı, lü, lu) and -siz (-sız, süz, suz) to just about any adjectives or adverb and get a word that means with (li) or without (siz). Very useful and fun to try out new constructions in your everyday conversations.

Let's look at one that you are sure to encounter straight away - qazlı and qazsız su
qaz = gas
su = water
qazlı su = water with gas (that is, carbonated or sparkling)
qazsız su = water without gas (still water)

Indefinite future

Use this tense when you would use "will" in English. It connotes a new decision to do something. After using this tense to describe a decision, you would refer to that decision using the regular future (-əcəm) since now it is something that you are definitely going to do. That is, decision has been made.

Let's look at some other verbs.

-miş past

This tense is used for events that have occurred in the past and are significant to the present. Using this tense suggests that you do not have direct knowledge of the event, but heard about it secondhand.

In spoken language, this is what the miş-past looks like this (using gəlmək as the example):

Examples of sentences using gəlmək (to come) that would use this tense: I have come here so many times; You have come here before?; He has come all the way from New York.

Let's look at other verbs.

Definite future

The future suffix is - əcək (yəcək following vowels). This chart uses gəlmək (to come) as an example:

Let's look at other examples.

-di past

To say something was or happened in the past (and is now over), you use the so-called di-past. You should have firsthand knowledge of the event being referred to.

This guide will show you how the di-past is constructed, using gəlmək (to come) as an example.

Let's look at a few more verbs.


Once you have the "to be" suffixes, you just add - ir (ır, ür, ur) - y before if following a vowel - and you have the present tense.

Here is a guide using the verb gəlmək = gəl (root meaning "come") + mək (infinitive ending)

So, I am coming, You are coming, He is coming, We are coming, You plural are coming, They are coming.

Let's look at other verbs so that you can see how the vowel harmony is working.

I am ... using TO BE suffixes

The simplest sentences tell people something about yourself - I am a doctor, a librarian; I am sick, tired, happy. Or something about someone else - You are late, beautifulç selfish.

Present tense "To Be" suffixes are:


Listen to the recording. Explanations of each greeting are below.


Salam = is the most common and means "Hello"

Sabahın xeyir = Good morning to one person.

Sabahınız xeyir = Good morning to many people or a formal greeting.

Axşamın xeyir = Good evening to one person.

Axşamınız xeyir = Good evening to many people or a formal greeting.

Gecən xeyrə qalsın = Good night to one person.

Gecəniz xeyrə qalsın = Good night to many or a formal statement.

A B C Ç ...

It doesn't take long to learn how to pronounce and write Azerbaijani. The alphabet seems a bit strange at first, but it is not really very different from English. Hey, the alphabet used to be in Arabic script and then in Cyrillic! You just need to get used to a few diacriticals and then you will be reading aloud in Azerbaijani.

Here's the guide. Letters pronounced just as in English have no explanation.