Əsas səhifə Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course (1/3)

Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course (1/3)

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CREEES. 2007. 170 pagesВводный аудио-видео курс азербайджанского языка со справочником.Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course has been designed, as its name implies, to cover the basic structures and features of the Azerbaijani language. The goal of the course is to provide learners with a solid foundation for the future study of Azerbaijani. The course does not presume any linguistic knowledge or prior language study.
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Kitab haqqında rəy bildirə və öz təcrübənizi bölüşə bilərsiniz. Digər oxuculara Sizin oxuduğunuz kitablar haqqında fikrinizi bilmək maraqlıdır. Kitabın ürəyinizcə olub-olmamasından asılı olmayaraq, bu barədə dürüst və ətraflı məlumat versəniz, insanlar onlar üçün maraqlı olan yeni kitablar tapa bilərlər.
Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course
Introduction

Unit 10

- The Sounds of Azerbaijani: vowels,
consonants

- Expressing a Direct Object: The Objective
Case
- Pronouns as Direct Objects
- Derivational Suffixes (IV): ‐cA

Unit 1

Unit 11

- Nouns: singular and plural

- The Past Tense (simple past)
- Numbers (part I)

Unit 2

Unit 12

- Modifying Words: prefixes, suffixes
- Pronouns: personal, demonstrative
- The Verb “to be” (present tense)

- Expressing an Indirect Object: The Dative
Case
- Derivational Suffixes (V): ‐lIQ

Unit 3

Unit 13

- Adjectives

- Imperatives
- Numbers (part II)
- The Ablative Case

Unit 4

Unit 14

- Negation (part I)

- Expressing Possession (part III)

Unit 5

Unit 15

- Forming Questions

- The Verb “to be” (past tense)
- Ordinal Numbers
- Consonant Alternation (part II)

Unit 6

Unit 16

-

- The Future Tense (part I: definite future)
- Infinitive Constructions
- Comparatives and Superlatives

Types of Suffixes: inflectional, derivational
Derivational Suffixes (I): ‐lI, ‐sIz
Common First Names
Question Words: kim, nə
The Case System
The Nominative Case
Expressing Location: The Locative Case

Unit 7

Unit 17

- “There is/are…” Sentences
- Negation (part II)

- The Future Tense (part II: indefinite future)
- Compound Nouns

- Expressing Possession (part I)

Unit 8

Unit 18

- Expressing Possession (part II): The
Genitive Case
- Consonant Alternation (part I)
- Derivational Suffixes (II): ‐lI (with
nationalities)

-

Unit 9

Appendix

- The Present Tense
- Negation (part III)
- Derivational Suffixes (III): ‐çI

-

Postpositions (I): locational
Time Expressions
Postpositions (II): functional
Expressing Ability
The Relative Suffix ‐kI
The Relative Conjunction ki

Sources for Further Study of Azerbaijani
Websites on Azerbaijan
Review of Cases
Review of Possessive Forms
Additional Verb Tenses: Past Progressive,
Present Perfect, Past Perfect
- Useful Phrases and Sentences
- Reading Practice
- Vocabulary

The Essentials of Azerbaijani: An Introductory Course has been des; igned, as its name
implies, to cover the basic structures and features of the Azerbaijani language. The goal
of the course is to provide learners with a solid foundation for the future study of
Azerbaijani. The course does not presume any linguistic knowledge or prior language
study.
I am grateful to Anthony Dahlen and Abazar Sepehri for their invaluable assistance
with this project.
course designed and written by: Andrew H. Siegel
audio recordings by: Anthony Dahlen

Introduction
Azerbaijani is the official language of the Republic of Azerbaijan and is spoken natively
by approximately 7 million people in the country as well as 20‐40 million individuals in
the surrounding areas of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Uzbekistan. A member of the Western
(or Oghuz) Turkic language group (which includes Turkish and Turkmen), the
Azerbaijani language has a literary history dating back to the end of the thirteenth
century. The language was written using the Arabic alphabet until 1929, when Soviet
authorities introduced a modified version of the Latin alphabet in an attempt to
minimize the influence of Islam in the Turkic republics. Ten years later, in 1939, Stalin
ordered that the Cyrillic alphabet be used as the official writing system so as to
discourage contact and the formation of potential alliances between Turkey and the
Turkic republics. Finally in 1991, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan
became an independent country and officially adopted a new Latin‐based script based
on a slightly modified version of the modern Turkish alphabet.
The Modern Azerbaijani Alphabet
Aa

Qq

Bb

Ll

Cc

Mm

Çç

Nn

Dd

Oo

Ee

Öö

Əə

Pp

Ff

Rr

Gg

Ss

Ğğ

Şş

Hh

Tt

Xx

Uu

Iı

Üü

İi

Vv

Jj

Yy

Kk

Zz

The Cyrillic version of the Azerbaijani alphabet is presented here due to the large
amount of literature published during the Soviet period in this alphabet as well as the
fact that some store signs today are written in (or have simply not been changed from
their original) Cyrillic. Although there is an exact one‐to‐one correspondence between
the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets in terms of pronunciation, the order of the letters is not
the same. For this reason, the corresponding Latin letter has been provided in
parentheses in the table below.
The Azerbaijani Cyrillic Alphabet
А а (A a)

М м (M m)

Б б (B b)

Н н (N n)

В в (V v)

О о (O o)

Г г (Q q)

Ө ө (Ö ö)

Ғ ғ (Ğ ğ)

П п (P p)

Д д (D d)

Р р (R r)

Е е (E e)

С с (S s)

Ə ə (Ə ə)

Т т (T t)

Ж ж (J j)

У у (U u)

З з (Z z)

Ү ү (Ü ü)

И и (İ i)

Ф ф (F f)

Ы ы (I ı)

Х х (X x)

Ј ј (Y y)

Һ һ (H h)

К к (K k)

Ч ч (Ç ç)

Ҝ ҝ (G g)

Ҹ ҹ (C c)

Л л (L l)

Ш ш (Ş ş)

The Sounds of Azerbaijani
Azerbaijani has 9 vowels and 23 consonants. We will start with the vowels. Although
vowels are unquestionably an important part of any language, their significance in
Azerbaijani (or any Turkic language) cannot be overstated. As you will see in Unit 1
(and in subsequent units throughout this course), an understanding of how vowels
work is essential in the study of a Turkic language. Because this course does not
presuppose any previous linguistic study or background, we will begin with
explanations based on and examples taken from English. The use of the English vowel
system as a “base” will help make it easier to learn and understand the vowel system in
Azerbaijani. In this section we will focus on the following three main qualities or
characteristics of vowels: vowel height, vowel position and lip rounding.
Vowel Height
The term “vowel height” here refers to how close the body (or main part) of the tongue
is to the roof of the mouth. If you compare the pronunciation of the vowel sounds in
steep and stop, you will notice that your tongue is very close to the roof of your mouth in
steep and then lowers to pronounce stop. By repeating these two vowel sounds slowly in
succession [ee]‐[ah]‐[ee]‐[ah], you will be better able to sense the relative height of your
tongue as your mouth opens (i.e., as your jaw lowers). For our purposes, we will
distinguish the following three levels of height:

•
•
•

“high” – the body of the tongue is close to the roof of the mouth
“mid” – the body of the tongue is in a so‐called ‘neutral’ position in the
middle of the mouth
“low” – the body of the tongue is farthest from the roof of the mouth

Try pronouncing the following words slowly one after another, paying attention to the
relative height of your tongue:
bead – bid – bade – bed – bad – bod(y)
You should have noticed that your lips started relatively close together and then began
to move progressively farther apart. That is because the vowel sounds in bead and bid
are considered “high,” while the sounds in bade and bed are “mid” and the sounds in bad
and bod are “low”. As the vowel height goes from “high” to “low,” your mouth opens
to a greater and greater degree to allow the body of your tongue to lower increasingly
farther. We can thus speak of “high vowels” (as in bead or bid), “mid vowels” (as in bade
or bed) and “low vowels” (as in bad or bod).
Vowel Position
The term “vowel position” will be used to refer to whether the body of the tongue is
closer to the front or the back of the mouth. In comparing the vowel sounds in the
words peel and pool, you can begin to get a sense of the slight back‐and‐forth movement
of the tongue. Try repeating the following two vowel sounds slowly in succession: [ee]‐
[oo]‐[ee]‐[oo]. You should be able to sense the movement with [oo] as the body of the
tongue is retracted towards the back part of the mouth. Just as with vowel height, we
will distinguish three levels of position:
•
•
•

“front” – the body of the tongue is closer to the front of the mouth
“central” – the body of the tongue is in a so‐called ‘neutral’ position in the
center of the mouth
“back” – the body of the tongue is drawn towards the back of the mouth

Pronounce the following three words, then repeat just the vowel sounds several times
slowly one after another:
bet – but – bought
Although the movement might not be as noticeable as it was with vowel height, you
should have been able to feel the body of your tongue move increasingly farther
towards the back of your mouth. The vowel sounds in the words bead, bid, bade, bed and

bad are all considered “front,” while the sounds in boot, book, boat, bought and bod are all
“back”. The vowel sound in but (or of, some, blood) is considered to be “central”. We can
now speak of “front vowels,” “central vowels” and “back vowels”.
Vowel Height + Vowel Position
Now that we have covered both vowel height and vowel position, we can combine
these two features—just like using a pair of coordinates (x, y) to graph points on a grid
in mathematics—to determine the location of vowels in the mouth. We said that the
vowel sound in the word bead is “high” because the body of the tongue is close to the
roof of the mouth. We also categorized this vowel sound as “front” due to the position
of the tongue towards the front part of the mouth. By putting these two features
together, we can speak about a “high front” vowel—the [ee] sound, as in the words feet,
mean and we. In a similar manner, we can characterize the vowel sound in the word bod
as a “low back” vowel, because the body of the tongue is lowered away from the roof of
the mouth and is retracted towards the back part of the mouth. This same “low back”
vowel sound occurs in words like not, stop and mom.
Take a look at the following diagram of the head (viewed from the side). The rectangle‐
like “grid” represents the area where various vowel sounds are formed. Click on the
grid to view the main English vowel sounds—in terms of vowel height and position—
and get a better idea of the location of these sounds in the mouth:
FRONT

CENTRAL

bead
HIGH

boot
bid

book

bade

boat
but

MID

bed

LOW

BACK

bought

bad
bod

©UCLA Phonetics Lab

Lip Rounding
You may have noticed that four of the words in the “vowel grid” are colored orange.
The vowel sounds in these words exhibit a feature that is in addition to—and
independent of—vowel height and position. This feature, called rounding, indicates
whether the lips are rounded or not when pronouncing a vowel sound. In English, all of
the back vowels—with the exception of the [ah] sound, as in not—are pronounced with
rounded lips and are thus “rounded” vowels. If you compare the pronunciation of the
words beat and boot, you will notice that, in addition to the front‐back distinction, there
is a difference in lip rounding: the lips are not rounded in beat but are rounded in boot.
We can now describe vowel sounds using the combined characteristics of vowel height
(high, mid, low), vowel position (front, central, back) and lip rounding (rounded,
unrounded). From this point of view, the vowel sound in beat would be “high, front,
unrounded,” while the sound in boot would be “high, back, rounded”.

Take a few minutes to pronounce the various words in the “vowel grid,” paying close
attention to the height and position of the vowels as well as the roundedness (or lack
thereof) of the lips. Once you feel you have developed a basic understanding of how
vowels work, proceed to the next section on the vowels in Azerbaijani.

Vowels in Azerbaijani
Beginning this section and continuing through the end of the Introduction, you can hear
the pronunciation of the highlighted letters and words by listening to the accompanying
audio file. Click on the speaker icon to begin playback.
Alphabet and Words

As mentioned above, Azerbaijani has 9 vowels. Unlike English, however, there are no
central vowels—so all Azerbaijani vowels are either front or back. The following are the
5 front vowels:
i – This vowel sound is high, front and unrounded, like the sound in bead.
ü – This vowel sound is also high and front… but it’s rounded (like the u in the
French word tu or the ü in the German word müde). To pronounce this vowel
correctly, simply make the vowel sound in the word bead while rounding and
puckering your lips tightly. The only difference between i and ü is the
absence (or addition) of lip rounding.
e – This is a mid, front, unrounded vowel similar to the sound in the word bed. At
the beginning of a word, though, the vowel sound is a little bit higher in the
mouth (i.e., slightly closer to the sound in bade).
ö – This is also a mid, front vowel… but, like ü, it’s rounded (like the eu in the
French word fleur or the ö in the German word können). Pronounce an
Azerbaijani e sound while tightly rounding and puckering your lips to
produce ö.
ə – This sound is a low, front, unrounded vowel similar to the sound in the word
bad. There is no corresponding rounded vowel.
And now for the 4 back vowels:

u – This is a high, back, rounded vowel sound, like the sound in the word boot.
ı – This is a high, back, unrounded vowel sound. It is formed in the same way as
the vowel u but without any lip rounding. Start off by pronouncing the u
vowel and then unround your lips. (Although it might feel somewhat
unnatural, this process is simply the reverse of the directions for the vowels ü
and ö above.) **Note that this letter never has a dot over it, while the high,
front, unrounded vowel i always has a dot for both the lower‐ and upper‐case
forms.
o – This vowel sound is mid, back and rounded, similar to the sound in the word
FRONT

CENTRAL

i ü

BACK

ı u

HIGH

o
MID

LOW

e ö

ə
a

old. There is no corresponding unrounded vowel.
a – This is a low, back, unrounded vowel, similar to the sound in the word bod.
There is no corresponding rounded vowel.
The “vowel grid” for Azerbaijani would look like this (rounded vowels are once again
indicated in orange):

**Note: Vowels in some Azerbaijani words are lengthened—that is, they are
pronounced for a slightly longer time. Any such “long” vowels will be indicated in a
vocabulary list by a pair of brackets ( [ ] ) after the word, for example:
sakit [a:]
This would mean that the a in this word is held for a longer period of time.

Consonants
The following are the 23 consonants in Azerbaijani. (Phonological descriptions are
included in parentheses for those with a linguistic background.)
b – (voiced bilabial stop) This letter is pronounced like the b in English when it
occurs at the beginning of a word or between vowels.
baba, badam, bizim, dolab
c – (voiced alveopalatal affricate) This letter is pronounced like the j in the word
jeep when it occurs at the beginning of a word or between vowels.
can, cib, acı, uc
ç – (voiceless alveopalatal affricate) This letter is pronounced like the ch in cheap.
aç, siçan, çincə, üç
d – (voiced apico‐dental stop) This letter is similar to the d in English, but the
Azerbaijani d is pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth
(and not the area just above/behind the teeth).
demə, adam, dost, dad
f – (voiceless labio‐dental fricative) This letter is pronounced like the f in fee.
fen, fəs, sinif, fond
g – (voiced palatal stop) This letter is pronounced like the g in the word go but
also has an added “y” sound, as in the phrase I beg your pardon. Be sure to
combine this “y” sound with the pronunciation of Azerbaijani g.
gecə, gədə, igid, güc
**Note: The pronunciation of ng at the end of a word is like the ng in the
word finger followed by the letter g. For example: zəng, rəng
ğ – (voiced velar fricative) This sound does not exist in English. It is similar to the

ch in the German word machen or the Russian letter x but voiced (i.e.,
pronounced with the vocal cords vibrating). This sound never occurs at the
beginning of a word in Azerbaijani.
mağaza, çağ, oğuz, soğan
h – (voiceless glottal approximant; usually aspirated) This letter is similar to the h
in the English word hot.
həvəs, cahan, sabah, səhv
x – (voiceless velar fricative) This letter is similar to the ch in the German word
machen or the Russian letter x (and is the voiceless counterpart to ğ).
xam, xına, xəstəxana, bax
j – (voiced alveopalatal fricative) This letter is pronounced like the s in vision or
pleasure. It occurs only in a limited number of borrowed words.
jokey, jest, jurnal, jüri
k – (voiceless palatal stop, aspirated) This letter is pronounced like the k in keep
but, as with g, also has an added “y” sound, like the beginning of the word
cute. Be sure to combine this “y” sound with the pronunciation of Azerbaijani
k.
kim, kəmənd, stəkan, məktəb
**Note: When k is the last letter in a word or syllable, it can optionally be
pronounced similar to the h in the English word hue (including the “y”
sound): çiçək
q – (voiced velar stop) This letter is pronounced like the g in the word go. Unlike
the letter g, the letter q has no additional “y” sound and is often used in
international words where English would have the letter g.
qrup, qaraj, avqust, proqram
**Note: When q is the last letter in a word or syllable, it is pronounced like the
letter x: bıçaq, qonaq, maraqlı
l – (voiced lateral; usually palatal before front vowels and velar before back
vowels) This letter is similar to the l in the word leave.
lampa, göl, ailəli, il
m – (voiced bilabial nasal) This letter is pronounced like the m in me.
musiqi, amma, mətbəx, üzüm

n – (voiced alveolar nasal) This letter is pronounced like the n in no.
nanə, məna, nümunə, gələn
**Note: The pronunciation of ng at the end of a word is like the ng in the
word finger followed by the letter g. For example: zəng, rəng
p – (voiceless bilabial stop, aspirated) This letter is pronounced like the p in pet.
pambıq, poçt, ipək, lap
r – (voiced alveolar liquid) This letter is pronounced like the r in Spanish or
Russian (i.e., a short trilled sound) when before a vowel. As the last letter in a
word, r has an additional aspirated (“breathy”) quality.
radio, rəqs, xarici, bir
s – (voiceless alveolar fricative) This letter is pronounced like the s in so.
sinif, səssiz, hansı, sus
ş – (voiceless alveopalatal fricative) This letter is pronounced like the sh in she.
şad, şəxs, başqa, birləşmiş
t – (voiceless apico‐dental stop, aspirated) This letter is pronounced like the t in
the word to. Just as with the pronunciation of d, the Azerbaijani t is
pronounced with the tip of the tongue touching the teeth (and not the area
just above/behind the teeth).
tam, mətbəx, vətən, lüğət
v – (voiced labio‐dental fricative) This letter is pronounced like the v in van.
var, evli, əvvəl, növ
*Note: In some words borrowed from Russian, v is pronounced like f if
preceding another voiceless consonant: avtobus (pronounced as if it were
spelled [aftobus]).
**Note: Sometimes when v occurs after o or ö in the middle of a word, it
serves to lengthen the vowel and is thus not pronounced: dovşan
(pronounced as if it were spelled [do:şan], where o: indicates a long o sound),
hövsələ (pronounced [hö:sələ]).
y – (voiced palatal approximant) This letter is pronounced like the y in yes.
yaxşı, xeyr, köynək, çay
z – (voiced alveolar fricative) This letter is pronounced like the z in zoo.
zəhər, qazan, süzmə, səkkiz

**Note the following points about pronunciation in Azerbaijani:
•

•

•

The repetition of a consonant in Azerbaijani indicates a long consonant sound
(i.e., you hold the pronunciation of the consonant for a slightly longer period of
time). These “long” consonants exist in English, too… under the right
circumstances. If you pronounce the following words and phrases at a slightly
slower‐than‐normal speed, you should be able to hear and feel the longer
consonant sound: bookkeeper (kk), homemade (mm), well‐liked (ll), good day (dd), ice
storm (ss). Keep these English examples in mind when you see Azerbaijani words
like səkkiz, güllər, əlbəttə or izzət to help you remember the “long” consonant
pronunciation.
The majority of words in Azerbaijani are stressed on the last syllable. In this
course, for words or word forms where the stress is not on the final syllable, an
accent mark ( ́ ) will be written over the stressed vowel. (Note that accent marks
are not written in regular Azerbaijani text. You must thus learn the stress of any
irregular words on a case‐by‐case basis.)
In almost all cases, there is a one‐to‐one correspondence between a word’s
pronunciation and its spelling in Azerbaijani—what you see is what you get. The
main exception to this rule is the combination ‐kı. Because the letter k in
Azerbaijani is pronounced in the front part of the mouth, the back vowel ı
becomes “fronted” (i.e., pushed closer to the front of the mouth) and thus has a
sound somewhat closer to i. A common example of this combination is the name
of the capital of Azerbaijan: Bakı. A second exception concerns the pronunciation
of k in certain foreign borrowings, where the added “y” sound is not present.
Throughout this course, the presence of such a “y”‐less k will be indicated by
underlining the k (in a vocabulary listing), such as park or Amérika. Any other
pronunciation irregularities will be noted as they arise.

Unit 1
Nouns
Let’s take a look at some basic objects that you can find around the room:
dəftər
kağız
karandaş
kitab
qapı
qələm

‐
‐
‐
‐
‐
‐

notebook
paper
pencil
book
door
pen

qəzet
lampa
pəncərə
stol
stul
şəkil

‐
‐
‐
‐
‐
‐

newspaper
lamp
window
table
chair
picture

As has been previously mentioned, Azerbaijani is a Turkic language and, as such, has
several features in common with all the Turkic languages. One of these Turkic features
is the lack of any articles—a(n), the. This means that the word kitab might be translated
as “book,” “a book” or “the book” depending upon the context. (We will identify and
discuss other Turkic features of Azerbaijani at various points throughout this course.)

Singular and Plural
Now that we’ve seen a few basic nouns, let’s talk about how to form the plural in
Azerbaijani. We know that, in English, the plural of regular nouns is formed by simply
adding –s to the end of the word (or –es if the noun ends in ch, sh, s, z or x). Forming the
plural in Azerbaijani also requires the addition of a suffix (i.e., a meaningful linguistic
unit attached to the end of a word). There are two plural suffixes in Azerbaijani: ‐lər
and ‐lar. The choice of which of these suffixes to use is determined by another one of
the Turkic features which Azerbaijani exhibits—“vowel harmony”.
Vowel Harmony
The rule of vowel harmony states that all vowels in a word must be of a single class or
type—some possible examples (depending upon the language) could be: all high or all
low, all front or all back, all rounded or all unrounded. If you look back at the nouns
from the previous section, you will see that, in Azerbaijani, the vowels in words of more
than one syllable are either all front vowels (as in qəzet or şəkil) or all back vowels (as
in kağız or qapı). The only exception among these nouns is the word kitab, which has
both a front i and a back a. In native Azerbaijani words (i.e., those of Turkic origin), all
the vowels will, indeed, be of a single type—either front or back. Words borrowed from
Persian, Russian or other languages, however, might have vowels of different types in

their base form—that is, in the form without any added suffixes. The words kitab and
proféssor are examples of such foreign borrowings.
In the case of these borrowings, the rule of vowel harmony does not affect the base form
of the word but, rather, determines the quality of the vowels in the suffixes added to the
base form. Because suffixes are always added onto the end of a word, only the final
vowel of a word is important from the point of view of vowel harmony. Thus, whether
a word is a foreign borrowing or natively Azerbaijani, you only need to look at the final
vowel to determine the vowel class or type.
Looking at the two plural suffixes in Azerbaijani, we can see that one of the suffixes has
a front vowel (‐lər) and one a back vowel (‐lar). We will go ahead and color‐code this
front/back distinction to make it clearer, using blue to indicate a front vowel and red to
indicate a back vowel. Taking a look at the word for pen, we can see that the final vowel
is a front vowel: qələm. To form the plural—pens—we would thus add the front‐vowel
suffix ‐lər:
qələm + lər = qələmlər
The same process would be used to form the plural of the word for newspaper:
qəzet + lər = qəzetlər
We would also add this same front‐vowel suffix to the word for picture to form the
plural:
şəkil + lər = şəkillər
(**Note the double ll – with the first l coming from the base form
of the word picture and the second l from the plural suffix.)

To form the plural of the word for lamp, however, we would not be able to use the
front‐vowel suffix ‐lər, since the word lampa has a back vowel as its final vowel, and
the rule of vowel harmony does not permit the combination *lampalər. (The asterisk
here serves to indicate that this form is impossible and thus does not exist.) The correct
way to form the plural in this case would be to add the back‐vowel suffix ‐lar:
lampa + lar = lampalar
Because the word for door also ends in a back vowel, its plural would be formed in the

same way:
qapı + lar = qapılar
The plural for table and chair can be obtained by following the same procedure:
stol + lar = stollar
stul + lar = stullar
(**Note again the double ll resulting from the base noun + plural suffix combination)
For words containing both front and back vowels in their base form, remember that the
key is to look at the final vowel. Thus, the plural of the word for book is:
kitab + lar = kitablar
(Here the front vowel i is not important from the point of view of vowel harmony.)

We mentioned in the section on pronunciation that the majority of words in Azerbaijani
are stressed on the last syllable. Thus we have:
dəftə́r

kağı́z

karandáş

kitáb

pəncərə́

and so on. But how does the addition of the plural suffix affect word stress? In most
cases, the stress in an Azerbaijani word will shift to the final syllable of an added suffix,
so the plural forms of the above words are:
dəftərlə́r

kağızlár

karandaşlár

kitablár

pəncərələ́r

Instances where the stress does not shift to an added suffix will be indicated throughout
the course.

Unit 1 Exercises
1.1 Look at the following plural forms for the vocabulary words introduced above and
determine whether the correct plural suffix has been added:
dəftərlər
Qapılar
pəncərələr

kağızlər
qələmlar
stollər

karandaşlar
qəzetlar
stullar

kitablar
lampalar
şəkillar

1.2 Check your understanding of plural formation in Azerbaijani by selecting the
appropriate plural suffix for the nouns in the following table. The vowels in the first few
words have been color‐coded to assist you in recognizing front and back vowels.
Kişi
‐ man
Qadın
‐ woman
Tələbə
‐ student
Oğul
‐ son
Qardaş
‐ brother
Gün
‐ day
çiçək
‐ flower
Dost
‐ friend
proféssor* ‐ professor
Bacı
‐ sister
Müəllim
‐ teacher
Söz
‐ word
* Note: The stress in this word is fixed and thus does not shift with the addition of a
suffix.
Exercise answers

Unit 2
Modifying Words
One of the most basic and important properties of a language is the ability to modify
and produce word forms. We have already seen one example of such modification in
the formation of the plural, where both Azerbaijani and English use suffixation—that is,
adding a suffix to the base form of a noun. Let’s take a look at some more of the
different types and conditions of word modification in both languages.
Modifying Words in English
In English, word modification occurs through the use of both prefixes—a meaningful
linguistic unit attached to the beginning of a word—and suffixes. Some examples of
prefixation are the following:
un + interesting = uninteresting
de + emphasize = de‐emphasize
mis + spell = misspell
fore + word = foreword
In addition to adding ‐s (or ‐es) to create the plural of nouns, English suffixation can
take the following forms (among others):
•

Using the base noun “thought,” we can add the suffix ‐ful to create an adjective
meaning “characterized by thinking”:
thought + ful = thoughtful

•

This newly created adjective can then be further modified to form an adverb by
adding the suffix ‐ly. Thus,
thought + ful + ly = thoughtfully

•

Alternately, we could choose to create a new noun from the adjective above by
adding the suffix –ness:
thought + ful + ness = thoughtfulness

•

By replacing the first suffix ‐ful with a different suffix ‐less and using the same
procedures as above, we can create a new adjective, adverb and noun with the

opposite meaning:
thought + less = thoughtless
thought + less + ly = thoughtlessly
thought + less + ness = thoughtlessness
As you can see from the above examples, English can modify the base form of a word in
several different ways, often by adding one suffix directly onto another. In many cases,
a combination of both prefixes and suffixes is used to modify and produce words. For
example:
inter + nation + al = international
re + place + ment = replacement
retro + act + ive + ly = retroactively
Although we aren’t normally aware of the presence of the prefixes and suffixes in
English words, these individual linguistic units of meaning play a vital role and,
together with the base forms of words, help create our language.

Modifying Words in Azerbaijani
The situation in Azerbaijani, while similar to that of English, differs in a few significant
aspects. Perhaps the most visible difference is the complete lack of prefixes in
Azerbaijani. In all Turkic languages, word modification is limited exclusively to the use
of suffixes. Information modifying nouns, verbs, adjectives and other parts of speech
will thus be found in the linguistic units attached to the end of the word. We have
already seen this process in the formation of the plural:
kitab + lar (plural suffix) = kitablar ‘books’
Although this use of suffixation might not seem unusual or surprising to speakers of
English, Azerbaijani also makes use of suffixes in ways which English cannot:
kitab + ım (possessive suffix) = kitabım ‘my book’
kitab + da (suffix indicating location) = kitabda ‘in the book’
Furthermore, as we saw in the English examples, combinations of suffixes are also
possible. We can thus produce the following forms:

kitab + lar (plural suffix) + ım (possessive suffix) = kitablarım ‘my books’
kitab + lar (plural suffix) + da (suffix indicating location) = kitablarda ‘in the
books’
kitab + lar (plural suffix) + ım (possessive suffix) + da (suffix indicating location)
= kitablarımda ‘in my books’
Note how the various suffixes are attached (or “glued”) one after the other to the base
form of the word. Because of this fact, Azerbaijani is known as an “agglutinative” or
“agglutinating” language. This term—used with all Turkic languages as well as other
languages such as Finnish and Hungarian—simply refers to the fact that words are
modified by joining (or “gluing”) a series of suffixes to a base form.
Thus, although suffixation is not an unfamiliar process for English speakers, it has a
much more visible and important role in Azerbaijani… as we will see throughout this
course.

Pronouns
Up to now, we have been concentrating primarily on how the suffixation system in
Azerbaijani works to modify nouns. Another part of speech that functions and changes
in a similar way is the pronoun. There are several different types of pronouns—in both
Azerbaijani and English (and other languages)—but we will focus on only two for now:
personal pronouns and demonstrative pronouns.
Personal Pronouns
The personal pronouns represent what we tend to think of as, perhaps, the most “basic”
words in a language because they reflect the relationship of the speaker to the world
around him or her.
Let’s take a look at the personal pronouns in Azerbaijani (with their English
equivalents):
singular

plural

1st person

mən

–

I

biz

–

we

2nd person

sən

–

you

siz

–

you

o

3rd person

–

he/she/it

onlar

–

they

The first thing that you might have noticed is the fact that there are two Azerbaijani
pronouns for the English “you”—sən and siz. The first of these pronouns—sən—is
used when speaking to one individual whom you know well and are on “informal” or
“familiar” terms with. This pronoun would be used for a family member, friend or in
general for an individual who is younger than you. For situations when you are
speaking either to more than one person or to an individual who is older than you or to
whom you wish to show respect (such as a professor, employee at a business [i.e., bank,
store, restaurant], a friend’s parent, etc.), the pronoun siz is used.
Another aspect of Azerbaijani, which can be seen in the table above, is the fact that there
is only one pronoun for “he,” “she” and “it”. This lack of grammatical gender is another
feature common to all Turkic languages, and the absence of gender in the pronouns is
reflected in the nouns as well. Some languages, such as French and Spanish, have a
separate pronoun for “he” and “she,” and all nouns are classified as either “masculine”
or “feminine” (with this grammatical—or “linguistic”—gender based primarily on
spelling). In other languages, like German and Russian, there are three different
pronouns—representing “he,” “she” and “it”—and all nouns are categorized as either
“masculine,” “feminine” or “neuter”. Azerbaijani, however, does not distinguish any
such linguistic gender. This means that the word for “he” or “she” or even “it” is simply
o and that the word for, say, “professor” or “doctor” can be used equally for a man or a
woman. Whether the conversation is about a male or female (or some inanimate object)
will, of course, usually be clear from context.
Demonstrative Pronouns
This group of pronouns is used to “point out” or indicate the location or proximity of an
object or objects. The basic demonstrative pronouns in Azerbaijani (and the English
equivalents) are as follows:
singular

plural

bu

–

this

bunlar

–

these

o

–

that

onlar

–

those

There are a couple of important points to note about these demonstrative pronouns:

•

•

The demonstrative pronouns for “that” and “those” are the same as the personal
pronouns for “he/she/it” and “they”. In most cases context will make it clear
whether the pronoun in a sentence is demonstrative or personal.
As pronouns, the words in the table above take the place of nouns. In other words,
they are used to “point out” or draw the listener’s attention to other words (and
thus can usually be replaced by a phrase like “the object(s) I’m indicating”).
Some examples in English would be:
- That is my car. (i.e., That thing I’m pointing at = my car)
- Is this your coat? (i.e., This thing I’m indicating = your coat?)
- These are her friends. (i.e., These individuals I’m showing you = her
friends)

**Note: In a sentence such as “That car is mine.” the word “that” is not a pronoun, since
it is not taking the place of any noun (and cannot be replaced by a phrase like “the
object I’m indicating,” as was possible in the example sentences above). In such
situations, the word “that” is actually an adjective modifying the following noun (in this
case the noun “car”).
Did you recognize the plural ending on the demonstrative pronoun forms bunlar and
onlar (as well as the personal pronoun form onlar)? It’s the same plural suffix ‐lar that
we saw when we created the plural of nouns in the previous section.
Now that we have discussed nouns and pronouns in Azerbaijani, let’s talk about the
verb “to be” so that we can start making some sentences.

The Verb “to be”
(present tense)
As mentioned earlier, Azerbaijani is an agglutinative language and thus modifies and
produces words through the use of suffixes. This suffixation process is used to form
various tenses (i.e., past, present, future, etc.) by adding personal verbal suffixes to the
base form of a verb.
For the verb “to be,” the present tense is a special situation because the “base form” of
this verb is essentially non‐existent. As there is no base to add the personal verbal
suffixes to, the suffixes are simply attached to the end—the final word—of the sentence.
For our purposes at present, we will use only the following four nouns, which will
serve as the “end” of our sentences:

həkim
‐
proféssor ‐

doctor
professor

sürücü
yazıçı

‐
‐

driver
author

First Person Singular
The first person singular verbal suffix for the present tense of “to be” is ‐əm for words
ending in a front vowel and ‐am for words ending in a back vowel (based on the rule of
vowel harmony). We can thus create the following sentences:
Mən həkíməm. – I am a doctor.
Mən proféssoram. – I am a professor.
Note how the “verb” in the examples above—the personal verbal suffix for “to be”—is
added directly to the final word in the sentence.
The remaining two nouns—sürücü and yazıçı —end in a vowel, and the addition of the
first person singular verbal suffix would result in two vowels next to each other, a
situation which Azerbaijani tries to avoid. In cases when a suffix that begins with a
vowel is added to a word form that ends in a vowel, a so‐called “buffer consonant” is
used to separate the two vowels (similar to the situation in English where the indefinite
article “a” becomes “an” before a word beginning with a vowel sound: a + apple = an
apple). In most cases, this buffer consonant is ‐y‐ (exceptions will be noted as they arise).
With this in mind, take a look at the following two sentences, noting the presence of the
buffer consonant ‐y‐ between the base form of the noun and the verbal suffix:
Mən sürücǘyəm. – I am a driver.
Mən yazıçı́yam. – I am an author.

You may have noticed that the first person singular verbal suffix resembles the plural
suffix in that there is one form for words ending in a front vowel (‐əm, ‐lər) and another
form for words ending in a back vowel (‐am, ‐lar). This type of suffix is called a “two‐
way” ending because it can appear in two separate forms (front or back) depending
upon the preceding vowel. Throughout the rest of this course, we will use an upper‐
case “A” to represent this two‐way ending. The plural suffix can thus be written simply
as ‐lAr, with the A indicating that the suffix will either take the form ‐lər or ‐lar (based
on the quality of the preceding vowel). In a similar manner, the first person singular
verbal suffix for the present tense of “to be” can be written as ‐(y)Am. In this case, the A
once again indicates a two‐way (front/back) ending, while the (y) indicates that the

buffer consonant, if needed, is ‐y‐.

A note about stress
You may also have noticed that the stress in the four example sentences above was not
on the final vowel of the suffix. The stress in those examples did not shift from its
position in the original base forms. We will see that, unlike the plural suffix ‐lAr, the
personal verbal suffixes for the present tense of “to be” are not stressed. Take a look at
the following examples:
həkím + lər = həkimlə́r
yazıçı́ + lar = yazıçılár

BUT: Mən həkíməm.
BUT: Mən yazıçı́yam.

We will thus write the first person verbal suffix as ‐́(y)Am to indicate that the stress falls
on the vowel immediately preceding the verbal suffix. With the plural suffix ‐lAr,
however, no such indication is necessary, since the general rule is that the stress will
shift to the final vowel (unless otherwise indicated).
Finally, note the stress in the word “professor”:
proféssor + lar = proféssorlar

Mən proféssoram.

For words like proféssor, where the stress in the base form is not on the final syllable,
the addition of a suffix will not result in a stress shift—the stress remains in the same
position as it is in the base form.

Second Person Singular
The second person singular verbal suffix for the present tense of “to be” is ‐́sAn. Notice
that this suffix represents another “two‐way” ending, which will appear as either ‐sən
(after a front vowel) or ‐san (after a back vowel), as in the following sentences:
Sən həkímsən. – You (informal) are a doctor.
Sən proféssorsan. – You (informal) are a professor.
Sən sürücǘsən. – You (informal) are a driver.
Sən yazıçı́san. – You (informal) are an author.
Remember that the pronoun sən is used only when speaking to one person with whom
you are on familiar terms (and, generally, who is the same age or younger than you).

Third Person Singular
The first two personal verbal suffixes ‐́(y)Am and ‐́sAn signify two‐way endings
because the vowel used in the suffix (represented by A) is a low vowel, and there are
only two low vowels in Azerbaijani: ə and a. In the remaining personal verbal suffixes,
though, a high vowel is used. If you remember (or look back at) the “vowel grid” for
Azerbaijani, you will see that there are four high vowels: two unrounded vowels (front i
and back ı) and two rounded vowels (front ü and back u). For this reason, the rest of the
personal verbal suffixes are four‐way endings, which means that we will need to take
into account not only whether the final vowel of the base word is front or back (as we
have up to now) but also whether it is rounded or unrounded. We will use an upper‐case
“I” to represent the vowel in a four‐way ending. The blue/red color‐coding used up to
this point to indicate front/back vowels will be continued… with the additional
specification of underlined type to signify a rounded vowel (and non‐underlined type to
indicate an unrounded vowel).
With that information in mind, the verbal suffix for the third person singular of “to be”
is ‐́dIr. We can now produce the following sentences:
O sürücǘdür. – He/She* is a driver.
O proféssordur. – He/She* is a professor.
O həkímdir. – He/She* is a doctor.
O yazıçı́dır. – He/She* is an author.
*Note: Remember that Azerbaijani does not distinguish between “he” and “she” (or
even “it”) in the third person singular.
From the above examples you can see how the vowel in the verbal suffix reflects both
the front/back and the rounded/unrounded quality of the final vowel of the base word.

First Person Plural
The first person plural verbal suffix, in addition to being a four‐way ending, adds
another small “twist” to the various possibilities we have seen so far. Let’s first take a
look at some example sentences to see what’s going on:
Biz sürücǘyük. – We are drivers.
Biz proféssoruq. – We are professors.
Biz həkímik. – We are doctors.
Biz yazıçı́yıq. – We are authors.

We see that the four‐way ending works exactly as expected: the rounded quality of the
final vowel in “driver” and “professor” is reflected in the suffix vowel (as indicated by
the underlined type). By comparing the various Azerbaijani forms above, we can also
see that a buffer consonant—y—has been added to “drivers” (sürücü‐y‐ük) and
“authors” (yazıçı‐y‐ıq), which is to be expected when adding a vowel‐initial suffix to a
base form that ends in a vowel. The new “twist” here concerns the final consonant of
the verbal suffix, which alternates between k and q. The rule in this case is that k is
used after front vowels and q after back vowels (as indicated by the color‐coding: k, q).
For our purposes, we are going to write the verbal suffix for the first person plural as ‐
́(y)IQ to signify the following possibilities:
‐́(y)ik

‐́(y)ük

‐́(y)ıq

‐́(y)uq

One other thing to note in the sentences above is the absence of any plural suffix
attached to the nouns. Because the personal verbal suffix ‐́(y)IQ is used only with the
first person plural, there is no need to add the plural suffix (‐lAr); the notion of plurality
is understood from the subject of the sentence (“we”).

Second Person Plural
For the second person plural, the present tense of “to be” is expressed by the personal
verbal suffix ‐́sInIz. With this four‐way suffix, all of the consonants—s, n, z—are
“normal” (i.e., they do not change based on the front/back quality of the preceding
vowel, as we saw with the first person plural suffix ‐́(y)IQ). We thus have the following
possible sentences:
Siz sürücǘsünüz. – You are a driver/drivers.
Siz proféssorsunuz. – You are a professor/professors.
Siz həkímsiniz. – You are a doctor/doctors.
Siz yazıçı́sınız. – You are an author/authors.
Once again, the vowel in the four‐way suffix clearly reflects the quality of the final
vowel of the base word—front/back and rounded/unrounded. Because the suffix begins
with a consonant, no buffer vowel is needed. Also remember that the second person
plural pronoun—siz—is used either to address a single individual to whom you wish to
show respect (i.e., an older person you do not know well or with whom you have a
relationship of an official or formal nature) or when speaking to more than one person
(regardless of whether the relationship is formal or informal). For this reason, the noun
in such sentences could be translated into English as singular or plural. Just as with the

first person plural verbal suffix, there is no need to add the plural ‐lAr, as it is usually
clear from the context whether the subject of the sentence is a single individual or
several.

Third Person Plural
For the third person plural, the verbal suffix is, in general, the same as the third person
singular: ‐́dIr. Note, however, the following conditions:
• If the subject of the sentence is a person, then the plural suffix ‐lAr must
also be added, resulting in the verbal suffix ‐́dIrlAr.
• If the subject of the sentence is an object (such as a book, tree or building),
no plural suffix is added.
• For situations in which the subject of the sentence is an animal, the
addition of the plural suffix ‐lAr is optional.

With that in mind, take a look at the following sentences:
Onlar sürücǘdürlər. – They are drivers.
Onlar proféssordurlar. – They are professors.
Onlar həkímdirlər. – They are doctors.
Onlar yazıçı́dırlar. – They are authors.
Note how the vowel in the four‐way suffix ‐́dIr reflects the rounded/unrounded
distinction, whereas the vowel in the two‐way suffix ‐lAr does not (it only reflects the
front/back quality of the preceding vowel).
Remember that, with the third person plural, if the subject of the sentence is a person,
the plural suffix ‐lAr is added to the verbal suffix ‐́dIr (which is the case in all four
example sentences above). If, however, the subject is some inanimate object, no plural
verbal suffix is added. Let’s take a look at a few sentences (in both the singular and
plural) and compare the changes that occur with different types of subjects:
O həkímdir. – He/She is a doctor.
Bu kitábdır. – This is a book.

Onlar həkímdirlər. – They are doctors.
Bunlar kitábdır. – These are books.

As you can see, the structure of the singular‐subject sentences in the left column is the
same: both the pronoun and the verbal suffix are singular. With the plural‐subject
sentences in the right column, though, there is a distinct difference. While the pronouns
are both clearly plural (as indicated by the underlined suffix ‐lAr), only the verbal suffix

on “doctor” is marked as plural. Because the subject of the second sentence—“books”—
is not a person, there is no plural verbal suffix added to ‐́dIr. Thus, the only
distinguishing feature between the two sentences in the bottom row is in the pronoun:
bu vs. bunlar. In this case, the presence of the pronoun is necessary, as it clarifies
whether we are talking about a single book or more than one book.
With the sentence in the top row of the right column above (Onlar həkímdirlər.), both
the pronoun and the verbal suffix tell us that the subject is “they”. For this reason, the
presence of the pronoun is optional. In fact, if you look at the other personal verbal
suffixes, you will see that they also all clearly indicate the subject of the sentence: ‐
́(y)Am is used only with “I,” ‐́sAn only with “you” (singular and informal), ‐́(y)IQ only
with “we,” and ‐́sInIz only with “you” (plural and/or formal). The pronouns in these
cases—mən, sən, biz and siz—are not necessary; the subject of the sentence would be
just as clear without them. You thus might hear or see sentences such as the following:
Yazıçı́yam. – I am an author.
Proféssoruq. – We are professors.
Həkímdirlər. – They are doctors.
Such “pronoun‐less” sentences can be quite common in situations where the subject is
already clear from context. It is not a mistake, however, to include the pronoun. Of
course, in any case where confusion or a misunderstanding might occur, pronouns
should be used to help make the subject of the sentence clear.
The following table summarizes the personal pronouns in Azerbaijani along with the
corresponding personal verbal suffixes for the present tense of “to be”:
singular

plural

1st person

mən

–

‐́(y)Am

biz

–

‐́(y)IQ

2nd person

sən

–

‐́sAn

siz

–

‐́sInIz

3rd person

o

–

‐́dIr

onlar

– ‐́dIr(lAr)

Unit 2 Exercises
2.1 Choose the correct translation.
1. I’m an author.
Mən yazıçıam.
Mən yazıçısən.
2. We are doctors.
Biz həkimsiniz.
Biz həkimik.
3. You (informal) are a professor.
Siz professorsunuz.
Siz professoram.
4. These are notebooks.
Bu dəftərlər.
Bunlar dəftərdir.
5. They are authors.
Onlar yazıçıdırlar.
Onlar yazıçılardır.
2.2 Translate into English.
1. Sən həkimsən.
2. Biz professoruq.
3. Onlar sürücüdürlər.
4. Bu lampadır.
5. Siz yazıçısınız.
6. Mən professoram.
7. O professordur.
8. Həkimik.
9. Sürücüsünüz
10. O şəkildir.
11. Bunlar kitabdır.
12. Yazıçıyam.
13. Professordurlar.
14. Onlar qələmdir.

Mən yzıçıyəm.
Mən yazıçıyam.
Biz həkimiyik.
Biz həkimıq.
Sən professorsan.
Sən professorsən.
Onlar dəftərdirlər.
O dəftərlərdir.
Onlar yazıçılar.
Onlar yazıcı.

2.3 Translate into Azerbaijani.
1. I’m a doctor.
2. You (informal) are a driver.
3. She’s a professor.
4. We are authors.
5. They are doctors.
6. This is a newspaper.
7. You are doctors.
8. These are tables.
9. You (formal) are a professor.
10. He’s an author.
Exercise answers

Unit 3
Now that we’ve covered the verb “to be” (in the present tense), let’s add another part of
speech—adjectives—to make our sentences a bit more interesting.

Adjectives
Just like English, Azerbaijani uses adjectives to modify and qualify nouns. Adjectives
generally precede the noun (as in English), unless the word order of a phrase or
sentence requires a different position. Here are some common adjectives in Azerbaijani:
yaxşı
pis
böyük
balaca
təzə
köhnə
cavan

‐
‐
‐
‐
‐
‐
‐

good
bad
big, large
small
new
old (not new)
young

qoca

‐

ucuz
baha
maraqlı
maraqsız

‐
‐
‐
‐

old (not
young)
cheap
expensive
interesting
boring, dull

Using these adjectives, we can now form the following sentences:
Mən yaxşı sürücǘyəm. – I am a good driver.
Bu, maraqlı kitábdır. – This is an interesting book.
Biz cavan həkímik. – We are young doctors.
Note that the form of the adjective does not change, regardless of whether the noun it is
modifying is singular or plural:
O, maraqsız proféssordur. – He/She is a boring professor.
Onlar maraqsız proféssordurlar. – They are boring professors.

In all of the example sentences thus far, the personal verbal suffixes have been attached
to the noun. Remember, though, that we said the personal verbal suffixes (for the
present tense of “to be”) are simply added to the final word in a sentence. This final
word does not have to be a noun:
Mən cavánam. – I am young.
O yaxşı́dır. – He/She is (doing) well. (literally, “He/She is good”)

Siz maraqlı́sınız. – You (plural and/or formal) are interesting.
Onlar köhnə́dir. – Those are old. (said of some objects, hence the absence of the
plural suffix ‐lAr attached to the verbal suffix ‐dIr)
We can also, of course, use a combination of adjectives in a single sentence:
Yaxşı kitablar bahádır. – Good books are expensive.
Cavan sürücülər maraqlı́dırlar. – Young drivers are interesting.
Maraqsız yazıçılar pis proféssordurlar. – Boring authors are bad professors.
Remember that adjectives which modify a noun will precede that noun. This point is
important to keep in mind… especially in sentences with the following two adjectives:
bu ‐

this/these

o ‐

that/those

Yes, these are the same words we saw above in the section on pronouns! We said that the
forms bu and bunlar are demonstrative pronouns (meaning “this” and “these”) and that the
words o and onlar are both demonstrative pronouns (meaning “that” and “those”) as well as
personal pronouns (meaning “he/she/it” and “they”). And that is all still true. The words bu and
o, however, also exist as regular adjectives. How can bu mean “this” and “these” (or o mean
“that” and “those”)? It’s simple. Remember that adjectives do not change their form,
regardless of whether the noun they’re modifying is singular or plural.
** Note: In the English sentence “He is a doctor”, the verb form “is” separates the subject (“he”)
and the rest of the predicate (“a doctor”). In Azerbaijani, however, the subject and the rest of
the predicate are next to each other because the verb—in this case, the verbal suffix ‐dIr—
comes at the end of the sentence: O həkimdir. While this situation in most cases is not a
problem, there can be some initial confusion when dealing with the words bu and o, because
these two words can act as both an adjective and a pronoun. In cases where confusion might
arise (usually when bu or o—in the role of a pronoun—is followed by an adjective), a comma
is written so as to clearly separate the subject of the sentence from the predicate. Take a look at
the following examples using bu and o (with their various forms and roles indicated in
parentheses):
•
•
•

Bu kitab maraqlı́dır. – This book is interesting. (bu is an adjective modifying “book”;
singular)
Bu kitablar maraqlı́dır. – These books are interesting. (bu is an adjective modifying
“books”; plural)
Bu, maraqlı kitábdır. – This is an interesting book. (bu is a demonstrative pronoun
[and can be replaced with the phrase “this object I’m indicating”]; singular)

•

Bunlar maraqlı kitábdır. – These are interesting books. (bunlar is a demonstrative
pronoun [and can be replaced with the phrase “these objects I’m indicating”]; plural)

•
•
•
•
•

O proféssor cavándır. – That professor is young. (adjective; singular)
O proféssorlar cavándırlar. – Those professors are young. (adjective; plural)
O, yaxşı kitábdır. – That is a good book. (demonstrative pronoun; singular)
Onlar yaxşı kitábdır. – Those are good books. (demonstrative pronoun; plural)
O, cavan proféssordur. – He/She is a young professor. (o is a personal pronoun;
singular)
Onlar cavan proféssordurlar. – They are young professors. (onlar is a personal
pronoun; plural)

•

As you can see from the first two sentences in each group above, the words bu and o do not
change when acting as adjectives (even when modifying a plural noun). In the roles of
demonstrative or personal pronouns, however, bu and o add the plural suffix ‐lAr to indicate
a plural subject.

Unit 3 Exercises
3.1 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Sən cavansan.
2. Biz maraqlıyıq.
3. Onlar qocadırlar.
4. Siz yaxşı professorsunuz.
5. Mən maraqsız həkiməm.
6. O maraqlıdır.
7. Bu qəzet ucuzdur.
8. Onlar maraqlı şəkildir.
9. Yaxşı qələmlər bahadır.
10. O köhnə stul böyükdür.
3.2 Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. She is an interesting author.
2. This is an expensive pen.
3. They are bad drivers.
4. We are boring professors.
5. I’m an old doctor.
6. You (informal) are interesting.
7. Those are new windows.
8. You are young authors.
Exercise answers

Unit 4
We have learned how to create a number of sentences using a handful of nouns/pronouns,
adjectives and the personal verbal suffixes for “to be”. But what about situations where
someone or something is not good, bad, interesting, young, etc.? Turn the page (so to speak)
and we’ll take a look at negation.

Negation
(part I)
Negation in Azerbaijani is accomplished in a couple of different ways depending upon the
type of sentence being negated. Up to now, we have only worked with the verb “to be”. We
mentioned that this verb is a “special situation” in the present tense because it lacks a base
form to which we can add verbal suffixes. For this same reason, the verb “to be” (in the
present tense) is negated in a manner different than other verbs.
To form the negative of the present tense of “to be,” we will use the special negative word:
déyil. This word—or “particle,” in linguistic terms—will then act as the base form to which we
can add the personal verbal suffixes.
We have already seen how the verbal suffixes of the present tense of “to be” are added to the
end of the sentence. When negating a present tense sentence with “to be,” simply place déyil
at the end of the sentence and then add the appropriate personal verbal suffix. Take a look at
the following sentence pairs:
Mən proféssoram. – I am a professor.
Mən proféssor déyiləm. – I am not a professor.
Sən yaxşı yazıçı́san. – You (informal) are a good author.
Sən yaxşı yazıçı déyilsən. – You (informal) are not a good author.
O həkim cavándır. – That doctor is young.
O həkim cavan déyil(dir)*. – That doctor is not young.
Biz sürücǘyük. – We are drivers.
Biz sürücü déyilik. – We are not drivers.
Siz maraqsı́zsınız. – You (plural and/or formal) are boring.
Siz maraqsız déyilsiniz. – You (plural and/or formal) are not boring.
Bu kitablar bahádır. – These books are expensive.
Bu kitablar baha déyil(dir)*. – These books are not expensive.

Onlar maraqlı proféssordurlar. – They are interesting professors.
Onlar maraqlı proféssor déyil(dirlər)*. – They are not interesting professors.
The suffixes attached to déyil must, of course, follow the rule of vowel harmony. Because the
particle déyil does not change, any added suffix must reflect the front (and, when possible,
unrounded) quality of the final vowel i.
*Note: The personal verbal suffix for the third person singular and plural ‐́dIr(lAr) is used only
in official or formal Azerbaijani (i.e., in newspapers or official publications). In everyday
spoken Azerbaijani, the form déyil is sufficient—without any personal suffixes—for negating
the third person singular and plural.

Unit 4 Exercises
4.1 Choose the correct translation.
1. We are not drivers.
Biz sürücüyük deyil.
Biz sürücülər deyil.
2. That is not a good book.
O, yaxşı kitab deyil.
O, yaxşı kitab.
3. You are not interesting professors.
Siz maraqlı professor deyillər.
Siz maraqlı professor deyilsiniz.
4. I’m not a bad doctor.
Mən pis həkim deyil.
Mən pis həkim deyilyəm.
5. These are not old books.
Bunlar köhnə kitab deyil.
Bunlar köhnə kitablar deyillər.

Biz sürücü deyilik.
Biz sürücü deyilıq.
O, yaxşı kitabdır deyil.
O, yaxşı kitab deyildirlər.
Siz maraqlı professordurlar deyil.
Siz maraqlı professor deyil.
Mən pis həkiməm deyil.
Mən pis həkim deyiləm.
Bu, köhnə kitab deyil.
Bu, köhnə kitab deyildir.

4.2 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Sən maraqsız professor deyilsən.
2. Biz pis həkim deyilik.
3. Mən cavan deyiləm.
4. Siz qoca deyilsiniz.
5. O qəzet ucuz deyil.
6. O, ucuz qəzet deyil.
7. Onlar böyük kitab deyil.
8. O kitablar böyük deyil.
4.3 Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. You (formal) aren’t a professor.
2. I’m not boring.
3. This isn’t an interesting book.
4. This book isn’t interesting.
5. We aren’t bad drivers.
6. They aren’t young doctors.
7. Those tables aren’t new.
8. You (informal) aren’t old.
Exercise answers

Unit 5
Now that we have covered both positive and negative sentences, we will take a look at the
third type of sentence: yes/no questions.

Forming Questions
There are two ways to make a statement into a question in Azerbaijani. The first, and easiest, is
simply to add a question mark at the end of the sentence. Thus,
Bu kitabdır. – This is a book.
Bu kitabdır? – Is this a book?
In speech, a question of this type will be spoken with a rising intonation (just as in English).
The second way to create a yes/no question—in other words, a question without a question
word (such as “who,” “when,” “how,” etc.)—is to add the interrogative (which is just a fancy
word for “questioning”) suffix ‐mI to the end of the sentence:
Bu kitábdır. – This is a book.
Bu kitábdırmı? – Is this a book?
Siz proféssorsunuz. – You are a professor.
Siz proféssorsunuzmu? – Are you a professor?
Of course, a question mark is added in these cases as well.
It is not necessary to add the interrogative suffix ‐mI to questions—a question mark (in print)
or the use of rising intonation (in speech) is sufficient. You should, however, become familiar
with this suffix so that you can recognize and understand it when you encounter it.

As in English, yes/no questions in Azerbaijani can be either positive or negative:
Sən yazıçı́san(mı)? – Are you an author?
Sən yazıçı déyilsən(mi)? – Aren’t you an author?
O cavan proféssorlar maraqlı́dırlar(mı)? – Are those young professors interesting?
O cavan proféssorlar maraqlı déyil[dirlər](mi)? – Aren’t those young professors
interesting?
(Remember that the third person verbal suffix for the present tense of “to be” is not normally

added to the negative particle déyil in everyday Azerbaijani.)

Now, with the addition of two more words—bə́li, “yes” and xeyr, “no”—we can create some
short dialogues.
O proféssordurmu? – Is he/she a professor?
Bə́li, proféssordur. – Yes, he/she is a professor.
Siz həkímsinizmi? – Are you (formal) a doctor?
Xeyr, mən həkim déyiləm. Proféssoram. – No, I’m not a doctor. I’m a professor.
O, pis yazıçı déyilmi? – Isn’t he/she a bad author?
Xeyr, o, pis yazıçı déyil. Yaxşı́dır. – No, he/she isn’t a bad author. He/She is (a) good
(one).
Sən yaxşı sürücǘsənmi?* – Are you (informal) a good driver?
Bə́li, yaxşı sürücǘyəm. – Yes, I am a good driver.
* Note: Up to now, we have only been adding a single suffix to various nouns, pronouns and
adjectives. We stated earlier, though, that Azerbaijani, like English, takes advantage of
combinations of suffixes in many cases. In situations where two (or more) suffixes are attached
to a base word, the quality of the vowel in the second (or later) suffix is determined by the
vowel in the immediately preceding syllable, not by the final syllable of the base word. Let’s
look at a few examples:
Sən həkímsən. – You (informal) are a doctor.
In the sentence above, we see that the quality of final vowel in the base word həkim—a front,
unrounded i—is reflected in the front, unrounded vowel ə of the second‐person singular verbal
suffix ‐́sAn. When we add the interrogative suffix ‐mI to this sentence, the expected front,
unrounded vowel is seen:
Sən həkímsənmi? – Are you (informal) a doctor?
Nothing unusual there. Now let’s try the same thing with a front, rounded vowel:
Sən sürücǘsən. – You (informal) are a driver.
Here we see that the rounded quality of the vowel ü is not reflected in the second‐person
singular verbal suffix… but that’s not surprising, because ‐́sAn is only a two‐way suffix and
thus can only show a front/back distinction (not rounded/unrounded). Notice what happens
when we add the interrogative suffix ‐mI to this sentence:

Sən sürücǘsənmi? – Are you (informal) a driver?
Although we see the expected result in the first suffix ‐́sAn (as discussed above), the quality of
the vowel in the second suffix ‐mI is somewhat surprising. Because this interrogative suffix is
a four‐way ending, we would expect to see a front, rounded vowel to reflect the ü of the base
word. The rule of vowel harmony, however, looks only to the immediately preceding syllable.
In the case of the interrogative suffix ‐mI, vowel harmony looks only as far as the vowel ə…
and sees a front, unrounded vowel. So even though the final vowel of the base word is
rounded, the unrounded quality of the vowel in the first suffix makes this rounded feature
invisible to all subsequent suffixes. (Essentially, the presence of any two‐way suffix in a word
will mean that any further suffixes from that point on will show only a front/back distinction.)
Similarly:
Onlar sürücǘdürlərmi? – Are they drivers?
Separating the various suffixes present in the word for “drivers,” we get sürücü‐dürlər‐mi.
Because the second half of the third‐person plural verbal suffix ‐dIrlAr is a two‐way suffix
(front/back), the rounded quality of the ü in the base word does not “filter through” to the
interrogative suffix ‐mI. Were the sentence in the singular, however, there would be nothing to
block the rounded ü:
O sürücǘdürmü? – Is he/she a driver?

Unit 5 Exercises
5.1 Choose the correct translation.
1. Is he/she an author?
O yazıçıdirmi?
O yazıçımı?
2. Are we young?
Biz cavanıqmı?
Biz cavanmı?
3. Are you (formal) a professor?
Sən professorsanmı?
Sən professorsənmi?
4. Aren’t those doctors old?
O həkimlər qoca deyilmi?
O həkim qoca deyildirlərmi?
5. Aren’t you (informal) a driver?
Sən sürücü deyilsənmü?
Sən sürücü deyilsənmi?

O yazıçıdırmı?
O yazıçıdırmi?
Biz cavanikmi?
Biz cavanıqmi?
Siz professorsunuzmı?
Siz professorsunuzmu?
Onlar qoca həkim deyilmi?
Onlar qoca həkim deyildirlərmi?
Sən sürücüsən deyilmi?
Sən sürücüsan deyilmi?

5.2 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Siz yazıçısınızmı?
2. O, maraqlı professor deyilmi?
3. Bunlar köhnə kitablar deyilmi?
4. Biz yaxşı həkimikmi?
5. Onlar pis sürücü deyilmi?
6. Sən maraqsız professorsanmı?
7. Bu qəzet ucuz deyilmi?
8. O həkim pis yazıçıdırmı?
5.3 Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. Am I interesting?
2. Aren’t you (formal) an author?
3. Is this an old book?
4. Is this book old?
5. Isn’t this book old?
6. Are you (informal) an old professor?
7. Aren’t we boring authors?
8. Is he/she a professor?
Exercise answers

Unit 6
Types of Suffixes
As we have already seen above, both English and Azerbaijani use suffixes (and prefixes, in the
case of English) to modify and produce words. Although many different suffixes are used in
this modification and production process, they can all be divided into two main types:
inflectional and derivational.
The addition of an inflectional suffix to a word changes the specific grammatical function or
environment of that word… without changing the original word’s basic meaning or its part of
speech. Thus, attaching an inflectional suffix to a noun results in a modified noun, while
adding an inflectional suffix to a verb yields a modified verb. An example of the former is the
suffix ‐lAr in Azerbaijani:
kitab ⇒ kitablar (the basic meaning of both words is the same, but the context each
can be used in—singular “book” vs. plural “books”—is different),
while the past tense marker ‐ed in English would be an example of an inflectional suffix used
to modify a verb:
open ⇒ opened (again, the basic meaning is the same, but the environment—present
tense “open” vs. past tense “opened”—has changed).
We will see many more examples of inflectional suffixes in Azerbaijani in the following units.

With derivational suffixes, the new (suffixed) word that is created is, in most cases, not the
same part of speech as the original. Moreover, the meaning of the new word is distinct from
that of the original. We saw this process with the English suffixes ‐ful, ‐ness and ‐ly:
thought (noun) ⇒ thoughtful (adjective) ⇒ thoughtfulness (noun) or ⇒ thoughtfully
(adverb).
Throughout this course, we will cover a number of the most common derivational suffixes in
Azerbaijani. Knowledge of such suffixes will greatly increase the number of words which you
can produce and understand.

Derivational Suffixes
(part I)

Without realizing it, you have actually already learned two frequently used derivational
suffixes in Azerbaijani. If you look back at the table in Unit 3 on Adjectives, you will see that
the Azerbaijani words for “interesting” and “boring” are quite similar to one another. This is
due to the fact that they were created by attaching two different suffixes—with opposite
meanings—to the same base word.
•
•

When added to a noun, the suffix ‐lI creates an adjective that has the meaning
“possessing X” or “characterized by X”.
Adding the suffix ‐sIz, on the other hand, results in an adjective that means the exact
opposite: “without X” or “lacking X”.

Thus, using the noun maraq (“interest”), we can create the following adjectives:
maraqlı – interesting (characterized by interest, having interest)
maraqsız – boring, dull (without interest)
From the noun təhlükə (“danger”), we get:
təhlükəli – dangerous (characterized by danger)
təhlükəsiz – safe (without danger)
With the noun pul (“money”), we can produce the following two adjectives:
pullu – rich, wealthy (possessing money)
pulsuz – penniless, impoverished; free of charge (without money)
Finally, from the noun dözüm (“patience, endurance”), we having the following:
dözümlü – patient, forbearing (possessing patience, endurance)
dözümsüz – impatient, impulsive (lacking patience, self‐control)
Now that you are aware of these two suffixes, look for them as your vocabulary in Azerbaijani
increases.

Common First Names
The following table lists some common first names in Azerbaijani:
Male
Anar
Elçin
Eldar
Əli

Məmməd
Nadir
Tofiq [o:]
Vahid [a:]

Female
Elmíra [i:]
Rəna
Fəridə
Sevda
Gülnar
Sevil
Leyla
Zöhrə

Question Words

We have already seen how the addition of the suffix ‐mI can turn a statement into a yes/no
question. Such questions, however, focus only on the “truth value” of a sentence—in other
words, whether the information in the sentence is correct or not. For other types of questions—
who, what, when, where, how, etc.—we will need to use a question word. For now, we will
look at the question words “what” and “who” in Azerbaijani: nə and kim. Examine the
following sentences, noting the position of the question words in English and Azerbaijani:
Bu nə́dir? – What is this?
Bu kitábdır. – This is a book.
O kímdir? – Who is that?
O proféssordur. – That is the professor.
Bunlar nə́dir*? – What are these?
Bunlar kitábdır. – These are books.
(* Note: In formal Azerbaijani, this would be expressed as Bunlar nələrdir?)
Siz kímsiniz? – Who are you?
Mən Leyláyam. – I’m Leyla.
O cavan kişilər kímdir**? – Who are those young men?
Onlar yazıçı́dırlar. – They are authors.
(** Note: In formal Azerbaijani, this would be expressed as O cavan kişilər
kimlərdirlər?)

Unlike English, where the question words “what” and “who” must stand at the beginning of a
question, Azerbaijani places such question words at the end of the sentence just before the
verb. (In the case of the present tense of “to be,” the question word and personal verbal suffix
are joined together.)

The Case System
We mentioned above that there are two main types of suffixes—inflectional and derivational—in
both English and Azerbaijani and that they are used to modify words in different ways. Up to
now, we have only seen two instances of an inflectional suffix: the suffix ‐lAr that we added to
nouns to form the plural and the personal verbal suffixes for the present tense of “to be” that
we attached to the final word in a sentence. We saw how the addition of these suffixes did not
affect the basic meaning of the original word or change its part of speech. Instead, the presence
of an inflectional suffix modified the grammatical function of the original word (e.g., singular
vs. plural, first person singular vs. second person singular, etc.). We will see that this same
process of modification occurs in another area of Azerbaijani through the use of inflectional

suffixes: the “case system”. In this system, suffixes are added to nouns and pronouns in order
to indicate a different grammatical function. Let’s first look at an example of this process in
English:
He likes to play the piano.
Sarah saw him at the concert.
His car is parked across the street.
You have probably never thought about it much, but the words “he,” “him” and “his” are
essentially just a single word… modified to reflect three different functions. After all, the use
of “he,” “him” or “his” indicates that a single individual is being referred to and that this
individual is male. So why can’t we say “His likes to play the piano” or “Sarah saw he at the
concert” or “Him car is parked across the street” if, in fact, all three words represent pretty much
the same thing? Because the function of each of these three words is different. In the first
example sentence above, the word “he” designates the subject of the sentence, whereas the
word “him” in the second sentence represents the object of the sentence, and the word “his” in
the last sentence shows possession. These three different functions are represented by three
different forms of the pronoun for “a single male person”: he, him, his. We could substitute the
pronoun “who” in the three sentences above… with the same effect:
Who likes to play the piano?
Sarah saw whom at the concert?
Whose car is parked across the street?
Once again, the basic meaning of “who,” “whom” and “whose” is, for all intents and purposes,
the same. It’s the function that each of these forms represents that is different.
In English, these three functions—subject, object and possession—are represented by three
different forms only in the area of pronouns. If we were to replace the pronouns above with,
say, a name or a noun, the “different function = different form” relationship would disappear:
Dave likes to play the piano. (The doctor likes to play the piano.)
Sarah saw Dave at the concert. (Sarah saw the doctor at the concert.)
Dave’s car is parked across the street. (The doctor’s car is parked across the street.)
In Azerbaijani, however, the relationship between function and form is maintained with all
nouns and pronouns (including names).
We will see that there are six main functions that we can assign to nouns and pronouns in
Azerbaijani by adding various inflectional suffixes. Each of these suffixes corresponds to a case,
which is simply an easier way of referring to and representing the different possible
grammatical functions. Taken together, these six cases form the “case system” and are an
integral part of Azerbaijani (and all Turkic languages… as well as many other languages such

as German, Latin, Russian, etc.). Let’s take a look at the first of these cases—the Nominative
case.

The Nominative Case
The Nominative case is the most basic of all the cases and represents the form that is given in
an Azerbaijani dictionary (i.e., the “base” form). It is used to express the subject of a sentence.
The underlined words in the following sentences would thus all be in the Nominative case:
-

Bob loves Mary.
Mary loves Bob.
There are three chairs in the corner of the room.
At the end of the book is a key with the answers to the exercises.

In most cases, the subject in English will be at the beginning of the sentence… but not always
(as you can see from the last two example sentences above). If you are unsure which word in a
sentence is the subject, then try to locate the verb. These two parts of the sentence—the subject
and the verb—are always coordinated, such that changing one of them from, say, singular to
plural will cause the other to change as well (in order for the sentence to make sense).

Up to this point, all of the nouns and pronouns we have seen have been in the Nominative
case:
kitab həkim proféssor

yazıçı dəftər mən siz bu

You might be wondering at this point, since there doesn’t appear to be any special ending on
any of the words above, what the Nominative case suffix is. The answer is: the “null” (or
“zero”) suffix. In other words, for the Nominative case there is no inflectional suffix. It’s
actually the absence of any such suffix that signals that a word is the subject of a sentence.
A note about sentences with “to be”
We stated above that the subject in English tends to be at the beginning of the sentence. But
take a look at the following sentence:
My brother is a doctor.
Which part is the subject of the sentence? It’s probably “my brother,” because those are the
first words in the sentence, right? Remember that the subject and verb in a sentence are
coordinated, so changing one leads to a change in the other. Let’s see what happens if we
make the beginning part of the sentence—“my brother”—plural:

My brothers are a doctor.
Something’s not right here. By changing “my brother” to “my brothers,” the verb had to
change from “is” to “are”… and that makes sense if “my brother” is the subject. But what
about the word “doctor”? We can’t say “My brothers are a doctor”; that doesn’t make any
sense. We would have to change the sentence to:
My brothers are doctors.
Now the sentence is correct… but we ended up having to change both “my brother” and “a
doctor”. So which one is the subject? Well, the actual subject in this case is, indeed, “my
brother”. But the words “a doctor,” because they serve to describe or provide more
information about the subject of the sentence, play the same grammatical role—and thus must
be in the same case—as the subject. For that reason, both parts are in the Nominative case. If
you think of the verb “to be” as an equals sign (=), it will make more sense:
My brother = a doctor.
We know that “my brother” is the subject… and that subjects belong in the Nominative case.
Due to the equals sign, whatever case is used for the left side of the “equation” must also be
used for the right side. So remember that, in sentences with the verb “to be,” the nouns (or
pronouns) on both sides of the verb will be in the same case.

Vocabulary
Up to now, the examples and exercises in this course have been based on a small number of
basic nouns and adjectives (along with the verbal suffixes for the present tense of “to be”). The
purpose of limiting the vocabulary in this manner was to keep the focus on the grammatical
information presented, while simultaneously reinforcing some useful basic words. Below are
some additional words which, together with the vocabulary from Unit 1, will form the basis of
the majority of the sentences and exercises throughout the rest of the course. (**Please note:
The list below is not meant to be exhaustive. Many international borrowings—such as park,
restoran, televizor, konsert—and words which appear with low frequency in example
sentences have not been included, as their meaning should be clear from the translation
provided. If you are ever unsure of a word, you can consult the vocabulary list in the
Appendix.)
Amérika
ana
ata
Azərbaycan
bacı

‐
‐
‐
‐
‐

America
mother
father
Azerbaijan
sister

Bakı
bank
çoxlu
dost
ev

‐
‐
‐
‐
‐

Baku
bank
many
friend
house

xəstəxana
kino
kitabxana
qardaş

‐ hospital
‐ movie
(theater)
‐ library
‐ brother

qonşu
mağáza
maşın
məktəb

‐
‐
‐
‐

neighbor
store
car
school

məktub
müəllim
pişik
poçt

‐
‐
‐
‐

letter
teacher
cat
post office

pul
tələbə
universitet
uşaq

‐
‐
‐
‐

money
student
university
child

Expressing Location
In English, we use the prepositions “in,” “on” and “at” to express location in space (in
Boston, on the table, at the concert) and in time (in March, on July 4th, at 5:00 p.m.). In
Azerbaijani, however, the function of these prepositions is fulfilled by a case—the
Locative case. As its name implies, the Locative case is used to indicate location. (For
now, we will only deal with location in space.) The inflectional suffix for the Locative
case is ‐dA. Take a look at the following Locative forms:
Bóstonda – in Boston
stolda – on the table
konsertdə – at the concert
We can now add a subject and a verb to create complete sentences:
Leyla Bóstondadır. – Leyla is in Boston.
Kitablar stoldádır. – The books are on the table.
O konsertdə́dir(mi)? – Is he/she at the concert?
Notice how the personal verbal suffix for “to be” is simply added to the final word in
the sentence, following immediately after the Locative suffix.
When asking a question about the location of someone or something, we will use the
question word for “where”—hára—together with the Locative suffix:
-

Maşın háradadır? – Where is the car? (literally “at where”)
O qarajdádır. – It’s in the garage.

Also note the two forms búra (“here”) and óra (“there”), based on the demonstrative
pronouns bu (“this”) and o (“that”):
-

Búra Bóstondur(mu)? – Is this Boston? (literally “Is here Boston?”)
Xeyr, bura Bóston déyil. – No, this isn’t Boston.
Búra háradır? Mən háradayam? – Where is this? Where am I? (literally

-

“at where”)
Búra Atlántadır. Siz Atlántadasınız. – This is Atlanta. You’re in Atlanta.

Here are some more short dialogues involving the Locative case:
-

Tofiq evdə́dir(mi)? – Is Tofiq at home? (literally “in the house”)
Xeyr, evdə déyil. Məktəbdə́dir. – No, he isn’t at home. He’s at school.

-

Biz háradayıq? – Where are we?
Bu párkdır. Biz parkdáyıq. – This is the park. We’re in the park.

-

Universitetdə kímdir? – Who is at the university?
Proféssorlar óradadırlar. – The professors are there.
Tələbələr universitetdə déyil(mi)? – The students aren’t at the
university?
Xeyr, onlar kitabxanadádırlar. – No, they’re at the library.

-

We have seen that it isn’t a problem to attach a personal verbal suffix to the end of a
word which already has a Locative suffix added to it:
Leyla şəkildə́dir. – Leyla is in the picture.
But what if we want to make the word “picture” plural in the example above? Where
do we put the plural suffix ‐lAr? The answer is to add the plural suffix first and the
Locative case suffix second: şəkil‐lər‐də. Thus:
Leyla şəkillərdə́dir. – Leyla is in the pictures.
We can also modify the sentence with adjectives, just as we have been doing:
Leyla o köhnə şəkillərdə́dir. – Leyla is in those old pictures.
Remember that the Locative suffix ‐dA will be attached to the word that indicates
location, so you wouldn’t want to add it to an adjective.

Finally, let’s take a look at the Locative case of the personal pronouns:

singular

plural

1st person

mən

⇒

məndə

biz

⇒

bizdə

2nd person

sən

⇒

səndə

siz

⇒

sizdə

3rd person

o

⇒

onda

onlar

⇒ onlarda

**Note the presence of the letter “n” between the pronoun o and the Locative suffix ‐dA
in the third personal singular. This is actually the same “n” that appears between the
pronoun o and the plural suffix ‐lAr in the form onlar and between bu and ‐lAr in
bunlar.**
The demonstrative pronouns bu and bunlar change in the same manner as o and onlar.
The Locative case forms are thus bunda and bunlarda. For the question word kim, the
Locative case for is kimdə.
Although it might seem strange to have Locative case forms for pronouns, we’ll see
how these forms are used in Azerbaijani in the next unit.

Unit 6 Exercises
6.1 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Uşaq parkdadır.
2. Universitetdə kimdir?
3. Maşın qarajda deyil! O haradadır?
4. Pis sürücü xəstəxanadadırmı?
5. Maraqlı yazıçılar kitabxanadadırlar.
6. Onlar haradadırlarmı? Evdə deyil.
7. O stolda nədir?
8. Həkim bankda deyil. Xəstəxanadadır.
6.2 Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. We’re not at the store.
2. Are you (informal) at home?
3. I’m in Dallas.
4. The good students are in the library.
5. Who is in that old car?
6. The new books are on the big table.
7. The boring professor is in that bad movie theater.
8. Are the letters at the post office?
9. The young children are at school.
10. Where is Baku? It’s in Azerbaijan.

Exercise answers

Unit 7
“There is/are…” Sentences
This type of construction is usually used in situations where the focus of the sentence is
on asking about or describing the contents of a known location, such as: Is there any milk
left in the fridge? or There is a strange man at the door. In the first example, the emphasis is
on ascertaining whether any milk is actually present in the refrigerator, while the
second sentence focuses on the presence of an unknown individual waiting outside. In
both cases it is a question of existence, which is why this type of sentence is called an
“existential construction”.
In Azerbaijani, existential sentences are created using the special verbal form var, which
means “(that which) exists”. This verbal form does not change, regardless of whether
the subject is singular or plural (or a person vs. an inanimate object). As we would
expect, var is placed at the end of the sentence, and the person or object that serves as
the focus of the sentence comes immediately before var. Using the Locative case suffix,
we can now form the following sentences:
Stolda kitab var. – There is a book on the table.
Universitetdə çoxlu tələbə var. – There are many students at the university.
Parisdə çoxlu maraqlı muzey var. – There are a lot of interesting museums in
Paris.

Remember that the existential construction focuses on whether or not someone or
something exists. Take a look at the following two sentences:
Məktəbdə müəllim vármı? – Is there a teacher in the school?
Müəllim məktəbdə́dir(mi)? – Is the teacher in the school?
In the first sentence, the speaker is asking if there are any teachers left in the school,
perhaps thinking that they might have all gone home already. It isn’t a question of the
school’s existence—that’s a given, known location; rather, it’s a question of whether any
teacher is there or not. With the second example sentence, the existence of the teacher is
not in question. In this case, the speaker is trying to find out about the teacher’s
location—is the teacher in the school… or somewhere else? For that reason, the second
sentence is not an existential construction (and thus does not use var). Also note how
the word which the speaker is focusing on is moved to the end of the sentence, right
before the verb.

Negation
(part II)
We have already seen how to negate sentences containing the verb “to be” by using the
special particle déyil. To form negative existential sentences, simply replace var with
yóxdur “(that which) doesn’t exist”:
Stolda kitab yóxdur. – There is no book on the table.
Universitetdə çoxlu tələbə yóxdur. – There aren’t many students at the
university.
Parisdə çoxlu maraqlı muzey yóxdur. – There aren’t a lot of interesting
museums in Paris.

Expressing Possession
(part I)
In order to express possession in Azerbaijani, a couple of different constructions are
possible. The first of these possibilities—used primarily with personal pronouns—
combines the Locative case of the possessor with the existential verbal form var/yóxdur:
Məndə çoxlu kitab var. – I have a lot of books.
Sizdə maşın vármı? – Do you have a car?
Onlarda pul yóxdur. – They don’t have money.
Sentences with this type of construction emphasize the possessor. So the first example
above (Məndə çoxlu kitab var.) is emphasizing the fact that I am the one who has a lot
of books (as opposed to some other individual). We will cover the other types of
possessive constructions throughout the course.

Unit 7 Exercises
7.1 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Poçtda çoxlu məktub var.
2. Balaca məktəbdə çoxlu tələbə yoxdur.
3. Onlarda təzə maşın var.
4. Səndə baha kitablar varmı?
5. Stolda nə var?
6. Məndə uşaqlar yoxdur.
7. Bu evdə kim var?
8. Yazıçılarda çoxlu kitab var.
7.2 Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. We have a big house.
2. What is there in that car?
3. Are there a lot of professors at the university?
4. Are there big stores in Baku?
5. There aren’t bad doctors in this hospital.
6. Do good drivers have old cars?
7. Who is there at the concert?
8. You (formal) don’t have a brother.
9. Are there many movie theaters in Azerbaijan?
10. Does she have an interesting letter?
Exercise answers

Unit 8
Expressing Possession
(part II)
We saw above how the Locative case in combination with var/yóxdur can be used to
express the verb “to have”. The function of possession, however, is also fulfilled in
Azerbaijani directly by a case—the Genitive case. The form for the Genitive suffix,
which is usually translated as of or ’s in English, is ‐(n)In. (**Note that the “buffer
consonant” with the Genitive case is ‐n‐ and not the usual ‐y‐ that we saw with the
personal verbal suffixes for “to be”.) Take a look at the following sentences with the
Genitive case suffix:
Bu kitab Leylanı́ndır. – This book is Leyla’s.
O dəftərlər Məmmədin déyil. – Those notebooks aren’t Mammad’s.
Ucuz maşın tələbənin déyil. O müəllimíndir. – The inexpensive car isn’t the
student’s. It’s the teacher’s.

The table below shows the Genitive case forms for the personal pronouns:
singular

plural

1st person

mən

⇒

mənim

biz

⇒

bizim

2nd person

sən

⇒

sənin

siz

⇒

sizin

3rd person

o

⇒

onun

onlar

⇒ onların

**Note that the forms for the first person singular and plural end in ‐m (instead of the
expected ‐n); otherwise, all forms follow the regular Genitive ending. The Genitive case
forms of bu and bunlar are bunun and bunların, just like the forms for o and onlar.
-

Bu pul sizíndir(mi)? – Is this money yours?
Bə́li, mənímdir. – Yes, it’s mine.

Recall from our discussion of the “case system” that we said he, him and his are
essentially three different forms of the same word, each indicating a specific function
(subject, object, possession). We then compared those three forms to who, whom and

whose, stating that these words fulfill the same three functions as well. We just saw
above that the Azerbaijani form for “his” is onun—simply the pronoun o in the
Genitive case (which we said is used to express the function of possession). What does
that tell us about the form “whose” in Azerbaijani? It should just be the question word
“who”—which is kim—in the Genitive case. Sure enough, that’s exactly what it is:
kimin. (Remember that, in Azerbaijani, question words are placed at the end of the
sentence, just before the verb.)
Bu qəzet kimíndir? – Whose is this newspaper?
O qələm kimíndir? Mənim déyil. – Whose is that pen? It’s not mine.

Consonant Alternation
(part I)
In the introductory section on the consonant sounds in Azerbaijani, we noted that q is
pronounced like the Azerbaijani letter x and that k can be pronounced like the h in the
English word hue when either letter occurs at the end of a word or syllable. If a suffix
that begins with a vowel is added to a word that ends in either q or k, however, an even
greater change takes place. In such cases, the letter q changes to ğ and the letter k
changes to y in both pronunciation and writing. Take a look at the following examples:
O kitab uşağı́ndır. – That book is the child’s.
(uşaq‐ın‐dır ⇒ uşağındır)
Mən göyçə́yəm. – I’m pretty.
(göyçək‐əm ⇒ göyçəyəm)
If the suffix following q or k begins with a consonant, there is no change:
Uşaqda kitab var. – The child has a book.
Sən göyçə́ksən. – You (informal) are pretty.
**Note: This consonant alternation rule does not apply to most borrowings, such as
aptek (“pharmacy”), bank (“bank”) and park (“park”)—the same words that have the
“y”‐less k.

Derivational Suffixes
(part II)
We saw in Unit 6 how the suffix ‐lI can be attached to a noun in order to create an
adjective meaning “possessing X” or “characterized by X”. This same derivational suffix
can also be used with nouns of place—specifically cities and countries—to form
adjectives reflecting a person’s birthplace or nationality:
Bakı (“Baku”) ⇒ bakılı – a native of Baku
Azərbaycan (“Azerbaijan”) ⇒ azərbaycanlı – Azerbaijani, a native of
Azerbaijan
Amérika (“America”) ⇒ amérikalı – American
Bóston (“Boston”) ⇒ bóstonlu – Bostonian, a native of Boston
*Notice that, although the names of cities and countries are capitalized in Azerbaijani,
the adjectives formed from these places are not capitalized.
This “nationality” suffix can also be attached to the question word hára (“where”) to
ask people about their native city or country:
-

Siz háralısınız? – Where are you from? (literally “Of where are you a
native?”)
Mən amérikalıyam. – I’m American.

**Note: The suffix ‐lI, while used to express “native of …” for the majority of cities and
countries, cannot be used with all nouns of place. Certain countries have specific words
for their inhabitants, such as the following:
Almániya (“Germany”) ⇒ alman – German
Fránsa (“France”) ⇒ fransız – French(man/woman), native of France
İngíltərə (“England”) ⇒ ingilis – English(man/woman), native of England
Rúsiya (“Russia”) ⇒ rus – Russian
Tǘrkiyə (“Turkey”) ⇒ türk – Turk
Yapóniya (“Japan”) ⇒ yapon – Japanese, native of Japan
Yunanıstan (“Greece”) ⇒ yunan – Greek

Unit 8 Exercises
8.1 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. O qələm Əlinin.
2. Bu təzə maşın kimindir?
3. O kitablar mənim deyil.
4. Onlar haralıdırlar?
5. Maraqsız professor fransızdırmı?
6. Bu böyük karandaşlar uşağın deyilmi?
7. O məktub bizim deyil. O, cavan həkimindir.
8. Pis sürücü Bostonludur.
8.2. Translate the following sentences into Azerbaijani.
1. Are those old pictures Sevil’s?
2. Where are you (informal) from?
3. Is this newspaper yours (formal)?
4. Isn’t the small house the teacher’s?
5. These notebooks are the children’s.
6. They are American.
7. That big car is the old driver’s.
8. These boring letters aren’t ours. They’re his.

Exercise answers

Unit 9
The Present Tense
Up to now, the only verb we have dealt with has been the verb “to be,” which, as we
mentioned, is a special case because it lacks a verbal base form in the present tense. For
all other verbs, though, the process of “conjugation” (i.e., creating the various verbal
forms) is as follows:
1) Remove the infinitive suffix from the verb to find the “base form” (or “root”).
2) Add the appropriate tense suffix.
3) Add the appropriate personal suffix.
The first step, as you can see above, is to remove the infinitive suffix. But what does this
suffix look like? And what, exactly, is an “infinitive”? Read on to find out the answers
to these two questions.
Infinitives
In English, an infinitive is simply a verb form without any suffixes that reflect tense
(past, present, future) or person (I, you, he, she, etc.) or number (singular, plural).
Infinitives are formed by combining “to” and the base form of a verb, such as “to be”,
“to write” or “to live”. In Azerbaijani, the infinitive—which is the verb form listed in
dictionaries—is a combination of the verbal base form (or root) and an “infinitive
suffix”. The infinitive suffix in Azerbaijani is ‐mAQ. Take a look at the following
infinitives and their respective roots:
Infinitive
bilmək – to know (a fact)
yazmaq – to write
işləmək – to work
oxumaq – to read, study; to sing

⇒
⇒
⇒
⇒

Root
bil‐
yaz‐
işlə‐
oxu‐

As expected, the suffix ‐mAQ follows the rule of vowel harmony, resulting in the form ‐
mək for verbal roots ending in a front vowel and ‐maq for roots ending in a back
vowel. Once the infinitive suffix has been removed, we can proceed to Step #2.
Tense Suffixes
Azerbaijani has a very rich system of verbal tenses, each represented by a specific suffix.
For now, we will deal only with the present tense suffix ‐Ir. This suffix corresponds
most directly to the “present progressive” (or “present continuous”) tense in English: to

be …ing. While this tense in English is used for actions that are in progress at the time of
speaking (such as I am waiting for the bus; She is watching TV; They are sitting in a
restaurant), the ‐Ir suffix in Azerbaijani can also be used for situations where the subject
will perform an action in the near future (We are going on a trip tomorrow), to express
habitual or regular activities (He walks the dog every night at 9 p.m.), or to state a general
fact (John works in a bank; They drive on the left in Britain). For that reason, you can think
of the ‐Ir suffix as a general‐purpose present tense suffix. The last step now is to add the
personal suffixes.
Personal Verbal Suffixes
We saw how the present tense of the verb “to be” was formed by adding various
personal verbal suffixes to the final word in a sentence. The process is similar with other
verbs, with the exception that the following personal suffixes will be added only to verb
forms (not to nouns or adjectives):
singular

plural

1st person

mən

–

‐́Am

biz

–

‐́IQ

2nd person

sən

–

‐́sAn

siz

–

‐́sInIz

3rd person

o

–

‐́

onlar

–

‐́(lAr)

You may have noticed that the personal verbal suffixes above are almost exactly the
same as those we saw with the present tense of “to be”. The main difference is in the
third person forms, where the ‐dIr suffix is no longer present. In the third person plural,
the ‐lAr suffix will only be added to verbs when the subject of the sentence is a person
(or, optionally, an animal), just as was the case with the verb “to be”. Also note that
these personal verbal suffixes (as was the case with “to be”) are not stressed; the stress
will fall on the immediately preceding syllable.
Now that we have covered all of the necessary suffixes, let’s put all three steps together
to form the present tense:

bilmək – to know (a fact)
Step 1 ‐ bilmək minus infinitive suffix ‐mAQ ⇒ bil‐
Step 2 ‐ add the present tense suffix ‐Ir ⇒ bilir‐
Step 3 ‐ add the personal verbal suffixes: see the table below

singular

plural

1st person

bilírəm

–

I know

bilírik

–

we know

2nd person

bilírsən

–

you know

bilírsiniz

–

you know

3rd person

bilír

–

he/she knows

bilír(lər)

–

they know

Leyla bilir park háradadır. – Leyla knows where the park is.
Siz bilírsiniz bu nə́dir? – Do you know what this is?
Onlar bilírlər maşın kimíndir. – They know whose the car is.

yazmaq – to write
Step 1 ‐ yazmaq minus infinitive suffix ‐mAQ ⇒ yaz‐
Step 2 ‐ add the present tense suffix ‐Ir ⇒ yazır‐
Step 3 ‐ add the personal verbal suffixes: see the table below
singular

plural

1st person

yazı́ram

–

I am writing

yazı́rıq

–

we are writing

2nd person

yazı́rsan

–

you are writing

yazı́rsınız

–

you are writing

3rd person

yazı́r

–

he/she is writing

yazı́r(lar)

–

they are writing

Tələbələr dəftərlərdə yazı́rlar. – The students are writing in the notebooks.
Cavan uşaq stolda yazır. – The young child is writing on the table.
Yazıçı evdə yazır. – The author is writing at home.

**Note that regular verbs—just like the personal suffixes with the verb “to be”—are
placed at the end of the sentence in Azerbaijani. In the case of bilmək, the example
sentences above actually consist of two separate parts, each with its own verb:
Leyla knows + where the park is.
Do you know + what this is?
They know + whose the car is.
The verb bilmək, while not at the end of the overall sentence, is nonetheless still located
at the end of its own “part” (or clause).

işləmək – to work
Step 1 ‐ işləmək minus infinitive suffix ‐mAQ ⇒ işlə‐
Step 2 ‐ add the present tense suffix ‐Ir ⇒ işlə+ir‐ ⇒ işləyir‐*
Step 3 ‐ add the personal verbal suffixes: see the table below
singular

plural

1st person

işləyírəm

–

I am working

işləyírik

–

we are working

2nd person

işləyírsən

–

you are working

işləyírsiniz

–

you are working

3rd person

işləyír

–

he/she is
working

işləyír(lər)

–

they are working

* Note: A buffer consonant is needed here because the verbal root ends in a vowel and
the tense suffix begins with a vowel. The regular buffer consonant ‐y‐ is thus added
between the root and the suffix. We will thus from here on out write the present tense
suffix as ‐(y)Ir.
Mən bankda işləyírəm. – I am working/I work in a bank.
Həkimlər xəstəxanalarda işləyírlər. – Doctors work in hospitals.
Məmməd hárada işləyir? – Where does Mammad work?

oxumaq – to read, study; to sing
Step 1 ‐ oxumaq minus infinitive suffix ‐mAQ ⇒ oxu‐
Step 2 ‐ add the present tense suffix ‐(y)Ir ⇒ oxuyur‐
Step 3 ‐ add the personal verbal suffixes: see the table below
singular

plural

1st person

oxuyúram

–

I am reading

oxuyúruq

–

we are reading

2nd person

oxuyúrsan

–

you are reading

oxuyúrsunuz

–

you are reading

3rd person

oxuyúr

–

he/she is reading

oxuyúr(lar)

–

they are reading

Tələbə kitabxanada oxuyur. – The student is reading in the library.
Sən universitetdə oxuyúrsan(mı)? – Are you a student at the university?
(literally “Are you studying”)
Sürücü maşında oxuyur. – The driver is singing in the car.

Negation
(part III)
There are three different methods of negation in Azerbaijani—one for each type of
sentence construction. The first method, used in sentences with the verb “to be,”
involves the negative particle déyil. Under the second method, which occurs in
existential sentences, the verbal form var is replaced by the negative yóxdur. The third
and final possibility entails the addition of a negative suffix. This suffix, which is used
with all verbs except “to be” and var, is most often ‐́mA and is placed between the verbal
base form and the tense suffix. Note that the negative suffix is never stressed; instead,
the stress shifts one syllable to the left (see the examples below). In a few cases—those
where the consonant ‐r‐ is part of the tense suffix—the negative suffix is shortened to ‐
m‐.
For the present tense (where the tense suffix contains ‐r‐), simply add the letter ‐m‐ right
before the tense suffix. Remember that the stress will then shift one syllable to the left:
Mən bilírəm. – I know.
⇒ Mən bil‐m‐irəm = Mən bílmirəm. – I don’t know.
Sən yazı́rsan. – You are writing/write.
⇒ Sən yaz‐m‐ırsan. = Sən yázmırsan. – You aren’t writing/don’t write.
O işləyír(mi)? – Is he/she working?/Does he/she work?
⇒ O işlə‐m‐ir(mi)? = O işlə́mir(mi)? – Isn’t he/she working?/Doesn’t
he/she work?
Biz oxuyúruq. – We are reading/read.
⇒ Biz oxu‐m‐uruq. = Biz oxúmuruq. – We aren’t reading/don’t read.
**Notice that the buffer consonant ‐y‐ in the last two examples above disappears in the
negative due to the presence of the negative suffix ‐m‐ between the verbal root and the
tense suffix.

Derivational Suffixes
(part III)
The suffix “‐er/‐or” in English can be added to verbs to form a noun meaning “a person

who does X”—such as teach: teacher, coordinate: coordinator, sing: singer, compose:
composer, etc. In Azerbaijani this “occupational” suffix is ‐çI and is attached to nouns to
indicate numerous types of professions:
musiqi (“music”) ⇒ musiqiçi – musician
futbol (“soccer”) ⇒ futbolçu – soccer player
iş (“work”) ⇒ işçi – worker
cörək (“bread”) ⇒ cörəkçi – baker
dil (“language”) ⇒ dilçi – linguist
This suffix can also be attached to the question word nə (“what”) to ask about a
person’s profession:
-

Siz nəçísiniz? – What is your occupation? (literally “You are a ‘what‐
er’?”)
Mən müəllíməm. – I’m a teacher.

Unit 9 Exercises
9.1 Translate the following sentences into English.
1. Siz bilirsiniz sürücü haradadır?
2. Uşaqlar evdə deyil. Onlar kitabxanada oxuyurlar.
3. Universitetdə kim işləyir?
4. Sən poçtda işləmirsənmi?
5. Onlar bilmirlər o böyük mağaza haradadır.
6. Cavan yazıçı restoranlarda yazır.
7. Müəllimlər məktəbdə oxumurlar.
8. Pis həkim xəstəxanada işləmir. O kinodadır.
9.2 Translate the following sentences i