Copula ‘to be’

The no longer productive bound stem i- is used to form following ‘to be’ copulas in Turkish (Göksel & Kerslake 2005),
idi
be.PST
‘was’
imiş
be.EVI
‘was’ (hearsay)
ise
be.COND
‘as if’
iken
be.WHILE
‘while’

However, these stand alone forms are rarely heard in modern Turkish (except in Turkish soap operas about Ottomans). Instead their suffixed forms, -(y)di, -(y)miş, -(y)se, -(y)ken, are used,
gelirdi
come-AOR-be.PT
‘he used to come’
gelirmiş
come-AOR-be.EVI
‘(he/she/it) used to come’ (hearsay)
gelirse
come-AOR-be.COND
‘if (he/she/it) comes’
gelirken
come-AOR-be.WHILE
‘while (he/she/it) was/is coming’

-y is inserted before the suffix when stem ends with a vowel,
evdeydi
house-LOC-be.PT
‘was at home’
evdeymiş
house-LOC-be.EVI
‘was/is at home’ (hearsay)
evdeyse
house-LOC-be.COND
‘if (he/she/it) is at home’
evdeyken
house-LOC-be.WHILE
‘while (he/she/it) was/is at home’

Perhaps one exception to the statements above is the contrastive use of ise. Depending on the context ise can be translated as ‘whereas’,
kendisi Türk, koca ise Alman
herself-ACC Turk, husband-3S.POSS be.COND German
‘(she) is Turkish whereas her husband is German’

or as ‘but if’,
Ankara kedisi ise bembeyaz
Ankara cat-3.POSS be.COND INTS-white
‘but if it is an Ankara cat then it should be very (bright) white’

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