My question is inspired from: https://english.stackexchange.com/questions/466749/what-do-we-call-the-process-of-dropping-the-subject-at-the-beginning-of-a-senten

Person 1 >> "Hey, when are you coming over?"

Person 2 >> "[I will] Probably be there at around 14:00."

So in English there is this process where you can drop the subject and there is a thing such as an inferred subject. Other examples like:

(I am) Going to the shop now.
(I) Was hit on by this guy

I was shot by him/her
Ben onun tarafından vur-ul-du-m

Infinitive: vurmak
Conjugated in the example above as verb-causative suffix-definite past-1st pers.

In turkish the syntax word order is as follows:

Ben onun tarafından vuruldum
I-his-by-was shot

Since turkish has the pronoun suffix marker -m in the verb for the first person singular, “ben” the pronoun can be omitted as follows:

“ “ onun tarafından vuruldum
His-by-I was shot

Turkish uses the possessive case for “him” in this example.

Now is it possible to remove the person suffix marker and have it still refer to “I” first person:

(ben) onun tarafından vuruldu(m) = (I) was shot by him/her

But the problem is that in Turkish, the 3rd person takes no ending:

So basically it can be translated as

(O) Onun tarafından vuruldu.

O is the pronoun for he/she in turkish and can be removed

He/she was shot by him/her.

So is it possible to pro-drop in Turkish in a causative sentence without any reference to the pronoun, i.e an inferred subject/null anaphora?

Note: I am aware Turkish does allow some pronoun dropping but usually the marker at the end of the verb signifes the tense.

  • 1
    Since the absence of a personal suffix on the predicate/predicative is meaningful in Turkish and marks the 3rd person subject, dropping that suffix together with the explicit subject inevitably results in that utterance having the 3rd person as the subject. Or in case you mean another subject than the 3rd p., the sentence will be ungrammatical, in any case you'll fail to fulfill your communication goal: you won't transmit the information intended.
    – Yellow Sky
    Mar 17, 2021 at 5:09
  • @YellowSky +1 I see. It is strange that in Turkish that the predicate requires a grammatical personal suffix while in other similar Altaic Languages like Korean and Japanese don’t even require at all, for example in Japanese “I went to tokyo” would be Toukyou ni ikimashita - which basically translates as Tokyo, towards, went.
    – aesking
    Mar 17, 2021 at 9:40
  • 2
    @aesking Note that the idea of an "Altaic" family isn't widely accepted nowadays.
    – Draconis
    Mar 17, 2021 at 15:02
  • 1
    @aesking And even those who do believe in an Altaic family generally don’t believe Japanese is part of it. Besides, Japanese doesn’t have personal endings, so you can’t not drop it. Mar 17, 2021 at 15:47
  • @JanusBahsJacquet Those who believe Korean is part of the Altaic family, believe just as much as they do about Japanese being a part of it. I suggest you read “Georg, Stefan; Michalove, Peter A.; Ramer, Alexis Manaster; Sidwell, Paul J. (1999). "Telling general linguists about Altaic". Journal of Linguistics. 35 (1): 65–98. doi:10.1017/S0022226798007312”, of those who believe Japanese (Japonic language) is part of the Altaic family. Secondly, even tho Japanese doesn’t take personal suffix endings it is mostly part of the agglutinative family such as Hungarian, Turkish, Korean, and Swahili.
    – aesking
    Mar 17, 2021 at 17:58

3 Answers 3


So is it possible to pro-drop in Turkish in a causative sentence without any reference to the pronoun, i.e an inferred subject/null anaphora?

Short answer, no. The subject marking on the verb is mandatory.

As you mention, "the 3rd person takes no ending"—in other words, the third person singular marker is ∅ (nothing). So if you leave off all other markings, listeners will interpret it as 3S.

But even in languages where none of the markers are ∅, such as Latin or Swahili, it's common for the marking to be mandatory; leaving it off is ungrammatical. You can't just say *amā-v- or *-li-penda "loved"; you need amā-v-ī or ni-li-penda "I loved". (Or amā-v-it or a-li-penda "he loved", etc.)

  • 2
    The same is true in English, really – it’s just that in English, most personal markets are zero, so it’s hard to tell. But if you use a verb like the present of to be, it becomes clear that you cannot just use some abstract, unmarked form: you have to chose am, are or is or leave out the verb altogether. Mar 17, 2021 at 15:51

Yes, you can! I’m fluent in turkish and my parents are both Turks.

It is possible to do so with a pretext or situational environment for example if you were with a friend and she asks:

Q: Köpeği nerede gördün? (Where did you see the dog?)

You can answer with many options:

  • Omit the verb

A: Kopeği sinemada (gördüm).

In English this would be “The dog, -at the cinema”. This wouldn’t make sense in English but makes perfect sense in Turkish.

  • Omit the verb and object

A: (Kopeği) sinemada (gördüm).

In English this would be a typical response “at cinema/at the cinema” to “where did you see it/him/her?”

It’s important to note that this is only possible if the context is established, for example if I was informally texting a friend on the phone or casually speaking to a friend in person. In formal situations, such as writing essays it would be ungrammatical to leave out the predicate.

Interesting question!


I don't know Turkish very well, but what you want is possible through using of the verb form of the state with high levels of the ambiguity, so: (I am) going to the shop now, can be translated as: (Ben) Shop'e varmakta (oluyorum).

As mentioned above, I don't know Turkish very well, so I don't know what is prescribed by Turkish usus (sic! in literary language) - can you really drop this oluyorum or not, but there are more analytical Turkic languages and dialects, where this is possible. Even more - some clauses need an impersonal part in it by formulae like: impersonal part, personal part; where second part is contextual for the first part.

So, I don't know why your question is downvoted.

  • I don’t know why my question is downvoted either, probably some very childish people from a previous SE community I’m from: English SE.
    – aesking
    Mar 25, 2021 at 19:01
  • But thanks for your insight! It’s as I suspected from the recent answer that was posted.
    – aesking
    Mar 25, 2021 at 19:04

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