Lesson 13: In, at, on, etc.
Like many things in Kurmanji, prepositions are not standardized. You will encounter lots of variation in books, and especially among Kurmanji speakers. In order to keep our lessons as simple as possible, we will not repeatedly mention every possible variation, but we will try to mention some of the more common variations. For the sake of consistency, we will tend to use one option in our examples and exercises.
There is often no one-to-one correspondence between prepositions in different languages. This is true for English and Kurmanji as well. For example, the Kurmanji preposition li can be translated into English as both in and at, depending on the usage. But when combined with other prepositions, li can mean on, in front of, beside, etc.
Some of these differences can be understood by learning the logic behind certain uses, by noticing or learning general patterns. Some uses simply need to be memorized, and others are just “felt” as one you progress in fluency.
In this lesson, we will only introduce the basic prepositions. More complex prepositions will be covered in later lessons.
In Kurmanji there are basic prepositions and what we will call “compound prepositions” (when two prepositions are combined to give a different or more specific meaning). In this lesson we will introduce the basic prepositions.
Note that nouns are almost always in the second form, or oblique case, after pronouns. In other words, feminine nouns will have the ending ê. As we discussed in the izafe lessons, masculine nouns will only take the ending î if they are used together with another modifier, as in “this man” or “this house.”
However, this rule is not always strictly followed, particularly with the prepositions bi and bê.
When used by itself as a basic preposition, li means either at or in.
|at home||li malê|
|at school||li dibistanê|
|at soccer (football)||li futbolê|
|at the Library||li pirtûkxaneyê|
|at the hospital||li nexweşxaneyê|
|at the university||li zanîngehê|
|at work (workplace)||li kargehê|
li = in
|in Istanbul||li Stenbolê|
|in Turkey||li Tirkîyeyê|
|in Europe||li Ewropayê|
|in the city||li bajêr|
|in the village||li gund|
Notice also that li is used for asking or stating the location of something or someone.
|Where is Azad?||Azad li ku ye? (li ku means where)|
The word der can also be added to this question. Both forms are used by Kurmanji speakers.
|Where is Azad?||Azad li ku derê ye?|
In reply, li vir (here) and li wir (there) are used.
|Azad is here.||Azad li vir e.|
|Bager is there.||Bager li wir e.|
When used by itself as a basic preposition, ji means from.
|from home||ji malê|
|from school||ji dibistanê|
|from you||ji te|
|from the lesson||ji waneyê|
|from Istanbul||ji Stenbolê|
|from his bag||ji çenteya wî|
|from that man||ji wî zilamî|
This is also used to asked where someone is from.
|Where are you from?||Tu ji ku derê yî?|
|Where is he from?||Ew ji ku derê ye?|
|Where is this from?||Ev ji ku ye? (The idea here is asking where something came from.)|
NOTE: derê is frequently omitted. So “Tu ji ku yî?” is acceptable as well.
When used by itself (not together with other prepositions), di…de means in.
|in the school||di dibistanê de|
|in the university||di zanîngehê de|
|in the library||di pirtûkxaneyê de|
|in the class(room)||di polê de|
The aim in the sentence above is to stress that something or someone is in or inside the place (school, university, etc.), not simply at the place.
Of course, when used with an enclosed space, di…de logically means in without any particular emphasis or contrast. For example:
|in the refrigerator||di sarincê de|
|in the box||di qutiyê de (box = qutî (f))|
|in the room||di odeyê de|
|in the car||di erebeyê de|
When used by itself (not together with other prepositions), bi means by or with. This preposition has a number of uses in Kurmanji.
For stating modes of transportation:
|by car||bi erebeyê|
|by bus||bi otobozê|
|by airplane||bi balafirê|
|by taxi||bi taksiyê|
|by foot||bi peyatî|
Performing a task by means of an object, tool, etc.:
|with a knife||bi kêrê|
|with a pen/pencil||bi pênûsê|
|with a dictionary||bi ferhengê|
|with Azad’s help||bi alîkariya Azad (alîkarî = help)|
For referring to things being written or spoken in a language:
|in Kurdish||bi kurdî|
|in the Kurdish language||bi zimanê kurdî|
For referring to the view or preference of a person:
|in my opinion/my way of thinking||bi min|
|in her opinion||bi wê|
|in his opinion||bi wî|
bê means without.
|tea without milk||çaya bê şîr|
|without me||bê min|
|without a doubt||bê guman|
|without fear||bê tirs|
In this lesson we will begin to introduce readings. Initially, these will be short and simple, but they will get progressively longer and more complex. The goal of the readings is to allow you to see grammar and vocabulary used in context. We will aim to use as little new vocabulary as possible in the readings.
Navê min Azad e. Ez ji Mêrdînê me. Ez bîst û yek salî me. Ez niha li Stenbolê xwendekar im lê ez ne xwendekarekî pir baş im. Malbata min hê li Mêrdînê ye. Bav, dê, du xwişk û birayekî min hene. Li Stenbolê êdî pir hevalên min hene. Di nav me de têkiliyeke pir nêzîk heye.
My name is Azad. I am from Mardin. I am twenty-one years old. Now I am (a) student in Istanbul, but I am not a really good student. My family is still in Mardin. I have (a) father, mother, two sisters, and a brother. In Istanbul I have many friends now. We have a close relationship. (Literal translation to English: Between us there is a close relationship.)