You Must Return

Lesson 23 | -meli Must

As we continue to explore the most challenging verb tenses of the Turkish language, we move to a verb tense that linguist might call the debitive and which carries the meaning of "must".

We've already learned how to say things are necessary using the word "gerek" in Lesson 2. However, there are a number of ways of conveying necessity in Turkish, and the strongest and most direct is the -meli verb ending. As far as I can tell, this ending is formed using a verbal noun like "gitme (from gitmek)" or "bakma (from bakmak)" and adding the -li suffix along with the suffixes for "to be". However, we can simply think of it as -meli/malı.

The song "Dönmelisin (You Must Return)" by the trio of İzel & Çelik & Ercan is an early 90s hit that makes extensive use of the -meli verb tense. This group recorded a single album together before dissolving into individual solo projects. This song, written and composed by Çelik Erişçi, demands a love's immediate return.

Here is a conjugation of all of the -meli verbs used in the song:

Pronoundönmek (to return)bilmek (to know)görmek (to see)sevmek (to love)olmak (to be)

In addition to the new -meli verb tense, this song contains multiple iterations of the -dik ending used to form a word that has the function of a noun. In a previous lesson, we saw how the -dik participle can be used to modify nouns in the way that an adjective does, but here we have it used as a noun as in the last lesson, only this time with a direct object market. For example "seni sevdiğimi bilmelisin" means "you must know that I love you". Also, "benim olduğunu bilmelisin" means "you must know that you are mine". As you can see, the -dik ending performs a critical function in terms of joining independent clauses, and so it will absolutely indispensable in future lessons.


kadeh - glass (of alcoholic beverage such as wine or rakı)
sigara - cigarette
dost - friend, companion
kağıt - paper, piece of paper
hatıra - memory
yalnızlık - loneliness
dönmelisin - you must come back
bilmelisin - you must know
görmelisin - you must see
sevmelisin - you must love

İzel & Çelik & Ercan - Dönmelisin

Bir kadeh yada bir tek sigara / anlatırdı derdimi sana
A glass (of alcohol) or a single cigarrette / would have explained my pain to you
Hüzün dolu sessiz geceler / sen yokken dost olurdu bana
Sadness-filled silent nights / kept me company while you were gone
Yok istemem sensiz geceyi / artık gelmelisin sen bana
No, I don't want the night without you / You must come back to me already
The word "artık" can mean "finally" or "now" but here I have translated it as "already" to match up with idiomatic English.
Hissetmeyi o sevgiyi / şimdi vermelisin sen bana
You must give me the experience of feeling that love now
Dönmelisin, görmelisin
You must return, you must see
Artık seni sevdiğimi bilmelisin
You must at last know that I love you
Sevmelisin sen bilmelisin
You must love (me), you must know
Artık benim olduğunu bilmelisin
You must at last know that you're mine
Bir kağıt yada boş bir satıra / anlattım yalnızlığı sana
With a (blank) piece of paper or an empty paragraph / I explained loneliness to you
Sevgi dolu sensiz geceler / artık hatıra oldu bana
Love-filled nights without you / have now become a memory for me
Yok istemem sensiz geceyi / artık gelmelisin sen bana
Hissetmeyi o sevgiyi / şimdi vermelisin sen bana
Dönmelisin görmelisin
Artık seni sevdiğimi bilmelisin
Sevmelisin sen bilmelisin
Artık benim olduğunu bilmelisin
Bilmelisin artık. But if you need more listening on -meli, try this:

The Two of Us are One Sapling

Before moving on to Lesson 24: I Can Do It, review the few words that we've picked up in this lesson. You can see that the vocabulary is already starting to get easier!

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