Usually verbal adjectives, just like normal adjectives in Turkish, modify a “headword” – which is usually the noun that comes after it.
Normal adjective: Tatlı kız – sweet girl
Verbal adjective: Tatlı olan kız. – The girl who is sweet.
Verbal adjective: Evleneceğim kız. – The girl whom I am going to marry.
However, if there is no headword, a headword is implied and must be deduced from context:
En tatlı olan kazansın. – May the sweetest one (girl? cake?) win.
Verbal adjectives are an extremely important way in which sentences are made more complex in Turkish:
Spor salonuna gitmeyen adam yaptıklarımı bilmez zaten. – A man who does not go to the gym would not know the things I am doing, anyhow.
Orta Anadolu’nun her yerinde şanlı bir tarihe sahip olan Hititlere ait pek bilinmeyen şehirler var. – There are cities that are not well known belonging to the Hittites, who have/had a glorious history, everywhere in central Anatolia.
Past or present verbal adjectives without a possessive ending are of the form -an or -en according to vowel harmony (with a -y- added in-between for verb stems ending in a vowel):
Halı satan kadın bize de çay ikram etti. – The woman selling rugs also gave us tea.
“Hayır!” diyen yoktu. – No-one said “No!” (lit. there was no (person) who said “No!”)
Past or present verbal adjectives with a possessive ending are of the form -tik, -tık, -tük, or –tuk (according to vowel harmony, and it can also start with a “d” instead of a “t” according to consonant harmony):
Yüzdüğüm havuzlar – Pools I have swum (in)
Yaptığını beğenmedim. – I didn’t like what you did.
In the future tense, verbal adjectives take –ecek and usually a possessive ending:
Yüzeceğim havuzlar – Pools I will swim (in)
Yapacağı çok şey var. – He has a lot of things to do.
Yapacak çok şey var. – There are a lot of things to do.
There are also, more rarely, verbal adjectives in other tenses –
-miş: geçmiş zaman – past tense (lit. the time that has passed); söylenmemiş söz – a word that was not spoken.
-r/-er/-ar (“wide” present): anlaşılır bir şekilde konuş. – speak in a way that is understood; inanılmaz bir tatildi – it was an unbelievable (lit. that could not be believed) holiday.
Just as with verbal nouns, there are lots of ways in which verbal adjectives are used creatively in Turkish:
Yaptıktan sonra. – After it is done.
Spor yapmadığım halde sağlıklıyım. – I am healthy despite not doing sport.
Anlamadığı için cevap vermiyor. – He does not answer because he does not understand.
Verbal adjectives may well be the most difficult grammatical feature in Turkish, but once you get used to them, they will be the key to unlock more difficult sentences. Enjoy!
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