Turkish Language Tips and Notes

Turkish Language Tips and Notes

🗣️ Learning Languages

How to learn Turkish, notes on grammar, phonics and more

This is hodgepodge of notes I have gathered about the Turkish language, mainly from Duolingo's Grammar Tips and Notes.

Bir vurmakla ağaç devrilmez.

One swing of an axe does not cut down a tree.



Despite many of their influences on Turkish, it does not belong to the same family of languages as Persian, Arabic, and French do. It has a phonetic spelling mixing many of the sounds from Spanish and German, and often challenges the notion of the verb "to be", either by getting rid of it or using a workaround which makes you completely challenge the notion of the word "to be" that exists in PIE languages! It makes it simple but it also makes it equally challenging!

Word Order

Turkish is a Subject-Object-Verb language. Take this Turkish sentence for example

Ben seni seviyorum

Which means, "I like you" however, it is literally written as I you like.

The verb always comes at the end of the sentence in written Turkish. But this is not a rule that is set in stone, as in casual conversations, you have may hold sway over the verb placement.

Verb Tenses

In Turkish, there are the English notions of **“present continuous” (a sentence describing what is happening right now) and a “simple present” tense (a sentence describing something that happens regularly).

For example,

I eat bananas. (present simple)

The sentence above describes that you probably have preference, or that you're OK with bananas.

I am eating bananas. (present continuous)

The sentence above describes that you are eating bananas right now without the implications from the "present simple" sentence.

If you are translating between Turkish and English, these differences still matter.


The Turkish pronouns are as follows:

Singular or Plural Singular Plural
1st Person Ben (I) Biz (We)
2nd Person Sen (You, one person) Siz (You, many people)
3rd Person O (he/she/it) Onlar (they)

In the brackets above, I provided translations. You'll notice that Turkish is gender neutral, and as with most gender neutral languages, it matters more WHO the person is from context not the English pronoun being translated one-to-one to the target language. If the pronoun "O" gets lost in context, you may have to refer by the name of the person or mention a noun of that person once more. "Siz" is not only used to refer to a plural of yous, but is used to say "you" to someone where more respect is necessary i.e. for work, elders etc. French speakers may equate "siz" to the French counterpart "vous".


Turkish does not use articles like "a" or "an" in the same way we use them in English. If the noun is in the subject position, we wouldn't need to say a/an and it would be stranger to do so. That makes us ask, but then there is no way to tell! Weird right? Well, get used to it bucko. Jokes aside, if the noun is in the object position, Turkish does need you to distinguish between saying "the" or "a/an".


What is an "imperative sentence"?

So, you know how in English, we can tell the difference between

You are eating your vegetables.


Eat your vegetables!

You know that the second sentence is commanding you to do something. You may also notice the difference between the words that are left out. For one thing, the commanding sentence seems shortened, and it has gotten rid of any "markers" that make it sound like it is something else. Firstly, the subject was removed "You", but it is still implying that you should be the one doing it. Second, the present continuous marker "ing" is removed, so you know it's not something happening now, but something else. Different languages have different ways to express a "commanding" sentence as opposed to a sentence just regularly describing something that's happening. We call the second sentence i.e. "commanding sentences" as imperative sentences

Forming the informal imperative form in Turkish is extremely simple. All you have to do is use the root form of the verb much like you took the root of the verb "eating" to be "eat". Below is a table showing infinitives (how we use the word "to" in front of verbs like "to eat" as it makes sense to do so in complicated sentences. Turkish will attach an "-mek" at the ending of the word instead of writing a "to" before it. But to command someone, it requires you to remove that -mek ending.

Infinitive English Inf. Imp. English
yemek to eat Ye! Eat!
içmek to drink İç! Drink!


Adjectives and all modifiers in Turkish must always come before the nouns that they modify (This is a happy dog, happy modifies dog, this sentence emphasizes that you're talking about the noun "dog"). If you want to say that "the noun IS [insert adjective here]" then of course, the adjective will need to go after the noun (e.g. The dog is happy, this sentence emphasizes that you're talking about the adjective). If you use the number bir as an article, this will come directly before the noun. For example:

soğuk elma --The cold apple

soğuk bir elma -- A cold apple (literally: cold an apple)

Elma soğuk -- The apple is cold.


General Direct Objects

In Turkish, if you have a general direct object, there is no need to put any case or suffix on the object itself. A general direct object is one that uses “a/an” or the plural without “the.” To put this into simpler terms, if you want to mention that there is a "he" that is eating the fruit of the "orange" variety, but it truly doesn't matter if he was eating one or many in that context, you don't have to mention "a/an" and you also don't need to make it plural either.

If you want to be extra specific, you can add the numeral bir to makes sure that the meaning “a/an” is given. For example:

Turkish English
O portakal yer. He/She/It eats oranges or He/She/It eats an orange.
O bir portakal yer. He/She/It eats an orange.

Just keep in mind, "O portakallar yer" is simply wrong in Turkish.

Happy Learning!


By now, you should already be familiar with using the nominative case to describe subjects and some objects. However, now comes the accusative case in Turkish which is used to mark specific direct objects. In English, it is equivalent to using the word the to point out to a very specific thing, an not just any/a/n thing that you're doing some verb to. For example:

Turkish English
Ben gazete okurum. I read newspapers. or I read a newspaper.
Ben gazeteyi okurum. I read the newspaper.
Ben bir gazete okurum. I read a newspaper.

As you can see above, the accusative is only used when referring to the newspaper. You'll notice that the suffix added here is a combination of "y" and the vowel "i". This forms the accusative case for this specific noun. But oh wait... it gets more fun than that! Sometimes you won't have "y" or "i" to mark the object that is accused, and that is due to a very cool feature of the Turkish language called vowel harmony.

Vowel Harmony

In Turkish, vowels within a (native, non-loanword) word and any suffixes that are attached to said word must follow "vowel harmony".

Vowel harmony simplifies the pronunciation of the vowels to be close to a vowel sound earlier in the spelling of the same "word" of Turkish.

There are two types of vowel harmony in Turkish, 4-way and 2-way. The accusative case uses 4-way vowel harmony. In 4-way vowel harmony, there are 4 possible vowels with a "y" that is added if the part before the suffix ends with a vowel. To figure out what accusative suffix to add, you need to look at the final vowel in the noun portion of the word.

Turkish Accusative Suffix
ö, ü -(y)ü
o,u -(y)u
e,i -(y)i
a,ı -(y)ı

Nouns ending with a vowel, need the insertion of the buffer letter "-y". Here are some examples:

Turkish, Nominative Turkish, Accusative English
elma elmayı apple
gazete gazeteyi newspaper
süt sütü milk
limon limonu lemon

Consonant Mutations

There is one final thing to talk about in terms of the accusative case. That would be your first taste of consonant mutations, often called consonant harmony. Consonants often change at the end of words depending on if it is followed by a vowel or a consonant. If they are followed by a vowel, they will generally change into voiced consonants. For example:

There is another type of harmony that Turkish has, which is called consonant harmony. This means that on top of vowel harmony, we also need to think about the sound of the final consonant in the nominative case. Look at the following table and see what happens in the accusative case when the nominative case ends with the letters p, t, k, and ç.

Turkish, Nominative Turkish, Accusative English
kitap kitabı book
ağaç ağacı tree
köpek köpeği dog

This means:

●      p → b

●      t → d

●      k → ğ

●      ç → c

Adding those vowels caused the original consonant to change! But that made the pronunciation flow off the tongue better because of it. The best analogy I could come up with as to why "consonant harmony happens" is akin to American English speakers taking the word "little" and saying "liddle" despite the "t" sound, or British English speakers pronouncing the word "eraser" like "e-razor" just because it requires less effort.

There are exceptions to this consonant harmony rule, and you'll need to learn them as you go.


Plural Suffix

The plural suffix in Turkish is formed using the suffix -lAr. What is this "A"? This is just a variable for a vowel we need to put there, and that vowel will need to correspond to something called the "2-way vowel harmony" (2WVH).
In 2WVH,

  • If the final vowel is placed at the front is one of the following i, e, ü, ö, then use -ler.
  • If it is back (a, ı, o, u), use the suffix -lar.

Vowel harmony will be found in many other suffixes of Turkish grammar, and it's better to get used to this idea.

Turkish, Nominative English Turkish, Plural English
ayı bear ayılar bears
kuş bird kuşlar birds
kurbağa frog kurbağalar frogs
köpek dog köpekler dogs
hindi turkey hindiler turkeys
menü menu menüler menus

To be


There is NO actual verb "to be" in Turkish, at least in the way you think of it in English. So bear that in mind as you read below on the workarounds:

Suffix Person/Number Example English
-(y)Im 1st sing. (Ben) mutluyum. I am happy.
-sIn 2nd sing. (Sen) mutlusun. You are happy.
∅, -DIr 3rd sing O mutlu. He/She/It is happy.
-(y)Iz 1st pl. (Biz) mutluyuz. We are happy.
-sInIz 2nd pl. (Siz) mutlusunuz. You are happy.
∅, -DIr 3rd pl. Onlar mutlu/mutludur. They are happy.
-lAr, -DIrlAr 3rd pl. (Onlar) mutlular/mutludurlar. They are happy.

There are a few points to talk about in the above chart.

1) All except the 3rd person pl. suffix follow 4-way vowel harmony.

2) In the 1st person, you will see a buffer “-y-” be used if the adjective or noun ends in a vowel.

3) The suffix -DIr is used to clarify any ambiguity, emphasize, or state facts. This both follows 4-way vowel harmony and has consonant harmony; ‘d’ changes to ‘t’ after the following consonants (p ç t k s ş h f).

4) The suffix -lAr is optional in the 3rd person pl. It can only be used on humans.

Be as a Command

“Be” as a command in Turkish, the stem of the verb olmak, which means “to become.” Thake off the infinite -mak suffix and you get yourself the imperative “ol.” To be polite or formal, add the ending -In, which according to 4-way vowel harmony, comes out as “olun.” This same sufix gets added to all verbs to make formal commands.


Possessive Suffixes

Which person’s perspective? Sing. Plural
1st Person (I, we) -(I)m -(I)mIz
2nd Person (you) -(I)n -(I)nIz
3rd Person (he, she, it, they) -(s)I -(s)I
  • Some suffixes will have a buffer vowel or a buffer consonant.
  • Suffixes gain the buffer vowel when the root ends in consonant and do not have it when the root ends in a vowel.
  • For the 3rd person suffix, the buffer s will be added when the root ends in a vowel and will be omitted when it ends in a consonant.
  • This may seem a little confusing, but it is extremely simple with practice. The same consonant harmony we saw earlier in the the accusative skill occurs with the possessive suffixes as well. So it's not like ever case's suffix has its own harmony rules.
  • Now let’s see these in real use. This chart will give an example of a word that ends in a vowel (kedi means cat):
Turkish English
(Benim) kedim My cat
(Senin) kedin Your cat
(Onun) kedisi His/Her/Its cat
(Bizim) kedimiz Our cat
(Sizin) kediniz Your cat
(Onların) kedisi Their cat

This chart gives an example of a word that ends in a consonant:

Turkish English
(Benim) aslanım My lion
(Senin) aslanın Your lion
(Onun) aslanı His/Her/Its lion
(Bizim) aslanımız Our lion
(Sizin) aslanınız Your lion
(Onların) aslanı Their lion

If you use many of the same thing, you will need to use the plural suffix. The plural suffix comes before the possessive suffixes. For example:

Turkish English
(Benim) pastalarım My cakes
(Onun) limonları His/Her/Its lemons
(Sizin) portakallarınız Your oranges

If you attach any other case suffix to a noun with a possessive suffix, it will**always come after** the possessive suffix. They will also obey vowel harmony according to the last vowel in the whole word. If you add a case to a noun with the 3rd person possessive suffix, it will always have a buffer -n-. This buffer -n- can lead to ambiguities with the second person possessive suffix. Here are some examples of nouns in the accusative case with a possessive suffix:

Turkish w/o Accusative Turkish w/ Accusative English
(Benim) adım (Benim) adımı My name
(Onun) kahveleri (Onun) kahvelerini His/Her/Its coffees
(Senin) kahvelerin (Senin) kahvelerini Your coffees


Genitive Case

The genitive case is expressed with the suffix -(n)In in Turkish. This case is used to show possession. The buffer -n- must be added to roots that end in a vowel. The genitive case is basically when you don't use possessive pronouns like we did in the previous section but the actual noun or proper noun. Think of it like using apostrophe "S" ('s) in English because it's no longer tied to a pronoun when you do so e.g. not using my, your, their, but using Soroush's, Jeff's, The soccer team's. For example:

●      Selcen’s dog: Selcen’in köpeği

●      Özge’s cats: Özge’nin kedileri


  • Possessors get the genitive case ending.
  • Possesees get the possessive suffixes.
  • Pay attention to this! Look at the above tables to get a full list of the pronouns in the genitive case.

If you want to say something like “your cats’ food,” this would have both the personal suffix and the genitive case. The translation to this is “kedilerinin yemeği.” This is ambiguous (remember, it can be your cats or his/her/its cats.

To Have

Turkish has a verb for "to have" (sahip olmak) but that's rarely used and will be taught in a future skill. We mostly use just possessive + var to say "X has Y" andpossessive + yok to say "X does not have Y". For example:

●      Selcen has a dog: Selcen’in köpeği var

●      Özge has cats: Özge’nin kedileri var

●      I do not have water: Benim suyum yok

●      You do not have milk: Senin sütün yok

Dative Pronouns

The dative case in Turkish is normally used to describe indirect objects and motions towards a place. The dative pronouns in Turkish are as follows:

Perspective Sing. Plural
1st Person bana bize
2nd Person sana size
3rd Person ona onlara

They generally have the meaning of “to me,” “to you,” etc. If you “are reading to me,” “speaking to me,” or “coming to me” Turkish would use the dative pronoun.

For example: O bize gazeteyi okur. “He/She/It reads the newspaper to us” OR “He/She/It reads us the newspaper.”

These pronouns and this case are used for more things in Turkish, but we will cover that when we get to the Dative skill. Until then, kolay gelsin!



Turkish question words do not undergo the same movement that they do in English (notice...questions words almost always are at the beginning of questions in English). Instead, they keep put in the place that naturally occur in the sentence-form of the question. For example, imagine that you are surprised while asking the question “Where did you buy the present?” You might exclaim, “You bought the present WHERE?!” Turkish maintains this position in sentences.

Do not forget Turkish is a SOV language. This means that verbs are always at the end if the sentence contains a verb.

Good luck and happy learning!


The locative case in Turkish is used to describe location in, at, or on a place. It is formed with the suffix -DA. Now, you may be asking, what is that capital D doing there…

...to which we respond with the answer “consonant harmony.” Turkish employs both vowel and consonant harmony in its grammar. What does consonant harmony mean exactly? Basically, unvoiced consonants like to be next to unvoiced consonants and voiced consonants like to be next to voiced consonants. For example, things about how we pronounce the plural marker -s in “cats” and “dogs” (one should sound like an ‘s’ and the other should sound like a ‘z’). With the locative (and later the ablative), you will see a similar phenomenon. The suffix -DA will become -TA after the letters ‘p, ç, t, k, f, h, s, and ş’ (We use “Fıstıkçı Şahap” or "Efe Paşa çok hasta" as mnemonics to remember these). These are unsurprisingly all of the unvoiced consonants in Turkish. The suffix remains as -DA in all other instances (after following any other consonant or a vowel). Remember, this suffix will also employ 2-way vowel harmony.

Here are some examples:

Turkish, Nominative English Turkish, Locative English
park park parkta in/at the park
otel hotel otelde in/at the hotel
banyo bathroom banyoda in/at the bathroom
bakkal store bakkalda in/at the store
köpek dog köpekte on/at the dog


Forming numbers in Turkish is very simple after you know the core vocabulary. The numbers are as follows:

Turkish Number Digit Turkish Number Digit
bir 1 on bir 11
iki 2 on iki 12
üç 3 yirmi 20
dört 4 otuz 30
beş 5 kırk 40
altı 6 elli 50
yedi 7 altmış 60
sekiz 8 yetmiş 70
dokuz 9 seksen 80
on 10 doksan 90

When you use a digit with a noun, you should NEVER use the plural suffix on the end of the noun. This is redundant and grammatically incorrect in Turkish. That means you should say “iki kedi” and not “iki kediler.” The larger numbers are as follows:

Turkish Number

Turkish Number Digit
yüz 100
bin 1000
milyon 1000000

Verbs: Present continuous 1

The tense sign of the present continuous tense in Turkish is -iyor, -ıyor, -üyor, -uyor, which is added to the verb root. These suffixes are added according to 4-way Vowel Harmony.

Just how does one find the verb root in Turkish? Infinitives in Turkish end in -mAk, for example: istemek.

You must simply remove the -mek off of "istemek" to get the root "iste-"

The tense endings are completed by adding the following personal suffixes:

Perspective Sing. Plural
1st Person -um -uz
2nd Person -sun -sunuz
3rd Person -∅ -∅ / -lar

*If the nominative pronoun "onlar," is used in the sentence, you are not required to include '-lAr’ as a suffix, since it is already clear that the verb is plural from context. You can only use -lAr if the subject is human. Sorry cat, trees, and cars!

When the verb root itself ends in a vowel, as in bekle-mek (to wait, expect), then this vowel is also dropped as the head vowel of the "-iyor" tense sign replaces it, becoming bekl-iyor.

The first letter "-i" of "-iyor" is subject to 4-way vowel harmony with the verb stem's final vowel. The tense sign "-iyor" can be likened to the English Tense sign "-ing".

Some examples:

●      geliyorum [geliyor-um] (I am coming)

●      alıyorsun [alıyor-sun] (you are taking)

●      ödüyorlar [ödüyor-lar] (they are paying)

Dates and Time

Noun Compounds

In this skill, you will encounter your first Turkish noun compounds. A noun compound is when you combine two nouns to create something with a new meaning (i.e. birth+day=birthday). Forming these in Turkish will be easy using the knowledge that you already have up to this point.

All you have to do is put two nouns next to each other and add the possessive suffix on the second noun. There is no suffix on the first word. For example:

Word 1 Word 2 Noun Compound English
doğum gün doğum günü birthday
tavuk su tavuk suyu chicken broth
balık çorba balık çorbası fish soup
kuzu et kuzu eti lamb (meat)


Ablative Case

You have learned 4 of the 7 Turkish cases so far (Nominative, Accusative, Genitive/Possessive, Locative). Tebrikler! In this lesson you will get closer to learning all of them. In this lesson we will cover the Ablative case, which is used in Turkish to convey motion from a place. After learning the Locative case, the Ablative will be extremely easy. In fact, it is almost the exact same! The suffix that you will have to use is -DAn. This suffix follows the exact same consonant and vowel harmony rules as the Locative. In fact the only difference is the letter “n” at the end of the suffix. Here are some examples:

Turkish Nominative Turkish Ablative English
park parktan from the park
köy köyden from the village
saray saraydan from the palace
ofis ofisten from the office


Dative Case

It is time for case 6 out of 7. How are you feeling? Overwhelmed? Don’t be! You are doing great so far! Just remember that Turkish isn’t as complicated as you think, and it will be easy. It is different from English, but it much more regular and isn’t too complicated. The Dative case in Turkish is used to describe movement towards something and for indirect objects. An indirect object tells “to whom or for whom” an action is being done. It always tells the recipient of the direct object.

I gave her a hug.

I told him about the event.

We showed them the cake.

Forming the Dative case is very simple, considering the amount of knowledge you have under your belt now. The suffix is “-(y)A.” The suffix obeys 2-way vowel harmony and uses a buffer -y- when attached to a word that ends in a vowel. Consonant harmony will often happen at the end of words that end with /p t k ç/. Simple, right? It is a great way to review concepts while still learning something new. Here are some examples:

Turkish Nominative Turkish Dative English
park parka to the park
şapka şapkaya to the hat
domates domatese to the tomato
fare fareye to the mouse
fareler farelere to the mice
köpek köpeğe to the dog

What time is it?

This skill, unlike the last Time skill is only dedicated to telling time in Turkish. There will be a lot of information below, so read carefully.

Saat kaç?

1) The phrase “Saat kaç?” is used to ask “What time is it?” in Turkish. The response is Saat… followed by the number of the hour. This is really simple when you are at the full hour. When at the full hour, saat is optional.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat beş. It is 5 o'clock.
Beş It is 5.

2) The word buçuk is used to describe time at the half hour.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat beş buçuk. It is 5:30.

3) For telling time before the half hour, you will use the word geçiyor and the_accusative_ case. The word denoting the hour gets the accusative case ending which is then followed by the minute number. Then you add geçiyor to the end.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat beşi on geçiyor. It is 5:10.
Saat dördü on dört geçiyor. It is 4:14.

4) For telling time after the half hour, you will use the word var and the _dative_case. The word denoting the next hour gets the dative and the **remaining**minutes until the next hour follows. Then add var to the end.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat yediye üç var. It is 6:57.
Saat altıya on var. It is 5:50.

5) When you are unsure, you can just say “saat+ the hour number + the minute number”. This construction is used for trains, buses, and television.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat on kırk. It is 10:40.
Saat dokuz elli. It is 9:50.

6) To describe things at the quarter hour, use the word çeyrek using the same grammar from above.

Turkish English
Saat kaç? What time is it?
Saat onu çeyrek geçiyor. It is 10:15.
Saat sekize çeyrek var. It is 7:45.

Saat kaçta?

Now that you have taken in how to tell the time, we have to explain how to explain “At what time?”. This uses a similar, but not identical system.

7) If it is the full or half hour, you will use the described system above along with the locative case (-DA).

Turkish English
Saat kaçta? At what time?
Saat onda. At 10.
Saat iki buçukta. At 2:30.

8) If it is before the half hour, you will use the same construction as above, but will use geçe instead of geçiyor.

Turkish English
Saat kaçta? At what time?
Saat onu beş geçe. At 10:05.
Saat biri çeyrek geçe. At 1:15.

9) If it is after the half hour, you will use the same construction above, but with_kala_ instead of var.

Turkish English
Saat kaçta? At what time?
Saat on bire çeyrek kala. At 10:45.
Saat dokuza beş kala. At 8:55.

Ok...I know this was a lot to take in, but with some practice, it will be very easy! Good luck in the skill and please feel free to repeat it several times until you have the hang of it. Until then, kolay gelsin!


In Turkish, there are no such things as prepositions. Before you feel really relieved, I must give you some bad news. Turkish uses postpositions. All English_prepositions_ are represented in Turkish either by a case or by postpositions. There are two types of postpositions in Turkish, Type 1 and Type 2.

Type 1 Postpositions

Type 1 postpositions are formed by using a genitive construction with a main noun and a location noun. Rather than saying “outside of the house,” Turkish says “at the outside of the house.” It isn’t too bad, right? We will include several of these in this lesson. Here are some examples.

Main (Pro)nouns English Location Noun Combination English
ev house inside evin içinde inside the house
sen you arka behind senin arkanda behind you
kitap book üst top kitabın üstünde above the book, on top of the book
kitap book üzeri top kitabın üzerinde above the book, on top of the book
hastane hospital ön front hastanenin önünde in front of the hospital

Type 2 Postpositions

Type 2 prepositions resemble English prepositions more. They are single words that follow a noun, sometimes requiring certain cases. You have already seen an example of this in the course in the Dative Skill (doğru). We have included 4 here.

hariç and sırasında These are two postpositions that require the nominative case. Hariç has the meaning except. Sırasında has the meaning during.

Main (Pro)nouns English Location Noun Combination English
yaz summer sırasında during yaz sırasında during summer
akşam yemeği dinner sırasında during akşam yemeği sırasında during dinner
ben I hariç except ben hariç except for me
kar snow hariç except kar hariç except for snow
hakkında and gibi

These two postpositions also require the nominative case. There is one exception however. If they are used in combination with pronouns, you must use the genitive case. For example:

Main (Pro)nouns English Location Noun Combination English
mahalle neighborhood hakkında about mahalle hakkında about the neighborhood
biz we hakkında about bizim hakkımızda about us
annem my mother gibi like annem gibi like my mother
o he/she/it gibi like onun gibi like him/her/it

With practice, the idea of prepositions coming post the word will be simple! Until then, kolay gelsin!

With or without? (Instrumental)

Turkish Nominative With English Without English
süt sütlü with milk sütsüz wıthout milk
peynir peynirli with cheese peynirsiz without cheese
tuz tuzlu with salt tuzsuz without salt
elma elmalı with apple(s) elmasız without apple(s)

Instrumental Case

Are you ready for this? This is the last case in Turkish! Calm down from all of your excitement. Everything is going to be alright! The name of the seventh case in Turkish is the Instrumental. This is actually a hotly debated topic in the Turkic linguistic community...is this a case or is it not a case? It is a shortened version of the postposition ile (with also means with)and kind of acts strange to be a case proper. You are able to decide for yourself. The Instrumental, like most other cases in Turkish, is surprisingly simple to form. All you have to do is add the suffix -(y)lA. Use the buffer -y- if the noun ends in a vowel. The Instrumental denotes the meaning “with “ or “by means of.” Here are some examples:

And now that you have learned every case in Turkish, we will put three chart below showing the full declensions of two nouns.

Case Singular English Plural English
Nominative anne mother anneler mothers
Genitive annenin "of the mother" "mother's" annelerin "of the mothers" "mothers'"
Dative anneye to the mother annelere to the mothers
Accusative anneyi mother (direct object) anneleri mothers (direct object)
Ablative anneden from the mother annelerden from the mothers
Locative annede in/on/at the mother annelerde in/on/at the mothers
Instrumental anneyle with the mother annelerle with the mothers
Case Singular English Plural English
Nominative kuş bird kuşlar birds
Genitive kuşun "of the bird" "bird's" kuşların "of the birds" "birds'"
Dative kuşa to the bird kuşlara to the birds
Accusative kuşu bird (direct object) kuşları birds (direct object)
Ablative kuştan from the bird kuşlardan from the birds
Locative kuşta in/on/at the bird kuşlarda in/on/at the birds
Instrumental kuşla with the bird kuşlarla with the birds

Instrumental Pronouns

●      benimle

●      seninle

●      onunla

●      bizimle

●      sizinle

●      onlarla (why this is not ONLARINLA is a big mystery)

Questions - 2

Yes/No Questions

Forming Yes/No questions in Turkish is done by using a particle attached to the end of sentences. This particle is mI-. It obeys 4-way vowel harmony. The personal endings for the to be copula are always attached to this particle. They are never kept on the end of the verb or noun that they would normally attach to in declarative sentences. For example:

Declarative Turkish Declarative English Turkish Question English Question
Bir kedisin. You are a cat. Bir kedi misin? Are you a cat?
Alex öğretmendir. Alex is a teacher. Alex öğretmen midir? Is Alex a teacher?
Mutluyum. I am happy. Mutlu muyum? Am I happy?
Arkamdasın. You are behind me. Arkamda mısın? Are you behind me?

If this particle is attached to a verb in the present continuous, you will **never**have to worry about vowel harmony. Since the suffix for the present continuous is -(I)yor, the question particle will always be mu- followed by the appropriate personal suffixes.

Declarative Turkish Declarative English Turkish Question English Question
Parka gidiyorum. I am going to the park. Parka gidiyor muyum? Am I going to the park?
Beni seviyorsun. You love me. Beni seviyor musun? Do you love me?
Emel evime koşuyor. Emel is running to my house. Emel evime koşuyor mu? Is Emel running to my house?

Yoksa or Veya

Veya is used when you have multiple options that may exist outside of the two things you are asking.

Nur Türkçe veya İngilizce biliyor.

Nur knows Turkish or English. (she may know other languages)

Yoksa is used when where are only two options. It is normally optional and is**always** accompanied with the question particle following both possible options in question.

●      Evim büyük mü yoksa küçük mü?

●      Evim büyük mü, küçük mü?

●      Is my house big or small?


Kinship Terms

Turkish divides kinship terms in a slightly different way than English. A lot of terms on the maternal and paternal side are different. Turks occasionally get confused by the more obscure ones, but this skill teaches all of the ones used on a daily basis by all Turkish people. The extra ones are in a bonus skill.

English Turkish, Maternal Turkish, Paternal
Aunt teyze (also used to refer to old women in general) hala
Uncle dayı amca (also used to refer to old men in general)
Grandmother anneanne (literally 'mother mother') babaanne (literally 'father mother')



Negation is formed by (you guessed it) another suffix. This suffix will work in very mysterious ways however. This suffix is -mI. Now we know what you are thinking...this looks just like the question particle! I will guarantee that you will never confuse the two for soon to be obvious reasons. The negation suffix**always** comes before the tense information on the verb. The question particle**95% of the time** comes after the tense information. Seeing as we only know the_present continuous_ at this point in time, we will only use that tense in this lesson. We have more negation lessons later on in the tree to explain negation in the other tenses. Now here are some examples of negation and the question particle in action!

Turkish English
Yağmur yağmıyor. It is not raining.
Yağmur yağmıyor mu? Is it not raining?
Bahçeye gelmiyorum. I am not coming to the garden.
Biz parkaya gitmiyor muyuz? Are we not going to the park?
Ne söylüyorsun? What are you saying?

Here is also a break-down of three verbs with all the grammatical information that we know so far:

Root Neg Tense QP Person Complete Word English
Yap yor - um Yapmıyorum I am not doing.
Öde mi yor - sunuz Ödemiyorsunuz You are not paying.
Yürü yor mu yuz Yürümüyor muyuz? Are we not walking?

Nations & Countries & Languages

Consonant Harmony, Part Two

Turkish has a very useful suffix for forming languages. This suffix is -CA. This suffix has striking similarities to the locative case (in case you don’t remember -DA). After the consonants ‘p, ç, t, k, f, h, s, and ş,’ this suffix will take the form -çA. In all other cases, it will have the form of -cA. Here are some examples:

Root Language English
Macar Macarca Hungarian
Türk Türkçe Turkish
Çin Çince Chinese
Arap Arapça Arab/Arabic

Nationality vs. Language vs. Adjective

Turkish, unlike English (normally), distinguishes between nationalities and languages. That means that Türk refers to things and people who are from Turkey. Türkçe refers to the language spoken by most ethnically Turkish people. These are not interchangeable.

This being said, there are some cases that differentiate between the nationality and adjective form. Amerikan refers to things from America. Amerikalı refers to people from America. If there were a such thing and an American language, it would be referred to Amerikanca (however, there is no such thing)!



The infinitive in Turkish equates to the “to verb” form in English. It can also_sometimes_ (not always) be interpreted as the -ing form (gerund) in English. This is the form that you will always find in a Turkish dictionary. The suffix for this form is -mAk and obeys two way vowel harmony.

The most common place where this is used is after the verb istemek, which means “to want”. For example: Ben gitmek istiyorum. I want to go.

Here are some examples of words in the infinitive form:

Root Infinitive English
sev sevmek to love
yap yapmak to do/make
içmek to drink
uyu uyumak to sleep

This can also be used as a gerund in some cases, for example:

Türkçe konuşmak çok kolay. Speaking Turkish is very easy.

Ordinal Numbers

Ordinal Numbers

One might ask, what are ordinal numbers? One might respond with examples such as “first, tenth, umpteenth, etc.” Turkish also has this same grammatical structure, and it uses the suffix -(I)ncI. If the numeral ends in a vowel, there is no need to add the buffer vowel. This suffix does follow 4-way vowel harmony. Here are some examples:

Numeral Ordinal Number English
bir birinci first
iki ikinci second
altı altıncı sixth
dört dördüncü fourth


Turkish has a word that is pretty hard to translate into English. This word_kaçıncı_ would be “which” in English, but only in reference to “which (number)th.” Hangi is used in all other situations. For example:

Kaçıncı kedi? “Which cat?” (the first, second, or third?)

Hangi kedi? “Which cat?” (the brown, white, or tan one?)

Past Tense

Past Tense

The concept of past tense is a little bit different than English and many other European languages in Turkish. When talking about past in Turkish, you can understand if the story teller saw the events by his / her own eyes or heard from someone else. If you want to talk about things that you have witnessed, this is the tense you are looking for.

The Positive Form

The conjugation formula for the positive form of the Simple Past Tense (SPT) is given below:


The Tense Suffix for Simple Past is -DI (-dı, -di, -du, -dü, -tı, -ti, -tu and -tü). Selecting the right suffix is determined by the 4-way vowel harmony and consonant harmony rules, which should be very simple by now.

Personal Pronoun Verb Tense Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Verb Meaning
Ben yapmak -tı -m yaptım. I did.
Sen almak -dı -n aldın. You took / bought.
O yemek -di N/A yedi. He/she/it ate.
Biz gelmek -di -k geldik. We came / arrived.
Siz içmek -ti -niz içtiniz. You drank.
Onlar gitmek -ti -ler gittiler. They went.

The Question Form

The conjugation formula is below:


As seen from the formula above, the only difference from the positive form is the question suffix at the end: -mI. Some examples are provided below:

O yedi mi? - Did he/she/it eat? Biz geldik mi? - Did we come / arrive? Siz içtiniz mi? - Did you drink?

Past Tense Copula


In older Turkish, the simple past version of the verb to be was idi. Since you don’t see a dash in front, this should be considered as a separate word that comes after the noun. Example:

This was a house. → Bu bir ev idi. Those were red cars. → Şunlar kırmızı arabalar idi.

But, to sound it separately was quite hard in the spoken language and almost no one prefered it to use it this way. That’s why, idi is attached to the end of the noun now. The attachment obeys the rules of vowel and consonant harmony in Turkish. Yet, if the noun ends with a vowel, an interesting thing happens which we will explain in the example:

This was a big castle. → Bu büyük bir kaleydi.

Let’s investigate kaleydi in pieces: kale-y-idi. → here kale is “castle”, idi is the past tense copula. To be able attach two vowels, you need a buffer letter (-y). But the interesting thing is, the first i disappears and the second one should change according to the last vowel of the noun before it. In this case it stays as_i_. After this conjugation, you should add the personal suffix. Investigating the table below, you will understand it better.

Personal Pronoun Noun / Adjective Tense Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Verb Meaning
Ben genç -ti -m gençtim I was young.
Sen yaşlı -(y)dı -n yaşlıydın You were old (age).
O dün -dü N/A dündü It was yesterday.
Biz yeni -(y)di -k yeniydik We were new.
Siz güzel -di -niz güzeldiniz You were beautiful.
Onlar eski- -(y)di N/A or -ler eskiydi / eskiydiler They were old (used too much).


The Tense suffix is added to the Question Suffix in this form. Since question suffixes always end with a vowel, the buffer letter -y- is always in between. The question suffix follows the rules for vowel harmony.


Examples: Ben genç miydim? (Was I young?) Sen yaşlı mıydın? (Were you old?) Siz güzel miydiniz? (Were you beautiful?)

Future Tense

Future Tense

Talking about future is really easy in Turkish because you won’t have the “will / be going to” dilemma like in English. There is only one Future Tense. And all you need to remember is a suffix: -(y)AcAk.

The Positive Form

The conjugation formula for the positive form of the future tense is: VERB ROOT + TENSE SUFFIX + PERSONAL SUFFIX

Vowel in the last syllable of the verb root Future Tense Suffix Example Meaning
a, ı, o, u -acak Koş-acak. He/she/it will run.
e, i, ö, ü -ecek Gel-ecek. He/she/it will come.

If the verb root ends with a consonant, the rule above is straightforward. Otherwise, the buffer letter -y- is used between the root and the suffix. For example; Bekle-y-ecek (He/she/it will wait.) Söyle-y-ecek (He/she/it will say.)

The only thing you need to be careful about is the personal suffixes starting with a vowel. They transform the letter “k” at the end of the tense suffix into “ğ“. You will see the examples in the table below:

Personal Pronoun Verb Tense Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Verb Meaning
Ben olmak -acak -ım (-im) olacağım I will be.
Sen istemek -ecek -sin (-sın) isteyeceksin You will want.
O beklemek -(y)ecek N/A bekleyecek He/she/it will wait.
Biz değiştirmek -ecek -iz (-ız) değiştireceğiz We will make change.
Siz değişmek -ecek -siniz (-sınız) değişeceksiniz You will change.
Onlar gelmek -ecek -ler (-lar) gelecekler They will come.


The following verbs do not obey the rules above: gitmek → gidecek yemek → yiyecek demek → diyecek

The Question Form

The conjugation formula for the question form is given below: VERB ROOT + TENSE SUFFIX + SPACE + QUESTION SUFFIX +PERSONAL SUFFIX

Examples are given in the table below:

Positive Question Meaning of the Question
Ben isteyeceğim Ben isteyecek miyim? Will I want?
Sen olacaksın Sen olacak mısın? Will you be? (sg.)
O gidecek O gidecek mi? Will he / she / it go?
Biz yiyeceğiz Biz yiyecek miyiz? Will we eat?
Siz diyeceksiniz Siz diyecek misiniz? Will you say? (pl.)

Negation 2

Past Negative for Verbs

The conjugation formula for the negative form is shown below:


Since this the negation always ends with a vowel, either -e or -a, the selection of the Tense Suffix is narrowed down to -dı or -di in the negative form. Since this is very straightforward, we will give you only a couple of examples.

Yağmur yağmadı. (It didn’t rain) Beklemedik. (We didn’t wait) Yaşamadım. (I didn’t live)

Past Negative Copula

For the negation of the noun sentences, the word değil is used. The Tense Suffix is always -di in this case.


For example: Ben genç değildim. (I wasn’t young) Sen yaşlı değildin. (You weren’t old) O dün değildi. (It wasn’t yesterday)

Future Negative

The conjugation formula for the future tense is given below: VERB ROOT + NEGATION SUFFIX + TENSE SUFFIX + PERSONAL SUFFIX.

Since the negation suffix (-mA) always ends with a vowel, there always is the buffer letter “-y-” between that and the tense suffix. The rest is the same as the positive form.


Positive Negative
Ben isteyeceğim Ben istemeyeceğim
Sen olacaksın Sen olmayacaksın
O gidecek O gitmeyecek
Biz yiyeceğiz Biz yemeyeceğiz
Siz diyeceksiniz Siz demeyeceksiniz


Suggestions, Declaratıve

Turkish once again uses a special suffix for what is called the optative. This suffix is -(y)AlIm. This literally translates as let’s or shall. Hopefully at this point in time, you can read the suffixes, but just to be safe, there is a buffer -y- used when the root ends in a vowel, the first vowel will follow 2-way vowel harmony, and the second vowel follows 4-way vowel harmony. This means that this suffix only takes on two forms. -(y)alım/-(y)elim

Here are some examples:

Infinitive Suggestion English
okumak okuyalım Let's read. We should read.
gitmek gidelim Let's go. We should go.
yemek yiyelim Let's eat. We should eat.
konuşmak konuşalım Let's talk. We should talk.

Suggestions, Questions

When using the optative in a question, the question particle mI always comes**after** the verb. For example:

Suggestion Question English
okuyalım Okuyalım mı? Shall we read? Should we read?
gidelim Gidelim mi? Shall we go? Should we go?



ki is one of the most interesting things in the Turkish language. It is originally a_Farsi_ conjunction that has remained in the language from the Ottoman times. It is however used in very interesting ways.


ki can attach onto the ends of some pronouns to show possession. These are equivalent to words like mine in English.

Pronoun with ki English
ben benimki mine
siz sizinki yours


Notice in Turkish, you can say:

Kurbağa hasta. -- The frog is sick. Hasta kurbağa -- The sick frog


Kurbağa sokakta. -- The frog is on the street. Sokakta kurbağa -- incorrect

This is because nouns in Turkish cannot really function as adjectives (sokakta is the noun street with the locative case). To fix this problem, you can attach the suffix -ki. There is no vowel harmony on this suffix.

Sokaktaki kurbağa -- The frog (which is/that is) on the street Şişedeki su -- The water (which is/that is) in the bottle Parktaki kadın -- The woman (who is/that is) in the park


This will be a sight for your sore Indo-European eyes. Since this suffix was originally borrowed from Farsi (an Indo-European language related to English), it bears some resemblance to English grammar in one way. It can be used as a subordinate conjunction to combine two clauses with the meaning that (as in “I said that you were happy). Remember that is optional in English, but it is not in Turkish.

Turkish English
Annem diyor ki: "Okula git". My mother said, "Go to school."
Biliyorum ki onu sevmiyorsun. I know (that) you do not love him/her/it/

Remember There is a grammatically different way to say these that is natively Turkish instead of being borrowed from Farsi. The other way is more common for most verbs. This will be covered later in the skill -(i)dik.


ki is also used in a large array of special phrases. Here we teach: İyi ki which means fortunately


The -ki suffix is irregular in only two instances in the entire Turkish language. This is when it attaches to dün and bugün. It becomes dünkü and _bugünkü_respectively. These mean “yesterday’s” and “today’s.”

Reflexive Pronouns


The reflexive pronouns in Turkish is formed by the word “kendi”. You can think that this word is close to “self” in English, but the usage is a little bit more different. Just like myself, yourself, etc, this word is adapted to the pronouns as shown in the table below:

Personal Pronoun Conjugation of "kendi" Meaning
Ben kendim myself
Sen kendin yourself
O kendi / kendisi himself / herself / itself
Biz kendimiz ourselves
Siz kendiniz yourselves
Onlar kendileri themselves

Reflexive pronouns are generally placed just before the verb in the sentence.


Bunu kendin mi yaptın? (Did you make this yourself?) Ahmet arabayı kendisi sürer. (Ahmet drives the car himself.)

When you want to say “by myself”, “by yourself”, etc. then you need to use the word “kendi” in front of the conjugated reflexive pronoun such as:

Türkçe’yi kendi kendime öğreniyorum. (I am learning Turkish by myself).



This is unfortunately one of the hardest topics in Turkish: Gerunds and Infinitives.

In Turkish, each phrase has only one conjugated verb. That’s why, the other words must be turned into nominal words (nouns, adjectives, etc). Gerund & infinitive suffixes are used for this purpose.

In English, you can make a gerund from a verb adding “-ing” to the root and an infinitive by putting “to” in front of the verb root. However, in Turkish, there are three set of suffixes for this purpose:

i. -ış, -iş, -uş, -üş ii. -me, -ma iii. -mek, -mak

The first groups are mostly gerunds and the last one is mostly infinitives. But the one in the middle can be used as both gerunds and infinitives depending on the sentence. Unfortunately there are no distinct rules to select the correct suffix for making a gerund or infinitive, it all depends on experience.


The suffix “-me”, ”-ma” is not the same as the negations suffixes you have used earlier. After the gerund / infinitive suffixes, there usually comes a personal suffix. For example:

gel-me-m (my coming) yap-ma-n (your doing) [not you’re doing]

On the other hand, after the negation suffix, there should be a tense suffix.

gel-me-di-m (I didn’t come) yap-ma-(y)acak (he / she / it will not do).

Since the verbs are transformed into actions and states, now they can be possessed by the pronouns by using the possessive suffixes. This feature allows you to assess that action or state to the pronoun with a single suffix:

Benim bekle-me-m (my waiting) Senin yazman (your writing) Onun eğlenmesi (his / her / its having fun)

Although this does not sound correct in English, when you try to place it in a sentence, you will understand how Turkish people construct their rather complex sentences:

Bizim çalışmamız lazım (lit. Our studying is necessary) [corr. We need to study]

Ben senin sevmeni istiyorum. (lit. I want your loving / liking) [corr. I want you to like / love]

Onların içmeleri önemli. (lit. Their drinking is important) [corr. It is important for them to drink]

Verbs: Aorist

Aorist / Simple Present Tense (Geniş Zaman)

In Turkish, the aorist tense is used for talking about habits, hobbies, near future plans and even for requests. In this sense, for many cases the aorist tense can be thought as equivalent to the simple present tense.

The Positive Form

For the positive case the suffix depends on the root of the verb. The root of a verb in Turkish is the part left when you subtract -mek/-mak from the infinitive state.

Reminder Infinitive: istemek Root of the Verb: iste

Case 1

If the root of the verb ends with a vowel;

you just need to add -r to the end of the root.

Pronoun Stem Tense Suffix Personal Suffix Entire Sentence Meaning
Ben iste -r -im Ben isterim. I want.
Sen iste -r -sin Sen istersin. You want.
O iste -r O ister. He / she / it wants.
Biz iste -r -iz Biz isteriz. We want.
Siz iste -r -siniz Siz istersiniz. You want.
Onlar iste -r -ler Onlar isterler. They want.

Case 2

If the root of the verb ends with a consonant and is one syllable;

In harmony with the last vowel of the root, the tense suffix may be -ar or -er.

Verb Root Tense Suffix Conjugated Verb Meaning
sev- -er sever (He) loves.
yaz- -ar yazar (He) writes

Case 3

if the root of the verb ends with a consonant and it more than one syllable;

Using 4-way vowel harmony, the suffix -Ir is attached.

Verb Tense Suffix Conjugated Verb Meaning
calış- -ır çalışır (She) works
unut- -ur unutur (He) forgets
getir- -ir getirir (It) brings


1.     13 single syllable verbs take the tense sign as -ir -ır -ür -ur. Yes, there are only 13 irregular verbs, and only in this tense :) These verbs are: almak, bilmek, bulmak, durmak, gelmek, görmek, kalmak, olmak, ölmek, sanmak, vermek, vurmak

2.     There are 3 verbs ending in -t where -t is mutated into -d when the aorist suffix is added. These are gitmek (to go), etmek (to do) and tatmak (to taste).


●      Ben giderim. (I go)

●      Sen gidersin. (You go)

●      O gider. (He / she / it goes)

The Question Form

The question form of verb in the aorist tense has the structure below:

Root + Tense Suffix + SPACE + Question Suffix + Personal Suffix


The Tense Suffix in the question form follows the same rules in the positive form. In other words, the tense suffix may be -r, -ar, -er, -ir, -ır, -ur or -ürdepending on how the root of the verb ends.

Let’s take the verb gitmek (to go) as an example.

Pronoun Root of "gitmek" Tense Suffix SPACE Question Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Verb
Ben git- -er mi- -y-im gider miyim?
Sen git- -er mi- -sin gider misin?
O git- -er mi- gider mi?
Biz git- -er mi- -y-iz gider miyiz?
Siz git- -er mi- -siniz gider misiniz?
Onlar* git- -er mi- gider mi?

There are a few points that needs to be stressed on for this example.

The extra letter -y- in the conjugation for “Ben” and “Biz” is called the buffer letter which is a topic of another subject. But in the question form, they will always be there. If you have no information on buffer letters, you can try to learn it as this way.

There is an alternative way of conjugating the verbs for “Onlar” such as:

Root + Tense Suffix + Plural Suffix (-ler / -lar) + SPACE + Question Suffix.

Both conjugations are correct.

Negation 3

Negative Form of the Aorist

To make the verb negative in the aorist tense, you can follow the structure below:

Root + Negation Suffix (-mA) + Personal Suffix

The table below gives some examples on how this is done:

Pronoun Personal Suffix for Negation istemek sevmek yazmak
Ben -m istemem sevmem yazmam
Sen -zsIn istemezsin sevmezsin yazmazsın
O -z istemez sevmez yazmaz
Biz -yIz istemeyiz sevmeyiz yazmayız
Siz -zsInIz istmezsiniz sevmezsiniz yazmazsınız
Onlar -zlar istemezler sevmezler yazmazlar
Pronoun Personal Suffix for Negation değiştirmek gitmek
Ben -m değiştirmem gitmem
Sen -zsIn değiştirmezsin gitmezsin
O -z değiştirmez gitmez
Biz -yIz değiştirmeyiz gitmeyiz
Siz -zsInIz değiştirmezsiniz gitmezsiniz
Onlar -zlar değiştirmezler gitmezler

Would&Used to (-rdi)


If you want to talk about old habits, i.e. thing used to be done regularly but not any more, you need to combine the aorist tense and the simple past tense. It makes perfect sense because the aorist tense is the tense you need to use_current_ habits and you carry this information to the past by combining it with the simple past tense.

Positive Form

The structure for talking about old habits is given below:

Verb Root + Aorist Suffix + Past Tense Suffix + Personal Suffix

Some examples are given in the table.

Personal Pronoun Verb Root Aorist T. Suffix Past T. Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Form Meaning
Ben oku- -r -du -m okurdum I used to read.
Sen ye- -r -di -n yerdin You used to eat.
O iç- -er -di N/A içerdi He / she / it used to drink
Biz yap- -ar -dı -k yapardık We used to do.
Siz sev- -er -di -(n)ız severdiniz You used to love.
Onlar* ol- -ur -du -lar olurdular / olurlardı They used to be.

Negative Form

When you want to talk about something that you did not used to do but started doing lately, this is the structure you need to set.

Verb Root + Negation Suffix + Aorist Suffix + Past Tense Suffix + Personal Suffix

How to apply this form is provided in the table below:

Personal Prounoun Verb Root Negation Suffix Aorist Suffix Past T. Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Form
Ben ol- -ma -z -dı -m olmazdınız
Sen oku- -ma -z -dı -n okumazdınız
O ye- -me -z -di N/A yemezdi
Biz iç- -me -z -di -k içmezdik
Siz yap- -ma -z -dı -(n)ız yapmazdınız
Onlar* sev- -me -z -di -ler sevmezdiler / sevmezlerdi

Question Form

The question form for this combined tense is given below:

Verb Root + Aorist Suffix + SPACE + Question Suffix + Past Tense Suffix + Personal Suffix + ?

Personal Pronoun Verb Root Aorist Suffix Question Suffix Past T. Suffix Personal Suffix Conjugated Form
Ben sev- -er mi- -(y)di -m sever miydim?
Sen ol- -ur mu- -(y)du -n olur muydun?
O oku- -r mu- -(y)du N/A okur muydu?
Biz ye- -r mi- -(y)di -k yer miydik?
Siz iç- -er mi- -(y)di -(n)ız içer miydiniz?
Onlar* yap- -ar mı- -(y)dı -lar sevmezdiler / sevmezlerdi

Please note that, in case of “Onlar” the structure is a little bit inverted.

While & When (-iken)

We use -iken for "while"; for an action happening in a period or interval of time. So verb+iken should be translated using while, but not using when (short action or consequence, check -ince skill).


●      I'll cook while you are sleeping: Sen uyurken ben yemek yapacağım.(cooking is at the same time with sleeping)

●      I'll cook when you sleep: Sen uyuyunca ben yemek yapacağım. (cooking starts when the other person falls asleep)

However, when we indicate the period of time without a verb, we also use -iken and this should be translated using when:

e.g.: I used to eat chocolate when I was a child: Çocukken çikolata yerdim.



In order to express ability in Turkish, you must use the suffix -(y)Abil along with the aorist tense. This is actually a compound of a verb, -(y)A, and bilmek in the aorist. Here are some examples:

Turkish Infinitive Can English
Yapmak Yapabilirim I can do.
Gitmek Gidebilirsin You can go.
Ağlamak Ağlayabiliriz We can cry.
Görmek Görebilirsiniz You can see.
Dayanmak Dayanabilir He/She/It can endure.


Remember how the can used bilmek? To negate this, you will have to instead use the negative suffix -mA. This means you will use the verb, -(y)A, and the negative aorist personal endings. Here are some examples:

Turkish Infinitive Can English
Yapmak Yapamam I can't do.
Gitmek Gidemezsin You can't go.
Ağlamak Ağlayamayız We can't cry.
Görmek Göremezsiniz You can't see.
Dayanmak Dayanamaz He/She/It can't endure.

Must/Should/Have to


In Turkish there is one suffix that means all of the the above words. This is -mAlI. It obeys 2-way and 4-way vowel harmony, as expected. It will only ever have two forms -malı and -meli. This suffix attaches to verb roots and is followed by the personal endings. The negatıve suffix may also be added before the personal endings. Here are some examples:

Turkish Infinitive Can English
olmak Olmalıyım. I must/have to/should be.
devam etmek Devam etmemeliyiz. We must/should not continue.
katılmak Katılmalı. He/She/It must participate.

Keep in mind: in the negative, this implies something that must not be done.


To express the ideas “must” and “have to” you can also use the construction: infinitive + (zorunda + personal endings). This is negated with değil. If negated, personal endings attach to değil and not zorunda. Here are some examples:

Turkish Infinitive with zorunda English
götürmek Götürmek zorundasın. You must/have to take.
dans etmek Dans etmek zorunda değilim. I do not have to dance.
koşmak Koşmak zorundayız. We must/have to run.

Keep in mind: in the negative, this has the meaning “does not have to.”

Narrative past -miş

Reported Past Tense

Turkish has a uncommon, but not unique, feature, which is a reported past tense. This past tense is used for things that one did not experience, see, or witness oneself. This concept does not exist in English, and is normally presented in different ways (e.g. apparently, it seems, they say that…). This means, the lesson that you have already learned (-DI) is used for things that the speaker has seen or witnessed. In this lesson, you should translate sentences using the simple past tense or present perfect.

The reported past tense is formed with: the verb root + -mIş + personal endings. It has 4-way vowel harmony.

Here are some examples:

Turkish Infinitive

Reported Past Tense

Turkish Infinitive Reported Past Tense English
yapmak yapmışım I did.
özlemek özlemişsin You missed.
büyümek büyümüş He/She/It grew.
bilmek biliyormuş He/She/It knows. (with uncertainty)
vurmak vurmuşuz We hit/shot
silmek silmişsiniz You wiped/deleted

If (Conditional&Subjunctive)

The writing of this Tips and Notes has been heavily inspired by http://www.turkishlanguage.co.uk/conditional.htm. Check it out.

The conditional/subjunctive voice is formed by adding the suffix -sA. It can attach to basically any tense, with having two versions in the past. These are_optionally_ introduced with the word eğer. Here is an explanation, tense by tense:

1). ##Simple Actual Conditional### This has the meaning of “if X (were to)verb…”. It is formed by adding -(y)sA with the personal endings for the past tense (this means, you should use -k for biz).

Turkish English
yapsam if I (were to) do/make
gelsek if we (were to) come

2). ###Present Continuous###

Turkish English
yapıyorsan if you were doing/making
geliyorsanız if you were coming

3). ###Simple Habitual###

Turkish English
yaparsa if he/she/it does/makes
gelirseler if they come

4). ###Future Intention###

Turkish English
yapacaksam if I (will) do/make
geleceksen if you (will) come

5). ###Past Reality###

Turkish English
yaptıysak if we did/made
geldeyseniz if you came

Past Unreality

The past reality is often preceded with the word keşke, which means if only.

Turkish English
yapsaydık if only we had done/made
gelseydin if only you had come

Non-Future Object Part.


-DIk or the object participle is one of the most different things from English that you will find in Turkish. This being said, if you are able to master it, Turkish people will normally be quite impressed. It has a non-future tense (meaning that it can be translated as past or present tense). This participle has three main functions in Turkish.

To form this participle, you will use the following formula:

Verb Root + (I)DIk + Possessive Endings + (the Appropriate Case, if needed)

It follows both consonant harmony and 4-way vowel harmony. Here are some examples of the participle in the nominative case:

Turkish Root Turkish with Obj. Part. English
yaz yazdığım kitap The book (that) I wrote/am writing/write
pişır pişirdiğiniz yemek The food (that) you cooked/are cooking/cook
git gittiği restoran The restaurant (that) he/she/it went/is going/goes to


Like the examples seen above, when these participles are used as an adjective, they are translated as relative clauses in English. This participle can be used to describe things as a relative clause when they are not the subject of that relative clause. The participle used for relatives clauses in which the reference noun is the subject will be described later in the tree. Here are some examples in full sentence form:

Turkish with Obj. Part.

Turkish with Obj. Part. English
Yazdığım kitabı okudun mu? Did you read the book that I wrote?
Pişirdiğiniz yemeği yiyeceğiz. We will eat the food that you made.
Gittiği restoran hiç güzel değildi. The restaurant that she went to was not good at all.


Similar to other languages, you can sometimes drop nouns and only use adjectives that function as nouns in Turkish. This also stands true in Turkish. Also, do you remember the ki skill, where it was mentioned that Turkish had a more Turkish way to use that as a subordinate conjunction? This is it. You will need to use the appropriate cases depending on the use of the participle in the sentence. For example:

Turkish with Obj. Part. English
(Ben) (senin) geldiğini duymadım. I did not hear (that) you came.
Selcen (benim) yazdığımı sevmemiş Selcen did not like what I wrote/am writing.
(Ben) (sizin) sinemaya gittiğinizi düşünüyorum. I think that you went/are going to the cinema.
Seni gördüğüm için mutlu oldum I became happy because I saw you!


When you use the object participle with the locative or ablative cases, they take on a special meaning. When used with the locative (-DA), it has the meaning of “when,” similar to the suffix “-IncA.” When used with the ablative, it has the meaning of “because of” or “due to.” Important: These will not always have these meanings. The locative/ablative case can be used for other reasons that we have already discussed in the course (e.g. describing locations or making comparisons). Here are some more examples:

Turkish with Obj. Part. English
Güneş doğduğunda gitmeliyiz. We must leave when the sun rises.
Çok yemek yediğimden tokum. I am full because I ate a lot.


Passive Voice

The passive voice is used when you do not want to explicitly state the agent (or the thing/person doing the action of the verb). This is formed with a suffix attached to the verb root. This suffix is attached before tense and personal endings. There are three different suffixes used, depending on the final sound of the verb root.

Verb Roots Ending in Consonants Except for L

Verb roots than end in any consonant except for L will get the suffix -Il. This suffix has 4-way vowel harmony. Here are some examples:

Infinitive Passive Infinitive English
yapmak yapılmak to be made
vermek verilmek to be given
düşünmek düşünülmek to be thought

Verb Roots Ending in L

Verb roots that end in L will get the suffix -In. This suffix has 4-way vowel harmony. Here are some examples:

Infinitive Passive Infinitive English
bilmek bilinmek to be known
bulmak bulunmak to be found

Verb Roots Ending in Vowels

Verb roots than end in vowels get the suffix -n. There is obviously no vowel harmony for the suffix, as there is no vowel. There are some examples:

Infinitive Passive Infinitive English
istemek istenmek to be wanted
söylemek söylenmek to be said

When (-ince)

We use -iken for "while"; for an action happening in a period or interval of time (check while&when skill). So verb+iken should be translated using while, but not using when (short action or consequence).


●      I'll cook while you are sleeping: Sen uyurken ben yemek yapacağım.(cooking is at the same time with sleeping)

●      I'll cook when you sleep: Sen uyuyunca ben yemek yapacağım. (cooking starts when the other person falls asleep)

However, when we indicate the period of time without a verb, we also use -iken and this should be translated using when:

e.g.: I used to eat chocolate when I was a child: Çocukken çikolata yerdim.

Relative Pronouns -(y)An

Relative Pronouns

Turkish itself does not contain relative pronouns in the same way that English has them. A participle is used instead of a pronoun proper. This is called the_relative participle_ or the object participle. The suffix has the form *-(y)An and it is attached to the verb root, unless the verb is negated. In this case, it will have the form “verb root + mA + yAn”. Here are some examples of how to from the relative participle:

Infinitive Passive Infinitive English
okumak okuyan (who/that/which) is reading/reads
gitmek giden (who/that/which) is going/goes
yazmak yazan (who/that/which) is writing/writes
tercih etmek tercih eden (who/that/which) prefers

When this is used, the same SOV word order is preserved. For example:

Turkish English
Saat beşte parkaya giden adam The man (who is) going to the park at five o'clock
Kitabı yazan kadın The woman (who is) writing the book
Yeni çevrilen kitap The book which/that was recently translated
More notes coming some time later...