External Resources Edit

Language Transfer Podcast

Basics Edit


Turkish, unlike many Indo-European languages, contains no articles at all! Surprisingly simple, right? Turkish does have its own little quirks that will make it a challenge.

Word Order Edit

Turkish is a Subject-Object-Verb language, meaning that sentences take on a different word order than that of English, French, German, or most other languages that English speakers most commonly study. That being said, a background in Japanese, Korean, or Hungarian will prove very useful. The verb always comes at the end of the sentence in written Turkish (spoken Turkish allows for some flexibility).

For example: Ben gazete okurum. Literally “I newspaper read.”, meaning, “I read newspapers.”

Verb Tenses Edit

The Turkish language does distinguish between a “present continuous” and a “simple present” tense. In this lesson, we have included the “simple present” form of a few verbs, but this will be taught later in greater detail. This means that there is a difference in the sentences:

I eat a sandwich. (present simple) I am eating a sandwich. (present continuous)

Be careful while you are translating, because this does make a difference, just like in English!

Pronouns Edit

The Turkish pronouns are as follows:

Singular Plural 1st Person Ben Biz
2nd Person Sen Siz
3rd Person O Onlar

Siz behaves just like vous in French, serving both as you (plural) and you (formal).

Articles Edit

There are no articles in Turkish! The number one (bir) is sometimes used to distinguish between the/a(n). However, if a noun is in the subject position, there is no way to tell! Cool, right? This being said, if the noun is in the object position, Turkish does distinguish between the/a(n). In this lesson, we will only use a(n) in the object position, but we will teach you in the Accusative skill how to do it the other way.

Commands Edit

Forming the informal imperative form in Turkish is extremely simple. All you have to do is use the root form of the verb. More information about the formal imperative can be found in the skill “to be.” Here are the two verb in this lesson in their dictionary (infinitive) and informal imperative forms:

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

Adjectives 1 Edit

Adjectives and all modifiers in Turkish must always come before the nouns that they modify when they operate as modifiers. This does not stand true if it is used as a predicate adjective with the verb “to be” in English (e.g. The dog is happy). 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

Elma soğuk -- The apple is cold.

Adjectives are also not declined according to gender and number like what is common to many European languages. This means that adjectives behave pretty close to their English counterparts and shouldn’t pose too big of a challenge.

Food 1 Edit

General Direct Objects

Selam! Edit

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.” If you want to be extra specific, you can add the numeral bir to make 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!

Accusative Edit

Welcome to your second of the 7 cases in Turkish. You have already been using the nominative case to describe subjects and some objects.

The accusative case in Turkish is used to mark specific direct objects. What does this mean exactly? A specific direct object is one that uses the article the. 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. Now, how do we form the accusative case? This will bring you to one of the funnest aspects of the Turkish language, vowel harmony.

Vowel Harmony Edit

In Turkish, vowels within a (native) word and any suffixes that are attached to said word must obey vowel harmony rules. This means that vowels tend to either be the same or similar, making words easier to pronounce than they may look.

There are two types of vowel harmony in Turkish, 4-way and 2-way. The accusative case uses 4-way vowel harmony. In order to figure out what may go on the end, you will have to look at the final vowel in the word.

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

If the noun ends in a vowel, you have to insert 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 Edit

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:

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

This means:

  • p → b
  • t → d
  • k → ğ
  • ç → c

This rule in general does not affect single syllable words, but there are exceptions of course. You will even come across exceptions to vowel harmony in loanwords from Arabic, Farsi, and French. These must be learned as you encounter them. In the meantime, happy learning and kolay gelsin.

Plurals Edit

Plural Suffix Edit

Forming the plural in Turkish is simple compared to the Accusative case. It is formed using the suffix -lAr. Now you might be thinking, “what is that capital A doing there?” to which we respond with 2-way vowel harmony.

This is the other form of vowel harmony found in Turkey suffixes. Basically if the final vowel is front (i, e, ü, ö) use -ler. If it is back (a, ı, o, u), use the suffix -lar. This rule along with the rule for 4-way vowel harmony will be used in several suffixes across Turkish grammar, so try to get used to it now.

Here are some examples:

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

Copula Edit

There are a few ways to say “to be” in Turkish depending on what you are saying. This is shocking since there is not an actual verb “to be.” A suffix is used to form “to be” in the present tense. The suffixes are as follows:

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 ambiguityemphasize, 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. However, it is only optional when referring to people. This suffix may not be used for items and animals. Only humans!

Be as a Command Edit

To form “be” as a command in Turkish, the stem of the verb olmak, which means “to become.” All you have to do is take off the -mak and you have the command for “ol.” To make it 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.

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