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Turkish alphabet is derived from Latin script and consists of 29 letters ; in the past Turkish was written in a turkish form of Arabic, but the new turkish was established in 1929 as personal initiative of the founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk.

Vowels :

 - A,a : pronounced as in "hat"

  • I,ı : pronounced as a in "alone" but from deeper in the mouth

  • E,e : prounouced as e in "ten"

  • İ,i : pronounced as i in "bit"

  • O,o : pronounced as o in "off"

  • Ö,ö :  pronounced as the german sound ö

  • U,u : pronounced as u in "put"

  • Ü,ü : pronounced as the german sound ü or the french u  

Consonants :

  • B, b : pronounced as b in "bet".

  • C, c : pronounced as j in "jam".

  • Ç, ç : pronounced as ch in "cheap".

  • D, d : pronounced as d in "deep".

  • F, f : pronounced as f in "fire".

  • G, g : pronounced as g in "go".

  • ğ : either lengthens the sound of the vowel preceding it or silent between two vowels.

  • H, h : pronounced as h in "hello" ; Sometimes silent.

  • J, j : pronounced as s in "pleasure".

  • K, k : pronounced as k in "keep".

  • L, l : pronounced as l in "life".

  • M, m : pronounced as _min "milk"._

  • N, n : pronounced as n in "no".

  • P, p : pronounced as p in "poo".

  • R, r : pronounced as the spanish r in "rojo" ( "rolled" r ).

  • S, s : pronounced as s in "kiss".

  • Ş, ş : pronounced as sh in "sheep".

  • T, t : pronounced as t in "tea".

  • V, v : pronounced as somewhere in between v in "very", and w in "wave".

  • Y, y : pronounced as y in "yes".

  • Z, z : pronounced as z in "zero".


Here is a table to remember for numbers in turkish :

10 + .. ...0 ...00 ..000 ..000 000 ..000 000 000
0 sıfır on tens hundreds thousands millions billions
1 bir on bir on yüz bin milyon milyar
2 iki on iki yirmi iki yüz iki bin iki milyon iki milyar
3 üç on üç otuz üç yüz üç bin üç milyon üç milyar
4 dırt ... kırk ... ... ... ...
5 beş elli
6 altı altmış
7 yedi yetmiş
8 sekiz seksan
9 dokuz doksan


Then you just have to add numbers one after another, example : 2.748.169.513 : iki milyar, yedi yüz kırk sekiz milyon, yüz altmış dokuz bin, beş yüz on üç.

To express halfs, you just have to add büçük after the number : bir büçük : one and half, iki büçük : two and half. But to express just half, you must use yarım : half kilo : yarım kilo.


For ordinals, you have to add the suffix -IncI after the number except for first which is said ilk, then second is ikinci, third is üçüncü, dırtıncı, etc...

Grammar, general rules

Sentence structure :

There is two kind of phrases in turkish :

- verbal phrases used to express an action with a verb, like "I will come back late tonight" have a strucure Subject-Object-Verb ( "I late tonight will come back" ).

- noun phrases that express a statement or a quality ( like "to be" ), "I am tired", "he is student", "the sea is beautiful", have a structure Subject-Object.

Genders :

There is no grammatical gender, "he", "she" or "it" are expressed in the same way.


Agglutination :

It's an agglutinative language, that means that many words are formed by adding a suffix or a prefix to an other word with related meaning, a bit like in german ( it's a feature present in every language, more or less used ) ; example : yol : road, yolcu : traveller, yolculuk : travel.


Vowel harmony :

This a special feature of turkish language : suffixes in turkish are accorded to the preceding vowel in the words ; an example is better to understand : the suffixe -ci in turkish is usually used for "the person that" : tütün, tobacco ; tütüncü, tobacco saler ; şarkı, song ; şarkıcı, singer ; öğrenmek, to learnöğrenci, student. As you see the final vowel is always changing according to the preceding one ; I will use the following notation to you to know which vowels to change and how to change it :

-A :

  • become a after a, ı, o, u
  • become e after e, i, ö, ü

- I :

  • become ı after a or ı
  • become i after e or i
  • become u after o or u
  • become ü after ö or ü

It sounds complicate when you first hear this, but first you can just do without and always use "i" instead of "I" and "e" instead of "E", people will understand, and second it is surprisingly easy to get used to, and if at the beginning you always must take care of which vowel comes after which one, it becomes very quickly a natural reflex.

Also all the letter you will see in brackets "( )" will follow the following rule : if it is a vowel it will appear only after a consonant, if it is a consonant it will appear only after a vowel.

Consonant harmony :

Less important needs also to be know, consonants can change according to the preceding consonant, it is often seen with the suffix -dI that express the past and often become -tI like gittim ( "I went" ). These are some rules :

  •  after p, s, ş, ç, t, k, f, h : d becomes t and c becomes ç in word suffixes : yok + dI -> yoktu ( there was not )
  • if you add a suffix beginning with a vowel to a word, the last consonant being between two vowels can change : p becomes b, t becomes d, ç becomes c, and k becomes ğ ; examples : git + Iyor -> gidiyor ( go in present tense ), kitap + Im -> kitabım ( my book ).

Like vowel harmony, it is based on natural pronounciation and it is not difficult to get used to ; try by example to pronounce "d" after "s", you will see that you cannot really make the difference between "st" and "sd".

Declination :

Adjectives are invariable, they don't change with the plural ( and there is no gender ), there are conjugation for verbs that we will see later, and pronouns and nouns can be declined according to the case by adding suffixes, there are mainly 5 cases in turkish even do they are much more numerous :

  • Nominative : no ending, can be used for subject and object ; araba : (a) car ;
  • Accusative : -(y)I used to express a definite object ; arabayı : (the) car ;
  • Dative : -(y)A one of the most important, express direction and replace "to" in english ; Ali'ye vereceğim : I will give to Ali ; Istanbul'a gidiyorum : I go to Istanbul ;
  • Locative : -dA also very used, express location like "in" in english ; Evde bekliyorum : i'm waiting in the house ;
  • Ablative : -dAn, express provenance like "from" in english ; Ingiltere'den geliyorum : I'm coming from England ;
  • Genitive : -(n)In, express possession like "of" or "'s" in english ; Evin kapısı : the house's door ; Ali'nin kitapsı : Ali's book ;


Articles :

There is no proper articles in turkish, there is no "the" or "a", you refer to something only from words, but bir ( one ) can sometimes be used as undefinite article and the demonstratives pronouns can be used as definite article.


Negation :

There are a few ways to express negation :

  • the simple "no" answer to a question is hayır
  • the most used is yok that means "there is not", we'll see more about it later.
  • değil that could be translated by "it is not" following a noun.

Pronouns and particles

Personals and possessives pronouns :

Noun endings and possessive endings are respectively used to express "to be" and possession :

Case english \ turkish
\ singular plural
\ 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Nominative pronoun I, you, etc.. \ ben sen o biz siz onlar
noun ending -(y)Im -sIn - -(y)Iz -sInIz -lAr
Genitive ( possessive ) mine, my, yours, etc... \ benim senin onun bizin sizin onların
possessive ending -(I)m -(I)n -(s)I -(I)mIz -(I)nIz -lArI


  • öğrenci + -(y)Im ( noun ending ) = öğrenciyim -> I am student ;
  • öğrenci + -(I)m ( possessive ending ) = öğrencim -> my student
  • köpek + -(I)n ( possessive ending ) = köpeğin ( k becomes ğ with consonant harmony rule ) -> your dog
  • arkadaş + -(I)m ( possessive ending )+ -sIn ( noun ending ) = arkadaşımsın -> you are my friend


If you don't want to learn the endings and you wish something easier to learn, you can still do just with the personal pronouns, so with the preceding examples:

  • ben öğrenci -> I am student ; benim öğrenci -> my student
  • senin köpek -> your dog
  • sen benim arkadaş -> you are my friend


demonstrative pronouns :

Bu, şu, o, are the 3 demonstratives prounouns in Turkish, while bu and şu will be used to show something close, o is used for something further.

The demonstratives are also used in the formation of the adverbs "here" : burda, şurda and "there" : orda.


Interrogative pronouns :

One of the most important things to learn in any language are the interrogative pronouns, how to say who, what, where, etc... :

  • ne ? : what ?
  • nasıl ? : how ?
  • ne kadar ? : how much ?
  • kaş ? : how many ?
  • nereden ? : from where ?
  • nerede ? : where ?
  • nereye ? : to where ?
  • ne zaman ? : when ?
  • niye ? neden ? : why ?
  • kim ? : who ?
  • niçin ? : for what ?
  • hangi ? : which ?


Conjonctions :

These are the main conjonctions in turkish, they are used in a similar way than in european languages :

  • veya : or
  • ve : and
  • ama : but
  • o zaman : then
  • ki : that
  • için : to, for


Postpositions :

Three suffixes are very important in turkish and very often employed, they are also found in the construction of the interrogatives pronouns where, from where and to where : -dA express location ( in ), -(y)A express direction ( to ), and -dAn provenance ( from ) :

  • Istanbul'a gitmek istiyorum : I want to go to Istanbul ( lit : "Istanbul-to to-go want-I")
  • ben Almanya'dan / Almanya'danım : I am from Germany ( lit : "I Germany-from / Germany-from-I" )
  • Izmir'de oturyor : he/she lives in Izmir ( lit : "Izmir-in live-he" )

There are many other suffixes of this kind like -(y)lA ( together with ), -lI ( with [something] ), -sIz ( without ), -sA ( if )


Var :

Var is an important component of the turkish language, literally it means "there is", and it is also used to express "to have" ; It's contrary is yok.

You can use the suffix -dI to express past : var + dI = vardı -> there was ; yok + -dI = yoktu -> there was not.

You can use the "to be" verbal form olmak in the futur to express the futur of var : olacak -> there will be ; olmayacak -> there won't be.

You can use the conditionnal suffix -sA to express condition : var + -sA = varsa -> if there is ; yok + -sA = yoksa -> if there is not.

Nouns and adjectives

Plurals :

Plurals of names are simply formed by adding -lAr at the end of the name : köpek : dog ; köpekler : _dogs. _However, when the noun is preceding by a number that clearly specify that it is plural, then you don't need to add -lAr : bir köpek : one dog ; iki köpek : two dogs.


Adjectives :

Adjectives are used before the noun, and they are not accorded with case, gender or plural : büyük binalar : big buildings. But of course they are used after the noun in case of noun phrases and are declined according to the person and number : deniz çok güzel : sea is very beautiful ; binalar büyüklar : the buildings are big ; ben iyiyim : me, I'm fine. The different endings are in the verb section.


Comparative and superlative :

Are expressed with daha ( more ), daha az ( less ), and en ( the most ) and are located before the adjective :

  • iyi : good
  • daha iyi : better
  • daha az iyi : less good
  • az daha iyi : a bit better
  • en iyi : the best

The suffix -dAn ( from ) is used to compare between subject and object : Istanbul Ankara'dan çok daha güzel : Istanbul is much more beautiful than   Ankara. ( lit : "Istanbul Ankara-from much more beautiful" )

To express "as" or "like", you can use gibi after the subject : burda evim gibi : here is like my home ( lit : "here home-my like/as" )


Verb to be :

There is no proper translation to "to be" in turkish, even do the dictionnary translation will be "olmak", you won't use it very often. You will use noun phrases to express a statement or a location, and attribute is followed by the corresponding personnal ending in the following table :

Number : Singular Plural
person : 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
ending : -(y)Im -sIn - -(y)Iz -sInIz -lAr

But examples will be more clear :

  • Cengiz çok hasta : Cengiz is very sick  ( lit : "Cengiz very sick )
  • Yorgunum : I'm tired ( lit : "tired-I" )
  • bir kötü kişsin : you are a bad person ( lit : "a bad person-you" )

But : to make things simplier, if you don't want to learn to much of grammar, you can just use the personal pronouns, it's not correct but people will understand you anyway, it depends on what level you want to reach in the language ! Let's see the preceding examples with this method :

  • Cengiz çok hasta : Cengiz is very sick  ( lit : "Cengiz very sick )
  • Ben yorgun : I'm tired ( lit : "I tired" )
  • Sen bir kötü kiş : you are a bad person ( lit : "you a bad person" )


Verb to have :

There is no verb "to have" in turkish, it is express with the possessive and the particle var, to say by example I have a dog : *köpeğim var ( or benim köpek var ), the contrary is of course yok and you can use the past and future forms, some examples :

  • benim yok : I don't have
  • yarın çok işim olacak : I will have a lot of work tomorrow ( lit : "tomorrow lot-of work-my will-be" )
  • param yoktu : I didn't have money ( lit : "money-my there-was-not" )

* k becomes ğ because of consonants harmony


Conjugaison :

Conjugaison in turkish is quite regular, and you don't need to know many things to start to conjugate correctly so it's worth to learn some :

All verbs in their infinitive forms end by -mAk ( -mak or -mek ), by taking off this suffix you can get the root of the verb : for gitmek by example ( "to go" ), the root is git- ; and then you can use the root to construct any declinaison of the verb.

  • Negation : is formed by adding the suffix -mA to the root. -> konuşmamak : to not speak
  • Present : is formed by adding the suffix -Iyor before the personal endings 1. If it is preceded by a vowel, this vowel is removed. -> konuşuyor : speak ( present ) ; konuşmuyor : not speak ( present ) ;
  • Past : is formed by adding the suffix -dI before the personal endings 2. -> konuştu : spoke ; konuşmadu : didn't speak ;
  • Future : is formed by adding the suffix -(y)AcAk before the personal endings 1, "k" becomes "ğ" between two vowels -> konuşacağım : I will speak ; konuşmayacaksın : you won't speak.
  • Personal endings : you normally don't use personal pronouns in turkish but personal endings instead
Number : Singular Plural
Person : 1st 2nd 3rd 1st 2nd 3rd
Ending 1 : -(y)Im -sIn - -(y)Iz -sInIz -lAr
Ending 2 : -m -n - -k -nIz -lAr

But : You can also forget about personal endings if you don't want to learn about this and just use the personal pronouns and say by example ben gidiyor instead of gidiyorum to say I go

Imperative :

The imperative is simply express with the root of the verb itself : gelmek means to come -> gel ! : come ! ( that is something you may hear quite often by travelling in Turkey, it's by far less rude in turkish that it can be in english )


Interrogative :

To ask question in turkish when there is no interrogative pronoun ( where, who, what, etc... ), you must add the particle mI at the end of the sentence, followed only by the personnal ending 1 in the table above, while using the personnal ending 2, the ending stays on the verb. Again an exemple will be more understandable :

ben gidiyorum, geliyor musun ? : I go, do you come ? ( present, ending 1 );
Istanbul'a gittin mi ? Did you go to Istanbul ? ( past, ending 2 ) ;
ekmek var mı ? Is there bread ?

But ! When an interrogative pronoun is used, it makes the sentence an interrogative one, and so mI becomes unecessary and even wrong to use. nereye gityorsun ? (to-where go-present-you) Where do you go ?

But : Once again, you can forget about those personal endings if it's too much and instead of geliyor musun ? you can just say : sen gelyor mu ? and you will be understood even if you forget the mI, just by the intonation of your voice.