Vowel Harmony


Vowel harmony is an essential part of Turkish grammar. In previous classes, we sometimes referred to this rule. Although this is extremely important grammar rule to master Turkish language, it is not that much difficult once you get used to this convention. Let’s get started!


There are eight vowels in Turkish grammar. We can classify them in two groups: thin vowels, thick vowels.

Thin vowels are: e, i, ö, ü (dotted vowels and e)
Thick vowels are: a, ı, o, u (dot-less vowels and a)
The last vowel of a word and vowels of its suffix must be from the same group! If the last vowel is a thin one, suffix will have thin vowels. Vice versa.
 

A or E

Here is the simple rule to decide whether you should choose E or A.

  • If the last vowel of our word is a thin vowel, we will use E.
  • When it is a thick vowel, we will use A.

 

Here is an example:
To make plural we should choose among these two suffixes: “-ler”, “-lar” according to the vowel harmony.

Gün means day. How would I say “good days”?
As you should be familiar: İyi günler
Because “i” is a thin vowel, “e” will fit into the word.
 

Another example:
How would you say “me too!” in Turkish? Me is “ben” as you know and too is either the word de or da.

Ben de!
Since e is a thin vowel, “e” will follow it.

So, how would you say “she is too”?
O da
Since “o” is a thick vowel, “a” follows instead of “e”.

What about “they are too”?
“Onlar da
Since “a” is a thick vowel, “a” will follow again instead of “e”.

 

 

I or İ or U or Ü

Our first rule is applied here as well. The last vowel of a word and its suffix must be from same group. Both must be either thin or thick.
 

We have another rule to differentiate whether we should I or İ or U or Ü.

  • If the last vowel of the word is “i” or “e”, the suffix will have “i”.
  • If the last vowel of the word is “ı” or “a”, the suffix will have “ı”.
  • If the last vowel of the word is “ü” or “ö”, the suffix will have “ü”.
  • If the last vowel of the word is “u” or “o”, the suffix will have “u”.

Do not just try to memorize these rules. Check the examples and feel the rhythm!
 

We formerly talked about making simple sentences with verb -to be. There are suffixes to apply vowel harmony rule. We will recall some of them.
 

Let’s take “you are” as an example… (-siniz, -sınız, -sunuz, -sünüz)
 

Siz öğretmensiniz. (You are teachers.)

Öğretmen ends with “e” vowel, so “i” will follow.

Siz polissiniz. (You are policemen.)

Polis ends with “i” vowel, so “i” will follow.

Siz avukatsınız. (You are lawyers)

Avukat ends with “a” vowel, so “ı” will follow.

Siz hızlısınız. (You are fast)

Hızlı ends with “ı” vowel, so “ı” will follow.

Siz Türk’sünüz. (You are Turkish)

Türk ends with “ü” vowel, so “ü” will follow.

Siz körsünüz. (You are blind)

Kör ends with “ö” vowel, so “ü” will follow.

Siz doktorsunuz. (You are doctors)

Doktor ends with “o” vowel, so “u” will follow.

Siz uzunsunuz. (You are tall)

Uzun ends with “u” vowel, so “u” will follow.

 

The same I, İ, U, Ü rule applies many suffixes you will see in next lessons.

Making Simple Sentences with verb -to be


In this lesson we will make some simple sentences by using personal pronouns and their suffixes. Also, we will master how to ask these sentences to someone. Before we start, let’s recall personal pronouns that we have covered in the Lesson #1 – Greetings, Daily Phrases and Personal Pronouns.


Personal Pronouns

Ben – I

Sen – You

O – He/She/It

Biz – We

Siz – You (plural or formal)

Onlar – They


The verb “to be” (am, is, are) exists as a suffixes in the Turkish language. Meaning that we will add some syllables to the end of nouns and adjectives to make verbs. These suffixes vary according to the rule of Vowel Harmony that we will touch upon later.

Before this gets boring, let’s see those suffixes and how we use them!


Ben – I

Suffix: -ım, -im, -üm or um
(only the one that fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later)

Examples:

Ben avukatım. – I am a lawyer

Ben öğretmenim. – I am a teacher.

Ben Türk’üm. – I am Turkish.

Ben doktorum. – I am a doctor.


Sen – You

Suffix: -sin, -sın, -sün or sun
(only the one that fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later)

Examples:

Sen avukatsın. – You are a lawyer.

Sen öğretmensin. – You are a teacher.

Sen Türk’sün. – You are Turkish.

Sen doktorsun. – You are a doctor.


O – He/She/It

Suffix: -no suffix or -dir, -dır, -dur, -dür
(Most of the times suffixes are committed for “O” [third person singular pronoun] however, sometimes these four of which fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later is used)

Examples:

O avukat. – He/She is a lawyer

O öğretmen. – He/She is a teacher.

O Türk. – He/She is Turkish.

O doktor. – He/She doctor.


Biz – We

Suffix: -ız, -iz, -uz or üz
(only the one that fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later)

Examples:

Biz avukatız. – We are lawyers.

Biz öğretmeniz. – We are teachers.

Biz Türk’üz. – We are Turkish.

Biz doktorsuz. – We are doctors.


Siz – You (Plural)

Suffix: -sınız, -siniz, -sunuz or sünüz
(only the one that fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later)

Examples:

Siz avukatsınız. – You are lawyers.

Siz öğretmensiniz. – You are teachers.

Siz Türk’sünüz. – You are Turkish.

Siz doktorsunuz. – You are doctors.


Onlar – They

Suffix: -no suffix or -dirler, -dırlar, -durlar, -dürler
(Most of the times suffixes are committed for “Onlar” [third person plural pronoun] however, sometimes these four of which fits according to the Vowel Harmony you will learn later is used)

Examples:

Onlar avukat. – They are lawyers.

Onlar öğretmen. – They are teachers.

Onlar Türk. – They are Turkish.

Onlar doktor. – They are doctors.

Değil

“Değil” is the negative from of verb to be in Turkish. Personal suffixes that we discussed above is added to “değil” when we make negative sentences.

Examples:

Ben avukat değilim. – I am not a lawyer.

Sen öğretmen değilsin. – You are not a teacher.

Onlar Türk değil. – They are not Turkish.

Biz doktor değiliz. – We are not doctors.


Let's have a review of making sentences with personal pronoun suffixes!

Hans: Selam! Ben mühendis. Ya siz?
Mehmet: Selam! Ben asker.
Hans: Çok güzel. Biz Alman'.
Mehmet: Aaa! Siz Türk değil.
Ayşe: Hans mühendis. O Alman.
Mehmet: Teşekkür ederim, Ayşe. Sen gazeteci.


Now, you know how to make some simple sentences in Turkish. Here are the most commonly used adjectives to enrich your sentences.

Adjectives and Adverbs

Büyük – Big

Küçük – Small

Genç – Young

Yaşlı – Old

Yeni – New

Güzel – Beatiful

Yakışıklı – Handsome

Çirkin – Ugly

İyi – Good

Kötü – Bad

Çok – Very

Az – Few/Little

Hızlı – Fast

Yavaş – Slow

Sıcak – Hot

Soğuk – Cold

Sample Sentences

Çok güzelsin. – You are very beautiful.

Öğretmen gençtir. – Teacher is young.

Araba hızlıdır. – Car is fast.

O çok küçük. – He/she/it is very small.

İyiyim. – I am good.


Plurals

Making words plural is somewhat easy in Turkish language. You will add -ler or -lar suffixes according to the rule of Vowel Harmony that we will touch upon later.

Let’s see some examples:

Avukat -Lawyer

Avukatlar -Lawyers

Doktor -Doctor

Doctors -Doktorlar

Polis -Policeman

Polisler -Policemen

Asker -Soldier

Askerler -Soldiers


Words you have learnt so far…

#


A

  • Arap – Arab
  • Avukat – Lawyer
  • Asker – Soldier
  • Alman – German
  • Amerikalı – American
  • Az – Few

B

  • Büyük – Big

C

Ç

  • Çirkin – Ugly
  • Çok – Very/Many

D

  • Doktor – Doctor

E

F

  • Fransız – French

G

  • Gazeteci – Journalist
  • Genç – Young
  • Güzel – Beautiful

H

  • Hızlı – Fast

I

İ

  • İtalyan – Italian
  • İş adamı – Businessman
  • İspanyol – Spanish
  • İngiliz – English
  • İyi – Good

J

K

  • Küçük – Small
  • Kötü – Bad

L

M

  • Memur – Public Officer
  • Mühendis – Engineer

N

O

Ö

  • Öğretmen – Teacher
  • Öğrenci – Student

P

  • Polis – Policeman

R

  • Rus – Russian

S

  • Suriyeli – Syrian
  • Sanatçı – Artist
  • Sıcak – Hot
  • Soğuk – Cold

Ş

T

  • Türk – Turkish

U

Ü

V

Y

  • Yeni – New
  • Yavaş – Slow
  • Yaşlı – Old
  • Yakışıklı – Handsome

Z