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.

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