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Turkish Conjugation Made Easy: A Comprehensive Guide for Learners

Turkish is one of the hardest languages to learn. The most tricky part of learning Turkish is understanding the grammatical rules, as they are quite different from most languages. However, once you understand the rules of Turkish conjugation, forming consistent sentences becomes pretty easy. Because of that, any person who is trying to learn Turkish as a second language should start by internalizing the basic Turkish conjugation rules.

Turkish is a language where the subject of the sentence and the conjugation of the verbs in the sentence are strongly connected. As Turkish is a language in which the subjects of sentences are dropped most of the time (when speaking), understanding the conjugation of the verb becomes essential to understanding the sentence. 

In this article, I will try to provide you with some tips and key points on how to approach Turkish verbs. Although it may seem complicated at first, trust me, once you get the essence of some grammatical rules of conjugation you will be able to understand any sentence in Turkish. So, let’s begin with the fundamentals: the Turkish verb system. 

Turkish Verb Conjugation System: The Basics

To have a solid foundation for your Turkish conjugation practice, you must first grasp the basics of how verbs function in Turkish. A Turkish infinitive verb consists of two parts:

  1. A root, also known as the stem. 
  2. One of three possible endings (-mak/-mek, -ış/-iş, -ur/-ür, or -ar/-er). 

Please note that the -mak/-mek ending is the one you will encounter the most, especially as a beginner/intermediate Turkish speaker.

The root of the verb represents the action itself, while the verb ending carries all other information. But let’s keep it simple for now! Adding one of the endings above to a root will result in a verb that is descriptive of the action. 

For example:

  • sev (the root) + mek (the ending) = “sevmek” means “to love”
  • git (the root) + mek (the ending) = “gitmek” means “to go”.

You should keep in mind that when we add “mak”, “ar”, or any other ending, we’re not actually conveying any information about the specific action we are performing. These suffixes alone do not make any sense in Turkish. We always need a verb root to create the verb itself. 

To understand this better, let’s dive into verb moods and tenses. 

Turkish Conjugation According to the Subject of the Sentence

First things first – you should learn the verb conjugations that indicate the subject of the sentence, as you will see that subjects are dropped in most of the sentences in spoken Turkish. However, if you know where to look, you can easily understand the subject of a sentence by looking at the verb conjugation.

Here are the related Turkish conjugations for each subject type: 

  • Ben (I) -m
  • Sen (You) -n
  • O (He/She), no conjugation
  • Biz (We) -k
  • Siz (You, plural) -iz
  • Onlar (They) -ler/-lar

Let’s see some basic examples for each case to understand these Turkish conjugations better:

  • Ben gittim. (I went…)
  • Sen gittin. (You went…)
  • O gitti. (He/She went…)
  • Biz gittik. (We went…)
  • Siz gittiniz. (You went… [plural])
  • Onlar gittiler. (They went…)

Turkish Verb Moods

Moods in Turkish are similar to tense categories, and for your Turkish conjugation practice, it’s essential to know which mood is ideal for a specific sentence. As spoken Turkish might seem complicated at first, recognizing the mood of the sentence can be quite helpful in understanding the overall meaning of the sentence.

In Turkish, there are four main moods:

  1. Gereklilik (Necessitative Mood), takes the conjugation -meli/-malı
  2. İstek (Desire Mood, similar to Subjunctive Mood), takes the conjugation -e/-a
  3. Dilek-Koşul (Conditional Mood, ), takes the conjugation -se/-sa 
  4. Emir (Imperative Mood), takes no conjugation

Let’s take a look at one example for each of these moods:

  • Oraya gitmeliyiz. (We should go there.)
  • Oraya gideyim. (Unfortunately, there is not an exact translation although you can think of it as “Let me go there” or “If I go there”, depending on the context)
  • Oraya gitseydik… (If we went there…)
  • Oraya git. (Go there!)

Each mood conveys different nuances in a sentence. Once you feel comfortable with these, you can go ahead and practice the Turkish verb tenses!

Turkish Verb Tenses

Turkish features a variety of tenses, and I advise you to focus on the most common ones first during your Turkish verb conjugation practice. Once you get comfortable with them, you can continue adding the less common ones to your learning set.

My suggestion for you to start with these primary tenses:

  1. Geniş Zaman (Present Tense), takes the conjugation -r
  2. Şimdiki Zaman (Present Continuous Tense), takes the conjugation -yor
  3. Gelecek Zaman (Future Tense), takes the conjugation -ecek/-acak
  4. Görülen Geçmiş Zaman (Past Tense – Seen by the subject), takes the conjugation -dı/-di
  5. Duyulan Geçmiş Zaman (Past Tense – Learned by the subject), takes the conjugation -mış/-miş

Let’s take one example for each of these tenses to understand them better: 

  • Ben her gün spor yaparım. (I work out every day.)
  • Ben şu an spor yapıyorum. (I am working out right now.)
  • Ben yarın spor yapacağım. (I will work out tomorrow.)
  • Ben dün spor yapm. (I worked out yesterday.)
  • O dün spor yapmış. (She/He worked out yesterday)

Please note that if you are using -mış/-miş to refer to a past event you are using it to indicate that you haven’t seen that event with your own eyes, rather you have heard it/learned it happened from someone else. That’s why we are using it to refer to another person working out yesterday, rather than yourself.

If you want to use these tenses to form a negative verb form, all you need to do is add -me/-ma negative conjugations to the verbs, as well as add the necessary devoicing moderations to the verbs:

  • Ben her gün spor yapmam. (I do not work out every day.)
  • Ben şu an spor yapyorum. (I am not working out right now.)
  • Ben yarın spor yapmayacağım. (I will not work out tomorrow.)
  • Ben dün spor yapmadım. (I did not work out yesterday.)
  • O dün spor yapmamış. (She/He did not work out yesterday)

As you reach more advanced levels, you will start to notice other tenses that are made by adding two or more tenses together. Although these might seem confusing at first, if you practice the basic tenses enough you will gain the necessary understanding over time.

Here’s a basic example to get an insight into what these complex tenses may look like: 

  • O dün spor yapmıştı. (She/He worked out yesterday.)

Although, this example looks very much like the one above, adding two past tense conjugations in Turkish creates a combined tense called “Duyulan Geçmiş Zamanın Hikayesi”.

As you can see, there is a lot to learn about Turkish conjugation, as there are many combined use cases. However, as I mentioned before, internalizing the basic tenses and their related conjugations will help you develop an understanding that will make learning more complicated conjugations a lot easier.

Why Is Turkish Conjugation Practice So Important?

The correct usage of Turkish verbs is crucial for effective communication. Always keep in mind that even a couple letters can change the meaning of a sentence in Turkish: 

  • Uçakla gidiyoruz. (We are going by plane.)
  • Uçakla gidiyorsun. (You are going by plane.)

Since the information about the subject pronoun is conveyed by the suffix, subject pronouns are rarely used in Turkish sentences and are only employed when emphasizing the subject. 

As almost all of the important information in Turkish sentences relies on the conjugation of the verb, a simple trick to communicate better in Turkish could be using subjects and other time-relevant nouns in your sentences as much as possible. However, once you master the Turkish conjugations, you will realize these other words are not necessary most of the time, and you will start dropping these words from your sentences just like a native Turkish speaker!

Best Resources to Improve Your Turkish Conjugation

Now, it’s time for some resource suggestions! I would like to share with you guys some of the best apps for learning Turkish regardless of your current level. You will find four different apps below – each has its own strengths. After checking them all, the final decision is up to you!

Here are my picks for the most efficient applications for learning Turkish: 

Duolingo

Duolingo is one of the most popular resources when it comes to learning a different language. Its game-like approach to language learning helps its users to have fun and learn a new language at the same time. It is widely used all around the world by learners from various age groups. 

With Duolingo, you can practice your reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills all in one application. You can set daily goals, track your progress, and earn points for your correct answers, and let’s be honest, all of us like some appreciation!

Duolingo always tracks your progress and sends you notifications to keep your motivation high and prevent you from giving up.

Clozemaster

As you can imagine, one of the hardest parts of learning a new language is expanding your vocabulary, especially when it comes to everyday expressions specific to the language. This is the point that makes Clozemaster different from other applications: it focuses on contextual learning that will help you learn all the necessary vocabulary and grammar rules that you will need in a daily context. This helps its users learn the new language faster and more efficiently.

Along with lots of exercises that are designed with gap-filling methodology, you can focus on Turkish conjugation practice with this app as well. And another great part about Clozemaster is that it offers a free version! So, you can go ahead and give it a try at no cost.

If you decide that it helps your learning process, and you want to use additional features and unlimited practice, you can buy the Pro plan which costs $8 per month, $60 per year, or $140 for a lifetime subscription.

Italki

Italki is another online language-learning platform that connects people who want to learn a new language with native-speaking tutors from all around the world. If you feel like you learn better with one-to-one tutoring, this might be the right resource for you. 

The main advantage of Italki is that you are offered lots of different teacher options, and you can select the one that fits your own life schedule and budget. Also, by interacting with native-speaker teachers, you can improve your listening and speaking skills faster. 

Busuu

Busuu offers different Turkish language learning programs for all levels, from the complete beginners to advanced learners. With its user-friendly interface and straightforward lesson structure, Busuu is one of the applications that stands out when it comes to learning Turkish. 

Learning Turkish Conjugation: Conclusion

Although Turkish has a complicated conjugation system, always remember that your learning process will only get easier if you practice enough! Once you are familiar with the conjugation of verbs in Turkish, you will realize you can understand others and explain your thoughts in Turkish in most circumstances. 

Also, always remember how you learned your first language. You hear lots of people talking in daily life, and then in a blink, you start talking yourself, right? So, contextual learning is always helpful. You can try watching Turkish movies or TV series (some of them are extraordinary!), listening to Turkish music, or trying resources where contextualized learning is prioritized, like Clozemaster

Just remember, it might get hard sometimes, but it will be worth it in the end when you realize you are able to speak Turkish fluently!

Learn Turkish faster with Clozemaster 🚀

Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in Turkish.

Take your Turkish to the next level. Click here to start practicing with real Turkish sentences!

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