Paroramic view of Göreme village and the fairy chimneys of Cappadocia.

Basics of Turkish Grammar

Welcome to an exploration of Turkish grammar!

Turkish is a rather challenging language to study! This is a study guide I put together for my own use, to serve as what I hope is a reasonably complete and organized refresher or review material. In the interest of keeping this practical, I have made some simplifications and shortcuts. Treat this is a tool, not an authoritative grammar guide! You really want to get a goot textbook.

The best book is Geoffrey L. Lewis' excellent Turkish Grammar. My attempt in these pages is to put together a heavily compressed summary of his textbook.

Turkish is a very challenging language for a native speaker of English or other Indo-European languages. The Indo-European languages are very similar to each other, and England was invaded first by the Anglo-Saxons and then by the French, both of whom brought their languages. Turkish is completely different. It is in the Turkic family, so it is similar to languages such as Azeri, Turkmen, Uzbek, Kazakh, and many others. The Turkic languages in this table are shown in the modified Latin characters used in Turkey and also in the Cyrillic used locally.

one two three mother water English
un deux trois mere eau French
ien twa trije mem wetter Frisian
eins zwei drei mutter wasser German
en to tre mor vann Norwegian
odin
один
dva
два
tri
три
mat'
мать
voda
вода
Russian
bir iki üç anne su Turkish
bir iki üç ana su Azerbaijani
bir
бір
eki
екі
üş
үш
anaci
анасы
su
су
Kazakh
bir
бир
ikki
икки

уч
ona
она
suv
сув
Uzbek

As Steve Martin observed of the French, "They have a different word for everything!" It's the same with Turkish, except even more so. Much of English, after all, is based on Norman era French, and much of the rest shares the same ancestry as German, Old Norse, and so on. Even Russian is an Indo-European language, so once you get past its alphabet you find similar words. See how similar Indo-European words can be, but look at how different the Turkish equivalents are.

It's not just the semantics or individual words that are very different in Turkish, the syntax or how words are assembled into sentences is also radically different from that of English. You the verb at the end will find.

Let's get to the details. It probably makes the most sense to look at these pages in the following order: