Turkish Consonant Assimilation

Just like the topic of Vowel Harmony, certain consonants also experience a sound change when used with certain suffixes.

Most of the time, the consonant sound changes (also known as Consonant Assimilation) happens to a suffix attached to a word stem ending with an Unvoiced Consonant.

The first letter of the suffix changes to a sound similar to the last consonant of the word stem.

Unvoiced Voiced
p, t, k, s, ş, ç, h, f b, d, g, v, z, c, ğ, j, l, m, n, r, y

A good way to remember Unvoiced Consonants is with the “Fıstıkçı Şahap” rule. This is another nickname for Consonant Assimilation used in Turkish. It means “Şahap the Peanut Seller”.

Look at the bold red letters in “Fıstıı Şahap“. All the bold letters are Unvoiced Consonants.

Whenever you’re using a suffix that has a Consonant Assimilation exception, simply remember the consonants in “Fıstıkçı Şahap” and check whether your word is affected by Consonant Assimilation.

Turkish Verb Conjugation

If you’ve ever looked at a Turkish to English dictionary, all verbs generally end in the Infinitive Suffix “-mek/-mak”. The Infinitive Suffix is a Two-Fold Vowel Harmony.

mak to open open

This is the same as the English preposition “to” used in front of a verb, like “to walk”.

Once we erase the Infinitive Suffix, the verb is left in its Stem Form. The stem verb is also used for Imperatives, which is when you’re giving orders to someone.

We can now change the tense of a verb by adding a Tense Suffix.

As you can see from the table, the Past Simple Suffix is a Four-Fold Vowel Harmony.

a, ı Back Unrounded -dı yaptı did
o ,u Back Rounded -du okudu read
e, i Front Unrounded -di çizdi wrote
ö, ü Front Rounded -dü öttü sang

While the suffix choices for the suffix is “-dı/-di/-du/-dü”, If the final consonant in a stem verb ends in one of the Unvoiced Consonants, the letter “d” changes to a “t”.

Here are more examples:

ara call aradı called
ye eat yedi ate
koru protect korudu protected
gör see gördü saw
at throw attı threw
ek plant ekti planted
koş run koştu ran
öt sing öttü sang
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