When we want to make a Present Tense To Be sentence in English, the sentence will start with a personal pronoun like “I, You, He, She, etc.”, then we would need to add a to be verb “am/is/are” and finally add the noun or adjective to the end of the sentence.

If we want to make a To Be sentence in Turkish, the order and the usage of some words differ. The verb “to be” doesn’t actually exist in Turkish, we use Personal Markers (Personal Suffixes). The sentence first starts with a personal pronoun like “ben, sen, o, etc.”, then the noun or adjective is added, but at the end of the noun or adjective, we use the personal suffix associated with our personal pronoun (which makes it similar to a To Be Verb in English).

 

Here are the Personal Pronouns in Turkish:

English PronounsTurkish Pronouns
IBen
YouSen
He / She / ItO
WeBiz
You (Plural / Polite Speech)Siz
TheyOnlar

 

Turkish doesn’t have a gender-specific personal pronoun like “He/She” in English. The pronoun “O” is used for both male, female, animals and objects.

While the pronoun “Sen” is the second person singular, the pronoun “Siz” is the second person plural for the English pronoun “You”. “Siz” is also used in polite/formal speech.

 

Positive Statements

Let’s first try to make a positive sentence. Look at the example sentence below and see how a statement (Present – To Be) sentence is made in Turkish:

 

  • Ben bir doktorum. (I am a doctor)

 

Benbirdoktorum
Personal PronounArticle “a”Noun/AdjectivePersonal suffix

 

Each personal suffix that is associated with the personal pronoun has different spelling. In order to choose the correct form for the personal suffix, we look at the last vowel of the noun or adjective inside the sentence.

 

Look at the chart to see which options you have for suffixes:

a/ıe/io/uö/ü
Ben-(y)ım-(y)im-(y)um-(y)üm
Sen-sın-sin-sun-sün
O-(dır)-(dir)-(dur)-(dür)
Biz-(y)ız-(y)iz-(y)uz-(y)üz
Siz-sınız-siniz-sunuz-sünüz
Onlar-(dir)ler-(dır)lar-(dur)lar-(dür)ler

 

Let’s go back to our earlier example. The reason we chose the suffix “um” for the noun “doktor” is that we first look at which personal pronoun we used and later look at the last vowel of the noun, which is “o”. The suffix associated with the “o” vowel sound for the “Ben” personal pronoun is the “-(y)um” suffix.

For the personal suffix of the “Onlar” personal pronoun, you can either use as “-dırlar/-dirlar” or simply as “-ler/-lar”.

If the noun or the adjective ends in a consonant sound, we don’t add the “-(y)” consonant sound otherwise, we would have added as “-yum” instead of “-um”.

 

Here are some more examples. Look at the personal pronoun and the personal suffix carefully:

  • O bir doktordur – He/She is a doctor.
  • Biz öğrenciyiz – We are students.
  • Onlar güzeller – They are beautiful.
  • Sen mutlusun – You are happy.

 

Negative Statements

If you want to make a negative statement (To Be) sentences, you need to add the negation “değil” meaning “not”, right after the noun or the adjective. In negative sentences, the personal suffix is not added after the noun or the adjective but after the negation “değil”.

 

  • Ben bir doktor değilim. (I am not a doctor)

 

Benbirdoktordeğilim
Personal pronounArticle “a”Noun / AdjectiveNegative (Not)Personal Suffix

 

Because we add the personal suffix right after the “değil”, the vowel harmony is only limited to one choice for each personal pronoun:

Personal PronounNegative + Personal Suffix
Bendeğilim
Sendeğilsin
Odeğil(dir)
Bizdeğiliz
Sizdeğilsiniz
Onlardeğiller

 

Here are some more examples. Look at the personal pronoun and the personal suffix carefully:

 

  • Ben bir öğretmen değilim – I am not a teacher.
  • O güzel değil – She is not pretty.
  • Sen hasta değilsin – You are not sick.
  • Onlar öğrenci değiller – They are not students.

 

For the “O” personal pronoun, it is possible to use just the negative word “değil” and no personal suffix.

 

Positive Questions

Making positive statement questions require you to add the question word “-mı/-mu/etc” variation to the end of the noun or the adjective. Instead of adding the personal suffix to the end of the noun or the adjective, we add it to the end of the question word with respect to vowel harmony for both the question and the personal suffix:

 

  • Ben bir avukat mıyım? (Am I a lawyer?)

 

Benbiravukatmıyım?
Personal pronounArticle “a”Noun / AdjectiveQuestion Word + Personal Suffix

 

Look at the chart to see more examples for conjugation of the suffix after the question word:

a/ıe/io/uö/ü
Ben-mıyım-miyim-muyum-müyüm
Sen-mısın-misin-musun-müsün
O-mı-mi-mu-mü
Biz-mıyız-miyiz-muyuz-müyüz
Siz-mısınız-misiniz-musunuz-müsünüz
Onlar-mı-mi-mu-mü

 

In some resources, the personal suffix for the “O” personal pronoun as “-mıdır/-midir/etc” but it actually sounds unnatural in Spoken Turkish so I would advise you avoid it.

Here are some more examples. Look at the personal pronoun, the vowel harmony for the question word and the personal suffix closely:

  • Onlar öğrenci mi? – Are they students?
  • Sen mutlu musun? – Are you happy?
  • O heyecanlı ? – Is he excited?
  • Onlar polis mi? – Are they police?

 

 

Negative Questions

The last section of this lessons is about making negative statement questions. You can ask negative statement questions to someone to confirm any information that was previously answered or asked.

 

When making negative questions, you combine the “değil” (not) with the question word “-mı/-mi/etc”. Like positive questions, we add the personal suffix at the end of the question word.

 

  • Sen bir doktor değil misin? (Aren’t you a doctor?)

 

Senbirdoktordeğilmisin?
Personal pronounArticle “a”Noun / AdjectiveNegative Word (Not)Question Word + P. Suffix

 

Look at the chart to see more examples for conjugation of the suffix after the question word:

Personal PronounNegation + Personal Suffix
Bendeğil miyim
Sendeğil misin
Odeğil mi
Bizdeğil miyiz
Sizdeğil misiniz
Onlardeğil mi

 

You might have noticed that this chart resembles the negative statement sentences we learned earlier. Because the negation stays the same, there is only one way to conjugate the personal suffix after the “Not” word.

 

Let’s see some more examples:

  • Sen mutlu değil misin? – Aren’t you happy?
  • Siz Ahmet değil misiniz? – Aren’t you Ahmet?
  • Biz İngiliz değil miyiz? – Aren’t we British?
  • Onlar öğrenci değil mi? – Aren’t they students?
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