Vowel harmony is one of the most fundamental and important aspects of Turkish grammar. Turkish words generally obey two vowel harmony rules, called the major vowel harmony and the minor vowel harmony. More important than the words obeying these rules, there are ways these rules change the vowels in the suffixes added to words. A good understanding of these rules is necessary to be able to use suffixes, hence to be able to make correct and meaningful sentences.
2. Minor Vowel Harmony
We saw that the 8 vowels in the Turkish alphabet are divided into two groups as hard and soft vowels. Besides this grouping, the 8 vowels are divided into two groups as round vowels and flat vowels. There are 4 flat and 4 round vowels. A vowel´s being round or flat is actually determined from the shape of the mouth when pronouncing that vowel, but it can also be seen in the shape of the capital characters.
A Turkish word is either a round word or a flat word depending on its last vowel.
Now, try to guess if the following words are round or flat. Move the mouse over the right table cell of the word to see the answer.
(Correct answers: flat, flat, flat, flat, flat, round, round, round, flat, round)
Minor vowel harmony states that:
If a suffix starting with -i is appended to a round word, the -i in the suffix becomes -u or -ü. This depends on whether the word is hard or soft. The major vowel harmony and the minor vowel harmony apply to words simultaneously. This means: