Welcome
Login:   Pass:     Register - Forgot Password - Resend Activation

Print view

Major Vowel Harmony

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.

 

1. Major Vowel Harmony

The 8 vowels in the Turkish alphabet are separated into two groups called hard vowels and soft vowels. There are 4 hard vowels and 4 soft vowels.

Hard vowels: a, 覺, o, u
Soft vowels: e, i, ö, ü

 

Words of Turkish origin generally (not always) have all hard or all soft vowels. This is just a generalization that you won´t use for constructing Turkish words and sentences. Words that have hard and soft vowels together are said to violate the major vowel harmony. A word that violates the major vowel harmony probably has been adopted from another language or has been changed in the lifetime of the Turkish language.

 

Each of the hard vowels are the hard counterparts of one soft vowel (and vice versa). Following this rule, vowels can be paired with their counterparts as follows:

Hard Soft
a e
i
o ö
u ü

 

 

A Turkish word is either a hard word or a soft word depending on its last vowel.

 

ev[home] is a soft word since its last and only vowel, e, is a soft vowel.

okul[school] is a hard word since its last vowel, u, is a hard vowel.

kahve[coffee] is a soft word since its last vowel, e, is a soft vowel.

 

 

Now, try to guess if the following words are hard or soft. The correct answers are below the table.

Word Hard or Soft
meslek[job] ?
araba[car]          ?         
güzel[beautiful]          ?         
yemek[food]          ?         
gülümse[smile]          ?         
çabuk[quick]          ?         
gül[rose]          ?         
göl[lake]          ?         
gidelim[let´s go]          ?         
telefon[telephone]          ?         

 

(Correct answers: soft, hard, soft, soft, soft, hard, soft, soft, soft, hard)

 

 

Major vowel harmony states that:

  • Any suffix appended to a hard word must have hard vowels
  • Any suffix appended to a soft word must have soft vowels

 

As an example to this rule let´s consider the suffix -de. When added to a noun, this suffix gives the meaning of "at/in the location expressed by that noun". When added to a soft word like ev[home], this suffix is -de. However, when added to a hard word like okul[school], the soft vowels in this suffix are replaced by their hard counterparts and the suffix becomes -da. Hence:

 

at home --> evde

at school --> okulda

in the car --> arabada

at the lake --> gölde


覺r覺n, sofi N&S, widzzy, Abuadnan, xoch and 633 others liked this lesson


View all beginner level lessons in this class - Turkish Grammar Lessons

View all lessons in this class - Turkish Grammar Lessons

View All Turkish Classes


Comments (223)



Turkish Dictionary
Turkish Chat
Open mini chat
New in Forums
E to T: Please delete this post asap
denizli: This should at least be close: ... en k覺sa ... bu postay覺 ... &...
E to T: He´s in perpetual competitio...
Leo S: He´s someone who is perpetual ... with me; as if he has somethin...
E to T: What I liked about your former res...
Leo S: What I liked about your former residence is that it was a ... like som...
My grammar book has just been published.
qdemir: Thank you, Polyglot.
Female Turkish Teacher in İstanbul
southpark85: u duyuruyu silin ... 100 kere yazd覺m neden kimse silmiyor
E to T my attempt!
denizli: Why do you have m覺? That is for a question. I ... know if this is...
E to T my attempt!
Polyglot: Hi all, This a joke by the way! I asked my Turkish friend to conve...
E to T: Try to develop yourself, think of ...
Leo S: Improve your knowledge of English grammar, consider attending communit...
E to T: need to know basis
Leo S: It will be on a ... basis. The less you know the better. imdiden...
E to T: You are comparing my body to yours
Leo S: You are comparing my body (muscles) to yours, I think? imdiden ...
Sadece / Ancak / Yaln覺z / Yaln覺zca
scalpel - -: ...
Maharet g羹zel olmak deil, g羹zel g繹rme...
Faruk: Hello aruwin! Sure, I can tell you. The ability is not...
Random Pictures of Turkey
Add thumbnails like this to your site
Most liked
Simple Present Tense I - REVISED AND EDITED

Turkish lesson by turkishcobra
Level: intermediate