Lesson 01


We’ll start with some important preliminary information that’s necessary to better understand the Turkish “system.”


The Latin alphabet is used in Turkish. This is supplemented by several letters that are intended to express special sounds. The letters W, X, and Q don’t exist in Turkish. These sounds are conveyed differently, for example taksi (instead of taxi) and K instead of Q, as it makes the same sound.

The Turkish alphabet therefore looks as follows:

A – a
B – b
C – c (“j” as pronounced in “jungle”)
Ç – ç (“ch” as pronounced in “ciao”)
D – d
E – e
F – f
G – g
Ğ – ğ (yumuşak ge – a guttural R that comes from the throat. However, this letter is usually almost swallowed and only leads to an extension of the preceding letter. Similar to the effect of an “h” after a vowel, the word “yağmur” (rain) sounds more like “yahmur”, for instance)
H – h
I – ı (at first glance, this is an “I,” but keep in mind that it doesn’t have a dot above the line. This is important. It’s pronounced similarly to a short “e” in English)
İ – i (keep in mind that this is the “I” with the dot on top, and the dot is also used in the capital letter. The “I” without a dot is a separate letter with a separate sound)
J – j (similar to the “j” sound for C, just softer. It’s usually used for words that aren’t actually Turkish but that come from French, such as “jandarma” (gendarmerie). Comparable to the soft “g” in “protégé”)
K – k
L – l
M – m
N – n
O – o
Ö – ö (in the Turkish alphabet, this is its own letter)
P – p
R – r (a strong, rolling “r.”))
S – s (unvoiced “s” – pronounced like the “s” in “bus”)
Ş – ş (pronounced “sh”)
T – t
U – u
Ü – ü (also its own letter in the Turkish alphabet)
V – v
Y – y
Z – z


Turkish is gender-neutral – meaning there’s no distinction such as “he, she, it” – so there are no gendered definite articles, either. Turkish is therefore a perfectly emancipated language, actually. And this simplifies things a great deal. However, there’s the indefinite article bir – which is the number “1” as well. So there you go, you’ve just learned another Turkish vocabulary word. Tebrikler (congratulations!), and there – another vocabulary word. The tempo’s picking up, so let’s stick with it.

The personal pronouns are as follows:

ben = I
sen = you [informal]
o = he / she / it
biz = we
siz = you [plural] / you [formal]
onlar = they


Turkish has what’s referred to as vowel harmony. This is broken down into simple and complex vowel harmony. You HAVE to be familiar with this so that you can correctly form the appropriate tenses and verb conjugations in the grammar section later. We’ll explain later what you can do with vowel harmony. But familiarize yourself with the rules it follows already, even if you don’t understand it 100% yet.

The Turkish vowels: a, e, ı, i, o, ö, u, ü

Simple vowel harmony:

a, ı, o, u are followed by a.
e, i, ö, ü are followed by e.

Complex vowel harmony:

a, ı are followed by ı.
e, i are followed by i.
o, u are followed by u.
ö, ü are followed by ü.


Turkish is referred to as an agglutinative language. This simply means that most sentences are formed through what are referred to as suffixes. These are word particles that are attached to a certain word. In this way, sentences can be formed in one word or just a few words. 


You may be familiar with the following four cases:

Nominative (basic form, subject: who or what?)
Accusative (object: whom or what?)
Dative (indirect object: to whom?)
Genitive (possessive: whose?).

These exist in Turkish as well, but there are also the so-called

Ablative (from where?) and
Locative (where?).

As a result, we have to grapple with six cases. But this statement isn’t entirely correct, as the Türk Dil Kurumu (the Turkish Language Association), which is the key institution for Turkish grammar in Turkey, doesn’t recognize genitive as its own case. It is its own case in English, however, so we’ll present it as such here because we assume that it’s clearer in this form for an English-speaking learner.


Sentence structure in Turkish can actually be summed up quickly and simply: the verb is always at the end of the sentence. Before the verb, you can place the words almost randomly. Occasionally, a crazy combination might sound a little strange, but you’ll nevertheless be understood – as long as the verb is at the end of the sentence.

Learning and understanding these six fundamental pieces of information is half the battle. Turkish actually isn’t a complicated language, and its structure is very logical. You’ll hardly find any irregularities. The only problem – if it really is one – is the pronunciation. But as we know, practice makes perfect. And don’t be shy to use what you’ve learned! It can open people’s hearts. As an old Turkish adage says: Her dil insandır! = Every language is human!

Vocabulary for Lesson 1:
abece = alphabet (ABC); Almanca = German (the language!); bir = a / an, the number “1”; dil = language, tongue; güneş = sun; her = each; jandarma = gendarmerie; insan = human; otobüs = bus; okul = school; taksi = taxi; Türkçe = Turkish (the language); Van = a city in Turkey; yağmur = rain