Lesson 03

Let’s continue with the easy stuff.


That goes fast:

sıfır = 0
bir = 1
iki = 2
üç = 3
dört = 4
beş = 5
altı = 6
yedi = 7
sekiz = 8
dokuz = 9
on = 10

The following numbers are now simple combinations:

on bir = 11 (literally: “ten one”)
on iki = 12 
on üç = 13

on dokuz = 19

Then come the “tens” – likewise with simple combinations:

yirmi = 20
yirmi bir = 21 (literally: “twenty one”)
yirmi iki = 22
yirmi üç = 23
yirmi dört = 24

otuz = 30
kırk = 40
elli = 50
altmış = 60
yetmiş = 70
seksen = 80
doksan = 90

Now the hundreds, thousands, etc. The simple combinations continue:

yüz = 100
yüz bir = 101 (literally: “hundred one”)
yüz on bir = 111 (literally: “hundred ten one”)
yüz yirmi bir = 121
iki yüz = 200
üç yüz = 300
bin = 1,000
bin bir = 1,001 (literally: “thousand one”)
bin iki yüz doksan bir = 1,291 (literally: “thousand two hundred ninety one”)
on bin = 10,000
yüz bin = 100,000
bir milyon = 1,000,000
iki milyon = 2,000,000
bir milyar = 1 billion


Learning the numbers includes learning the ordinal numbers, of course. They are formed with the suffix -(i)nci (the vowel is in parentheses because it’s only inserted if the number ends in a consonant).

The suffix follows complex vowel harmony:

If the last vowel is an a or ı, the suffix is -ıncı
If the last vowel is an e or i, -inci remains unchanged
If the last vowel is an o or u, the suffix is -uncu
If the last vowel is an ö or ü, the suffix is -üncü

birinci = 1st (first)
ikinci = 2nd (second)
üçüncü = 3rd (third)
dördüncü = 4th (keep in mind that the t is softened into a d)
beşinci = 5th
altıncı = 6th
yedinci = 7th
sekizinci = 8th
dokuzuncu = 9th
onuncu = 10th
on birinci = 11th

yirminci = 20th
otuzuncu = 30th
yüzüncü = 100th
milyonuncu = 1,000,000th (millionth)
milyarıncı = billionth

Let’s go back to dördüncü for a moment, since you likely asked yourself why a letter t is softened into a d here. This is related to the harmony. Specifically, there are the so-called “hard consonants” ç, k, p, and t. It doesn’t always sound “harmonious” to Turkish ears to keep them. For example, it’s easier to pronounce dördüncü than “dörtüncü.” Try it for yourself! Which of the two words rolls better or more harmoniously off your tongue? Exactly. But this is a matter of feeling, too. Over time, you’ll get used to what sounds more harmonious when you start to develop a feeling for the Turkish language.

You’ll encounter this softening of the “hard consonants” a lot more here, so go ahead and commit it to memory now.

Those weren’t all of the “hard consonants,” though. There’s also f, h, s, and ş. They aren’t softened, however, but instead lead to a hardening of the subsequent suffixes (depending on the suffix, there is a hardening after ç, k, p, and t as well). This will become clearer in later lessons. We’re just briefly pointing it out here so that you can mentally prepare for it.


Forming the plural is too easy to be true. The word that has to be “pluralized” is simply supplemented with -lar or -ler. This is oriented to simple vowel harmony:

If the last vowel is an a, ı, o, or u, then -lar is used
If the last vowel is an e, i, ö, or ü, then -ler is used


araba = cararabalar = cars
oda = roomodalar = rooms
çocuk = childçocuklar = children
pencere = windowpencereler = windows
kedi = catkediler = cats

(Remember that there is no definite article in Turkish!)

BUT: when you define a number, the plural form is no longer used. What does that mean exactly?

For example, in English you say:

one car, two cars, three cars, a specified / unspecified number of cars. As soon as the number of cars exceeds one, you’re forced to form the plural in English. This isn’t the case in Turkish:

bir araba = one car
arabalar = cars (an unspecified number)
iki araba = two cars
üç araba = three cars

Turks just like it simple and think to themselves: if the number of cars I’m talking about is already specified, why should I use the plural form on top of that?

And another thing: the plural can also be used in conjunction with names, which would be the designation for an entire “clan” or clique. That’s pretty practical. Example:

Mehmetler = the Mehmets – meaning: the brothers, the sisters, the father, the mother – or also: Mehmet and his (closest) friends, etc.
Mehmetler gelecek. = The Mehmets (Mehmet and his family) will come.

This isn’t necessarily unusual for English speakers’ ears, however, as it can be roughly translated as “Mehmet and his gang.”


The phrases “there is / are” and “there is / are no” are used frequently in Turkish, in each case with one word:

var = there is / are
yok = there is / are no

That’s it. Nothing else is necessary.


You’re in a produce shop:

Domates var. = There are tomatoes.
Domates yok. = There are no tomatoes. (a shop that isn’t very well stocked)


In Lesson 1, you learned the personal pronouns ben, sen, o, biz, siz, and onlar (I, you, he / she / it, we, you [plural / formal], they). Possessive pronouns are formed by attaching additional suffixes to them.

benim = my
senin = your
onun = his / her
bizim = our
sizin = your [plural] / your [formal]
onların = their

These possessive pronouns are the same no matter what noun they’re connected to.


benim araba = my car
senin akraba = your relative

In reality, though, possessive pronouns are completely omitted and replaced by suffixes. The pronouns are used to emphasize that something is “yours,” “his,” etc. Without pronouns and with suffixes only, it looks like this:

arabam = my car
araban = your car
arabası = his / her car
arabamız = our car
arabanız = your [plural] / your [formal] car
arabası = their car

To explain: the possessive suffixes follow complex vowel harmony.The full overview is as follows:

First person singular: -(i)m / -(ı)m / -(u)m / -(ü)m
Second person singular: -(i)n / -(ı)n / -(u)n / -(ü)n
Third person singular: -(s)i / -(s)ı / -(s)u / -(s)ü
First person plural: -(i)miz / -(ı)mız / -(u)muz / -(ü)müz
Second person plural: -(i)niz / -(ı)nız / -(u)nuz / -(ü)nüz
Third person plural: -(s)i / -(s)ı / -(s)u / -(s)ü (as in the third person singular)

If the word ends in a vowel, the letter in parentheses disappears – except for in the third person singular and plural.

araba (his / her car), kedin (your cat), evimiz (our house), gülünüz (your [plural] / your [formal] rose), kitapları (his / her books)

If the word is a proper noun (names, cities, countries), an apostrophe is added before the suffix.

Almanya‘sı (his / her Germany), İstanbul‘u (his / her Istanbul), Lale‘si (his / her Lale)

A sample sentence – though already pre-empted with the genitive:

Mehmet’in arabası = Mehmet’s car (“Mehmet’in” would be a genitive form)

We’ll work with all six cases in the next lesson. Then this sample sentence will be clearer.

Oh, and proper nouns always start with a capital letter. Lowercase is used everywhere else in Turkish – except at the beginning of a sentence, of course.


3.6.1 Questions with “mi”

Using mi poses questions in a simple way. It’s only used for yes-or-no questions.


Gelecek mi? = Will he / she / it come? This question can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” It’s not asking “from where?” or “to where?”

Depending on in which person the question is asked, mi is modified:

miyim = referring to meGelecek miyim? = Will I come?
misin = referring to youGelecek misin? = Will you come?
mi = referring to he / she / itGelecek mi? = Will he / she / it come?
miyiz = referring to us Gelecek miyiz? = Will we come?
misiniz = referring to you [plural] / you [formal] Gelecek misiniz? = Will you [plural] / you [formal] come?
mi = referring to them Gelecekler mi? = Will they come?

The verb is always in the third person singular, and the question particle mi is adapted to the respective person (mi is of course already third person). In the third person plural, the verb is modified for the plural accordingly. However, mi remains unchanged here as well.

Important: The question particle mi follows complex vowel harmony:

– If the last vowel of the preceding word is a or ı, mi becomes
(accordingly, mıyım, mısın, mı, mıyız, mısınız, mı)
– If the last vowel of the preceding word is e or i, mi remains unchanged
(accordingly, miyim, misin, mi, miyiz, misiniz, mi)
– If the last vowel of the preceding word is o or u, mi becomes mu
(accordingly, muyum, musun, mu, muyuz, musunuz, mu)
– If the last vowel of the preceding word is ö oder ü, mi becomes
(accordingly, müyüm, müsün, mü, müyüz, müsünüz, mü)


Sigaran var mı? = Do you have a cigarette? (literally: There is your cigarette?)
Kaleminiz var mı? = Do you [plural] / you [formal] have a pen? (literally: There is your pen?)
Kalıyor musun? = Are you staying?

(Please note: In these examples, we used the present simple or present continuous tense. We’ll cover this in Lesson 6. Here, we’re just focusing on the use of the particle mi.)

3.6.2 Additional question words

Kim? = Who? – Example: O kim? or Kim o? = Who is that?
Ne? = What? – Example: Ne yapıyorsun? = What are you doing (right now)?
Nerede? = Where? – Example: Kitap nerede? = Where is the book?
Nereye? = Where to? – Example: Nereye gidiyorsun? = Where are you going to (right now)?
Neden? or Niye? = Why? – Example: Neden / Niye gittin? = Why did you go?
Nasıl? = How? – Example: Nasıl dinleniyoruz? = How do we relax?
Hangi? = Which? – Example: Hangi araba? = Which car?
Kaç? or Ne kadar? = How much? – Example: Fiyatı ne kadar / kaç? = How much does it cost? (literally: Its price is how much?)

Vocabulary for Lesson 3:
açmak = to open; akraba =relative; Almanya = Germany; araba = car; çocuk = child; dinlenmek = to relax; domates = tomato; ev = house; fiyat = price; gül = rose; hangi = which; kaç = how much; kalem = pen; kedi = cat; kim = who; kitap = book; nasıl = how; ne = what; ne kadar = how much; neden = why; nerede = where; nereye = where to; niye = why; oda = room; pencere = window; sana = you [dative] (sen + dative); sigara = cigarette; var = there is / available; yok = there is no / unavailable