6.1 PRESENT CONTINUOUS
To explain: this is an action that is taking place right at this moment. In English, words are given an “-ing” ending in this tense. In Turkish, it’s formed with the suffix -(i)yor.
This suffix follows complex vowel harmony, meaning:
If the last vowel in the verb stem is an a or ı, -(i)yor becomes –(ı)yor.
If the last vowel in the verb stem is an e or i, –(i)yor remains unchanged.
If the last vowel in the verb stem is an o or u, -(i)yor becomes –(u)yor.
If the last vowel in the verb stem is an ö or ü, -(i)yor becomes –(ü)yor.
The vowels i, ı, u, and ü are in parentheses because these are only inserted if the verb stem ends with a consonant.
An additional suffix expressing the person is added to this present suffix. It is similar to the forms that you know from Lesson 5.1 on “to be” – with two exceptions in the third person singular and plural:
-(i)yorum = first person singular (I)
-(i)yorsun = second person singular (you)
-(i)yor = BE CAREFUL! There is NO personal pronoun suffix in this case. The basic ‑(i)yor form is already the third person singular (he, she, it)
-(i)yoruz = first person plural (we)
-(i)yorsunuz = second person plural (you [plural]) and second person formal (you [formal])
-(i)yorlar = third person plural (they)
yapmak = to make, to do (the verb stem is yap-):
yapıyorum = I am doing
yapıyorsun = you are doing
yapıyor = he / she / it is doing
yapıyoruz = we are doing
yapıyorsunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] are doing
yapıyorlar = they are doing
The personal pronouns themselves (ben, sen, o, etc.) are generally only used for emphasis: ben yapıyorum = I am doing
And another example:
düşünmek = to think (the verb stem is düşün-):
düşünüyorum = I am thinking
düşünüyorsun = you are thinking
düşünüyor = he / she / it is thinking
düşünüyoruz = we are thinking
düşünüyorsunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] are thinking
düşünüyorlar = they are thinking
One frequently used verb presents an exception when forming the -(i)yor present, however:
demek = to say (the verb stem is de-, but):
diyorum = I am saying
diyorsun = you are saying
diyor = he / she / it is saying
diyoruz = we are saying
diyorsunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] are saying
diyorlar = they are saying
The e in the verb stem changes to i. It can be pronounced better this way than “deyorum.” The same applies to the verb yemek = to eat:
yiyorum, yiyorsun, etc.
6.2 NEGATING THE PRESENT CONTINUOUS
Since we’re already in a suffix frenzy, we’ll follow up by learning how to negate it all. In Lesson 2 (verbs), you learned that all Turkish verbs end in either -mak or -mek in the infinitive (basic verb form). To negate the infinitive, -ma / -me is simply placed in front of -mak / -mek:
yapmak = to make, to do – yapmamak = not to make, not to do
vermek = to give – vermemek = not to give
To now negate the present continuous, we only need one single letter: -m. This is placed in front of the present suffix -(i)yor. It then looks as follows: -miyor. Easy, right? A simple, innocent “m” – and we’ve already changed the meaning.
yapmıyorum = I am not doing
yapmıyorsun = you are not doing
yapmıyor = he / she / it is not doing
yapmıyoruz = we are not doing
yapmıyorsunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] are not doing
yapmıyorlar = they are not doing
düşünmüyorum = I am not thinking
düşünmüyorsun = you are not thinking
düşünmüyor = he / she / it is not thinking
düşünmüyoruz = we are not thinking
düşünmüyorsunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] are not thinking
düşünmüyorlar = they are not thinking
6.3 PRESENT SIMPLE (“AORIST”)
As in English, the present simple is used in Turkish to express something that happens regularly or is always true. Example: you go to work, to school, to university, etc. every day.
This tense is formed with the suffix -(i)r.
This suffix follows complex vowel harmony, meaning:
If the last vowel of the verb stem is an a or ı, -ir becomes –ır.
If the last vowel of the verb stem is an e or i, -ir remains unchanged.
If the last vowel of the verb stem is an o or u, -ir becomes -ur.
If the last vowel of the verb stem is an ö or ü, -ir becomes –ür.
The personal pronoun suffixes look different here than in the present continuous – and they follow complex vowel harmony:
First person singular: -ırım / -irim / -urum / -ürüm
Second person singular: -ırsın / -irsin / -ursun / -ürsün
Third person singular: -ır / -ir / -ur / -ür (the basic -ir form is already the third person singular)
First person plural: -ırız / -iriz / -uruz / -ürüz
Second person plural: -ırsınız / -irsiniz / -ursunuz / -ürsünüz
Third person plural: -ırlar / -irler / -urlar / -ürler
düşünmek = to think (the verb stem is düşün-)
düşünürüm = I think
düşünürsün = you think
düşünür = he / she / it thinks
düşünürüz = we think
düşünürsünüz = you [plural] / you [formal] think
düşünürler = they think
konuşmak = to speak (the verb stem is konuş-)
konuşurum = I speak
konuşursun = you speak
konuşur = he / she / it speaks
konuşuruz = we speak
konuşursunuz = you [plural] / you [formal] speak
konuşurlar = they speak
BE CAREFUL: there are exceptions! There are verb stems that have one syllable. This turns the present suffix -ir into -er or -ar (simple vowel harmony).
yapmak = to make, to do (the verb stem is yap-)
yaparım = I do (often, regularly)
yaparsın = you do
yapar = he / she / it does
yaparız = we do
yaparsınız = you [plural] / you [formal] do
yaparlar = they do
dövmek = to beat (the verb stem is döv-)
döverim = I beat
döversin = you beat
döver = he / she / it beats
döveriz = we beat
döversiniz = you [plural] / you [formal] beat
döverler = they beat
BUT: among the monosyllabic verbs, there are also exceptions for which there is no transformation to -er / -ar:
almak = to take, to receive (so alırım, alırsın, alır …)
bilmek = to know (bilirim, bilirsin, bilir …)
bulmak = to find (bulurum, bulursun, bulur …)
durmak = to stand, to stop (dururum, durursun …)
gelmek = to come (gelirim, gelirsin …)
görmek = to see (görürüm, görürsün …)
kalmak = to stay (kalırım, kalırsın …)
olmak = to become (olurum, olursun …)
ölmek = to die (ölürüm, ölürsün …)
sanmak = to suppose (sanırım, sanırsın …)
varmak = to reach, to arrive (varırım, varırsın …)
vermek = to give (veririm, verirsin …)
vurmak = to hit (vururum, vurursun …)
There are thus only 13 monosyllabic verb stems that are exceptions among the exceptions. However, they aren’t irregular verbs in the classic sense. Two rules to summarize:
1) For monosyllabic verbs, the present suffix -ir turns into -er / -ar.
2) This rule doesn’t apply to the 13 verbs listed above.
On the other hand, there’s one true exception:
gitmek = to go (the verb stem is git-)
giderim = I go
gidersin = you go
gider = he / she / it goes
gideriz = we go
gidersiniz = you [plural] / you [formal] go
giderler = they go
Here, -ir turns into -er. After all, it’s a monosyllabic verb. But the t in the verb stem is softened to a d. You could now say: “Of course, it’s a hard consonant!” But:
atmak = to throw (the verb stem is at-)
atarım = I throw
atarsın = you throw
atar = he / she / it throws
atarız = we throw
atarsınız = you [plural] / you [formal] throw
atarlar = they throw
Here’s another monosyllabic verb stem that ends in a hard consonant – but without “softening.” Gitmek is therefore pretty irregular. After all, at the beginning, we mentioned “hardly any” and not “zero” irregularities. But honestly, gidersin is much smoother to pronounce than “gitersin,” isn’t it?
There’s one more verb for which t is softened to d:
etmek = an auxiliary verb for “to do something”
Example: telefon etmek = to phone or, literally: to do phone (telefon ederim = I call)
Incidentally, the t in gitmek and etmek is also softened to a d in the present continuous: gidiyorum and ediyorum.
In general, this tense in Turkish is also referred to as aorist, although this term describes certain past tense forms in other languages. You don’t really have to concern yourself too much with this, however. It’s more important to know how and when this tense is used.
6.4 NEGATING THE PRESENT SIMPLE
This present tense can of course also be negated, and it’s easy. Instead of the suffix -ir, we use the suffix -ma(z) / -me(z) (simple vowel harmony), to which the personal pronoun suffixes are attached again. The “z” is in parentheses because it’s omitted in the first person singular and plural.
yapmam = I do not do
yapmazsın = you do not do
yapmaz = he / she / it does not do
yapmayız = we do not do
yapmazsınız = you [plural] / you [formal] do not do
yapmazlar = they do not do
düşünmem = I do not think
düşünmezsin = you do not think
düşünmez = he / she / it does not think
düşünmeyiz = we do not think
düşünmezsiniz = you [plural] / you [formal] do not think
düşünmezler = they do not think
Vocabulary for Lesson 6:
atmak = to throw; bulmak = to find; demek = to say; dövmek = to beat, to pound; durmak = to stand, to stop; etmek = auxiliary verb to do; gelmek = to come; görmek = to see; kalmak = to stay; konmak = to land; olmak = to become; sanmak = to suppose; varmak = to reach, to arrive; yemek = to eat, also: food / dish; yenmek = to defeat, to overcome