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Turkish Verbs - the Past Tenses

Turkish Past Definite Tenses

Was it seen? or Was it heard?
There are two Past Tenses in Turkish. The Definite Past Tenses ("Seen Tenses") are used when you have personal knowledge and witness of the action. These Definite Past tenses are like the English:
Past Perfect Tense I have made it
Past Simple Tense I made it
Past Imperfect Tense (Past Continuous) I was making it
Past Pluperfect Tense I had made it.

The Sign of the Definite Past is the addition of the suffix -di-/-ti-, -dı-/-tı-, -dü-/-tü-, -du-/-tu- according to Vowel harmony and Consonant Mutation Rules, to which the Personal suffixes are added.
Continuous Past: Geliyordum [Gel-iyor-dum] I was coming
Simple Past: Gelirdim [Gel-ir-dim] I used to come
Future Past (Future in the Past): Gelecektim [Gel-ecek-tim] I was going to come
Pluperfect (Past in the Past): Gelmiştim [Gel-miş-tim] I had come
The -miş suffix here does not convey any inferential meaning in the Pluperfect Tense.
Necessitative Past (Obligation in the Past): Gelmeliydim I had to come
Conditional Past: Gelseydim [Gel-se-ydim] If only I had come
All these tenses are discussed in the next pages.

Formation of Definite Past Tenses

The suffixes -dı- -di- -du- -dü- or -tı- -ti- -tu- -tü- when added to verb root ending in p ç k t ş. Personal suffixes are added to complete the verb in number.The past tense suffix follow vowel harmony and consonant mutation rules.

Turkish Definite Past Conjugation
E-Verb StemA-Verb Stem
geldim (gel-di-m)I cameanladım (anla-dı-m)I understood
geldin (gel-di-n)you cameanladın (anla-dı-n)you understood
(o) geldi (gel-di)he/she/it came(o) anladı (anla-dı)he understood
geldik (gel-di-k)we cameanladık (anla-dı-k)we understood
geldiniz (gel-di-niz)you cameanladınız (anla-dı-nız)you understood
geldiler (gel-di-ler)they cameanladılar (anla-dı-lar)they understood
İ-Verb StemI-Verb Stem
içtim (iç-ti-m)I drank/smokedçıktım (çık-tı-m)I went out
içtinyou drank/smokedçıktın you went out
(o) içtihe drank/smoked(o) çıktıhe went out
içtikwe drank/smokedçıktıkwe went out
içtinizyou drank/smokedçıktınızyou went out
içtilerthey drank/smokedçıktılarthey went out
Ö-Verb StemO-Verb Stem
gördüm (gör-dü-m)I sawkoştum (koş-tu-m)I ran
gördünyou sawkoştunyou ran
(o) gördühe/she/it saw(o) koştuhe ran
gördükwe sawkoştukwe ran
gördünüzyou sawkoştunuzyou ran
gördülerthey sawkoştularthey ran
Ü-Verb StemU-Verb Stem
güldüm (gül-dü-m)I laughedbuldum (bul-du-m)I found
güldünyou laughedbuldunyou found
(o) güldühe/she/it laughed(o) bulduhe found
güldükwe laughedbuldukwe found
güldünüzyou laughedbuldunuzyou found
güldülerthey laughedbuldularthey found

Formation of Indefinite (Inferential) Past Tenses

The Indefinite Past Tenses ("heard tenses") are used, by inference, to transfer information that you have not actually seen and witnessed yourself. There is no Inferential Tensein English, not many languages have one. The idea of inference is communicated by other ways. English speakers do this automatically and just a few of the ways are as follow:
I think that I went out [doubt]
Presumably you have left [possibility]
He has left as far as I know [reportative]
I think that we left at [uncertainty]
They say that you went out [hearsay]
Its pretty sure that they have left [probability]
All the examples above show that this tense is used whenever the speaker has not been an eyewitness to the past events. The Inferential Tense used for reporting unwitnessed events, or implying possibility, doubt or uncertainty. It is often used in telling jokes and stories.

The Sign of the Indefinite (Inferential) Past is the addition of the suffix -miş- -mış- -müş- -muş- to which the past tense personal suffixes are added.
Continuous Inferential: Geliyormuşum [Gel-iyor-muş-um] It seems (they say) I am coming.
Future Inferential: Gelecekmişim. [Gel-ecekm-iş-im] It seems I shall come
Simple Inferential: Gelirmişim. [Gel-ir-miş-im] It seems I come.
Necessitative Inferential: Gelmeliymişim. [Gel-meli-ymiş-im] They say I must have come.

The form "it seems…" gives the sense of inference in these examples by showing that there is a doubt in what is being stated. There are many ways of modifying speech in English to show these various nuances of doubt, uncertainty or hearsay. All these modifications and nuances are inherent in the turkish inferential -miş- tense itself. Extra words of explanation are not required for clarification purposes.

In English this tense can be translated as:
I believe that he went out.
We think that he has arrived.
Presumably the train will be on time.
All showing some uncertainty or lack of prior knowledge.
This tense is widely used on a daily basis in spoken and written Turkish. It is used all the time in daily conversation.

English shows shades of meaning using exra words:
çıkmışım. I think that I went out. [doubt]
çıkmışsın. Presumably you have left. [possibility]
çıkmış. He has left as far as I know. [reportative]
çıkmışız. I think that we left at… [uncertainty]
çıkmışsınız. They say that you went out. [hearsay]
çıkmışlar. Its pretty sure that they have left [probability]
The inferential is used whenever the speaker has dounbt about the events.

As a question: Mehmet çıktı mı? Has Mehmet gone out?
Past definite answer: O çıktı. He has gone out. meaning Yes he has gone out for sure [I saw him go.]
Past inferential (indefinite) answer: O çıkmış. He has gone out. meaning As far as I know he has left.
This "doubt" within the -miş inferential tense itself.

Turkish Interential Negative Forms

Examples of the Negative Verb yapmamak to not do
In Turkish "I think that…" is not required in Turkish, the inferential -miş Tense already says it.
Ben yapmamışım ki. (I think that) I did not do it.
Sen yapmamışsın ki. (They say that) You did not do it.
O yapmamış ki. (It seems that) He did not do it.
Biz yapmamışız ki. (They say that) We did not do it.
Siz yapmamışsınız ki. (It is reported that) You did not do it.
Onlar yapmamışlar ki. (Apparently) They did not do it. (but they might have).
ki is an object it/that to complete the sentence.

Turkish Inferential Question Forms

The interrogative particle -mi follows the verb and is written separately together with the relevant personal pronoun:
Onu yapmış mıyım? Have I done it [I wonder]? Did I do it, [I'm not sure]?
Onu yapmış mısın? Have you done it [at all]? Did you do it [anyrate]?
Onu yapmış mı? Has he done it [then]? Did he do it [yet]?
Onu yapmış mıyız? Have we done it [I wonder]? Did we do it, [I'm not sure]?
Onu yapmış mısınız? Have you done it [at all]? Did you do it [anyrate]?
Onu yapmışlar mı? Have they done it [surely]? Did they do it [yet]?

Onu yapmamış mıyım? Haven't I done it [I wonder]? Didn't I do it, [I'm not sure…]?
Onu yapmamış mısın?- Haven't you done it [at all]? Didn't you do it [anyrate]?
Onu yapmamış mı?- Hasn't he done it [then]? Didn't he do it [yet]?
Onu yapmamış mıyız? Haven't we done it [I wonder]? Didn't we do it, [I'm not sure]?
Onu yapmamış mısınız? Haven't you done it [at all]? Didn't you do it [anyrate]?
Onu yapmamışlar mı?- Haven't they done it [surely]? Didn't they do it [yet]?

Çıkmış mi? Has he (seemingly) left? [would you know? possibility.]
Gülmüşler mi ? Did they laugh? (at all?) [a question asking for a report.]
Onu yapmamış mısınız? Haven't you done it? [at all? uncertainty.]
Onu yapmamış mısınız? You haven't (gone and) done it have you? [doubt and incredulity]

The Tense Sign suffix -miş-, -mış-, -müş-, -muş- and the personal ending are added to the verb stem, in all cases Vowel harmony and Consonant Mutation rules are applied.

Turkish Indefinite Past Conjugation
E-Verb StemA-Verb Stem
gelmişim (gel-miş-im)I have comeanlamışım (anla-mış-ım)I have understood
gelmişsin (gel-miş-sin)you have comeanlamışsın (anla-mış-sın)you have understood
(o) gelmiş (gel-miş)he/she/it has come(o) anlamış (anla-mış)he have understood
gelmişiz (gel-miş-iz)we have comeanlamışız (anla-mış-ız)we have understood
gelmişsiniz (gel-miş-siniz)you have comeanlamışsınız (anla-mış-sınız)you have understood
gelmişler (gel-miş-ler)they have comeanlamışlar (anla-mış-lar)they have understood
İ-Verb StemI-Verb Stem
içmişim (iç-miş-im) I have drunk/smokedçıkmışım (çık-mış-ım) I have gone out
içmişsin  you have drunk/smokedçıkmışsınyou have gone out
(o) içmiş  he has drunk/smoked(o) çıkmışhe have gone out
içmişiz  we have drunk/smokedçıkmışızwe have gone out
içmişsiniz  you have drunk/smokedçıkmışsınız  you have gone out
içmişler  they have drunk/smokedçıkmışlarthey have gone out
Ö-Verb StemO-Verb Stem
görmüşüm (gör-müş-üm) I have seenkoşmuşum (koş-muş-um) I have run
görmüşsün  you have seenkoşmuşsunyou have run
(o) görmüş  he/she/it have seen(o) koşmuşhe have run
görmüşüz  we have seenkoşmuşuzwe have run
görmüşsünüz  you have seenkoşmuşsunuz you have run
görmüşler  they have seenkoşmuşlarthey have run
Ü-Verb StemU-Verb Stem
gülmüşüm (gül-müş-üm) I have laughedbulmuşum (bul-muş-um) I have found
gülmüşsün  you have laughedbulmuşsunyou have found
(o) gülmüş  he/she/it have laughed(o) bulmuşhe have found
gülmüşüz  we have laughedbulmuşuzwe have found
gülmüşsünüz  you have laughedbulmuşsunuzyou have found
gülmüşler  they have laughedbulmuşlarthey have found

Turkish Negative Past Tenses

For the Perfect Past Tense Definite (Seen) the suffix -dı-, -di-, -du-, -dü- is added to the negative verb form. For the Perfect Past Tense Indefinite (Heard) the suffix -mış-, -miş-, -muş-, müş- is added to the negative verb form. In both tenses the person is then added to complete the personalized verb.

Turkish Past Negative Conjugation
Past DefinitePast Inferential
anlamadımI didn't understand/have not understoodanlamamışımI did not understand (it seems)
anlamadınyou didn't understandanlamamışsınyou did not understand
(o) anlamadıhe, she, it didn't understand(o) anlamamışhe did not understand
anlamadıkwe didn't understand / we have not understoodanlamamışızwe did not understand
anlamadınızyou didn't understand / you have not understoodanlamamışsınızyou did not understand
anlamadılarthey don't understand / they have not understoodanlamamışlarthey did not understand
Past DefinitePast Inferential
gitmedimI didn't gogitmemişimI have not gone (it seems)
gitmedinyou didn't gogitmemişsinyou did not go
(o) gitmedihe, she, it didn't go(o) gitmemişhe did not go
gitmedikwe didn't gogitmemişizwe did not go
gitmedinizyou didn't gogitmemişsinizyou did not go
gitmedilerthey don't go gitmemişlerthey did not go

A Turkish Joke in the Inferential Tense

Sınıfta öğretmen sormuş - Dalda üç kus var, birini vurdum kaç tane kalır?
In class a teacher asked "There were three birds on a branch, I hit one how many are left?"
Çocuk cevaplamış - Hiç kalmaz öğretmenim.
A child answered "None at all remained, sir"
- Olur mu oğlum? - demiş öğretmen - 2 tane kalır.
"Really, my lad?" said the teacher "Two of them remain."
Olmaz öğretmenim - demiş çocuk - Siz birini vurunca diğerleri aptal değil ya sesten ürküp kaçarlar...
"No way, sir" said the child "When you hit one of them, the others not being fools, were startled by the sound and flew off.."
Öğretmen sasırmış ve - Aferin oğlum! Cevabin yanlış ama düşünce tarzını beğendim. - demiş.
The teacher was surprised and "Well done, my lad!" Your answer is wrong but I like your style." he said
Sonra çocuk - Öğretmenim, ben de size bir şey sormak istiyorum: Karsıdan üç tane bayan geliyor, üçü de dondurma yiyor, ama biri yalayarak, biri ısırarak, diğeri de emerek yiyor dondurmayı. Sizce bunlardan hangisi evlidir?
Then the child said "Sir, I want to ask you something: There are three ladies coming opposite and they are eating ice cream, but one is licking, one eating and on sucking the ice cream. Which one do you think is married?"
Öğretmen kızmış ama, cevap veremedi dedirtmemek için belli etmemiş - Yalarak yiyen evlidir -demiş.
The teacher got angry but not to show that he could not answer "The one licking is married" he said.
Çocuk - Olur mu öğretmenim ne alakası var, parmağında yüzük olan evlidir - demiş - Ama düşünce tarzınızı beğendim.
The child "Really sir? What a thing to say, the one with the ring on her finger is married" he said "But I like your style."

Quotation marks (" ") are not use in the Turkish speech above. Instead It is normal when writing Turkish to use the dash (-).

Turkish Definite Past Continuous Tense (gram: imperfect)

Formation is: verb stem + present tense suffix [-iyor-] + past tense suffix [-di-] + personal ending. All these meanings are witnessed. The must be construed as "true".

Turkish Definite Past Continuous
PositivegelmekNegative gitmemek
I was cominggitmiyordum
I wasn't going
geliyordunyou were cominggitmiyordunyou weren't going
(o) geliyorduhe/she/it was coming(o) gitmiyorduhe/she/it wasn't going
geliyordukwe were cominggitmiyordukwe weren't going
geliyordunuzyou were cominggitmiyordunuzyou weren't going
or geliyordular
they were cominggitmiyorlardı
or gitmiyordular
they weren't going

Turkish Indefinite Past Continuous Tense

Formation is: verb stem + present tense suffix [-iyor-] + past tense suffix [-miş-] + personal ending. All the meanings must be construed as "hearsay". They may or may not be true.

Turkish Indefinite Past Continuous
Positive bilmekNegative okumamak
(it seems) I was knowingokumuyormuşum
(it seems) I wasn't reading
biliyormuşsunyou were knowingokumuyormuşsunyou weren't reading
(o) biliyormuşhe/she/it was knowing(o) okumuyormuşhe/she/it wasn't reading
biliyormuşuzwe were knowingokumuyormuşuzwe weren't reading
biliyormuşsunuzyou were knowingokumuyormuşsunuzyou weren't reading
or geliyormuşlar
they were knowingokumuyorlarmış
or okumuyormuşlar
they weren't reading

Examples of Indefinite Past/Present Continuous Tense Negative (Hearsay)

anlamamak to not understand
anlamıyormuşum it seem that I was not understanding
anlamıyormuşsun it seem that you were not understanding
anlamıyormuş it seem that he was not understanding
anlamıyormuşuz it seem that we were not understanding
anlamıyormuşsunuz it seem that you were not understanding
anlamıyorlarmış it seem that they were not understanding

gitmemek not to go
gitmiyormuşum presumably I was not going
gitmiyormuşsun apparently you were not going
gitmiyormuş it seems he is not going
gitmiyormuşuz possibly we are not going
gitmiyormuşsunuz it seems you are not going
gitmiyorlarmış apparently they are not going

Turkish Past Continuous Tense Interrogative Positive

Was I going?, Were you crying?, Was he waiting?, Were we arranging?, Were you saying?, Wre they selling?
The verb stem is suffixed with -iyor plus he past tense personalised question tags which are written separately. The third person plural is suffixed with -iyorlar

  • Positive Interrogative Examples:
  • beklemek to wait expect
  • bekliyor muydum? Was I waiting?
  • bekliyor muydun?
  • bekliyor muydu?
  • bekliyor muyduk?
  • bekliyor muydunuz?
  • bekliyorlar mıydı?
  • gitmek to to
  • gidiyor muydum? Was I going?
  • gidiyor muydun?
  • gidiyor muydu?
  • gidiyor muyduk?
  • gidiyor muydunuz?
  • gidiyorlar mıydı?

Turkish Past Continuous Tense Interrogative Negative

The past tense question tags are written separately.

  • Negative Interrogative Example:
  • gitmiyor muydum? Wasn't I going?
  • ağlamıyor muydun? Weren't you crying?
  • beklemiyor muydu? Weren't you waiting?
  • toplamıyor muyduk? Weren't we arranging?
  • söylemiyor muydunuz? Weren't you saying?
  • satmıyorlar mıydı? Weren't they selling?
Definite -di and Indefinite -miş Past Tense Examples
almakto takealdıalmışalmadıalmamış
aramakto look foraradıaramışaramadıaramamış
bitmekto endbittibitmişbitmedibitmemiş
içmekto drink/smokeiçtiiçmişiçmediiçmemiş
başlamakto startbaşladıbaşlamışbaşlamadıbaşlamamış
çalışmakto workçalıştıçalışmışçalışmadıçalışmamış
gelmek to comegeldigelmişgelmedigelmemiş
görmekto seegördügörmüşgörmedi görmemiş
gülmekto laughgüldügülmüşgülmedigülmemiş
kızmakto get angrykızdıkızmışkızmadıkızmamış
okumakto readokuduokumuşokumadıokumamış
vermek to giveverdivermişvermedivermemiş
yapmak to do/makeyaptıyapmışyapmadıyapmamış

Examples of Questions in the Definite Past Tenses

Note that the mi? question particle follows the full verb in the Past Tense.
Okula gittin mi? Did you go to school? [Eng: Have you been to school?]
Okula gitmeli miydin? Did you have go to school? [Eng: Did you have to go to school?]
Ayşe ders çalıştı mı? Has Ayshe done her lesson?
Mehmet televizyon seyrediyor muydu? Was Mehmet watching television?
Mehmet televizyonu seyrediyor muydu? Was Mehmet watching THE television?
Kemal gazete okudu mu? Did Kemal read a newspaper? [unspecified object]
Kemal gazeteyi okudu mu? Did Kemal read THE newspaper? [specified object]
Kemal bu gazeteyi okudu mu? Did Kemal read THIS newspaper? [demonstrated specific object]
Serhan içki içti mi? Did Serhan drink alcohol? [içki = alcoholic drink]
Serhan içki içiyor muydu? Was Serhan drinking alcohol?
Faruk Ankara'ya gitti mi? Has Faruk gone Ankara?
Faruk Ankara'ya gidebildi mi? Was Faruk able to go Ankara?

Turkish Past Definite Perfect Tense Conjugation "I had written"

The Past Perfect Definite is formed by adding the Definite past tense suffix to the Past Tense -miş form of the verb. There is no hearsay or doubt in the meaning of this tense as it is made definite and specific by the addition of the past definite suffix in -di. This tense signifies the definite Past in The Past. "I had done it."

  • Definite Past Perfect
  • gelmiştim [gelmiş-tim] I had come
  • unutmuştun [unutmuş-tun] you had forgotten
  • yürümüştü [yürümüş-tü] he had walked
  • bilmiştik [bilmiş-tik] we had known
  • çıkmıştınız [çıkmış-tınız] you had gone out
  • anlamıştılar [anlamış-tılar] they had understood

Turkish Past Indefinite Perfect Tense Conjugation

The Past Perfect Indefinite is formed by adding the indefinite past tense suffix -miş to the past tense -miş form of the verb. There is hearsay or doubt in the meaning of this tense as it is made indefinite and unspecific by the addition of the past indefinite suffix in -miş. This tense signifies the indefinite Past in The Past. "(I thought) I had done it."

  • Indefinite Past Perfect
  • gelmişmışım [gelmiş-mişim] I had come (apparently)
  • unutmuşmuşsun [unutmuş-muşsun] you had forgotten (apparently)
  • yürümüşmüs [yürümüş-muş] he had walked (apparently)
  • bilmişmişiz [bilmiş-mişiz] we had known (apparently)
  • çıkmışmışsınız [çıkmış-mışsınız] you had gone out (apparently)
  • anlamışmışlar [anlamış-mışlar] they had understood (apparently)

The Turkish indefinite past perfect IS USED in daily conversation. It is also used for sarcasm as in English:
"You just had to be rude to your teacher yesterday! (apparently)"
"He had to leave his wife and kids for another floozie! (it seems)"

Turkish Past Perfect Tense Conjugation
gelmiştim [gelmiş-tim]I had come gelmişmişim [gelmiş-mişim]I had come
unutmuştun [unutmuş-tun]you had forgotten unutmuşmuşsun [unutmuş-muşsun]you had forgotten
yürümüştü [yürümüş-tü]he had walked yürümüşmüş [yürümüş-müş]he had walked
bilmiştik [bilmiş-tik]we had known bilmişmişiz [bilmiş-mişiz]we had known
çıkmıştınız [çıkmış-tınız]you had gone outçıkmışmışsınız [çıkmış-mışsınızyou had gone out
anlamıştılar [anlamış-tılar]they had understoodanlamışmışlar [anlamış-mışlar]they had understood