Turkish Language - About the verb - to be - Positive

The verb - to be - is used in sentences to describe a - state of being
The house is blue
Mehmet was ill
It will be a quick journey
If it is a big house
If it had not been out of sight.

The Verb - "to be"

From the History of Turkish

The verb "to be" is a now defective verb "imek" whose stem was "i-" which is found in four forms of vowel harmony "i,ı u,u." It also mutates to "-y" in the past and other forms when being suffixed to a word. This is no longer important in learning Turkish, but it does give the reason for many of the suffixes in modern use for the verb "to be".

The Verb to be takes the form of a suffix in Turkish. It is subject to Vowel Harmony Rules and also Consonant Mutation when added to words ending in a hard consonant. In the present tense only 3rd person singular has consonant mutation. It follows that for vowel harmony and consonant mutation the following forms are used.

PersonAfter all soft consonantsAfter hard consonants
ç, f, h, k,p, s, ş, t
After Vowels
I am-im, -ım, -üm, -um--yim, -yım, -yüm, -yum
you are-sin, -sın, -sün, -sun--
he/she/it is(-dir, -dır, -dür, -dur)(-tir, -tır, -tür, -tur)-
we are-iz ,-ız,-üz, -uz--yiz, -yız, -yüz, -yuz
you are -siniz, -sınız, -sünüz, -sunuz--
they are(-dirler, -dırlar, -dürler, -durlar)(-tirler, -tırlar, -türler, -turlar)-

The third person -dir suffix changes to -tir when added to hard consonants - See Consonant Mutation

Present Tense only:

(This not does not apply to the past tense below)
Third Person Plural ending shown in brackets above are very often omitted in conversation. They are added only for emphasis and for public advice, notices and warnings. They are also used when stating an actual fact. [Apples are fruit - Elma meyvedir]
You can see the use of -dir in Public Notices on the page Public Signs

Past Tense Suffixes

The past tense endings are use in all persons although sometime the -ler/-lar of the plural forms is omitted in conversation.
Note the use of the Buffer Letter -y- in the formation of the Past Tense for Verb stems which end in a vowel. This is to keep the final vowel of the verb stem separated by mutating the first vowel of the Past Tense endings -idim etc to -ydim etc. As every person suffix in the past tense begins with a -d then it follows that every person can be subject to consonant mutation to -t when added to a word ending in a hard consonant.

PersonSuffixConsonant MutatedAfter Vowels
I was-dim, -dım, -düm, -dum-tim, -tım, -tüm, -tum-ydim, -ydım, -ydüm, -ydum
you were -din, -dın, -dün, -dun -tin, -tın, -tün, -tun-ydin, -ydın, -ydün, -ydun
he/she/it was-di, -dı, -dü, -du -ti, -tı, -tü, -tu-ydi, -ydı, -ydü, -ydu
we were -dik ,-dık,-dük, -duk -tik ,-tık,-tük, -tuk-ydik, -ydık, -ydük, -yduk
you were-diniz, -dınız, -dünüz, -dunuz -tiniz, -tınız, -tünüz, -tunuz-ydiniz, -ydınız, -ydünüz, -ydunuz
they were-diler, -dılar, -düler, -dular -tiler, -tılar, -tüler, -tular-ydiler, -ydılar, -ydüler, -ydular

Vowel Harmony

Both the present and past obey the rules of vowel harmony, which are summed up as follows:

The A-Undotted Group
Final vowel -a or is followed by in suffix.
yaşlıyız [yaşlı-yız] - we are old
yaşlıydık [yaşlı-ydık] - we were old
hastayım [hasta-yım] - I am ill
hastaydım [hasta-ydım] - I was ill

Final vowel -o or -u is followed by u in suffix.
bir vazodur [vazo-dur] - it is a vase.
bir vazoydu [vazo-ydu] - it was a vase.
yorgunsun [yorgun-sun] - you are tired.
yorgundun [yorgun-dun] - you were tired.

The E- Dotted Group
Final vowel -e or -i is followed by i in suffix.
bir deredir [dere-dir] - it is a stream
bir dereydi [dere-ydi] - it was stream
zenginsin [zengin-sin] - you are rich
zengindin [zengin-din] - you were rich

Final vowel or is followed by ü in suffix.
bir gözdür [göz-dür] - it is an eye.
bir gözdü [göz-dü] - it was an eye.
Türk'türler [Türk'-türler] - they are Turkish.
Türk'tüler [Türk'-tüler] - they were Turkish.

Consonant Mutation

The present and past tense suffixes which begin in -d- undergo consonant mutation -dir becomes -tir and all the past tense suffixes beginning in -di become -ti after a final hard consonant the letters ç f h k p ş s t

Consonant Mutation - Present Tense and Past Tense Examples

Proper names

Suffixes are not fixed directly to Proper Names (words which begin with a capital letter), an aphostrophe comma is used instead:

Some Examples


Interrogative Forms

Asking questions, the interrogative particle -mi? is used to form questions. It is placed after the word it affects, and has the positive or negative present tense personal endings added - here are the forms showing vowel harmony:

"to be" Questions - Present Positive Singular
am I?mıyım? miyim? muyum? müyüm?
are you?mısın? misin? musun? müsün?
is he/she/it? (fam.)mı? mi? mu? mü?
is he/she/it? formal, publicmıdır? midir? mudur? müdür?
"to be" Questions - Present Positive Plural
are we?mıyız? miyiz? muyuz? müyüz?
are you?mısınız? misiniz? musunuz? müsünüz?
are they? (fam.)-lar mı? -ler mi? -lar mu? -ler mü?
are they? formal, publicmıdırlar? midirler? mudurlar? müdürler?

Except for the 3rd person form -lar mi? the Positive form of the Interrogative is written separately from the word it affects, but obeys the rules of Vowel Harmony. The longer forms which end in -dir are more formal and are used in instructions and public notices. They are not usually used in general conversation.

Present tense positive question examples

Note that the question part is written separately from the verb - but still obeys vowel harmony rules.

Interrogative Past Tense - to be

The Past tense personal endings are added to the question particle -mi and obeys Vowel harmony but is written separately. değil is used for the negative

"to be" Questions - Past Positive Singular
was I?mıydım? miydim? muydum? müydüm?
were you?mıydın? miydin? muydun? müydün?
is he/she/it?mıydı? miydi? muydu? müydü?
"to be" Questions - Past Positive Plural
were we?mıydık? miydik, muyduk? müydük?
wer you?mıydınız? miydiniz? muydunuz? müydünüz?
are they?mıydılar? miydiler? muydular? müydüler?

Note the use of the Buffer Letter -y- in the formation of the Past Tense Questions. This is to keep the final vowel of the question tag -mi by mutating the first vowel of the Past Tense endings -idim etc to -ydim etc.

Past tense positive question examples

Note that the question part is written separately from the verb - but still obeys vowel harmony rules.

The Future - will be

The Future of the verb - "to be" - is lacking in Turkish. It place is taken by the Future Tense of the Verb olmak - to be, to become. See discussion on - Future of olmak
Yarın hazır olacağım - I will be ready tomorrow
Er geç zengin olacaksın - You will become rich sooner or later [er geç (ergeç) = sooner or later]
Bu gece parti çok güzel olacak - It will be a great party tonight
All these are "state of being" sentences but Turkish uses the verb - olmak - to become - to convey the future of the verb - to be

Other Tenses in use of "to be"

This being a defective verb historical stem is i- and which meaning - be.
The missing forms of i- are supplied by ol- the infinitive of olmak, since there is no remaining infinitive of imek.
The following table shows the suffixed and independent forms where the stem i- is applied.

Suffixed FormsIndependent Forms
Present Suffix
Past Suffix
Past TensePast ConditionalPast InferentialPast Inferential
(I am in the house)
(I was in the house)
evde idim
(I was in the house)
evde idysem
(If I was in the house)
(apparently I am in the house)
(If I had been in the house)
evdesinevdeydinevde idinevde idiysenevde imişinevde imişsen
evde(dir)evdeydievde idievde idiyseevde imişevde imişse
evdeyizevdeydikevde idikevde idiysekevde imişizevde imişsek
evdesinizevdeydinizevde idinizevde idiysekevde imişsinizevde imişseniz
evde(dir)lerevdeydilerevde idilerevde idiyselerevde imişlerevde imişseler

The present tense is not used in an independent form