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How to pronounce â û î

Turkish has a, i and u with the circumflex BUT the circumflex is often not used (The Turkish language association once removed them and later tried to bring them back, but almost nobody uses them anymore, except for confusing words.)

  • â for /aː/ and/or to indicate that the consonant before â is palatalized
  • î for /iː/ (no palatalization implied)
  • û for /uː/ and/or to indicate palatalization.

While they are not so essential, they actually help you pronounce the words correctly, especially if they change the meaning! Also keep in mind, only loan words will have these letters, Turkish itself does not have these sounds.

The TTS seems to ignore them (we don't have them in the course, but we tried the TTS with them and it didn't matter so we didn't include them). So I'll help you a bit.

One essential example if hala (paternal aunt) vs hâlâ (still, yet). Click here to listen to them. You will here all of them like the first one (paternal aunt) in the course.

Another example is kar (snow) vs kâr (profit). It gets even more confusing when you add suffixes, "karımı" could mean my wife, my snow or my profit. Click here to listen "kar/kâr and karımı/kârımı"

Sometimes it just makes "a" longer, for example adet (piece) vs âdet (tradition). Click here to listen to this.

â also often comes before L. This makes the sound much softer - and then the suffixes seem to not follow the vowel harmony (in fact they do, because in those cases â is closer to e, û is closer to ü etc)! For example

  • "hâl" will be "hâlim" (my situation) not "halım" (my carpet)
  • "meşgûl" will be "meşgûlüm" (I am busy) and not "meşgulum"
  • "hayâl" will be "hayâlim" (my dream) and not "hayalım" etc

If I am not wrong, î is found only at the at the end of the words, and mean -al (probably Arabic, someone should confirm). It is just a long iiii.

  • millet: nation vs millî: national
  • hukuk: law vs hukukî: legal
  • siyaset: politics vs siyasî: political
  • iktisat: economy vs iktisadî: economical
  • ahlak: morality vs ahlakî:moral

Final reminder, usually you won't see the circumflex! But you should remember which words have it (or should have it) to pronounce words correctly. If you are a native Arabic/Persian speaker, I guess you'll know it by heart :)

March 30, 2015



It's a great guide. :)

Can I just make a couple of corrections, well updates, rather. Some of the spellings you mentioned are the old forms.

Meşgul and Hayal are not spelt with a circumflex.

Regarding the "î" at the end of the words; it's called "izafet i'si" and it's used ONLY when the word otherwise looks like it has received a different suffix.

For example:

askeri = his soldier

askerî = military

Here you need the circumflex.

But when saying "Ahlaki" there is no need for one, because there is no misunderstanding here.

Millî however requires a circumflex, because otherwise it looks like "mil-li", as in having "mil". (Mil being an electronic equipment found in cars for instance).

Siyasi, iktisadi, hukuki don't pose any problems, hence don't have a circumflex.

Sometimes, the circumflex is necessary when declining a word that normally doesn't have the accent.

For example: an = moment

But in the accusative "anı" becomes ambiguous, as it also means "memory" when spelt like this. Hence we put an accent: "ânı" (the moment).

Same thing in dative: "ana" means "mother", so we put an accent: âna (to the moment).

So the rules are:

  1. If the previous letter is a palatalized K or G, circumflex is obligatory: dükkân, kâğıt, güzergâh, hükûmet, inkîlap…
  2. Differentiating words that have the same spelling otherwise: hal / hâl (these 2 are pronounced the same btw)
  3. Differentiating words that can cause ambiguity when declined: hattâ (even so) / hatta (on the line)

There are exceptions. One that comes to my mind is: katil (murderer) and katil (zanlısı) (murder suspect) are pronounced differently: one is /kaaatil/ the other is /katil/, however we don't put a circumflex to differentiate them, as the second one is almost always used with the word in parenthesis.

Anyway, this is not a very important feature, but it doesn't hurt to learn.


well, that's the point, there are so many, if I may say, stupid rules, people stopped using them altogether. I, myself, am aware of these rules. These circumflexes existed on every word where they were pronounced once.

So learners just need to learn the pronunciations; I am aware "meşgûl" is not written with an û, but it is pronounced as if it were, etc.


I don't think they are stupid. Just like ü tells you not to pronounce u, â tells you not to pronounce a. They are helpful especially for language learners.


the problem (stupid rules) is that officially it is used in only some places where you are supposed to pronounce â instead of a or û instead of u. If they were used everywhere where we needed those sounds, it would not have been stupid at all (e.g. meşgûl )


I see, so the problem is that they are used only intermittently. Sort of like Turkish road rules ;-) Too bad, really!


i just need to make a little tiny correction to the example of exception.( by the way, no exceptions come to my mind. well nevermind the exceptions, i just have to say, while the murderer which is pronounced as "qaatil" is the person who kills and the word "katil (zanlısı) murder (suspect)" is as you said, is meaning the murder which is a different word pronounced as "qatl' ". so both are different words and neither of them has circumflex. anyway, thanks for the answer and thanks for your effort. Teşekkürler.


Very informative, teşekkürler.


It's really good! Simple and to the point.

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