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When to use 4-way and 2-way vowel harmony?

There are two types of vowel harmony in Turkish, 4-way and 2-way. The accusative case uses 4-way vowel harmony: if the final vowel is ö, ü use -(y)ü, if o,u use -(y)u, if e,i use -(y)i, if a,ı use -(y)ı. The plural form uses 2-way vowel harmony: if the final vowel is front (i, e, ü, ö) use -ler. If it is back (a, ı, o, u), use the suffix -lar.

Is there the list of forms and vowel harmony types we should use for them?

April 13, 2015



You guys are overcomplicating it. I mean you just have to know the original form of the suffix and that's it.

The moment you learn that the plural suffix is "-ler", you automatically know that it's 2-way: either -ler or -lar. Or if you want, call it "an -e type suffix". A suffix that has E in it can only have A as the altenative.

When you learn that the accusative suffix is "-i", it's clear that it can also be ı, u, ü. Call it "an -i type" suffix. -i type suffixes have 4 forms.

You don't have to memorize lists of suffixes. If you know one form of a suffix, you know if it is 2-way or 4-way. Let's say you encounter a new suffix: "-cü". You've never heard of it. You don't know what it means. But you can easily tell that it's 4-way because it has "ü" in it. So it can also be "cı, ci, cu". But never "ce/ca".

Again, don't memorize any lists. When you learn a new suffix, the vowel in it already tells you which group it belongs to. You don't have to mentally say: "Okay, the accusative case is -i, but I have to also keep in mind that it's 4-way." No, you don't have to do that. Just learn one form of the suffix, as if you were learning new prepositions in any language, and then you will do the math easily whenever you need to use that suffix.


good question :) I couldn't find a list online, but we can create our own list!


  • accusative
  • with (adjective, positive and negative) (-li/-siz)
  • possessive
  • past tense
  • present continuous tense
  • narrative past tense
  • "to be" copula
  • when (-IncA)
  • Non-Future Object Part. (-idIk)
  • ordinal numbers


  • plural
  • dative
  • locative
  • ablative
  • aorist tense (with 13 exceptions)
  • future tense
  • relative Pronouns -(y)An
  • instrumental (with, -le,la)
  • infinitive
  • suggestion
  • gerunds (me, ma)
  • must (meli/malı)
  • conditional


I'll add examples above later. Feel free to add more, so I'll update the list.


aorist uses both 4-way and 2-way. if the verb has more than one sylable it turns to 4-way.

and some are mixed. like -IncA and -AlIm (let's)


why are they mixed?

  • gelince
  • ölünce
  • alınca
  • olunca

etc, that's 4-way (for the first vowel).

  • gelelim
  • ölelim
  • gülelim
  • olalım
  • alalım

that's 2- way

(I am not telling the list above is perfect, I wrote it in a few minutes, and I am open to corrections and additions)


that's actually why i tried to make some modest additions. yes it's ok that you categorize them according to their first vowel. but maybe you can open a new category for them because their second vowels use a different system. it's just up to you


aorist uses 2 way, only some syllable words follow 4-way: almak, bilmek, bulmak, durmak, gelmek, görmek, kalmak, olmak, ölmek, sanmak, varmak, vermek, vurmak and these are called irregular


no, as you have listed there are only 13 irregular verbs. also if you have more than one syllable it turns to 4-way.

but the verbs which are originally compound (etmek) but not written seperately are exception. for example: seyretmek becomes seyreder. it comes from seyr etmek and etmek is a one-syllable verb.


Also, one-syllable verbs that are made "passive" become 4-way even though the end-product is still one-syllabled:

Yemek → Yer

Yenmek → Yenir

Although there aren't many verbs in this format.


düşünmek - düşünür
anlatmak - anlatır
anlaşmak - anlaşır


so these are also not 1-syllable, right? :) What I was trying to tell is that there is no rule as if the verb has more than one sylable it turns to 4-way

I didn't claim the ones I wrote are the only exceptions, there might be many more, it is just the typical list you find online


Now that's super helpful! Thanks a lot, going to practice vowel harmony :)


Yes, Turkish has two vowel harmony systems, but for different vowel qualities. In native words, they are either high or low vowels.

High vowels: 4-fold i, ü, ı, and u.
Start with the /i:/, round your lips for /ü:/; go back to /u:/, unround for /ı:/. All high vowels are on the same hight and are classified as high.

Low vowels: 2-fold a, e All /e:/ are front, all /a:/ are back.

How is this useful??? Turkish vowels have three systems that they abide by: Front/Back: Round/Unround High/Low

What does this mean? Four-harmony means the following vowel becomes HIGH Hence:

Front Vowels: /e/, /i/ - /i/ /ü/, /ö/ - /ü/

Back Vowels: /a/, /ı/ - /ı/ /o/, /u/ - /u/

Two-Fold Harmony means the following vowel becomes Unrounded LOW: Hence:

Front: Front Vowels: /e/, /i/ - /e/ /ü/, /ö/ - /e/

Back Vowels: /a/, /ı/ - /a/ /o/, /u/ - /a/

The vowel system actually very logical if you take a step back and look at it in a different light. Hope this helps.

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