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[Grammar] 4-way Vowel Harmony

In Turkish, vowels within a (native) word and any suffixes that are attached to said word must obey vowel harmony rules. This means that vowels tend to either be the same or similar, making words easier to pronounce than they may look.

There are two types of vowel harmony in Turkish, 4-way and 2-way. Vowel harmony is one of the biggest aspects of Turkish phonology and it is fundamental part of learning the language. With practice, you will start to be able to do much of this work without thinking.

The accusative case is one of many suffixes that uses 4-way vowel harmony. We will use this case as our example, but remember that it pops up in many other places and will be represented with a -I (capital i) in our course.

In order to figure out what may go on the end, you will have to look at the final vowel in the word.

REMEMBER: Turkish is not a perfect language without exceptions. There are many words (all of foreign origin) that do not follow vowel harmony. Some of these words are quite common, and any good dictionary will tell you that they are exceptions (keep in mind, many online dictionaries are not good). Some examples of this are: Saat (hour/clock) - Saati (acc.) // Terminal (station) - Terminali (acc.) // Alkol (alcohol) - Alkolü (acc.)

June 10, 2015



I love the term "vowel harmony". It makes me feel like I am making beautiful linguistic music. ;)


Because you are making beautiful linguistic music! This is my favorite thing about Turkish...everything flows so nicely and the sounds work with each other to make things easier to pronounce and more beautiful :)

[deactivated user]

    So informative. Where's my notebook?? :p


    How do you say 'vowel harmony' in Turkish?


    Vowel harmony is simple enough although I don't understand how to know which suffix is 2-way harmony and which is 4-way.

    Help would be really appreciated.


    You really just have to memorize it with the suffix. There isn't really any advice I can give here! :)


    I was actually feeling annoyed with "guessing" the correct vowel, but after I learned how the pattern functions, I am absolutely loving how vowel harmony works. It's not hard at all :)


    Just remember that loanwords sometimes break the rules. Otherwise, it is completely regular for native Turkish words (and most loanwords)!

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