In “original” Turkish words, the following rules
- All vowels are short.
- Two vowels can never be adjacent (immediately follow each other).
When necessary, conjugation letters are inserted between wovels: y, n, s.
Examples: kapı+y+a (to the door), kapı+n+ın (of the door), kapı+s+ı (door
of …). (*)
- All vowels obey the 1st and 2nd rules of vowel harmony. (*)
- Most prepositions are suffixes (some can also be used as separate
- The vowels in a stem of a word never change, which is an important
characteristic of Turkish.
- Original Turkish words do not contain the letters “f", “h",
- Words never start with a “ğ": there are no exceptions to this
rule, even with words of foreign origin.
- Words do not start with “f", “l", “z” (except for words of
- Words do not start with “n", except the question words:
- Neither words nor syllables do not end in: b, c, d, g. In words of
foreign origin, these letters are often converted to p, ç, t, k (similar
to Dutch) when at the end of a word.
- A syllable cannot start with two consonants, but can end with a
certain set of two consonants (rk, rt, rp, ..). Examples: “tren” (train)
conflicts with the rule, “Türk” complies with the rule.
Words of foreign origin have exceptions to all rules
above except the one about “ğ”. Many words of foreign origin are often modified
when being copied into Turkish in order to satisfy the above rules, but many
are not modified enough, and clash with the above rules.
Examples to words of foreign origin:
- Saat (watch/clock), faiz (interest rate, “a” is long): vowels long or
- Faiz, televizyon: 1st and 2nd rules of vowel harmony not obeyed.
- Faiz, hat, garaj: letter f/h/j not in original Turkish words.
- Faiz, nesil (generation), limon (lemon), zeytin (olive): f/n/l/z/
starting a word.
(*) With composite words (= when two words are combined
into one word), the rules apply to each sub-part separately.