Present Tense in Turkish

When to use Present Tense in Turkish

To express a current action, simple present tense is used. Things are habitually done are expressed by using the present tense in English. In contrast in Turkish, habitual things are expressed using aorist (tr. Geniş zaman) which only exists in Ancient Greek and Turkish with slight differences. Aorist will be covered in detail later.

Simple present tense is easy to form. The suffix “-yor” is attached to the root of the verb (base). The verb does not undergo changes unless,

1. Verb root ends with e/a, “e/a” transforms into one of “i,ü,ı,u” depending on the vowel harmony.
2. Verb root ends with a consonant, there comes buffer vowel to prevent the sequency of two consonants

For example, kırmak (eng. to break); kır (the verb root).

This tense also is used to express the actions for which English uses perfect tense.

Contrary to English, simple tense sentence structure can be used to express an action in the future or in the past. In that case, a word indicating the time such as tomorrow, next year or last year has to be used. Also, simple present tense is used to express the actions for which English uses perfect tense. Thus, Turkish students learning English spends a great deal of time to understand the perfect tense concept.

For example, Geçen yıldan beri Türkçe çalışıyorum. (eng. I have been studying Turkish since last year.)

If you eliminate the phrase indicating time (geçen yıldan beri), the meaning dramatically changes. Only “Türkçe çalışıyorum” means “I study Turkish” or “I am studying Turkish”. On the other hand, “Yarın Türkçe çalışıyorum.” means you will study Turkish tomorrow. However, the subject is emphasized in this case (what will you study? -Turkish). This grammatical flexibility is quite beneficial for new-learners!

Present Simple Tense (Şimdiki zaman)


Ben Sen O
VERB+ yorum yorsun yor
oku- okuyorum okuyorsun okuyor
kal- kalıyorum kalıyorsun kalıyor
iç- içiyorum içiyorsun içiyor

The base of “Okumak” is “Oku-“* meaning study or read (a book).

Do not hurry to think “Okul” (eng. school) comes from the verb “Okumak”; rather from French école. One century ago, “Mektep” was commonly used for “Okul” which comes from the same root (ktp) with Arabic word “Kitap” (eng. book)


1.Üçüncü sınıfta okuyorum. (eng. I study in third grade.)
2.Şu sıra Orhan Kemal okuyorum. (eng. I read Orhan Kemal these days.)


Biz Siz Onlar
VERB + yoruz yorsunuz yorlar
oku- okuyoruz okuyorsunuz okuyorlar
kal- kalıyoruz kalıyorsunuz kalıyorlar
iç- içiyoruz içiyorsunuz içiyorlar


1. Üç yıldır burada kalıyoruz. (eng. We have been living here for three years.)

It is mentioned earlier that in Turkish perfect tense does not exist; therefore, simple tense is used with a phrase indicating time (Üç yıldır).

2. Bodrum katında kalıyorlar. (eng. They live in the basement.)
3. Sabahtan beri içiyoruz. (eng. We have been drinking since the morning.)

Interrogative form (How is the question sentence structure?)

Question suffix “mu” makes the sentence interrogative when attached at the end of a present base. The structure of the base is formed for the third person, he, she, it (tr. O). In this way, you can form question sentences that you will have “Yes” or “No” answer. For example,


Ben Sen O
muyum musun mu
Positive satıyor muyum satıyor musun satıyor mu
Negative satmıyor muyum satmıyor musun satmıyor mu

As you notice, the question form is not complex. When reading Turkish, you will notice that people often write the question suffix joined to the verb. For example, satıyormuyum? or satmıyormusun? This is a popular mistake and this kind of mistakes “unofficially” reveals if someone had a good education or not. Because of that, you should care about this and similar mistakes when writing Turkish. Making this clerical error in a formal mail would give a bad impression.


Biz Siz Onlar
muyuz musunuz mular
Positive satıyor muyuz satıyor musunuz satıyorlar mı
Negative satmıyor muyuz satmıyor musunuz satmıyorlar mı

Here, we see an exception with the 3rd plural pronoun, onlar. The plural suffix is placed before the question suffix “mu”, and “mu” becomes “mı”.