Definite Past Tense

Use the definite past tense to convey a definite action in the past that has been completed. This tense usually translates into English -ed, as in cooked or studied, but can also convey English's present perfect tense, as in have cooked or have studied.

Turkish English
Ben ögrendim. I studied.
Koştuk. We ran.
Hiç Türkiye'ye gittin mi? Have you ever been to Turkey?
Hediye almadı. She didn't buy a gift.

Forming the Definite Past

To form the definite past tense, add the past form of the personal suffix to the verb stem. Take care not to confuse the past forms of the personal suffix with the present forms -sin, -umuz, and -siniz. As a general rule, whenever you see -di in a verb suffix, a past tense is being used. You can include the personal pronoun (ben, sen, etc.) before the verb, but since the subject is encapsulated in the personal suffix, it is usually omitted unless deliberately emphasizing who performed the action. Take gelmek (to come), for example:

Stem Past Personal Suffix Past definite English
gel dim geldim I came.
gel din geldin You came.
gel di geldi He/she/it came.
gel dik geldik We came.
gel diniz geldiniz You came. (plural or polite)
gel diler geldiler They came.

Vowel harmony. The -di suffix follows i-type vowel harmony to match the final vowel in the verb stem. This suffix can therefore take four forms: -di, -dı, -du, and -dü. The final -ler in the they form must similarly match the rest of the verb.

  • bekledim
  • başladılar
  • oldu
  • güldün
  • gördünüz

Consonant mutation. When the verb stem ends in an unvoiced consonant, -di changes to -ti.

Verb Past Suffix Past definite English
koşmak dunuz koşdunuz You ran. (polite or plural)
koşmak tunuz koştunuz You ran. (polite or plural)
atmak tım attım I threw.
gitmek tiler gittiler They went.
içmek ti içti He/she/it drank.

Vowel conflict. There are no special rules or buffer letters needed when adding -di to a verb stem that ends in a vowel. (We only mention this here since a buffer y is required when adding these same suffixes to nouns.)

As with other verb tenses, ler is often omitted from -diler in the third person plural.

Kedi atladı. The cat jumped.
Kediler atladılar. The cats jumped.
Kediler atladı. The cats jumped.


To form the negative definite present (e.g. did not throw, have not gone), add the negative suffix -me after the verb stem.

Stem Negative Past Suffix Past Definite English
çalış ma dım çalışmadım I did not work.
git me dik gitmedik We did not go. / We have not gone.
öde me di ödemedi He/she/it did not pay.
al ma dın almadın You did not buy.


Forming questions in definite present tense is easier than in many other tenses. Simply follow the conjugated verb form with the question word mi. As always, mi must follow i-type vowel harmony to match the final vowel of the preceeding verb.

Turkish English
Çalıştın mı? Did you work?
Gittiniz mi? Have you gone?
Buldu mu? Has he found?
Gördüm mü? Did I see?

Form a negative question by adding the question word after the negative conjugation.

Turkish English
Çalışmadın mı? Did you not work?
Gelmedi mi? Has he not come?
Bulmadık mu? Did we not find?

Unexpected Use of Past Tense

Turkish expresses some things in past tense where English uses present tense. Here are some examples that you are most likely to hear:

Turkish Literal English Translation
Anlamadım. I didn't understand. I don't understand.
Geç kaldık. We came late. We are late.
Onu sevdim. I liked that. I like that.
Geldim. I came. I'm coming. / I'm here.