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.
|Ben ögrendim.||I studied.|
|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||diniz||geldiniz||You came. (plural or polite)|
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.
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)|
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.
|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.
|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:
|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.|