To Be
The Personal Suffix

Turkish doesn't have a verb to be in the same way that English does. Instead, Turkish uses suffixes to convey state of being. These suffixes can be used with nouns (I am a teacher, Sila is a student) and adjectives (I am sick, Sila is here).

Adding the Personal Suffix

Turkish has a specific suffix for expressing the state of being of each pronoun case. The suffix must match the pronoun (I, your, our, etc.) and they are as follows:

Pronoun Suffix Example English
Ben im Ben öğretmenim. I am a teacher.
Sen sin Sen öğretmensin. You are a teacher.
O - O öğretmen. He/she/it is a teacher.
Biz uz Biz öğretmeniz. We are teachers.
Siz siniz Siz öğretmensiniz. You are teachers. / You are a teacher. (polite)
Onlar ler Onlar öğretmenler. They are teachers.

Notice that the third person singular case (he, she, it) has no suffix. These suffixes can also be used with adjectives.

Example English
Ben gençim. I am young.
Sen bitkinsin. You are exhausted.
O mutlu. He/she/it is happy.
Biz sessiziz. We are quiet.

The leading pronoun is almost always omitted. Since the pronoun case is encompassed in the personal suffix, including the pronoun before the verb is redundant. Unless specifically emphasizing the person, pronouns are almost always left out of this construction.

Turkish English
Öğretmenim. I am a teacher.
Gençim. I am young.
Bitkinsin. You are exhausted.
Mutlu. He/she/it is happy.
Sessizler. They are quiet.

The third person plural suffix (-ler) is often omitted when it is obvious that the subject is plural.

Gençler. They are young.
Onlar genç. They are young.
Genç. They are young. (possible in context)

Vowel harmony. The personal suffix follows i-type vowel harmony. Each suffix therefore has four forms that are used depending on the final vowel of the suffixed word. For example: im, ım, um, üm. -ler is the exception and follows e-type vowel harmony.

  • adamım
  • kadınsınız
  • yorgunuz
  • gülsün
  • şarkıcılar

Vowel conflict. When adding -im or -iz to words that end in a vowel, a buffer y is added to keep the two vowels apart.

  • güçlüyüm
  • öğrenciyiz
  • hızlıyım
  • Amerikalıyız


To express a state of not being (I am not a teacher, I am not sick), Turkish uses the word değil. Add değil as a separate word after a noun or adjective, suffixed with the personal endings for to be. Değil is not subject to vowel harmony.

Adjective or Noun değil To Be Turkish English
Öğretmen değil im Öğretmen değilim. I am not a teacher.
Hasta değil sin Hasta değilsin. You are not sick.
Türk değil - Türk değil. He/she/it is not Turkish.
güçlü değil iz Güçlü değiliz. We are not strong.
şişman değil siniz Şişman değilsiniz. You are not fat. (plural or polite)
baba değil ler Baba değiller. They are not fathers.


To construct an interrogative (Are you a teacher?, Am I sick?), Turkish uses the question article mi. Create a question by adding the personal suffix to mi and putting this new word after a noun or adjective. Remember a buffer y is required when the vowels from mi and the personal suffix collide. As usual, -ler is irregular and is added to the stem instead of to mi.

Adjective or Noun mi To Be Turkish English
Öğretmen mi im Öğretmen miyim? Am I a teacher?
Hasta sın Hasta mısın? Are you sick?
Türk - Türk mü? Is he/she/it Turkish?
güçlü üz Güçlü müyüz? Are we strong?
şişman sınız Şişman mısınız? Are you fat? (polite or plural)
baba lar Babalar mı? Are they fathers?

Negative questions are formed by using both değil and mi.

Adjective or Noun değil mi + To Be Turkish English
Öğretmen değil miyim Öğretmen değil miyim? Aren't I a teacher?
Hasta değil mısın Hasta değil misin? Aren't you sick?
Türk değil mi Türk değil mi? Isn't he/she/it Turkish?
güçlü değil miyiz Güçlü değil miyiz? Aren't we strong?

The they form of negative questions is irregular and looks like this:

Öğretmen değiller mi? Aren't they teachers?
Hasta değiller mi? Aren't they sick?

Other Uses

The personal suffix is quite flexible and can be used with other suffixes, locations, and interrogative pronouns. Here are some more examples:

I am here.

We are in Istanbul.

Where are you?

Who are you?

You are with me.

Ambiguity with My

You may have noticed that the suffix for I am is identical to the suffix for my.

I am a teacher.

My teacher.

In practice, it is almost always obvious which meaning is intended. However, there is one difference between the suffixes: they resolve vowel conflict differently. The personal suffix adds a buffer y, while the possessive suffix drops its own first vowel.

I am a student.

My student.

Çünkü bir anneyim, annem bir büyükanne.
Because I'm a mother, my mother is a grandmother.