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5. Plural nouns and minor vowel harmony

Learn Turkish
Lesson 5: Plural nouns and minor vowel harmony

Now let's learn how to make Turkish nouns plural by adding the suffix ler or lar to the end of the noun. Whether we should use ler or lar depends on the last vowel in the noun, as described in the table below.

If the last vowel is use ler If the last vowel is use lar
e evler a haftalar
i kişiler ı yıllar
ö sözler o yollar
ü günler u gruplar

The vowels at the left are called front vowels, because they are produced in the front of the mouth. The vowels at the right are called back vowels, because they are produced in the back of the mouth.

This rule where you use an e after a front vowel and an a after a back vowel appears in many places in the Turkish language, and is called minor vowel harmony. In case you wonder, there is indeed also a major vowel harmony, about which you will learn later.

Since we don't always want to write ler or lar, from now on we will write lEr, with a capital E, to mean ler or lar. We will use this capital E in all future suffixes in which minor vowel harmony applies, to mean e or a.

You will see in next lessons that the use of the plural suffix is often optional, even when we refer to multiple entities.