Turkish Past Continuous

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Watch this lesson to learn the Turkish Past Continuous Tense. Be sure to download the Course PDF and follow along with all the lessons.

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We are already way past the middle of this series where you’ll learn Conversational Turkish in 30 Days. This lecture is one of the last two tenses you will learn in this series.

Positive – Past Continuous

In today’s lecture, we learn about the Past Continuous tense in Turkish. We use this tense to talk about the actions that were continuing at a particular time in the past. In order to conjugate a verb in the past continuous tense, we add the suffix “-iyordu/-ıyordu/-uyordu/-üyordu” to the end of the root of the verb.


Let’s see some sentence examples:

  • Dün akşam babam ve ben kitap okuyorduk.
  • Last night, me and my father were reading a book.
  • Oğlan yağmurun altında kızı bekliyordu.
  • The boy was waiting for the girl under the rain.
  • Yaşlı adam yavaşça kahve içiyordu.
  • The old man was slowly drinking a coffee.

Vowel Harmony in Past Continuous

For verbs that end with the “-e” vowel, we replace it with either the “-i” or the “-ü” vowel depending on whatever the earlier vowel sound in the verb before the last one is. We have to follow the vowel harmony to select the correct replacement.

  • Çocuk annesini bekliyordu. (beklemek)
  • The child was waiting for his mother.
  • Abim masada lazanya yiyordu. (yemek)
  • My brother was eating lasagna at the table.
  • Geçen hafta, arkadaşım bana şarkı söylüyordu. (söylemek)
  • Last week, my friend was singing me a song.

For verbs that end in an “-a” vowel, we replace it with either the “-ı” or the “-u” sound, following the above rules.

  • Dün basketbol oynuyordum. (oynamak)
  • Yesterday I was playing basketball.
  • Televizyonda film başlıyordu. (başlamak)
  • The film was starting on TV.

When and While Usage

The Past Continuous tense is actually incomplete without the usage of “When” and “While”, just like in English. In Turkish the “-dığında” suffix means “when” and the “-ken” suffix means “while”.

Here is the verb conjugation for the “-dığında” suffix for different pronouns. For the “-dığında” suffix, you simply add this suffix after the root of the verb to successfully turn it into the “when” meaning:


And here is the verb conjugation for the “-ken” suffix for different pronouns. For this suffix, you need to do a little bit more correctly. You first have to conjugate the verb into the “Present Simple” (Aorist) form, adding the “-r/-ar/-er/-ır/-ir/-ur/-ür” to the root of the verb and later adding the “-ken” suffix. Be sure to recheck Day 5 if you still have problems properly conjugating the verb into the Present Simple tense.

Pronoun + Verb root + Present Simple Suffix + -ken

Pronoun + Verb root + Past Simple Suffix + Accusative + Locative

Now, let’s see all these suffixes in action. You can use the “when” and “while” suffixes with both the “Past Continuous” tense and the “Simple Past” tense:

  • Ali kitap okurken Ahmet televizyon izliyordu.
  • While Ali was reading a book, Ahmet was watching television.
  • Okula giderken müzik dinliyordum.
  • While I was going to school, I was listening to music.
  • Sen bilgisayar oyunları oynarken ben tüm evi temizledim.
  • While you were playing computer games, I cleaned the whole house.
  • Aysıla eve girdiğinde Ali ders çalışıyordu.
  • When Aysıla entered the house, Ali was studying.
  • Hırsız silahını gösterdiğinde kız donup kaldı.
  • When the thief showed his weapon, the girl was petrified.

Negative – Past Continuous

The negative form for the past continuous tense is made by adding the “-mi/-mı/-mu/-mü” suffixes between the verb root and the “-yordu” suffix, following the personal suffix:


Here are some sentence examples:

  • Biz parti için hazırlık yaparken Türkay hiçbir şey yapyordu.
  • While we were doing preparations for the party, Türkay wasn’t doing anything.
  • Dün fabrikada yangın çıktığında, kimse delice koşuşturmuyordu.
  • Yesterday, when a fire erupted at the factory, nobody was running around crazily

Positive Questions

We make positive past continuous questions by adding the “-muydu/-mıydı” particle after the “-yor” suffix, in addition to the personal suffix. Look at the example below to better understand the structure:

Dünkitapokuyormuydun ?
Ben-iyor muydum-ıyor muydum-uyor muydum-üyo muydum
Sen-iyor muydun-ıyor muydun-uyor muydun-üyo muydun
O-iyor muydu-ıyor muydu-uyor muydu-üyor muydu
Biz-iyor muyduk-ıyor muyduk-uyor muyduk-üyor muyduk
Siz-iyor muydunuz-ıyor muydunuz-uyor muydunuz-üyor muydunuz
Onlar-iyorlar mıydı-ıyorlar mıydı-uyorlar mıydı-üyorlar mıydı
  • Geçen yaz, Selin denizde yüzüyor muydu?
  • Was Selin swimming in the sea last summer?
  • Annen evi temizlerken sende yardım ediyor muydun?
  • Were you also helping out while your mom was cleaning the house?

Negative Questions

You might have noticed that apart from the “-du/-dı” suffix at the end, the Past Continuous resembles the Present Continuous a lot. So when you’re trying to memorize the conjugation, remember this similarity to easily remember the rules for this tense.

The negative form for Past Continuous questions is simply made by adding the negative suffix “-mi/- mı/-mu/-mü” between the verb root and the “-yor” suffix and adding the “-muydu” in addition to the personal suffix:

Ben-mıyor muydum-miyor muydum-muyor muydum-müyo muydum
Sen-mıyor muydun-miyor muydun-muyor muydun-müyo muydun
O-mıyor muydu-miyor muydu-muyor muydu-müyor muydu
Biz-mıyor muyduk-miyor muyduk-muyor muyduk-müyor muyduk
Siz-mıyor muydunuz-miyor muydunuz-muyor muydunuz-müyor muydunuz
Onlar-mıyorlar mıydı-miyorlar mıydı-muyorlar mıydı-müyorlar mıydı
  • Öğretmen ders anlatırken sen onu dinlemiyor muydun?
  • Weren’t you listening to the teacher while he was lecturing?
  • Herkes sınava hazırlanırken o ders çalışyor muydu?
  • Wasn’t she studying while everyone was preparing for the exam?

You’ve come to the end of this lesson!

I hope you liked this free Turkish grammar lesson. This lesson belongs to the free video course named Speaking Turkish in 30 Days. Be sure to watch the other lesson too!

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