Future tense (‑acak/ecek)


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Prerequisites

Continuous present tense

-ıyor
Handling irregular verbs
Asking yes or no questions

Negative verbs

-mıyor
-mıyor musun?
-mamak

Yes or no questions

mı/mıyım/mıyız/mısın(ız)/-lar mı
Emphasis in questions



The future tense

In Turkish, the ‑acak/ecek ending is used for talking about the future. But you have to be careful ‑ it isn’t always used the same way as the future tense in English. In English, we have two grammar forms for the future: “I will…” and “I am going to…” Neither of these English grammar forms is exactly the same as the ‑acak/ecek ending in Turkish.

Turkish speakers use ‑acak/ecek when talking about something they plan to do in the future or things they expect to happen in the future. When you use ‑acak/ecek it means you are fairly certain that something will happen in the future. When talking about the future with less certainty, you may need to use the aorist ending instead. But for now, let’s just focus on the ‑acak/ecek future tense ending.

Like the -ıyor/iyor/uyor/üyor ending, the ‑acak/ecek ending is not technically a true “tense” ending. In linguistic terms, it can be analyzed as either the presumptive mood [1] or the prospective aspect. But if that doesn’t make any sense to you, don’t worry. You don’t need to understand what those terms mean in order to get started learning about the ‑acak/ecek ending.

Forming the future tense verb ending

To start forming the ‑acak/ecek ending, first find the dictionary form of a verb and remove the “mak” or “mek” from the end of the word. For example, “yapmak” means “to do,” so removing the ending “mak” leaves us with the verb stem, “yap.”

Grammar form:

  • Verb stem + (y) + acak/ecek + (personal ending)

After you determine the stem of a verb, check to see if the last letter of the stem is a vowel (a, ı, o, u, e, i, ö, or ü). If the last letter is a vowel, you will need to add a letter “y” before continuing on with adding the verb ending. For example, if the verb we’re using is “istemek” (to want), the verb stem is “iste.” Since “iste” ends in the vowel “e,” we will add a “y” before adding the rest of the future tense ending.

After we determine the verb stem, we add either ‑acak or ‑ecek to the end of the word. This ending uses e-type vowel harmony. That means the two vowels will either be “a” or “e” depending on the last vowel remaining in the verb stem.

After adding the ‑acak/ecek part of the ending, you then add the personal ending, which changes based on who is doing the action. See the tables below for the different personal endings for the verbs “konuşmak” (to talk) and “gelmek” (to come).

Future tense forms with “konuşmak” (to talk)

(Ben) konuşacağım I am going to talk
(Sen) konuşacaksın You are going to talk
(O) konuşacak He/she/it is going to talk
(Biz) konuşacağız We are going to talk
(Siz) konuşacaksınız You (plural or formal) are going to talk
(Onlar) konuşacak(lar) They are going to talk

Future tense forms with “gelmek” (to come)

(Ben) geleceğim I am going to come
(Sen) geleceksin You are going to come
(O) gelecek He/she/it is going to come
(Biz) geleceğiz We are going to come
(Siz) geleceksiniz You (plural or formal) are going to come
(Onlar) gelecek(ler) They are going to come

Things to note when adding personal endings

There are a few things you should pay attention to when adding personal endings. First of all, you should be familiar with these personal endings by now. They are the same endings as the ones you use for the continuous present tense ‑ıyor ending. The only difference is that the last vowel in the continuous present tense ending is always “o,” but in the future tense the last vowel is either “a” or “e.” So, if the future tense ending is ‑ecek, the i-type vowel in the personal ending will be a dotted “i.” And if the future tense ending is ‑acak, the personal ending will have an undotted “ı.”

Another thing to note is that the first person singular and plural endings (“I” and “we”) start with vowels, so they change the “k” in ‑acak/ecek to a soft g (“ğ”).

Finally, as usual, the inclusion of the pronoun (“ben”, “sen”, “o”, “biz”, “siz”, or “onlar”) is optional. Likewise, the “-lar” ending is optional, especially when the pronoun “onlar” is included in the sentence.

    Examples
    Göreceğiz.
    We will see.

    Kalacaklar.
    They are going to stay.

    Merak etme, öğreneceksin!
    Don’t worry, you‘ll learn!

Handling irregular verbs

“Gitmek” and “etmek”

For two verbs, “gitmek” (to go, to leave) and “etmek” (“to do”), the “t” changes to a “d” before adding the “-ecek” ending or any other ending that begins with a vowel. For example, “ben gideceğim” means, “I will go” or “I will leave.”

“Etmek” is a helper verb that mainly gets used in combination with words of foreign origin in order to make them into Turkish verbs. Sometimes these foreign words remain as separate words as in, “devam etmek” (to continue). Sometimes, however, the “etmek” helper verb and the foreign word get combined into one word as in “hissetmek” (to feel) and “kaybetmek” (to lose).

    Examples
    Birazdan gideceğiz.
    We will leave soon.

    Dizi devam edecek.
    The TV show is going to continue.

    Kötü hissedeceksin. Bu çok normal.
    You’re going to feel bad. That’s normal.
    (Excerpt from a forum post about a breakup)

“Yemek” and “demek”

There are two more verbs that require special handling for word endings that begin with a vowel, including the “-ecek” ending: “yemek” (to eat) and “demek” (to say). For these verbs, the “e” in the verb stem gets replaced with an “i” before adding the future tense ending.

    Examples
    Sağlıklı yemek yiyeceğim.
    I am going to eat healthy.

    Ne diyeceksin?
    What are you going to say?

Using the negative form of the future tense

Grammar form:

  • Verb stem + ma/me + y + acak/ecek + (personal ending)

To say that something will not happen in the future, add the -ma/me negative ending to the verb stem before adding the ‑acak/ecek ending. The ending will be either ‑ma or ‑me according to e-type vowel harmony. Then, since the ‑ma/me negative ending ends in a vowel, you will always add a “y” before adding the ‑acak/ecek ending.

Negative examples with “gelmek” (to come)

(Ben) gelmeyeceğim I will not come
(Sen) gelmeyeceksin You will not come
(O) gelmeyecek He/she/it/that will not come
(Biz) gelmeyeceğiz We will not come
(Siz) gelmeyeceksiniz You (pl. or formal) will not come
(Onlar) gelmeyecek(ler) They/those will not come
    Examples
    Pes etmeyeceğim.
    I will not give up.

    Kaza yapmayacağım.
    I will not crash.
    (Title of a YouTube video about a driving simulation)

Forming yes or no questions with the future tense

Grammar form:

  • Verb stem + acak/ecek    mı/mi + (y) + (personal ending)?
  • Verb stem + acaklar/ecekler    mı/mi?

Forming yes-no questions with the future tense is similar to how yes or no questions are formed with other verb endings: using the mı/mi/mu/mü yes-no question word.

To ask a yes-no question about the future, add the yes-no question word after the ‑acak/ecek ending (the question word will be “mi” after ‑ecek and “mı” after ‑acak). After the “mı/mi” word, a “y” buffer is added before the first person singular and plural endings (“mi-y-im” and “mi-y-iz”). For the third person plural (they), the personal ending (“-lar”) is added directly to end of the “-acak/ecek” ending before adding the “mı/mi” question word.

Examples with “gelmek” (to come)

(Ben) gelecek miyim? Am I going to come?
(Sen) gelecek misin? Are you going to come?
(O) gelecek mi? Is he/she/it going to come?
(Biz) gelecek miyiz? Are we going to come?
(Siz) gelecek misiniz? Are you (plural or formal) going to come?
(Onlar) gelecek(ler) mi? Are they going to come?
    Examples
    Ben ölecek miyim?
    Am I going to die?

    Yapacak sın?
    Are you going to do [it]?

    Gelecekler mi?
    Are they going to come?

How to pronounce words with the ‑acak/ecek ending

Turkish has a very good alphabet and words are almost always pronounced the same way they are spelled. However, the ‑acak/ecek ending is one of the exceptions to this rule. There are a few ways to pronounce this ending. We will cover the most common variations.

If you take a formal Turkish course, you will most likely be learning the “proper” way to say the future tense ‑acak/ecek ending. However, you should know that very few Turkish speakers actually talk this way in normal life conversations. Still, it is good for you to learn the “proper” way as well as the “normal” way.

The “proper” way to pronounce ‑acak/ecek

For the third person (he/she/it) and second person (you) forms of ‑acak/ecek, the proper pronunciation is easy. You just pronounce it the way it is spelled:

    Yapacak

    Yarın ne yapacaksın?

    Ödeyecek

    Başlayacak

The first person (“I” and “we”) forms of ‑acak/ecek are trickier to pronounce correctly. In these forms, the k turns into a soft g (“ğ”). The proper way to pronounce these forms is to pronounce the ending as three separate syllables:

  • yap-a-ca-ğım
  • yap-a-ca-ğız
  • ed-e-ce-ğim
  • ed-e-ce-ğiz

Note that when the soft g comes between rounded vowels like “a” and undotted “ı,” the soft g is silent. So for “-acağım” and “-acağız” you just pronounce the “a” followed by the “ı” sound with nothing in between:

    İşbirliği yapacağım

In words like these where “a” and undotted “ı” are separated by a soft g, some speakers pronounce the “a” in a slightly different way. The sound is similar to the way we say the filler word “uh” in English:

    Olacağım

    Tam burada olacağım

    Banyo yapacağım

When the soft ğ comes between unrounded vowels like “e” and dotted “i,” the soft g sounds like a “y.”

    Edeceğim

    İptal edeceğim

    Yürüyeceğiz

The “normal” way to say ‑acak/ecek

Most of the time, when native Turkish speakers use the first person forms of the future tense, they shorten the ending so that the soft ğ and the following vowel are silent.

    Yapacağım (yapacam)

    Edeceğim (edecem)

    Bakacağım (bakacam)

In some cases, the ending is even shorter if someone is speaking really fast:

    Bir çare bulacağız (bulcaz)

Also, when a verb stem ends in a vowel, the vowel usually gets replaced by a dotted “i” sound in spoken Turkish. The first vowel in ‑acak/ecek sometimes also gets removed, reduced or modified as well in fast speech.

    Söyleyecek (söyliycek)

    Ödeyecek (ödiyicek)

    Anlayacağım (anliycam)

    Oynayacak (oynicak)

    Yapmayacağım (yapmıycam)


Sources

[1] Yavaş, Feryal, 1980. On the Meaning of the Tense and Aspect Markers in Turkish.
Unpublished Ph.D dissertation, University of Kansas, p. 186. Cited by Abdurrazak 2021: The Tense, Aspect, Mood-Modality System of the Turkish Spoken in Cyprus: A Socio-Linguistic Perspective.

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

Relative clauses using -an/en/yan/yen

-an/en/yan/yen
Handling irregular verbs
Relative clauses in place of nouns

7 rules for using “insan” versus “kişi”

Vocab: "insan," "kişi"



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