Turkish/Reported Past Tense

The indirect past tense is one of the most unique features of Turkish. Built with the suffix -mış/-miş/-muş/-müş, it is used to mark that the speaker has not experienced the event first hand, but instead, heard from a different source, or deduced from other evidence.





The indirect past tense is formed with the ending -mış/miş/muş/müş. The personal endings follow the usual pattern.

Verb stem + appropriate form of miş + personal ending
ben kaçmışım I've (apparently) ran away
sen kaçmışsın you've (apparently) ran away
o kaçmış he/she's (apparently) ran away
biz kaçmışız I've (apparently) ran away
siz kaçmışsınız you've (apparently) ran away
onlar kaçmış(lar) they've (apparently) ran away
ben girmişim I've (apparently) entered
sen girmişsin you've (apparently) entered
o girmiş he/she's (apparently) entered
biz girmişiz we've (apparently) entered
siz girmişsiniz you've (apparently) entered
onlar girmiş(ler) they've (apparently) entered
ben bulmuşum I've (apparently) found
sen bulmuşsun you've (apparently) found
o bulmuş he/she's (apparently) found
biz bulmuşuz we've (apparently) found
siz bulmuşsunuz you've (apparently) found
onlar bulmuş(lar) they've (apparently) found
ben görmüşum I've (apparently) seen
sen görmüşsun you've (apparently) seen
o görmüş he/she's (apparently) seen
biz görmüşuz we've (apparently) seen
siz görmüşsunuz you've (apparently) seen
onlar görmüş(lar) they've (apparently) seen

Negative and Interrogative


The formation is relatively straightforward in the negative and interrogative forms as well, following the usual pattern.

bakmamışsın You (apparently) haven't looked
gelmiş mi Has he come?
kazanmamış sınız Haven't you won?



General distinctions


One of the most significant features of Turkish is the distinction between -dı and -mış in the past tense. The -dı past tense expresses that the speaker has seen, observed or witnessed the event first hand, while the -mış past tense expresses that the speaker has heard the event from someone else, or deduced it from existing evidence, rather than directly observing it. The usage of -mış while talking about indirectly learnt events is mandatory, not using it can be misleading to a native Turkish listener.

  • Dün okulda yangın çıktı. There was a fire in our school yesterday.
  • Dün okulda yangın çıkmış. There was a fire in our school yesterday.

When translated into English, both of these sentences mean the same. But there is a very important distinction between these two examples, the former implies that the speaker themselves was in the school yesterday, while the latter implies that they overheard it from another source, like a friend, the newspaper, or deduced it after seeing the remains of the school.



Both -dı and -mış may be used narratively. While telling a story that the speaker experienced themselves, -dı is used, and if the speaker is telling someone else's story, -mış would be used. Encyclopedias, news reports, and documentaries generally use -dı, and -dı is also preferred while presenting facts the speaker knows himself, while -mış is preferred if the speaker is unsure about the truthfulness of the event, if the speaker isn't an expert in the field and learned it from another source. Also traditionally -mış is used in tales.

In the 1. and 2. persons

  • Kalp ameliyatım başarılı geçmiş. My heart surgery was completed successfully.

As in the above example, -mış can be used in the 1. person as well if the speaker was unconscious or sleeping when an event happened to them.

  • Bana hediye göndermişsin. You've sent me a gift!
  • Sınavdan 100 almışsın. You've gotten 100 points from the exam.

-mış can also be used in the 2. person to present the listener about information about themselves that the speaker acquired through another source.

Deductions based on result or evidence

  • Birisi kapıyı açık unutmuş. Someone forgot the door open.
  • Cüzdanımı evde unutmuşum. I've forgotten my wallet at home.

As in the above example, -mış is also used if the speaker deduced some event from its results. The speaker uses -mış in the first example, because they didn't witness the person leaving the door open themselves, but rather deduced it after seenig the door open. In the second example, the speaker realizes that they forgot their wallet at home after not seeing it in their bag, and therefore uses -mış instead of -dı. However, after realizing that the speaker forgot their wallet first time, they may express to someone else using both forms:

  • Cüzdanımı evde unuttum. I've forgotten my wallet at home.
  • Cüzdanımı evde unutmuşum. I've forgotten my wallet at home.

In the first example, the speaker is completely sure that they forgot their wallet at home, and has come to terms with it, and therefore can repeat it with the direct past tense -dı. In the second example, the speaker isn't completely sure that they really forgot their wallet at home, it is possible that their wallet is deep inside their bag, and they simply couldn't reach it.

  • Aaaa, bana yemek kalmamış! Oh no, no food is left to eat is left for me!
  • Olamaz, telefonumun şarjı bitmiş! Oh no, my phone ran out of charge!

Related to the above example, -mış is also used to express new discoveries made by the speaker, and that the speaker is surprized.

In questions

  • Dolar kaç olmuş? How much did the dollar become?
  • Çiçeklerim ölmüş mü? Have my flowers died?

When using -mış in a question, it is important to note that it is the listener who is the reference point, rather than the speaker. Thus, -mış is used in the above examples, since the speaker anticipates that the listener probably has not witnessed these events first hand.

  • Annem eve geldi mi? Did my mother come home?
  • Annem eve gelmiş mi? Did my mother come home?

This distinction is highlighted in the above example, where the first question implies that the listener is themselves at home, and would witness their mother's arrival first hand. The second question on the other hand implies that the listener is not at home, and would learn from another source about the topic.

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