Similarities Korean and Turkish language I Altaic Languages

by Ceylan J. Morgan
!CAUTION! This text is not based on historical studies, it is simply a post which is pointing out some simliarities that I have found on my learning journey. For this post is doesn’t matter whenever words have a Arabic or Chinese origin. Again, it simply points out similarities which may help the one and other person with their learning journey.


Even in the beginnings of my Korean learning journey I realized a good number of similarities between the Korean and Turkish language. To my surprise, I found out that “Korean, Japanese and Turkish” belong to the same language group (Altaic). The grammar structure of both languages is build in the order subject object verb or object subject verb. There are also some words that are used in both languages and have the same meaning or same pronunciation but different meanings.


“Su” meaning “Water” in Korean as in Turkish

수 (su)Water
요일 (suyoil)Wednesday (also known as water day)
(yeong su)Water, Rice wine strainer
박 (supak)Watermelon

 (su) also used in turkish, is very old Korean term for water. In this day and age Korean people use the word 물 /mul/ instead. I’ve heard someone using the word by itself only once and that was for bottled water, however they use it a lot in combination with other syllables.

Tea, meaning Cha in Korean vs. Çay in Turkish

Green tea


One major point that makes these language alike is the grammar structure.
Word order : subject object verb or object subject verb
– Agglutinating languages* (word stem + grammar ending)

*While the stem word (the beginning of a word) stays the same, the meaning of the words are defined by the conjugation of the ending. An adjective can turn into a verb depending on the conjugation.

가- 다 (ka – da)yap – makKorean: to go / Turkish: to do (infinitive)
가  (ka)yapKorean: go Turkish: do! (both are only the verb-stem and make a command)
가 – 요 (ka-yo)yap – iyorumKorean: (I,you,she,they) go Turkish: I do
가 – 지마 (ka-jima)yap – maKorean: Don’t go / Turkish: Don’t do

[box type=”info”]Japanese is a agglutinating language also. Japanese is on this point more similar with Turkish, because in Korean you can use the same grammar ending for different personal pronouns (e.g. kayo – I/he/she/we/they go) while in Turkish you can do that only in exceptional cases.[/box]

– Negotiation

Korean – verbstem + 지마 ( jima )Turkish – verbstem + ma, meEnglish
하 – 지마(ha-jima)yap – maDon’t to it/that
가 – 지마 (ka-jima)kaç – maKorean: Don’t go
Turkish: Don’t flee/run away
울 – 지마 (ul-jima)ağla – maDon’t cry
보 – 지마 (bo-jima)bak – maDon’t look

 – Location direction / Statement of place

Korean – word + 에 & 에서 (-e&eso)Turkish – word + e & da/de English
집 – 에 (jib – e)ev – edirection statement
to home/to a house
(ex. go to my house)
집 – 에서  (jib – eso)ev – deat home
2012에서 (2012 – eso)2012 – dein 2012
학교 – 에서 (hagkyo – eso)okul – daat school

[box type=”info”] I don’t know much about Japanese since I only did the basic stuff back then, but I think that they use in Japanese -e as Statement of place/time too. E.g house in Japanese means ie, “at home” means in Japanese “iede” while in Turkish at home means “evde”[/box]


(Here some more grammatical translations which might be helpful for Turkish speaking Korean learners)

– Don’t put someone into a state/Don’t make (someone) “…”

Korean – word + 리지 마/기지 마 (jijima/gijima)Turkish – word + dirma/dirme English
울 – 리지 마 (ul – rijima)ağlat – dırmaDon’t make (someone) cry
웃 – 기지 마 (ut – gijima)gül – dürmeDon’t make (someone) laugh

– After doing (something)/having something done

Korean – word + -고 나서 (go naso)Turkish – word + tık dan sonra/dik den sonraEnglish
먹 – 고 나서 (mok go naso)ye – dik den sonraAfter eating/having eaten
하 – 고 나서 (ha – go naso)yap – tık dan sonraAfter doing/having done

– more… (I will do examples for each of them later)

Korean  Turkish  English
– (으)면 ((eu)myeon)– sa/san 
– 지? (ji)– degil mi?isn’t it/right? (used for confirmation e.g it’s pretty isn’t it?)
– 것 같아 (got gatta)– gibilike/seem(s) to be (comparison e.g like my sister)
(guessing e.g she seems to be sick)

Same words different meaning and similar sounding words
(Random words that sound similar, this is not to show the relation between the two languages I just made this list for fun!!)

 팔아 (para)ParaKorean meaning : to sell / Turkish meaning : money
 이름 (ireum)IsimName
 봐 (bwa)Baklook!
알아 (ara)AraKorean: I know/ Turkish: (commanding someone else to) search, call(him/her)
 네 (ne)Ne?Korean: yes or yes?(like “what?”) / Turkish: What?
 김 (kim)KimKorean: laver,steam / Turkish: Who?
 만다린(mandarin)Mandarin/MandalinMandarine/Tangerine(This word is adapted from western languages,
just that Asian put a different accent to this word.
What surprised me is that in both languages,
it’s the exact same pronunciation)
 아마(ama)AmaKorean: maybe Turkish: But…
Note : Korean friends were VERY surprised when they heard me talk Turkish to someone. Pointed out the word “ama” right way:
 만두(mandu)Mantı(ı is pronounced “eu/으” in korean)Means dumpling in both languages
인간 (ingan)InsanHuman
I will expand this list by time, but you can also make some suggestions if you have any!

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Zamzam Khan June 18, 2022 - 1:49 pm

Hi. Thank you so much for this outstanding work. I am Pakistani and speak Urdu, Punjabi, English and French and watch a lot of Turkish and Korean dramas. I also observed many similarities between Turkish and Korean, I’m so glad you decided to write down some of the similarities you found out too. Keep up the good work, and i hope you add more words to the list too. Good luck, be happy 🙂 🙂

azmi March 8, 2023 - 12:03 am

Hey… ZAMZAM I also watching korean and turkish series, I try to understand what the language sounds like and found many similarities in both langs interested in knowing if they both share a history with nation migrating or mixed people that transported ? I wonder

Ceylan J. Morgan March 17, 2023 - 10:20 pm

Originally, the beginning of Turkish culture comes from the Gökturks. Gökturks have lived with the Mongols in the past, and Korea has some history with Mongolia as well. I assume that’s probably the link. Even nowadays, if you look for Turkic countries, you can see that the Uyghurs and some other Turkic ethics living right next to Mongolia, not sure about the Turk folk population in Mongolia though.

Soo Lee October 22, 2016 - 9:00 pm

Hello, I’m glad I found this blog! I recently started my own blog comparing Turkish and Korean. I am a native Korean and have lived in Boston for 13 years. I have been learning Turkish for several months now and I find the grammatical similarity fascinating.

I hope it helps to introduce Turkish to Koreans. It is unfortunately very rare that Koreans learn Turkish and there aren’t many resources for such learning. It’s easier to learn through English.

On that note, ‘su’ is actually not Korean. It’s how Koreans pronounce a Chinese character that means water. Koreans never use the word ‘su’ to refer to water. We use ‘mul’. The words that contain ‘su’ to mean water, e.g. ‘shiksu’ (water for drinking), are all from Chinese, with corresponding Chinese characters. Traditional Korean words do not map to Chinese characters.

I think grammatically Turkish and Korean are very similar but in terms of words, I find little trace of a common ancestor, which is also interesting to me..

Check out my blog. Any thoughts and comments are welcome. 🙂


Dogan 08 March 16, 2016 - 1:00 am

Hey I am Turkish and I watch Korean Dramas. And do you know I noticed this. Sometimes I am thinking they are like Turkishs. Words, gestures, behaviors, cultures the same as ours. and I am feeling they were Turkish a long time ago.. yes ı feel that.

fgbouman March 12, 2016 - 8:38 pm

I think that genetics may be able to point in the right direction here. Basic words like water would seem to be among the first that humans developed when they learned how to talk. “Su” may have been one of those words that belonged to the group that split and developed into the Uralic language group as it went north while the Altaic language group spread to the east and northeast. I would assume that we are looking back as far as 40,000 years ago for this ancestry. This is a link to a map of the Altaic language group. Fascinating:

Ertunç Delikaya June 28, 2015 - 7:21 am Reply
Mert June 20, 2014 - 11:02 pm

A good article about a really interesting topic.
When I first started to learn Korean, I slowly noticed some similarities with the Turkish language, which I grew up with.
The pronunciation is so similar, that I already thought about writing Turkish in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet, and it somehow worked! (with some adjustments of course)
Nowadays I always “think” Turkish when I study Korean on my own.
I have no problems with the Korean grammar as well because there are hardly any differences.
In my opinion a native-Turkish speaking person (like me) learns Korean with a lot less effort or with much more ease than e.g. a native-English speaker.
I’m glad you wrote this article on your blog 🙂
İşte böyle şeyler’den Kore’ileki kardeşliğimiz anlaşılıyor 😀

realbezo April 22, 2014 - 1:01 pm

what is the word for “father” in Korean, i remember when i was watching “Lost” the Korean woman was calling her father something like “babaji” and in turkish it is “baba” or “babacım (daddy)” (c is pronounced like j in turkish”).

Yeah for me it is also true, whenever i hear korean conversation, it sounds like i hear some people who speak turkish but they are far from me and that’s why i can’t understand them 🙂

Wandras July 22, 2014 - 8:59 pm

There are three terms: appa(abba), abuhji, and abuhnim. The word appa originates from Altaic and is therefore the closest to Turkish. Ever heard of Ataturk? Though baba is used usually to mean ‘father’, there is the older term ‘ata’ which also originates from Altaic.

realbezo July 22, 2014 - 10:26 pm

Yes, we use the word “Ata” or “Atalar”(plural) for the word “ancestor(s)”, or for “elderly” , btw i am turkish.
Abuhji is very similar to “babacım” (dady) (babajim).

Alex Cortez December 28, 2015 - 11:46 pm

Abba is also one of the arabic version of “my father” or “father”

realbezo July 22, 2014 - 10:33 pm

the suffix -im is possessive pronoun for the first singular person. For example “ben” means “i” and “benim” means “mine” , and like spanish language we don’t use pronouns whenever it is possible, we use just the suffixes, like “öğretmen” “teacher, “öğretmenim” “my teacher”,
or “senin” means “yours” and “öğretmenin” “your teacher” and so on…

Wandras April 9, 2014 - 3:10 am

You said that 수 (su) was the old term for water and that 물 (mul) was the newer version; but you might have mistaken. In truth, ‘mul’ is the older Altaic way of saying ‘water’ while ‘su’ is the Korean pronunciation for the Chinese character, 水 (shui). There is an incredible amount of Chinese influence in this Altaic language, so in Korea they are flexible enough to mix the two up when they speak and write. When you want to say, “It’s blue” in Korean, you can go “Parahda (파랗다)” using the original Altaic-Korean way or “Tzungsehk-ida (청색이다)” which is the Chinese-Korean way (Tzungsehk is the Korean way of reading ‘靑色’, which is ‘Qing se’ in Chinese). Like blue, many other words overlap like this.

turkmen January 17, 2014 - 3:04 am

A nice analysis with the good intention, well done. Finding similarities among random words is not a robust meyhodology for sure. However, it is an obvious fact that there is a strong common structure between Korean and Turkish languages in terms of sentence formation (subject + object + verb), which you cannot find in many European or Middle Eastern languages. This relation is also same with Hungarian and Finnish languages.

By the way, don’t bother with some offensive lingo here. It is not how we are.

Ceylan J. Morgan January 20, 2014 - 10:14 pm

Thanks. Regarding the similar sounding words, as I said I took them randomly, just for fun :).

SJA January 17, 2014 - 12:51 am

i’m studying spanish in university and i’m a fan of kpop for more than 4 years. and i can speak korean much better than spanish (and no one teached me korean).

because the grammar is so similar to turkish i don’t have to think before i speak (in spanish i have to do it).

Ceylan J. Morgan January 20, 2014 - 10:15 pm

I made the same experience I dont have to think about the grammar when I speak.

SJA January 17, 2014 - 12:47 am

you are not turkish, i can see it from your nick, you troll

okan November 4, 2013 - 7:44 am

I’ve heard that turkish japanese and korean come from the same language family (altaic languages, i think they seperated some thousands of years ago) but i’ve never seen a comparison on this subject. Nice work you have done here 🙂 As a native turkish speaker im right now abroad and sorrouned with japanese and koreans, when they speak i can’t really understand a thing they say but it is not quite like the european languages to my ear, i dont know how to put my finger on this but i sometimes catch the tone of the conversation just so little(not by the words but by the general tone)

jackindabox October 16, 2013 - 4:35 pm

Isim ‘name’ is an arabic loan in turkish, from ‘ism’.

jo August 2, 2013 - 11:02 pm

The relation between “su” vs. “mul” is similar to the English component of “aqua” vs. “water.”

manook July 29, 2013 - 8:57 pm

sometimes i randomly watch tvs of different countries, whenever i watch korean tvs strangely the way they talk reminds me of the way turkish people talk, i mean the tone and accent , i don’t know none of the two languages, i was sure there is a connection , now i see your article, makes me sure….i guess even there are some common words between turkish and chinese too, for example water in turkish is su , in chinese shui

Elaine June 16, 2013 - 6:39 am

Hello, I enjoy reading all of your article. I like to write a little
comment to support you.

Yeonghon April 19, 2013 - 10:20 am

I’m (half)turkish and I keep learning japanese for 4 years now, and i also found many similarities between those two languages 🙂 keep going, wish I could learn this wonderful language one day too so I can also look for some similarities!
and by the way, it’s said that also the turkish “su” arrives from the chinese word, so maybe korean and turkish people took that word a looong time ago where they once were on people. (same for Yaban-in) 🙂
Iyi günler 😀

blgram March 16, 2013 - 9:38 pm

i can say that my japanese friend also said that Turkish sounds like Korean to them. and i heard that from some of my Australian friends,too. but i am angry to such a people who try to make Turkish to closer a language.

Ceylan J. Morgan March 22, 2013 - 1:04 pm

Why does that make you angry? There are many other language comparisons out there (English – German, Italian – Spanish), why shouldn’t there be a comparison of Turkish to another language as well. Knowledge should be shared, and I am trying to help people who and might be learning Japanese, Korean, or Turkish. Be positive ;).

blgram March 28, 2013 - 10:04 am

Turkish culture one of the biggest culture in the world like Indian or Chinese. Also ,Turkish language is very amazing language though we cant see its value.

Edwin March 13, 2013 - 5:05 pm

I do not speak either Turkish or Korean, but a few minutes ago I came across a Turkish phrase so I ran it through google translate to find out its meaning. I then decided to translate it to several of the languages that I find extremely fascinating (Korean included) and as soon as I played the audio, I quickly google searched “Similarities between Turkish and Korean languages”…. And here I am.
Maybe I’m not good at distinguishing sounds, but it sounded to me as though there is a similarity between these two languages, and may be finding it will set me on the path to learning them.
In case you were wondering, here’s what I translated “Dünyadaki herhangi birisin,ama herhangi biri için dünya sensin.”

Prince of Turkey February 1, 2013 - 7:02 pm

Thank you very much for this list. Do not care about negative comments. Your list is very helpful indeed.

blgram September 30, 2012 - 6:07 pm

according to TDK su is chinese origin word. para also is not Turkish origin words. many words about money such as lira,para is not Turkish. çay is again mandarin chinese word. isim is arabic word. bismillahirrahmanirrahim. there is no need to force yourself to find common things. i know you probably amazed by korean songs and actor. but dont do this. it is not nice. by the way if you want to find common i know mandu is common. the word tavuk and ta which both mean chicken. and so on.

Ceylan J. Morgan October 2, 2012 - 12:39 pm

You misunderstood… I am not forcing I already wrote that the words in the last table are just “random” I know that chai comes from Chinese, mandarin isn’t an original Korean word either… I think we could communicate in a nicer tone, since you seem to have misunderstood this ;)…

Plus, as you seem to not know, Mandu are Chinese Orign originally ;)…

katharsiss March 14, 2013 - 8:26 am

That comment of yours is not nice. It was a random nice topic that I came across on internet, and I enjoyed reading as a Turkish speaking Korean learning person. But your statements like “i know you probably amazed by korean songs and actor. but don’t do this. it is not nice.” are not nice! That is rude.
Thanks for your entry blogger, I enjoyed it. And yes the grammar structure is pretty similar as you pointed out and those random words are really catchy when I am listening some conversation in Korean.


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