When visiting Turkey, knowing a few useful Turkish Phrases goes a long way into breaking down social boundaries. Everyday expressions tell us so much about the Turkish culture: its people, its preoccupations, - even its sense of humour. So, we have put together a starter list of the most common phrases. By listening to other people talk, in day-to-day life, they are a great insight into the language and culture.
Before we start, though, we have a few tips for any foreigner researching how to learn the Turkish language. There are many Turkish speaking foreigners, and they will all agree that listening skills are of great benefit. Copy what you hear.
The reason being is that it is a phonetic language, so is pronounced how you spell it. But if you do not understand the English version, just use online learning tools, dictionaries,’ or apps. Two popular programs and language courses to follow are Rosetta Stone and Duolingo, who both offer paid and free lessons.
Do not be afraid of making mistakes, and do not be in a rush to become fluent. Even the most proficient language learners can take months or years to learn Turkish. A good start when learning the official language is to research grammatical rules, nouns, and suffixes.
So, the following phrases and most common words give a little insight into the Turkish way of thinking. Memorise them for your next trip to Turkey to delight and surprise everyone you meet.
Useful Turkish Phrases to Use Everyday
1: Hos Geldeniz – Welcome
Words and phrases don’t come any easier than this term because it displays the Turkish culture for welcoming strangers. The pronunciation of these words is easy. Simple say hosh gell-din-eez. Turks are hospitable people. They like to make people feel welcome. Hos geldiniz is the greeting used by shopkeepers, waiters - or friends when you arrive somewhere.
2: Hos Bulduk – I Feel Welcome
Give your vocabulary a super boost, by replying with hos bulduk (Pronounced: hosh bulduk.) You need not say it to shopkeepers, (if you said it to everyone, you’d do nothing else with your day) but it’s polite when arriving at someone’s house.
3: Buyrun – Go Ahead
This frequently used word translates to go ahead. So, for example, to usher someone into a shop, or perhaps you might use it when offering someone a seat. So, you could say “buyurun, teyze,” (here you are, aunty) when giving up your place for an older woman on the bus.
4: Tesekkur ederim – Thank You
Speak Turkish with confidence because this one is easy to remember. We all know how to thank someone. But the Turkish words of Tesekkur ederim goes far beyond the act of offering thanks. Its meanings are varied and subtle - it can mean anything from “I’m not interested” to, well, thank you. When someone goes to pour you a drink, but you would like to refuse? Tesekkur ederim. Someone trying to sell you something? Tesekkur ederim.
5: Aferin Sana – Well Done
Pronounced: afairin sahna. This way of validating something someone has said, means encouragement. “I’m going for a promotion at work” “aferin sana”. “I’m almost fluent in another language now” - “aferin sana.” Easy to understand and even easier to say.
6: Afiyet Olsun – Enjoy your meal
Turkish food plays a large part in their culture, and foreign diners are sometimes puzzled by waiters who say “enjoy your meal” as you walk out the door. The phrase means “may it be good for you,” and can be used at any point during or after a meal.
7: Allah Allah
Language learning becomes fun when it branches into phrases, not used in other languages. Allah Allah is an Islamic phrase. Not a day goes by without an occasion to utter an emphatic Allah Allah! And in fact, you will hear it all the time. Use it in place of “wow!” or “oh my goodness,” or perhaps “I’ll be darned.” Be warned though to use it at the right time, because some people can get offended if used in the wrong context.
8. Gecmis olsun – Get Well Soon
Usually said when someone is ill but also in other scenarios like when someone is going through a difficult time, but when someone says something like “my whole family is coming to stay - for six weeks” you could use it in a wry way.
9. Inshallah – God Willing
This English version of “hopefully” is added to the end of a statement that you want to become true. For example, “I’ll find a job this year, inshallah,” or “my mother is feeling better, inshallah.”
10. Eleniz Saglik – Health to your hands
How to Say: el-eneez-ey sahlik. For Turkish cuisine, expect the best of tastes and flavours. If you want to thank someone for cooking, don’t say tesekkur ederim. Instead, say elenize saglik. This phrase used in the home is when anyone has cooked a meal for you.
This famous phrase is not only a way to express your joy and thankfulness, but some believe it even wards off evil spirits. Utter a mashallah at hearing good news. “Joan had a baby boy, mashallah.” It is a way of showing thanks for an actual event.
Bonus: Common Turkish Adjectives
To become conversational, brush up on a few adjectives so language skills can best be put to the test. New words to learn include…
- Eski – Old
- Yeni – New
- Guzel – Beautiful
- Kolay – Easy
- Buyuk – Big
- Kucuk – Small
- Iyi – Good
- Guclu – Strong
- Kotu – Bad
- Harika – Great
- Erken – Early
Other useful Turkish sentences to learn?
- Nerde – Where?
- Nasil gidebilirim – How can I go to...
- Ne kadar – How much?
- Otobus duragi nerede? – Where is the bus station?
- En yakin restoran nerede? – Where is the nearest restaurant?
- Bana yardim edebilir misin? – Can you help me?
- Doviz – Currency
Also of Interest
Easy Ways to Learn Turkish: Many people struggle when learning Turkish. Whether it is vowel harmony, months of the year, telling time, days of the week, verbs, the Turkish alphabet, grammar, word order, or common words, the most standard compliant we hear from our customers is that they struggle to learn it. So, in this article, we put together some useful learning tips on learning the language. Any self-study learner will like these!
Living in Turkey: The Language Barrier: Some of our customers want to move here and live all year round. With a keen emphasis on getting away from the tourism scene and interacting with Turkish people, they wonder if the language barrier will be a problem. While it helps to know some common phrases of the language, in this article, we explain why language proficiency is not essential, and talk about more useful Turkish phrases.
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