Turkish is a fascinating language to learn, with a wealth of commonly used words and phrases that can be applied in a wide range of scenarios.
These essential Turkish expressions and phrases will not only make your time in Turkey easier, but they will also impress the Turkish locals you get to speak with.
Turkish people are delighted when foreigners try to communicate with them in their own language. Having a few Turkish words memorized will go a long way in making your stay more enjoyable.
Here are some useful and commonly used Turkish words and phrases to use every day in Turkey!
This unique Turkish expression, meaning “may it come easy,” is an excellent phrase to say if you notice someone doing a difficult job or, more generally, anyone performing any sort of task, to show appreciation for their effort. Saying “kolay gelsin” to introduce yourself to a customer care employee is rather courteous for example, over the phone or after waiting in a line. “Kolay gelsin” sets a much better tone to start your conversation.
Another polite and formal way to approach a service employee or even any stranger who you may need help from, is by saying ‘bakar mısınız?’ which literally means “would you look here / at me?”. This phrase could definitely be used in a restaurant to call the waiter.
To say God bless you in Turkish after someone has sneezed “cok yaşa” means “live long”. There are two typical responses: “hep beraber” which means “may we all live a long time together” and “sen de gör ” meaning “may you also see long life”.
It might be interpreted as “come this way,” “please, help yourself” or “here you go.” Turkish people use the term when they are offering something to someone, giving someone the right of way, or even at the dinner table, requesting visitors to take their seats. It has a formal ring to it, yet it’s nevertheless used in a friendly manner.
Ne Demek (Rica Ederim)
Followed by a thankful expression, saying this phrase means ”don’t give it a second thought” ”no need to say thank you. It’s a popular alternative to rica ederim meaning “you’re welcome”, as a polite reply when someone thanks you.
Beyefendi / Hanımefendi
If you’re unsure how to address someone and don’t know their name. The most formal way to address a stranger would be “beyfendi” for males, and “hanımefendi” for females.
“Kusura bakma” or “kusura bakmayın” (the formal approach) is the appropriate phrase to use when you mistakenly do something wrong and try to apologize. It literally means “don’t look at the flaw,” but it generally signifies “sorry.”
“Afiyet olsun”’s literal translation is “may you have an appetite,” and its meaning is equivalent to the French phrase “bon appétit”. This expression can be used before, during, or after a meal.
“Ellerinize sağlık” literally translates to “health to your hands”. You should use this phrase to thank the cook after having a meal, much like saying “compliments to the chef” in English. You may also use this term to show your admiration for someone’s creative endeavors, such as a work of art.
This phrase is most often said after hearing that someone is ill or experiencing an unpleasant situation, it translates to “may it pass” and can be an equivalent of “get well soon”.
This is also a common expression in Turkish, and it means “unfortunately”. You may hear it for example when you go into a store looking for something and the clerk may answer with “maalesef” as in, “unfortunately, we don’t have it”. When it comes to delivering bad news, “maalesef” might be translated as “sorry to say, but it is true” or “unfortunately, this was not the case.”
This expression is best translated in English as “good grief!” or “for heaven’s sake!” which express surprise, dismay, or some other, usually negative emotion. You can also use “Allah Allah?” to express confusion or suspicion like asking “really?”
This turkish word means “exactly” and it is used a lot in conversations to express agreement or approval of what is being said. It is also used as “aynen öyle” to mean “it’s exactly like that”.
“Yok” means “none”. For example, saying “ekmek yok” means “there is no bread”. While “hayır” is the word for (no) in Turkish, “yok” is, however, frequently used by Turks to imply “no” or “that’s not right”.
“Hadi” is one of the simplest Turkish terms to learn and remember, which means “let’s go” or “come on”.
“Naber” which is actually an abbreviated version of “ne haber?” translates to “what’s news?”. It’s slang for asking “how are you?” and equates to saying “what’s up?” in english.
On Fridays in Turkey, you will often hear people saying “hayırlı cumalar” which means “have a blessed friday.” You can reply back with “hayırlı cumalar” or you can just say “you too” which is “sana da” or “size de” (formal) in Turkish.
This Turkish phrase is used in situations where you have no idea what will happen next but hope for the best. “Hayırlısı olsun” expresses “whatever is good/better, let it be/it shall be”.
Not to be confused with the former phrase “hayırlısı olsun”, “hayırlı olsun” is said to wish the other person success for example if they open up a new business or start a new job.