23 Turkish Phrases I Wish Someone Had Taught Me (2022)

There are a number of phrases that Turks use in daily life that you may not find properly explained in your Intro to Turkish book. They are nice to use when you first arrive and want to trick people into thinking that you know what you’re doing. Plus, Turks will find it endearing. So, in the hopes of helping out fellow yabancılar, I’ve put together a list of 23 phrases that I wish I had known when I first came to Turkey.

First, a word of warning before you start trying these out…if a Turk laughs at you while you’re trying to speak, don’t take it as condescending and don’t let it stop you attempting new phrases. A foreigner speaking Turkish is a rare and fascinating thing for most Turks, so any laughter is probably a combination of affection and disbelief.

23 Turkish Phrases I Wish Someone Had Taught Me (1)

1. Hoş geldin – You will hear this phrase on a daily basis. It literally means “good you came,” but the implications runmuch deeper than that. You will hear this phrase when you enter a store, restaurant, someone’s home, and sometimes if you go to meet someone out in public (especially if you have traveled to a friend’s neighborhood).

2. Hoş bulduk – This is the natural and appropriate reply when you hear someone say, “Hoş geldin.” It literally means “good we found ourselves here,” but it is really just apolite reply, and you will find it becomes automatic after awhile.

3. Afiyet olsun – Literally translates to “may you have an appetite,” but there is no real equivalent in English (Turks often use the French “bon appétit” when speaking inEnglish). This phrase can be used before, during and after someone has had a meal. You should most definitely say itif you yourself have prepared food for others.

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4. Eline sağlık – Literally translates to “health to your hand.” If you happen to be sitting at a Turkish dinner table and the person who preparedthe food is present (as long as it isn’t a worker), you should use this phrase to thank the cook. It can also be used for any help someone gives you (repairing a pipe, changing your oil), but that is a little less common. If someone says something really good or smart you can say ağzına sağlık(which translates to “health to your mouth”).

5. Sıhhatler olsun – This means “may you be healthy” and dates back to Ottoman times. Say this phrase if someone has just had a hair cut (although this generally only applies to men) or taken a shower.

6. Maşallah – An import from Arabic that basically translates to: “Wow that’s great!” You can use it when you see something very beautiful (e.g., a house, baby, or woman) and also when you hear good news.

7. Kıyamam – Literally translates to “I won’t hurt you,” but it’s not used in that exact context. You would say kıyamam ifyou hear terrible news and feel really bad (this expresses a “poor you” sentiment) or when you see something very cute (like a puppy or kitten).

8.Aferin – It basically means “congratulations” or “way to go,” but you shouldn’t use it when speaking to someone older than you (I was scolded by a middle aged man once for doing this). If someone older than you comes to you with good news, the best thing to say is maşallah.

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9. İnşallah – Literally translates to “God willing” and can be used as a way to wish someone well after you hear someone’s future plans, or if you are not sure that something is going to happen but hope it will. However, beware it can also be Turkish for “This thing that we are talking about isn’t actually going to happen” or “I am going to be late and blame it on traffic.”

10. Allah korusun – You will see this written on the back of trucks, buses and cars. It literally means “may God protect you” and can be used after talking about something terrible (like an earthquake or illness), with the meaning“God, please don’t let this awful thing happen.”

11. Nazardan korusun – This phrase, which in full is Allah nazardan korusun, means “may God protect you from the evil eye.” Nazar is the evil eye, and some people from the eastern Mediterranean believe that if you have a good thing and someone is jealous of it, you can get nazarand subsequently lose that good thing. You know those blue glass eyes (nazar boncuk) that Turks hang everywhere –in the bazaar, on apartmentdoors and cribs? They are meantto protect against nazar. Similarly, you can use this phrase in any situation where something good as happened, as a way to ward off nazar.

12. Başın sağolsun – Literally “health to your head,” this phrase is the proper response if someone you know has lost a loved one or friend.You’re essentially saying to the person, “I’m glad you are still alive and I’m sorry for your loss.”

23 Turkish Phrases I Wish Someone Had Taught Me (2)

13. Lanet olsun – Basically the equivalent of “damn it,” you can use this phrase when encountering a very frustrating situation to which there is no solution. However, if you feel like directing this sentiment toward another person, adding a sana(“to you”) to the beginning of the phrase will do the trick. Although I don’t recommend using sana lanet olsun lightly.

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14. Hoşça kal – There are lots of ways to say goodbye in Turkish, and the majorityare used interchangeably and almost mechanically. This one means, word for word, “stay well.”

15.Kendine iyi bak – Yet another way to say adieu, this phrase generallytranslates to “take care of yourself.”

16. Tabii– The equivalent of “of course,” this word is often written as tabi. You may have heard Sınan Akçıl’s song, “Tabi Tabi” on the radio. In daily speech you will often hear people saying tabi twice in a row or with aki added on to the end (tabii ki),especially when agreeing with something someone has said.

17. Kolay gelsin – “May it come to you easily.” If you hear someone is about to start a tough job or see someone working, this is an appropriate phrase to say. It’s also a very polite way to start a conversation with a service employee (for example, over the phone or after waiting in a line). I’ve found that service workersreally will treat you nicer if you begin this way. It’s also a kind thing to say when you see someone working very hard in general.

18. Eyvallah – You will hear this phrase a lot from the men withmustaches thatsit around drinking çay. It’s a very casual and emphatic way of saying “thank you.” If you are grateful for something and in an informal setting, you can say this while putting your right hand over your heart. In my experience, it gets the point across very well.

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19. Oha! – Even though this is a slang term, you will hear everyone use it. It is simply an expression of surprise and shock. Since it’s not polite per se, use at your own discretion. But if you do end up using it, your Turkish friends will probably find it adorable.

20. Çok yaşa – The Turkish version of “God bless you” for after someone sneezes. It means “live a long time,” and common replies arehep beraber (may we live a long time “all together”) or sen de gör (“you also see” a long life).

21. Geçmiş olsun – Used when people are sick or experiencing an unpleasant situation, it means “I hope it passes you quickly.”

22. Maalesef – This phrase can be extremely annoying depending on the circumstance. Especially when you find yourself in a store, bank or restaurant, and this is what you hear. Technically it translates to “unfortunately.” However, I have all too often found it meant “I don’t feel like helping you out.” So if you hear this once, don’t be discouraged and try asking again. It can also be usedto confirm negative news. “Is it true that Kıvanç Tatlıtuğ got his ‘Only Allah can judge me‘ tattoo removed!?” “Did Ayşe really break up with Kaan?” “Was İbrahim Tatlıses linked to the mafia again!?” — In reply to these questions, maalesef would mean, “Sadly, this is true.” Finally, it can also mean that unfortunately, this didn’t happen, e.g., “Did you get the promotion?” “Maalesef.”

23. Buyrun – Unless you work ina shop in Turkey, you will probably never use this phrase. But you will hear it every time you go to a pazar. I remember a Turkish shopkeeper in Eminönü passionately shouting it over and over at a German couple (who seemed very disturbed) in an attempt to invite them into his store. To the man’s despair, the couple walked away looking very irritated and without purchasing anything. The louder and more enthusiastically a Turk shouts “buyrun” the more welcoming he is trying to be, as odd as it may seemto those of us who are not used to shouting in a friendly situation. Buyruncan also be used when allowing someone to talk or when answering to a superior, although these usages are less common.

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As for phrases to stay away from, or at least be careful with, sıkıldım (“I’m bored”) is right at the top of the list. When writing and speaking this word, make sure you’re using the ‘i’ with no dot (‘ı’), as a dotted ‘i’ conveys a completely different and rather vulgar meaning.

My last piece of advice is about how to address others.If you ever encounter someone who is older than you, adding the wordsabi(“older brother”) for men or abla (“older sister”) for women is a great sign of respect (e.g., “Ayşe abla” or “Ali abi”). If they are very old, you can substitute amca (“uncle”) and teyze (“aunty”) for abi and abla, respectively. In certain instances, calling someone directly by their first name may be considered rude. Additionally, anytime you don’t know someone’s name, like a taksi driver or the guy who works at your neighborhood bakkal, you can always just call them abi– it’s a good catchall phrase.

Tell me, dear yabancılar and Türkler, what are some phrases that I’m missing? Share your most useful Turkish phrases in the comments!

FAQs

What are some common Turkish phrases? ›

Top 10 Turkish phrases and sentences you need to know
  • Günaydın. = Good morning. ...
  • Tünaydın. = Good afternoon. ...
  • Benim adım Mondly. = My name is Mondly. ...
  • Tanıştığıma memnun oldum. = I'm pleased to meet you. ...
  • Nasılsın? = How are you? ...
  • İyi, teşekkürler. Siz? ...
  • Bir bira isterim. = I'd like a beer. ...
  • Özür dilerim. = I'm sorry.

What do Turkish people say before eating? ›

It is customary to say "Afiyet olsun" ("May what you eat bring well-being") before eating, and to say "Elinize saglik" (it is a compliment to the hostess, meaning "Bless your hand") after the meal.

Why do Turkish say Allah Allah? ›

Allah Allah — good Lord

You will certainly have the occasion to say Allah Allah at some point during your stay. It means “oh boy”, “wow”, “oh my goodness”, “well, I never”, “good Lord”, and the currently fashionable, “really?” You will hear this phrase at least once a day in Turkey.

Why do Turkish people say ya? ›

Of Ya!: Situations of exasperation often result with the Turkish expression “Of ya” (pronounce the “o” as you would do to say oh). The “ya” is an emphasis of the frustration and using this phrase will make you sound like a real Turk.

What is the most beautiful Turkish word? ›

Steeped in history, here are some of the most beautiful and inspiring words in the Turkish language.
  • Yakamoz (ya-ka-moz) / Sea sparkle. ...
  • Aşk (ashk) / Love. ...
  • Işıl (ishil) / Sparkling. ...
  • Yürek (yü-reck) / Heart. ...
  • Babayani (ba-ba-ya-nee) / Unpretentious. ...
  • Safderun (saf-der-oon) / Endearingly naive. ...
  • Özgürlük (öz-gür-lük) / Freedom.
30 Jul 2018

Is Turkish a easy language to learn? ›

In our opinion, it's one of the hardest languages for English speakers to learn. Turkish is an agglutinative language. What would be a complete sentence in English gets compounded into a single very long word by attaching prefixes and suffixes, rather than using separate prepositions.

What is respectful in Turkey? ›

Consideration, politeness, respect and courtesy are very important to the Turks. Shake hands with each person upon arriving at an office. When visiting a factory, shake hands with all the workers when you arrive and again when you leave. Turks engage in small talk before they begin business discussions.

How do you respond to Merhaba? ›

Replying to a Greeting:

Merhaba (Hello) or Sana da merhaba (Hello to you, too) are good replies to a casual merhaba. Other time-specific greetings such as good morning, good day, and good night, can be answered with the same phrase. The only difference is in answering Selamun aleyküm.

What does Afiyet olsun mean? ›

The wish, literally meaning “let health be” – i.e., may consuming the food not adversely affect your health – can be expressed before as well as after the meal.

What does Hala wallah? ›

hala wallah

Translation: hi there! / welcome/ my pleasure. Dialect: Gulf. This phrase is widely common in the Gulf countries.

What does EY wallah mean? ›

But Eyvallah really means "We entrust to Allah"

What is allaha? ›

Allah and the god of the Bible

Allah is usually thought to mean “the god” (al-ilah) in Arabic and is probably cognate with rather than derived from the Aramaic Alaha. All Muslims and most Christians acknowledge that they believe in the same god even though their understandings differ.

Why do Turks say Mashallah? ›

With Muslim families, you must say "mashallah" with every compliment lest someone think you are jealous and have the evil eye. Whereas in some cultures talismans, such as the popular Turkish Nazar, are used as defence against the eye, in the region it is held that Allah is the only protector against its evil.

What does Kardash mean in Turkish? ›

From Ottoman Turkish قارداش‎ (kardaş, “sibling”), from Old Anatolian Turkish قردآش‎ (kardaş, “sibling”), equivalent to karın (“womb”) +‎ -daş (“fellow of, having in common, sharing”).

Why is G silent in Turkish? ›

It traditionally represented the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ or the voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/. However, in Turkish, the phoneme has in most cases been reduced to a silent letter, serving as a vowel-lengthener.

What do you call a girl in Turkish? ›

a female child or young woman. kız.

What do Turkish couples call each other? ›

How To Express Your Love Like A Hero From Turkish Soap Operas
NounTurkish Sweet TalkLiteral Translation
aşk (love)aşkımmy love
bal (honey)balımmy honey
tatlı (sweet)tatlımmy sweety
güzel (beautiful)güzelimmy beautiful
1 more row
17 Feb 2021

Is Turkish harder than Greek? ›

If you are a native speaker of (an Indo-European Languages) English, French or Persian, the Greek language is easier to learn than Turkish. If you are a native speaker of Turkic Languages, Finnish, Estonian, Mongolian, Korean, or Japanese languages, Turkish will be more similar than the Greek language.

Is Russian or Turkish harder? ›

Russian seems more useful but also harder than Turkish, especially the pronunciation. I like both languages but I'd say I'm perhaps more drawn to Turkish right now. The English is bad in both countries but especially Turkey.

Is Turkish harder than Arabic? ›

Arabic is similar to Hebrew, Maltese, and Ethiopian (Amharic) languages. Also, Arabic dialects can be very different, so learning a common dialect does not mean you can communicate with all speakers of the Arabic language very easily. Turkish is easier to learn than Arabic because Turkish is easier to read and write.

Is Turkey female friendly? ›

In terms of violence against women and harassment, Turkey is not particularly dangerous. However, it does have different gender dynamics, so don't be surprised if people are shocked that you, a woman, are traveling alone.

Are Turkish people touchy? ›

Turks Love to Touch

Although Turks can be regarded as touchy-feely during friend-to-friend encounters, note that all touching is always above the waist. Touching a leg would be very inappropriate, as this is considered a sexual gesture.

How do you respond to Tesekkur Ederim? ›

Senior Member. Another reply to Teşekkür ederim is Mühim değil. It means "You're welcome." (literally: "It's not important.").

How do you reply to Kifak? ›

The phrase kif haalak (to male) turns into kifak and kif haalik (to female) turns into kifik. To respond, can say mneeH منِيح which means “I'm good” or tamaam تَمَام which means “I'm great”.

How do you respond to Hvala? ›

'Hvala' means 'thank you', and the usual answer is 'nema na čemu', the equivalent of 'you're welcome', roughly translating as 'think nothing of it'.

What does Tebrik Ederim means? ›

"Tebrik" means "congratulation" and "ederim" means "I do". So it essentially means "I congratulate".

What is Teşekkür Ederim mean? ›

Usage notes. Ben teşekkür ederim (literally: "I thank you") is frequently used in response to this. When the first-person pronoun "ben" is used, the phrase essentially means "you're welcome."

What does iyi Dersler mean? ›

Answers. When you "disagree" with an answer.

What does Khali Wali mean? ›

Khali Wali is commenly used slang in middle eastern countries means "leave it" or "don't care".

What is Ahlan bik? ›

“Ahlan Wa Sahlan” (welcome) is the more formal version of “Ahlan”. The most common reply is “Ahlan bik” to a male or “Ahlan biki” to a female. To reply to more than one person, say, “Ahlan bikum. Marhaba (Welcome) It comes from the word “rahhaba” which means “to welcome”.

What does Yatik Al Afia? ›

4. Ya'tik al-'afiya (يعطيك العافية) Literally translating to “may [God] give you health” this phrase is said in recognition and appreciation of someone's hard work. In response, you may hear Allah y-a'fik, which also means “may God bless you with good health”.

How do you reply to Eyvallah? ›

As for response to Eyvallah, it is also Eyvallah. For example, - I ask you to make me a cup of coffee, You say: "Eyvallah (I will). And I then answer to you: Eyvallah (Thank you).

What does Reis mean in Turkish? ›

Reis (Ottoman Turkish: رئيس ra'īs; sometimes spelled rais) was a military rank in the Ottoman Empire, akin to that of a naval captain or (in the Levant) a commodore, that was commonly added to the officer's name as an epithet during the Ottoman Empire. Examples include: Piri "Reis"

What is the meaning of Beyim? ›

Translation of «beyim» in English language: «My Lord»

beyim: My Lord.

What is the oldest religion? ›

The word Hindu is an exonym, and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, many practitioners refer to their religion as Sanātana Dharma (Sanskrit: सनातन धर्म, lit.

Who is Allah father? ›

Abraham in Islam
Prophet Ibrāhīm إِبْرَاهِيْمُ Abraham
BornUr al-Chaldees, Bilād ar-Rāfidayn
DiedHebron, Shaam
Resting placeIbrahimi Mosque, Hebron
Other namesKhalīlullāh (Arabic: خَلِيْلُ ٱللهِ, "Beloved By God")
6 more rows

How do you say God in Aramaic? ›

The Aramaic word for God is אלהא Elāhā ( Biblical Aramaic) and ܐܠܗܐ Alāhā ( Syriac), which comes from the same Proto- Semitic word (* ʾil-) as the Arabic and Hebrew terms; Jesus is described in Mark 15:34 as having used the word on the cross, with the ending meaning "my", when saying, "My God, my God, why hast Thou ...

Why do Turks say Mehmet? ›

Mehmed (modern Turkish: Mehmet) is the most common Bosnian and Turkish form of the Arabic name Muhammad (Arabic: محمد) (Muhammed and Muhammet are also used, though considerably less) and gains its significance from being the name of Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.

What is Melek in Turkish? ›

Melek is the Turkish rendering of the Semitic word for "angel" (malak).

Why do Muslims say Allah hu Akbar? ›

The words 'Allahu Akbar' translate to mean “God is the greatest,” which is an Arabic phrase frequently used by over 1 billion Muslims around the world. The phrase has a very significant meaning for Muslims and is often used as a call to prayer.

What does Burak mean in Turkey? ›

Burak is a Turkish masculine name that derives from the Arabic Buraq, which literally means "lightning" and refers to a creature that transports prophets in Islamic tradition.

What does Serkan mean in Turkish? ›

Meaning & History

Means "leader, chief" from Turkish ser "head, top" and kan "blood".

What does Betul mean in Turkish? ›

In Muslim Baby Names the meaning of the name Betul is: Ascetic virgin. Maiden.

What does Ğ mean in Turkish? ›

ğ is a symbol used in writing Turkish. When word or syllable final, it indicates a preceding back vowel is lengthened and is typically silent otherwise. In some dialects it may be realized as a velar (or uvular) approximant, fricative or plosive.

How do you pronounce ü in Turkish? ›

The ü here is kind of tricky. To pronounce this sound, make an “ee” sound, but tightly round your lips as you do so. The letter ş is basically just like the English “sh” sound. Altogether, güneş sounds kind of like “gew-nesh.” For the “ö” sound in the second word, tightly round your lips while producing the “o” sound.

How do you pronounce ç? ›

Ç always sounds like [“sss”] !

So it's a way to have a “c” letter that sounds like “sss” even in front of a / o / u. For instance: A : Ça = [sah] = “this” ; Français = [fransay] = French!

How do Turkish people say hello? ›

People commonly greet each other by saying “Nasilsiniz” (How are you?) or “Merhaba” (Hello). The Islamic greeting is “Asalamu alaykum” (Peace be upon you).

What is considered disrespectful in Turkey? ›

It is customary for Turkish men to escort women to a seat and to the bathroom during a meal. It is considered rude/disrespectful to chew gum whilst talking to someone of a higher status or at a formal occasion. Avoid sitting in any position that allows one's shoe to face another person. This is considered insulting.

What does Mashallah mean in Turkish? ›

The literal meaning of Mashallah is "what God has willed", in the sense of "what God has willed has happened"; it is used to say something good has happened, used in the past tense. Inshallah, literally "if God has willed", is used similarly but to refer to a future event.

What do Turkish couples call each other? ›

How To Express Your Love Like A Hero From Turkish Soap Operas
NounTurkish Sweet TalkLiteral Translation
aşk (love)aşkımmy love
bal (honey)balımmy honey
tatlı (sweet)tatlımmy sweety
güzel (beautiful)güzelimmy beautiful
1 more row
17 Feb 2021

How do you reply to Merhaba? ›

Replying to a Greeting:

Merhaba (Hello) or Sana da merhaba (Hello to you, too) are good replies to a casual merhaba. Other time-specific greetings such as good morning, good day, and good night, can be answered with the same phrase. The only difference is in answering Selamun aleyküm.

What is respectful in Turkey? ›

Consideration, politeness, respect and courtesy are very important to the Turks. Shake hands with each person upon arriving at an office. When visiting a factory, shake hands with all the workers when you arrive and again when you leave. Turks engage in small talk before they begin business discussions.

Why is G silent in Turkish? ›

It traditionally represented the voiced velar fricative /ɣ/ or the voiced uvular fricative /ʁ/. However, in Turkish, the phoneme has in most cases been reduced to a silent letter, serving as a vowel-lengthener.

What is the weirdest law in Turkey? ›

A law existed making it illegal for men over 80 to become pilots. Stealing olives before they are ripe can bring up to a two-year jail sentence.

Is Turkey female friendly? ›

In terms of violence against women and harassment, Turkey is not particularly dangerous. However, it does have different gender dynamics, so don't be surprised if people are shocked that you, a woman, are traveling alone.

Are Turkish people touchy? ›

Turks Love to Touch

Although Turks can be regarded as touchy-feely during friend-to-friend encounters, note that all touching is always above the waist. Touching a leg would be very inappropriate, as this is considered a sexual gesture.

What does EY wallah mean? ›

But Eyvallah really means "We entrust to Allah"

What does eh wallah mean? ›

Eyvallah is a Turkish phrase with Arabic origin similar to OK. It is also a Turkish way of greeting others by putting your right hand on your chest. It may also refer to: Eyvallah (Işın Karaca album), album by Turkish singer Işın Karaca. "Eyvallah", 1997 song by İzel from her album Emanet.

What does Kardash mean in Turkish? ›

From Ottoman Turkish قارداش‎ (kardaş, “sibling”), from Old Anatolian Turkish قردآش‎ (kardaş, “sibling”), equivalent to karın (“womb”) +‎ -daş (“fellow of, having in common, sharing”).

Are unmarried couples allowed in Turkey? ›

Unmarried couples live together

As there is no regulation in Turkey on couples who live together or have extramarital children, their relationships have no legal status without any rights or penalties.

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