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Common expressions in Turkish


Turkish words and phrases you’ll hear again and again.


As your holiday in Turkey progresses, you’ll probably find that your ear slowly becomes attuned to the Turkish around you. That’s when you’ll start to hear the same key words and phrases everywhere you go.


Sometimes you’ll even hear the same word in a variety of different situations. Here we look at some of those words and phrases, examine what they mean and how you can respond. 


1. Buyurun

Pronunciation: Booh-rohn


You’ll hear the word buyurun everywhere you go in Turkey, in shops, restaurants and markets in particular. There is no direct English equivalent. Instead, buyurun acts as an all-purpose word to prompt you –  meaning welcome, please come in, sit down, there you are, how can I help you or would you like anything else, depending on the context in which it is used.  


You may also hear a variation – buyurun efendim.   (Pronounced booh-rohn afen-dehm)


Efendim is a gender-neutral way of addressing a man or a woman, a polite way of saying Sir or Madam.  You may also hear Turkish people answering the telephone using this form of address.


2. Hadi! 

Pronunciation: had-ee


You will no doubt hear hadi almost as often as buyurun in Turkey. It means Come on! Or go on!


3. Hoş geldiniz

People may say this to you when you arrive in Turkey, check into your hotel, go to a restaurant, enter a shop or visit someone’s home. It translates as Welcome in English.


There is a set response expected to this – hoş bulduk. Your response equates to ‘Happy to be here’.


Welcome hoş geldiniz hosh-gel-dinn-iz
Happy to be here hoş bulduk hosh-bol-duhk


4. Nasılsınız?

This is a popular greeting when two people meet. It loosely translates as ‘How are you’? Again, there is a set response to this – iyiyim, teşekkür ederim. This means I am fine, thank you. 


How are you? Nasılsınız? nah-suhl-suhn –uz
I am fine İyiyim ee-yeem
Thank you teşekkür ederim teh-she-kewr  eh-deh-rehm


When the Turkish speak English 

Turkish people will be delighted if you try to speak even a few words of their language, but if you holiday in the resorts around the country, you’ll probably find quite a lot of the Turks there want to speak English. Sometimes even when you don’t want them to! 


That said, however, it’s not always that easy to understand their English either. Here we highlight a couple of little facts that might help you understand their English a little better! 



  • Turks can’t traditionally pronounce th as there is no equivalent sound in Turkish. You may find that they say Tank you instead of Thank you or Der instead of There
  • They also have a tendency to pronounce W as V. That’s because there is no W in the Turkish alphabet!
  • Turkish has a different rhythm of language to English. If a Turk hasn’t fully mastered the English rhythm, you may still find it difficult to understand them even if they use the right words.
  • They may confuse you by saying they are going to ‘drink smoke’. Really, they probably mean they are going to have a cigarette but in Turkish to verb to drink and the verb to smoke is the same – içmek. No wonder they’re confused!




Listen to the pronunciation of the Turkish phrases covered in this lesson


Anything we’ve missed? Share your observations on our comments section



whodart, Rashid Pasha, sarah.bakhtiyar, sarahadam, thkormas and 13 others liked this lesson

View all beginner level lessons in this class - Turkish for Travelers to Turkey (With Sound)

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