Interested in learning some basic Turkish words and phrases for traveling? Perfect!
Though English is becoming increasingly popular in Turkey, there are many situations why you might need to know some everyday phrases in Turkey.
Besides, learning the local language is an excellent way to enhance your experience when traveling abroad. It might even let you discover a part of Turkish culture that typical tourists do not get to explore.
That is why we have written this guide on some of the most common phrases and words in Turkish for tourists.
Overview Of The Turkish Language
Before we jump into the different Turkish words and phrases you need as a tourist, let’s take a look at the overview of the Turkish language and how it might differ from English.
Compared to the English alphabet, the Turkish alphabet has 8 vowels and 21 consonants
The vowels are A, E, I, İ, O, Ö, U, Ü. In the Turkish alphabet, the letters Q, W, X do not exist. It is only when they are used in foreign words (think words like Wisconsin and Quebec) do they get used and translated into Turkish.
Fun Fact: The Turkish language did not adopt the Latin alphabet until 1928, when Mustafa Kemal Atatürk (a former president of Turkey) passed a law that changed the alphabet from Arabic to Latin.
One thing that is quite unique about Turkish and might be difficult for foreigners trying to learn the language is its sentence structure. In Turkish, the structure is subject-object-verb, as opposed to subject-verb-object in English.
The Turkish language also uses vowel harmony, which is something that is quite complicated and only a few languages in the world (like the impossible-to-learn Hungarian) use.
As a result, Turkish is one of the hardest languages to learn.
Is Turkish Hard To Pronounce?
Hey! Don’t be discouraged yet! Luckily, though Turkish is quite difficult to learn, it is quite easy to pronounce. That is perfect for those that are visiting Turkey as a tourist and want to memorize a few phrases or words to get around.
Turkish is a phonetic language, meaning that what you see is what you pronounce. However, because there are a few letters that aren’t in the English alphabet, you will need to learn how to pronounce those.
Here are the letters that might give you some trouble:
Though it looks similar to an i, it is not pronounced like an i. It is more like the e in oven
Pronounbed more like the i in birth
Pronunced similar to the ew in brew
Similar to the ch in chalk
is pronounced like the k in khaki
is more like the sh in shelter
That’s really it! If you know how to pronounce those different letters in the Turkish alphabet, you will have no problem saying the basic Turkish words for tourists.
Must-Know Common Turkish Phrases For Tourists
No matter how many days you plan to spend in Turkey, you shouldn’t leave home without knowing some basic Turkish for tourists.
Below we have outlined some of the most useful phrases, words and sayings you are going to need when you are visiting Turkey!
- Thank you (formal) – Teşekkür ederim (Teh-sheik-kewr eh-deh-reem)
- Thanks (informal) – Teşekkürler (Teh-sheik-kewr-lehr)
- Hello – Merhaba (Mehr-hah-bah)
- You’re welcome – Rica ederim (Ree-jah eh-deh-reem)
- How are you? – Nasılsın? (Nah-suhl-suhn?)
- Good morning – Günaydın (Gew-nai-duhn)
- Good afternoon – Tünaydın (Tew-nai-duhn)
- Good night – İyi Geceler (Ee-yee Geh-jeh-lehr)
- How much – Ne kadar? (Neh kah-dahr?)
- Please – Lutfen (Lewt–fehn)
- Where are you from? – Nerelisin? (Neh-reh-lee-seen?)
- What is your name? – Adınız Ne? (Ah-duh-nuhz Neh?)
- My name is (…). – Adım (…). (Ah-duhm)
- I am fine – Iyiyim (Ee-yee-yeem)
- Bon voyage – Iyi Yolculuklar (Ee-yee Yohl-juh-look-lahr)
- Where is the toilet? – Tuvalet nerede (Two-vah-let Neh-reh-deh)
- Where is (…)? – (…) nerede? (Neh-reh-deh)
(…) nerede is one of the most useful Turkish phrases for tourists. It allows tourists to easily ask any locals about where is a certain thing is. You simply replace the (…) with any location you want to inquire about.
For example, as we have above, tuvalet nerede translates to where is the toilet. If you want to say where is the Grand Bazaar (one of the most visited places in Istanbul), you would combine Grand Bazaar (Kapalı Çarşı in Turkis) and nerede.
Where is the Grand Bazaar would be “Kapalı Çarşı nerede”. Where is the restaurant woul be “restoran nerede”. Where is the taxi would be “taksi nerede”. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.
- Do you speak English? – İngilizce konuşuyor musunuz? (In-gee-leez-jeh koh-noo-shoo-your moo-soo-nooz?)
- The bill, please – Hesap, Lütfen (Heh-sup, Lewt-fehn)
- Sorry – Pardon (Pahr-dohn)
- Bye – Hoşça Kal (Hosh-chah-kahl)
- Can you help me? – Yardım Edebilir Misiniz? (Yahr-duhm Eh-deh-bee-leer Mee-see-neez?)
- Nice to meet you! – Tanıştığıma Memnun Oldum! (Tah-nuhsh-tuh-uhmah Mem-noon Ohl-doom!)
- Do not enter – Girilmez (Gee-rihl-mehz)
- I can’t speak Turkish – Türkçe bilmiyorum (Tewrk-cheh beel-mee-yo-room)
- I wake up – Uyanırım (Ooh-yah-nuh-ruhm)
- I go to bed – Yatarım (Yah-tah-ruhm)
Must-Know Words In Turkish For Travelers
If it is your first time visiting Turkey, there are some words you must know as a traveler. These are usually words that you will see daily (if not, occasionally), so it is a good idea to know what they mean!
- Yes – Evet (Eh-vet)
- No – Hayır (Hah–yuhr)
- Entrance – Giriş (Gee-reesh)
- Exit – Çıkış (chuh-kuhsh)
- Air-conditioning – klima (kuh-lee-mah)
- Pull – Çekiniz (Cheh-kee-neez)
- Push – Itiniz (Ee-tee-neez)
- Toilet – Tuvalet (Two-vah-leht)
- Gentlemen – Bay (By)
- Ladies – Bayan (By-ahn)
- Party – Parti (Pahr-tee)
- Travel – Seyahat (Seh-yah-hot)
- Bus Station – Otogar (Oh-toh-gahr)
- Police – Polis (Poh-lees)
- Hospital – Hastane (Hahs-tah-neh)
- ATM Machine – ATM Makinesi (Ah-Teh-Meh Mah-kee-neh-see)
- Credit Card – Kredi Kartı (Kuh-reh-dee Kahr-tuh)
- Price – Fiyat (Fee-yaht)
- Free (no charge) – Bedava (Beh-dah-vah)
- Rain – Yağmur (Yah-moor)
- Sun – Güneş (Gew-nash)
- Umbrella – Şemsiye (Shem-see-yeh)
- Storm – Fırtına (Fuhr-tuh-nah)
- Ambulance – Ambulans (Ahm-buh-lahns)
- Accident – Kaza (Kah-zah)
Useful Words In Turkish For Sightseeing
Knowing some Turkish when you are sightseeing will help you tremendously, especially if you need to ask for directions or tell the taxi driver where to go. Here are some of the key Turkish words you might need for sightseeing!
- Mosque – Cami (Jah-mee)
- Museum – Müze (Mew-zeh)
- Tourist – Turist (Too-rist)
- Palace – Saray (Sah-rai)
- Turkish Bath – Hammam (Hah-mahm)
- Carpet – Halı (Hah-luh)
- Square – Meydan (May-dahn)
- Castle – Hisar (Hee-sahr)
- Church – Kilise (Kee-lee-seh)
- Valley – Vadisi (Vah-dee-see)
- Island – Ada (Ah-dah)
- Bridge – Köprü (Keuwp-rew)
- Bazaar – Çarşı (Char-shuh)
- Tower – Kulesi (Kuh-leh-see)
- Statue – Heykel (Hey-kehl)
Must-Know Turkish Words For Dining
One of the most famous things about Turkey is its gastronomy. The fresh ingredients mixed with their plethora of spices just make their cuisine so delicious!
If you are only visiting Istanbul where tourists are abundant, then you will probably have English on your menu. But if you are planning on getting off the beaten path, then make sure you take some of these common words in Turkish with you!
- Water– Su (Soo)
- Tea – Çay (Chai)
- Beer – Bira (Bee-rah)
- Bread – Ekmek (Ehk-mehk)
- Fish – Balık (Bah-luhk)
- Beef – Et (Eht)
- Chicken – Tavuk (Tah-vook)
- Lamb – Kuzu (Koo-zoo)
You’ll definitely need to know Çay, the most widely consumed drink in Turkey. Everywhere you go in Turkey, you will be offered Çay!
- White Cheese – Beyaz peynir (Beh-yahz pehy-neer)
- Vegetarian – Vejetaryen (Veh-jah-tah-ee-yehn)
- Yoghurty Drink – Ayran (Ai-rahn)
- Ice cream – Dondurma (Dohn-door-mah)
- Salad – Salata (Sah-lah-tah)
- Soup – Çorba (Chor-bah)
- Salt – Tuz (Tooz)
There is famous lake near Cappadocia known as Lake Tuz, which you now know it translates to “Salt Lake”. It is one of the best attractions in Cappadocia!
- Desert – Tatlı (Taht-luh)
- Food – Yemek (Yeh-mehk)
- Breakfast – Kahvaltı (Kah-vahl-tuh)
- Lunch – Öğle yemeği (Euw-leh yeh-meh-ee)
- Dinner – Akşam yemeği (Ahk-shahm yeh-mee-ee)
- Enjoy your meal – Afiyet Olsun (Ah-fee-yet ohl-soon)
Simple Turkish Adjectives For Travelers
- Good – Iyi (Ee-ee)
- Bad – Fena (Feh-nah)
- Cold – Soğuk (Soh-ook)
- Hot – Sıcak (Suh-jahk)
- Big – Büyük (Bew-yewk)
- Small – Küçük (Kew-chewk)
- Slow – Yavaş (Yah-vahsh)
- Fast – Hızlı (Huhz-luh)
- Open – Açık (Ah-chuhk)
- Closed – Kapalı (Kah-pah-luh)
Essential Turkish Words For The Airport
The airport is going to be your first exposure to the Turkish language. Learn some of these simple words and don’t get intimidated! If you are going from Istanbul to the city center, then you need to worry less because there will be lots of English!
- Airport – Havalimanı (Hah-vah-lee-mah-nuh)
- Airplane – Uçak (Uh-chahk)
- Check-in – Giriş Işlemi (Gee-reesh eesh-leh-mee)
- Arrival – Varış (Vah-ruhsh)
- Departure – Kalkış (Kahl-kuhsh)
- Passenger – Yolcu (Yohl-joo)
- Bagge Claim – Bagaj Teslim Yeri (Bah-gahj Tehs-leem Yeh-ree)
- Ticket – Bilet (Bee-leht)
- Bus – Otobüs (Oh-toh-bewss)
What Are Basic Numbers in Turkish?
- Zero – Sıfır (Suh-fuhr)
- One – Bir (Beer)
- Two – Iki (Ee-kee)
- Three – Üç (Ewch)
- Four – Dört (Durrt)
- Five – Beş (Behsh)
- Six – Altı (Ahl-tuh)
- Seven – Yedi (Ye-dee)
- Eight – Sekiz (Seh-keez)
- Nine – Dokuz (Doh-kooz)
- Ten – On (Ohn)
- Eleven – On bir (Ohn beer)
- Twelve – On iki (Ohn ee-kee)
Learning numbers in Turkish is relatively easy. Unlike in English where we need to memorize a separate set of numbers (sixteen, fourteen, and etc), Turkish numbers are constructed so sixteen is just the word for ten plus six.
This rule applies to every number in Turkish. If you want to know how to say (for example) 135, then you need to learn how to say 100, 30, and 5. With only a handful of numbers, you can say hundreds of numbers!
Hence, the most important part is to learn the single-digit numbers (1 to 9) and numbers such as 10, 20, 30, … 100, 200, and so on.
Turkish For Tourists FAQ
Many people in Turkey will speak English, especially the younger generation and people that work in the travel industry. However, it is not uncommon to encounter locals that do not speak English at all. That is why we recommend learning some basic Turkish phrases and words before visiting Turkey.
When greeting someone, you would typically either say Nasılsın (How are you) or Merhaba (Hello).
Merhaba (Hello) is typically what is used when you are trying to say hello in Turkish. Though the word for “Hello” might change depending on the situation or who you are speaking with, Merhaba is a versatile word that will usually work in any situation.
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This concludes our Turkish language guide for tourists! Hopefully, you have picked up a word or two to help you on your Turkey trip!
Any questions? Leave a comment below!
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