21 Essential Phrases You’ll Need in Turkey

Istanbul | © Casal Partiu / Flickr
Istanbul | © Casal Partiu / Flickr
Photo of Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
16 December 2017

No one is expecting you to speak fluent Turkish when you’re visiting Turkey, but knowing a few words will help you connect with the locals and get around the country a bit easier. Check out our list of 21 essential phrases that every visitor to Turkey should be familiar with.

Greetings and Essentials

Merhaba (mehr-hah-bah) / Hello

Definitely one of the most useful words while you’re in Turkey, the first encounter with anyone begins with this word, and the fact that it’s so easy to pronounce is a plus.

Istanbul | © Casal Partiu / Flickr

Hoşgeldin (Hosh-gel-duhn) / Welcome

When you get off the plane, you’ll probably come across this word in the airport and will continue to hear it often when people welcome you to their homes or stores. The proper response to this is Hoşbulbum (hosh-bul-dum), which roughly translates to “I feel welcomed.”

Günaydın (gew-nahy-duhn) / Good morning

This phrase is another great greeting that can be used when it’s morning and you want to be extra polite.

İyi akşamlar/geceler (ee-yee ahk-sham-lar / geh-jeh-lehr) / Good evening/night

There is a difference between these two because iyi geceler is only used when you’re about to go to bed, while iyi akşamlar is used to greet or bid farewell to someone when it’s nighttime.

Nasılsınız (nahs-sujl-suh-nuhz) / How are you?

In Turkish, the –ız formal suffix is always used when you’re addressing someone who you don’t know, but in this case, if you know the person, you can also just say nasılsın.

Grand Bazaar | © Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho / Flickr

İyiyim, teşekkürler (ee-yee-yim tesh-ek-kewr eh-dehr-eem) / I’m good, thank you

This phrase is the standard response when someone asks you how you are, plus now you also know how to say thank you.

Güle Güle (gew-leh gew-leh) / Goodbye

If you’d rather avoid the whole morning and evening scenarios, then opt for the simple goodbye when you’re leaving and want to bid farewell.

Lütfen (lewt-fehn) / Please

Please and thank you are the essential polite words in any language, so it’s good to know them in Turkish as well.

Affedersiniz (af-feh-dehr-see-neez) / Pardon me

If you’re on a crowded metro and need to get off, you can use this to politely gesture, or just say it to get someone’s attention if you want to ask them something.

Istanbul | © Casal Partiu / Flickr

Bir şey değil (beer-shey deh-yeel) / You’re welcome

Bir şey değil literally translates to “it’s nothing,” and it is the best way to respond when someone thanks you for something.

Efendim (eh-fen-deem) / Pardon

When you want someone to repeat themselves because you didn’t hear them, you can use this word. Some people also prefer to answer the phone using this word.

Adınız ne (ah-duh-nuz neh) / What is your name?

The formal suffix is once again used here. When you’re asking for someone’s name, it’s polite to address them in the formal tone.

Adım (ah-duhm) / My name is

Of course, once you’ve asked someone their name, you’ll want to tell them yours, and this is the way to do it (just add your name at the end).


Tuvalet Nerede (too-wa-let ne-re-de) / Where is the bathroom?

Finding a bathroom in Turkey is never a problem; it’s also not frowned upon to go into restaurants and cafés and use the bathroom even though you’re not a customer.

Sağ Sapın / Sol Sapın (sah sap-ihn sol sap-ihn) / Turn Right/Turn Left

When you get into a cab and want to direct the driver in the right direction, then make sure you know your left from your right in Turkish.

Istanbul Taxi | © Iker Merodio / Flickr

Düz Gidelim (dewz gee-de-leem) / Straight Ahead

Düz Gidelim is another important phrase to know in the taxi when you don’t want your driver making any sudden turns and continue on the current path.

At the Restaurant/Bazaar

Ne Kadar (ne ka-dahr) / How much?

When you’re shopping in the Grand Bazaar, or any other place, this is a great phrase to know when you want the price of something.

Bakar mısınız (bah-car mih-see-neez) / Excuse me

When you’re at a restaurant and need to get a waiter’s attention, you can use this phrase so that they come to the table.

Istanbul Restaurant | © Oğuzhan Abdik / Flickr

Hesap Lütfen (he-sahp lewt-fehn) / The check please

When you’re at a restaurant and want to pay up and go, you can use the previously mentioned phase to get your waiter’s attention, and then ask for the check.

Çok Pahalı (tshok pah-hah-lee) / Too expensive

You’ll often use this particular expression at the Grand Bazaar when you’re getting ready to haggle for the price; the next step would be to walk away until the seller gives you a more reasonable price.

Acıktım (ah-jig-teem) / I’m hungry

When it’s time for something to eat, you can tell everyone around you that your stomach is ready for some delicious Turkish food.


Bir (beer)


İki (ee-key)


Üç (ew-tsh)


Dört (dewrt)


Beş (besh)


Altı (al-tee)


Yedi (ye-dee)


Sekiz (sey-kees)


Dokuz (do-kooz)


On (ohn)


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