10 Turkish Phrases You’ll Want To Know

10 Turkish Phrases You'll Want To Know

I arrived in Turkey with only two weeks’ preparation. Between multiple visits to the Turkish consulate, packing as well as goodbye dinners, I didn’t have much time to learn any Turkish. It wasn’t until I landed in Istanbul that I realized that I didn’t even know how to say the simplest Turkish phrases. The following are extremely common phrases that I believe every person should know when visiting Turkey.

10 Turkish Phrases You’ll Want To Know

Simply using these common phrases will likely earn you the good graces of locals.

1. Merhaba, Selam

Pronunciation: Mare-hah-bah, Sey-lam
Merhaba is the more common greeting used by the Turkish. I learned this when I landed in the airport and I saw signs saying “Merhaba” everywhere.

2. Tesekküler, Sagol, Tesekkür ederim

Pronunciation: Teh-shek-kue-ler, Sah-ol, Teh-shek-kur Eh-der-eem
These Turkish words are very difficult for English speakers to pronounce. I was told by a friend that the pronunciation of this word is close to that of an extremely offensive Turkish phrase. Now I’m always struck with a blast of anxiety when it’s time to say thank you.

3. Nasilsin?

Pronunciation: Nah-sel-sen
This phrase means ‘How are you?’ The Turkish always ask how you’re doing, and it’s expected that you do the same.

4. Tamam

Pronunciation: Tah-mam
This simple word means ‘Okay!’ For me, this is an automatic reaction. More often than not, a Turkish person will say to me, “No okay, tamam.”

When they realize that it’s a difficult switch for me, the teasing starts. Who would’ve thought that a simple word like “Okay” would be so hard to let go of?

5. Afiyet olsun

Pronunciation: Ahh-fee-et Ol-son
The Turkish equivalent of “Enjoy your meal,” the phrase is said at every table before eating. Unlike English where saying this is seen as formal, afiyet olsun is used in formal and informal language alike.

6. Hos geldin, Hos bulduk

Pronunciation: Hosh Gel-deen, Hosh Bul-duk
This one is a bit tricky because it’s both the phrase and the response. If you are welcoming someone you say hos geldin. They will then respond by saying hos bulduk, which translates into something akin to “Nice to be here.”

Similarly, if you are being welcomed somewhere, it is expected that you say hos bulduk.

7. Serefe

Pronunciation: Sheh-reh-feh
Cheers! If you’re planning on going out for drinks, remember to say this when you clink glasses.

8. Geçmis olsun

Pronunciation: Gech-mish Ol-sun
Get well soon! This is what you say to someone who is not feeling well. In English, there are various ways to communicate your best wishes to someone who is ill.

10 Turkish Phrases You’ll Want To Know

9. Çok guzel

Pronunciation: Choke Goo-zel
This is a compliment that the Turkish use for everything. Describing a painting? Çok guzel. A great meal? Çok guzel.

A beautiful sunset? Çok guzel. This makes it so easy to compliment others!

10. Kolay gelsin

Pronunciation: Ko-lie Gel-sin
Enjoy your work! This phrase is usually said when leaving others who are working. Whether it is at the office, or at a restaurant, the words kolay gelsin, when said by a foreigner, never fail to bring a smile to a Turkish person’s face!

10 Turkish Phrases You'll Want To Know 

10 Turkish Phrases You’ll Want To Know

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Have you traveled to Turkey? How was your trip? Email us at editor@pinkpangea.com for information about sharing your experience and advice with the Pink Pangea community. We can’t wait to hear from you!



10 Turkish Phrases You’ll Want To Know photo credits: Jessica Shen.

About Faziana Ishmael

Faziana IshmaelFaziana Ishmael is a university student who triple majors in Political Science, French Literature and sleep deprivation. She is currently taking a gap year and teaching in Turkey. When she isn’t hopping from one landmark to the next, you can find her indulging in local culinary delights. You can follow her adventures as she tries to make sense of her life through her blog.

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