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23 March 2020 / Culture

Turkish Greetings and Responses for Everyday Usage

For language learners of all levels, knowing typical day Turkish greetings and expressions go a long way in daily life. It makes the difference between striking up conversations and forming friendships or walking on by exciting opportunities. People use daily greetings in Turkey everywhere, from the workplace, conservations with friends and family, or only doing the weekly shop. Turks love using them from the common "hello and goodbye" and "how are you?" to expressions from Islamic traditions.

First-time visitors to Turkey should keep their ears open to learn how the locals speak and pronounce the letters. Also, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Turks admire people who take a chance when speaking their language and respond in kind. Immersion into Turkish society is easy because they are a friendly nation, but a whole other world opens for language learners. Some people take language courses, while others use online apps. The choice of how to learn is yours, but here are some standard Turkish greetings and responses to start with.

Turkish Greetings and Expressions

1: How to Say Good Morning in Turkish

In the UK, people keep to themselves and rarely strike up conversations with strangers, but in Turkey, every morning is an opportunity to greet and make friends. From the local shopkeeper to the man walking his dogs, everyone says the conversational expression of "gunaydin", meaning good morning. The Turkish word for "good afternoon" is Tunaydin; however, Turkish people rarely use that expression and refer to other sayings instead.

2: Merhaba: Hello

Once morning has gone, the tone changes to saying hello using "Merhaba", and Turks respond by using the same phrase back. For how to say it, pronounce it like mer-ha-ba. Used in shops, banks, other establishments, and between friends, the simple act of saying hello lightens the atmosphere and goes a long way. You can also use this greeting when speaking on the phone with people that you don't know. If you join close friends, another alternative is "selam.". Likewise, some Turks use the expression "Selam Aleykum," which is an Arabic, Islamic greeting, and the polite response is "Aleykum Selam."


3: Good Evening in Turkish

The typical expression of "Iyi Aksamlar" is used after 6 p.m. but before nightfall. If leaving or entering a restaurant, the waiter will say it, as an expression to say they hope your evening goes well. Likewise, if you leave an informal gathering of friends, depart with this friendly greeting, and they will respond in kind.

4: Iyi Geceler: Good Night

This formal greeting to show politeness signifies the end of the day, and Turkish people say it is when leaving or someone else leaves. Typically, good evening is said more often than this phrase but still learn it because we guarantee an occasion will arise to use it.

5: Have a Good Day in Turkish

So, what do Turks say between the period of morning and evening? Well, formally, "Iyi gunler" means good day, and this greeting is polite when talking with strangers. A shopkeeper might also say it, when you leave, giving their wish that you have a good day.

6: Nasilsin? How Are You?

Ah, this common expression used all over the world also applies to Turkey. To reply, say, "Iyiyim." The most important thing to note, though, is the addition of suffixes. The above term is informal. With formality, Turks say "nasilsiniz" (added iz to the end"). To know more about this language rule, check out formal pronouns for the Turkish language.

7: Iyi Yolculuklar: Good Journey

This is when the Turkish language comes into play because whether it is an informal or formal discussion, this standard greeting applies when a person departs on a journey. It may be a flight or a drive to the next town, and the meaning is pleasant travels.


8: Gurusuruz: See You Later

Get ready to use this phrase everywhere because it applies to many occasions. Not only will you get many chances to say it, but you will hear it often as well. The tone should be light-hearted and happy to reflect that you are looking forward to seeing that person again. Likewise, friends say this among each other to cement arrangements to meet.

9: Buyrun: Go Ahead

When people enter shops, the owner will motion for them to browse around by saying, "Buyrun." Another example is on public transport, and someone gives up their seat, meaning go ahead as a prompt to sit down. If someone wants to ask you a question, you can respond with this greeting to signify that you are ready to listen.

10: Hos Geldiniz: Welcome

Every stranger is a friend in Turkish culture, so expect to hear this phrase often, even when meeting someone for the first time. Some airports display it, friends say it when visiting their house, and likewise shopkeepers when entering their store. Depending on how close they are, the Turkish greeting of kissing the other person's cheek accompanies it. This is another occasion when the formal and informal (Hos Geldin) versions used. The polite reply is hos bulduk, but Turks don't reply when entering stores.

11: Tesekkur Ederim: Thank You

Turks love polite people, so practise this phrase frequently. Tesekkur ederim is the formal version. Generally, close friends or casual acquaintances will say "sagol," which is informal. Another shortened version is Tesekkurler. This greeting is worth reciting to learn off by heart because in day-to-day occurrences, so many opportunities will arise to use it.

12: You're Welcome in Turkish

Someone has thanked you for doing a good deed, and you want to be super polite with a response and say you are welcome. In that case, say "Bir sey degil", which means it is not a problem. For a more formal response to strangers, say "Rica ederim," which means you are welcome.


13: Afiyet Olsun: Enjoy your Meal

Turkey is a nation of food lovers. They rarely waste it, and a whole set of social protocols applies to eating. Whether you sit down with friends, family or order a meal in a restaurant, you will hear this phrase. Reply with thank you.

14: Afedersiniz: Excuse Me

To pass by a stranger in the street who is blocking the way or get a waiter's attention, this polite greeting works a treat. Make sure your tone of voice matches it, to be polite, though.

15: Ozur Dilerim: I am Sorry

Turks are easy-going people and live for the moment, so do not take things too seriously. However, when Turks make a social faux pas, saying sorry with their hand on their heart lightens the mood. Likewise, you can use this expression to apologise to friends, family, or work colleagues.

16: Hayir and Evet: Yes and No

Two frequent expressions that come in use in many places are yes and no. Pronounce no like this; hi-air and yes is pronounced eh-vet. Another term to remember is Tamam, which means ok, and likewise, Turks use this often.

17: Hoscakal and Gule Gule:  Say Goodbye

Etiquette can get confusing because there is more than one way to say bye. The standard version of Hoscakal is to be used with strangers, work colleagues, and those you are not personal with. For strangers, friends, and family, use gule gule, which translates to leave with a smile. However, most Turks with close friends, when saying goodbye, revert to phrases like "Gurusuruz", meaning see you later.

18: Memnun Oldum:  Nice to Meet You

One thing is sure in Turkey, and that is every day is a chance to meet someone new. Making friends is so easy. After exchanging name details, when meeting someone new, say "memnun oldum" to cement the newfound alliance or friendship. Men typically extend a handshake to back up this expression.

19: Naber? What's Up?

Use this standard slang greeting to instantly sound like a Turk when you want to say hi. As a shortened version of "Ne Haber," which literally means what news is there, everyone says it. The slang version is widely used across the country, in many everyday occurrences, so listen out for it. At the same time as saying it, close male friends, when they greet each other, might also grab the other person’s hand, and pull them for a manly hug.

20: Gecmis Olsun: Get Well Soon

When someone is in physical or mental distress, and you want to show sympathy, this sentiment is perfect. Even if experiencing a problem resulting in stress, or anxiety, it means I wish you good health and hope this will pass soon.

Further Reading

Learn Turkish: The above are standard Turkish greetings and expressions to use in daily life, but to take it one step further, by learning the language, this article gives helpful hints and tips on how to make it easy. Including information on word-order, slang, common wishes, the alphabet, Turkish words, grammar, etiquette, small talk and much more, the advice helps anyone learn a language quickly and easily.

About Turkey: Including culture, traditions, lifestyles, and places, this article is a useful start guide for English speakers and first-time visitors to Turkey. Whether you want to brush up on exciting reading, learn some facts or plan a visit, this useful information will get you started.

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