As you may have already figured out, Turkish is the official language of Turkey, where over 72 million people use the language daily. As the language developed over time, different influences came to change the language. Today you can find French, Arabic and even Persian words that have been modified and incorporated into the Turkish language. While these influences may give the impression that Turkish will be difficult to learn, the opposite is actually true. Since 1928, Turkish has used a slightly modified Latin alphabet for its spellings, making it easier for English speakers to pronounce the words phonetically (hotel in English is spelled “otel” in Turkish).

Plus, without feminine and masculine forms like you see in French and Spanish, you don’t have to worry about accidentally changing the meaning of a phrase or being grammatically incorrect. The most focus and importance is on the forms of verb conjugation: the formal “siz” and informal “sen.” Once you have an understanding of which form you should use, you’ll see that it isn’t very difficult to understand all verbal conjugations! You’ll be conversing in Turkish in no time! To help start your learning, here are 10 basic Turkish phrases, paired with their phonetic pronunciations so you have a jumping off point for conversations once you land in Turkey.

How are you?

Spelling: Nasılsın?

Pronunciation: na-sel-sin

Do you speak English?

Spelling: İngilizce konuşur musunuz?

Pronunciation: inn-gliz-je con-nush-or mus-un-uz

Where is the bathroom?

Spelling: Afedersiniz, tuvalet nerede?

Pronunciation: Aff-ed-der-sin-iz too-wa-let ner-rey-de

How much does it cost?

Spelling: Ne kadar?

Pronunciation: Nay kad-ar


Spelling: Merhaba! / Hoşçakal!

Pronunciation: Mare-ha-ba / Hosh-cha-kal

Thank you/You’re welcome

Spelling: Teşekkür ederim / Birşey değil.

Pronunciation: te-sh-qu-err ed-err-im / beer-shey dey-eel

I don’t understand

Spelling: Sizi anlamıyorum.

Pronunciation: Si-zi ann-la-ma-yor-um

I’m sorry

Spelling: Özür dilerim.

Pronunciation: Ouz-ur dill-ear-im

Can you help me?

Spelling: Yardım edebilir misiniz?

Pronunciation: Yarr-dim ed-ebb-ill-ear miss-in-iz


Spelling: Evet / Hair

Pronunciation: Ev-et / Hi-ear

Feeling intimidated by learning pieces of a new language? We don’t blame you! The more practice and effort you exert, the easier the language will become. If you don’t have time to learn everything, even these ten basic phrases will get you going and hopefully get you the answer or help you need. For all other problems you may encounter in Turkey, count on Cover-More to have your back with an international travel insurance policy.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Matt Krause; cropped from original.