Mar 052011
People fishing next to 'fishing forbidden sign'.

Fishing is forbidden and so is throwing whatever is left of your nibbles.

10 ways of saying yes and no in Turkish

Most of the questions you’ll ask in a foreign country will require a simple yes or no answer.

Is this road going to Nevşehir?

Can we pitch a tent here?

Do you have chicken kebab?

One problem is how to ask these questions (some are dealt with in the previous part of this mini-tutorial, the others will be presented later), another challenge is understanding the answer – there are different ways in which you can express yes or no.

You need to be warned that Turkish people like to talk a lot, so the answer you’ll get might be more elaborate than the simple ones here, but it’s also more than probable that they’ll start with one of these, so just prick up your ears as soon as someone opens their mouth, if you have your answer, there’s no need to worry about the rest.

Let’s start with the positive, the words that you’d be happy to hear:

  • evet yes
  • doğru [doru] true, correct, right
  • tabii certainly, indeed
  • olur OK (when you ask for a favour), it can be done, it’s possible, also used to give permission (when you ask if you can pitch your tent somewhere, for example)

And now on to the negative ones:

  • olmaz no, it’s not possible, it’s not allowed, it’s not advisable

It is the opposite of olur.

  • yasak forbidden, not allowed

Well, if something is yasak, it doesn’t mean people won’t try to do it, especially if there’s no uniform around. Sometimes soldiers shout out this word if you stop near the army’s premises.

  • hayır simply no or you’re not right
  • değil [deyil] no, isn’t
  • yok no

That’s the negative answer you’ll hear in a shop or restaurant if they don’t have something.

  • kalmadı

That’s the negative answer you’ll hear in a shop or restaurant if they have run out of something.

And a bonus – Turkish unique body language:

  • raised eyebrows mean  no

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