Basic Turkish phrases to survive your first Turkish interaction

All right. So you are going over to a Turkish friend’s home for dinner, and you want to show off some Turkish skills? Or your fiancée is Turkish, and you want to impress your future in-laws. Or perhaps you are traveling to Turkey or even moved to Turkey. You want to be familiar with your neighborhood. You are ready to go to step B: make friends with the Turks!

Turkish people are rather warm and welcoming. As you may already have the chance to experience, they love to chat, drink tea and share their food. So, do not be surprised if they try to have a conversation with you even if you know only two Turkish words or if they try to offer you tea at any time of day or night. In general, it is polite to accept the tea and use the few words that you know.

Below we explain some of the expressions that may be helpful during everyday Turkish life.


Upon entering someone’s home, you will be greeted with the expression Hoşgeldiniz [pronounced: Hosh-gell-deen-eez], to which you can answer Hoşbulduk [pronounced: Hosh-bull-dook]. Literally, these words mean “Welcome” and “Happy to be here”.

You may want to check to see if your host takes off their shoes before entering their home. If your hosts take their shoes off, you should also take off your shoes – when you enter a house that is not yours. And if you’re visiting, make sure you bring something with you. You can opt for baklava or chocolates. Get ready to drink tea until you drop.

You will most likely to be offered tea or coffee

If you are offered Turkish coffee, you are supposed to indicate how much sugar you want: şekersiz (without sugar) [pronounced: shake-air-seez], orta (with sugar) [pronounced: or-tah] or şekerli  (with a lot of sugar) [pronounced: shake-air-lee]. 

Do not ever stir the Turkish coffee with the spoon.


Most important for the Turks it is to make sure that their guests ( Misafir ) are not hungry. Aç misiniz? (pronounced: ach meh siniz) is a question that you must be prepared to respond to quickly, before gathering inundated with food. It literally means ‘are you hungry’?

We are sure that at this point you know how to respond: Evet  (pronounced: Ae-vet meaning:Yes) or Hayır  (pronounced: Ha-yeer meaning:no). In both cases, as indeed in English, accompanied the answer with ‘Thanks’ Teşekkürler (pronounced: Tae – shake- cure – lair) .

If you accepted food or your attempts to decline the food offer didn’t work, you should now be prepared to ‘stop’ the Turkish mothers or aunts who will attempt to fill you just like a Turkish ‘dolma’. In this case, Doydum, (pronounced: Doydooom – Literally meaning ‘I am satisfied’) can be a very useful expression, preferably followed a circular motion on the belly and satisfied face.

If you want to show appreciation, you must say Ellerinize Sağlık (pronounced: Ael-larry-knees-aeh Sagh-lik) which literally means ‘health to your hands’, which will no doubt be followed by a proud “Afiyet olsun” (‘ good appetite ” I’m glad you enjoyed ‘)