Existence (var, yok)

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Prerequisites for this Turkish Grammar Lesson

Vowel harmony

I-type vowel harmony
E-type vowel harmony

Yes or no questions

mı/mıyım/mıyız/mısın(ız)/-lar mı
Emphasis in questions

Using var and yok

In this post, we explore two of the most common words in Turkish, “var” and “yok,” which are used to describe the existence or presence of something.

Grammar form:

  • Noun    var/yok.
  • (Specified location)    noun + (lar/ler)    var/yok.

Var can be used to mean that something exists and yok can mean that something does not exist. Unlike in English, when asking for the existence of multiple items, the plural noun ending (lar/ler) is not used. The exception to this is when asking for something in a specific location, in which case the lar/ler ending can be specified.


    Katkısız dana eti var.
    There is additive-free beef [here].
    (Advertisement for McDonald’s)

    Bir problem var.
    There is a problem

    Müşteri: Elma var mı?
    Pazarcı: Evet, var.
    Customer: Are there any apples?
    Bazaar worker: Yes, there are.

    Müşteri: Tavla var mı?
    Garson: Yok, maalesef.
    Customer: Is there backgammon [here]?
    Waiter: No there is not, unfortunately.

    Burada elmalar var.
    There are apples here.

    Pazarcı: Şurada elmalar da var.
    Müşteri: Teşekkürler, evde var.
    Bazaar worker: There are also apples over there.
    Customer: Thanks, there are [apples] at home.

    Mehmet var mı?
    Is Mehmet [here]?

    Burada çay yok mu?
    Is there not tea here?

Yok can just mean “no”

In common speech, yok can be used in any context that the English word “no” could be used, such as giving a negative answer to a yes/no question or disagreeing with a wrong statement. Often, the word “yok” is shortened to simply “yo.”

    Müşteri: Bu bir portakal mı?
    Pazarcı: Yok, mandalina.
    Customer: Is this an orange?
    Bazaar worker: No, it’s a mandarin orange.

    Mehmet: O bir ofis.
    Ayşe: Yok, aslında o bir ev.
    Mehmet: That’s an office.
    Ayşe: No, actually that’s a house.

Vocab from this topic

Here is a Quizlet study set with the vocabulary used in the examples in this post. For more study options, click on the “Choose a Study Mode” drop-down list or visit this study set on Quizlet.com.

This lesson is a prerequisite for:

Past tense copula: how to say “was”

vardı, yoktu

Beginner conditionals: how to say, “if…”

ise and -(y)sa/se
varsa, yoksa
-arsa, -mazsa

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