To Have – Var – Yok – Bende

ne var

As we know, translations between Turkish and English can be quite messy.  It is most evident when translating some of the most comment words.  When we first start learning Turkish, we learn to very important words, var and yok.  These words can not be directly translated.  What we learn is:

Var – there is/are some
Yok – there isn’t any


Domates var. – There are some tomatoes.
Zaman var mı? – Is there time?

Ne var?
Literal translation: What there is?
Meaning:  What is there?
Usage:  I would use this, for example, when at a small cafe.  Sometimes they don’t have a menu.  Instead of asking, “What do you have today?”  I simply ask, “Ne var?”  Another example, your friend is opening a gift.  You are wondering what is in the box because you can’t see it.  “Ne var?” will do the trick!

But the real meanings of “var” and “yok” don’t stop there.  They are dependent on the rest of the sentence and it gets more complicated.  Sometimes “var” is used to mean “have/has.”  This occurs when using the following words in Turkish:

bende – at me
sende – at you
onda – at him/her/it
bizde – at us
sizde – at you (plural or polite form)
onlarda – at them

Note: for the purposes of this lesson, we will use the literal definitions above.  However these words do have another meaning as seen below.  Again, it all depends on the context of the sentence:

bende – me too
sende – you too
onda – him/her/it too
bizde – us too
sizde – you too (plural or polite form)
onlarda – them too

Putting it all together, “var” becomes “have/has” in conjunction with the above words.  For example:

Bende domates var.
Literal translation:  At me, there are tomatoes.
Meaning:  I have tomatoes.

Sizde bir kalem var mı?
Literal translation:  Is there a pen at you?
Meaning:  Do you have a pen?

Onda misafirler var.
Literal translation: At him, there are guests.
Meaning:  He has guests.

See?  It’s not so hard!


SSAT & ISEE Exam Preparation

mult choice

I’ve been helping a young man prepare of an exam.  He wants to enter high school in the U.S.  But as a foreigner, he will need to take either the SSAT or the ISEE, depending on the school he chooses.

One of the things we do is learn a set of at least 10 words each week.  He uses flash cards, writes the words over and over, and uses them in sentences in order to learn and remember the definitions.

And then I QUIZ him!

Here’s a list of some of the words he studied recently.  Can you fill in the blanks below with the correct word?

Atone     Don      Subsidy       Compel       Barbed       Splintered       Obscure       Dispute

  1. The wooden board broke and ________________ into pieces.


  1. In the olden days, women would __________________ a beautiful hat at Easter.


  1. He felt badly over what he had done.  It was time for him to __________________ for his sins.


  1. He and his friend were caught up in a(n) ___________________ over which movie to see.


  1. He was so tired.  But he knew his mother would have a good reason that would  _________________ him to go.


  1. The junk yard had a(n) __________________ wire at the top of the fence.  No one could climb over it.


  1. He didn’t have enough money for the school.  Luckily, the government gave him a(n) _____________________.  Another usage:  The smaller company was purchased by the larger company.  It now operates as a(n) _________________ of the larger one.


  1. He didn’t know anything about his ancestors.  His heritage was quite ____________________.



School Vocabulary for Kids

If you are sending your child to an English speaking school, there are basic words they should learn to assist them in the classroom.


I came across this fabulous video today, “School Objects:  English Vocabulary.” You can find it on YouTube, posted by AME836.  Below is the link to the video, but I suggest you check out all of AME836’s videos by clicking here.

This video shows the written vocabulary with photos.  The words are pronounced slowly and carefully.  It also includes a quiz.  What a wonderful way to learn English!

Duolingo for Language Practice

Have you tried Duolingo yet?  I love love love this app for the phone.  I use it to practice and study Turkish, German, French and Spanish.  I believe it teaches at least 15 languages, including English.

Duolingo is available as an app for your phone or tablet, and also has a web-based program for your computer.


While I love using it for a little practice everyday, I don’t recommend it as your only method.  It does not truly teach a lesson but rather provides some valuable practice.  However, users are able to post comments on each practice question.  The comments often contain useful information and a short lesson.

Why not try it today?!