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!



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