Turkish/Asking for directions

Note: Under the paragraph "Road Terms", there is an unfinished list of vocabulary. Please add some more if you can.

Not: "Road Terms" (Yol Sözcükler) paragrafında bir bitmemiş sözlük var. Eğer yapabiliyorsan, lütfen sözlüğe daha sözcükler ekle.

Turkey is a very touristic place, and with so much to do there, one can easily get lost. Therefore, knowing how to ask for directions would be very useful. Whilst learning, take an opportunity to gaze into the highlights of Turkey (still adding new pictures!)

Grammar edit

Whirling dervishes in Konya. One would be amazed by both how beautiful the dance is and also the fact that they can somehow manage to spin around for so long without getting dizzy!

Let's start with: Ben plaja nasıl gidebilirim? How can I get to the beach?

Notice the italics in both of the sentences. When the letters a or e are added to the ends of nouns, that means the speaker is trying to get to/give something to whatever the noun is, in this case, the beach. Let's look at some more examples of this:

Ben eve gidiyorum. I'm going home.

Sen okula gidiyorsun. You're going to school.

O tatile gidiyor. He/she is going on holiday.

When using proper nouns (such as city or country names), you must always add an apostrophe after the noun before adding a or e. For example:

Biz Mısır'a gidiyoruz. We're going to Egypt.

Siz İstanbul'a gidiyorsunuz. You (plural) are going to Istanbul.

Onlar Londra'ya gidiyorlar. They're going to London.

If you look at the last example, you'll notice that after Londra, there was a ya, rather than an a. Ya or ye, rather than a or e respectively, are used when the noun ends with a vowel. For example:

Ben Ankara'ya gidiyorum I'm going to Ankara.

Sen Amerika'ya gidiyorsun You're going to America.

O Tokyo'ya gidiyor He/she is going to Tokyo.

OK, so know that we know the grammar of it all, let's move on to the main topic of this lesson: Asking for directions.

Main topic edit

Ah, Istanbul! So much to do there, but one can easily get lost!

Let's start with our first question, and then build up into a proper conversation. You will probably be asking a stranger, therefore it is imperative to be polite and refer to him/her in the plural form: siz rather than sen.

There are a few different ways of asking for directions in Turkish, all with almost literal translations into English:

  • Ben plaja nasıl giderim? - How do I get to the beach?
  • Ben müzeye nasıl gidebilirim? - How can I get to the museum?
  • Siz İzmir'e nasıl gidildiğini biliyor musunuz? - Do you know how to get to Izmir?

Before you know how to engage in conversation with this person, it would be a good idea to actually learn how to say directions in Turkish.

Directions edit

  • sol(a) - (to the) left
  • sağ(a) - (to the) right
  • ileri(ye) - (to the) forward
  • geri(ye) - (to the) backwards

  • Kuzey(e) - (to the) North
  • Güney(e) - (to the) South
  • Doğu(ya) - (to the) East
  • Batı(ya) - (to the) West

  • Kuzeydoğu(ya) - (to the) Northeast
  • Güneydoğu(ya) - (to the) Southeast
  • Güneybatı(ya) - (to the) Southwest
  • Kuzeybatı(ya) - (to the) Northwest

More complex matters edit

When you ask someone how to get to, say, the museum for example, they're not just going to say, "Go North!". It's most likely to be something much more complex, such as "As you go down the road, take the 2nd left turn, then at the next junction, take a right turn...". Below is some useful vocabulary which you will need to learn in order to understand what on Earth this stranger is telling you! Please note that Turkey uses the metric system, so they will most likely tell you distances in metres and kilometres rather than yards and miles.

The metric system, in Turkish edit

The terms are almost exactly the same as U.K. English, but not U.S. English. I have organized the vocabulary below into the following layout: Türkçe - U.K. English - U.S. English.

Note: don't forget that units preceded by a number do not take the plural as they do in English, so you never have to affix -ler or -lar when giving the number of meters, kilometers, and so on. Just the number.
  • milimetre - millimetre - millimeter
  • santimetre - centimetre - centimeter
  • metre - metre - meter
  • kilometre - kilometre - kilometer
The imperial system, in Turkish edit

It's unlikely that you'll ever use this vocab, but there may be instances where you will have to use the imperial system. So learn all these units, just in case...

  • inç - inch
  • ayak - foot (ayak also means the actual body part)
  • yarda - yard
  • mil - mile
Ordinal numbers edit

You won't be able to know how to say "take your 2nd left" without learning ordinal numbers in Turkish. For this section, I will use the following layout:

birinci - 1. - 1st

Rather than adding st's, nd's, rd's, or th's at the end of cardinal numbers to make them ordinal, in Turkish you simply add a full stop. Anyway, now that we know how to say 1st in Turkish, let's learn the rest of them up to 10th.

  • ikinci - 2. - 2nd
  • üçüncü - 3. - 3rd
  • dördüncü - 4. - 4th (dört - four, dörtüncü becomes dördüncü)
  • beşinci - 5. - 5th
  • altıncı - 6. - 6th
  • yedinci - 7. - 7th
  • sekizinci - 8. - 8th
  • dokuzuncu - 9. - 9th
  • onuncu - 10. - 10th

As you can see, when Turkish ordinal numbers are written out fully, they're just cardinal numbers with extra endings. This is true of all ordinal numbers after 10th, too.

Road terms edit

Now that you know the Turkish metric system and how to say Turkish ordinal numbers, let's learn the necessary vocab required.

  • yol - road
  • trafik - traffic
  • taşıma - transport
  • sokak / cadde - street / avenue
  • bulvar - boulevard
  • meydan - (town) square (meydan literally means open space, but can be translated as square).
  • kestirme (yolu) - shortcut
  • otoban - highway
  • otoyol - motorway
  • şose - macadam
  • bisiklet yolu - bicycle path
  • raylar - rails
  • tünel - tunnel
  • köprü - bridge
  • viyadük - viaduct
  • kaldırım - pavement(it's a little bit confusing because it can also mean footpath)
  • patika - footpath
  • kavşak - junction
  • trafik ışıkları - traffic light
  • yol işaretleri - road signs
  • araba - car
  • tren - train
  • tramvay - tram
  • otobüs - bus
  • uçak - airplane
  • helikopter - helicopter
  • bisiklet - bicycle
  • motosiklet - motorcycle
  • taksi - taxi
  • gemi - boat
  • feribot - ferry
  • otobüs durağı - bus stop
  • demiryolu - railroad

Getting to the point... edit

The hustle and bustle of Grand Bazaar, Istanbul. But in other areas, it's even more crowded!

Let's look at a typical conversation between tourist and stranger:

T: Müzeye nasıl gidebilirim?

S: İleri gidin ve sağa dönün. İkinci trafik ışığında sola döndüğünüzde meydanı görürsünüz. Karşıya geçtiğinizde bulvardan yüz metre sonra müzeyi bulursunuz.

T: Çok teşekkürler!

S: Bir şey değil.

Did you understand that? Didn't you? Either way, take a look at one of the boxes towards the bottom of the page for the translation of this conversation.

Review edit

So what have we learnt this lesson? We have learnt:

  • Some grammar (adding a, e, etc. to the end of nouns).
  • Different ways of asking for directions.
  • How to say certain directions in Turkish.
  • How to say the units of the metric system in Turkish.
  • Turkish ordinal numbers.
  • Certain Turkish road terms.


  • How to ask for directions!

Common Turkish phrases

The translated conversation
Speaker Translation
T How can I get to the museum?
S Go forward, and turn right. As you turn left at the second traffic light you will see the town square. When you've gotten across, if you go one hundred metres down the boulevard you will find the museum.
T Thank you very much!
S It was nothing.
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