Friday, September 30, 2011

Saat kaç? – telling the time in Turkish


Telling the time in Turkish is a bit complicated. It takes time (at least it took me a while) to get used to it. The biggest difference is stating when something is happening. In English we just have to add “at” and that’s it. In Turkish we need different words for “past” and “to” then the ones used for telling the time. It seems easy, but it’s more to learn here.

Saat kaç? – What’s the time?
The answer is: Saat… bir. Saat iki… (etc.) or just: Bir. Iki… (etc.)
This is simple when we’re talking about the exact hour. When we want to say “hour and a half” we need to know two things

12.30 is: saat yarım or just yarım

yarım is used only where there is no whole number proceeding; note that the 12.00 (noon or midnight) is considered the zero point for counting time; hence 12.30 is “one half” – saat yarım
All the rest need “buçuk”, which gives:
13.30 – bir buçuk, 14.30 – iki buçuk

How to say “past” and “to”
To express “x minutes past the hour” we use the following construction:
hour + ı / i / u / ü (according to vowel harmony) + minutes + geçiyor; e.g.:
biri yirmi geçiyor
altıyı on geçiyor
onu on geçiyor
dördü on geçiyor
yediyi çeyrek geçiyor [where “çeyrek” means “quarter”]
bir buçuğu beş geçiyor
To express “x minutes to the hour” we need the following construction:
hour + e / a (according to vowel harmony) + minutes + var; e.g.:
bire yirmi var
ikiye beş var
yediye çeyrek var
altıya on var
on buçuğa beş var

In the past
Saat kaçti?
Saat sekizdi.
Saat altıyı yirmiydi.
Saat altıya yirmi vardı.

In the future
Saat kaç olacak?
Saat sekiz olacak.
Saat sekizi on olacak.
Saat sekize on olacak.

Saat kaçta? – At what hour?
To express that something is happening at the exact hour or half hour we add: -da / -de / -ta / -te (again remembering the rules of vowel harmony), as in the following examples:
birde – at one
üçte – at three
altıda – at six
dörde – at four
yarımda – at half past twelve
bir buçukta – at half past one

To express that something is happening “at x minutes past…” or “x minutes to…” a different construction is necessary; still different that the one used for telling what the time is.
To say “at x minutes past ... ” we need a word “geçe”; e.g.:

biri yirmi geçe
dördü on geçe
onu on geçe

To say “at x minutes to …” we need a word “kala”; e.g.:
bire yirmi kala
ikiye beş kala

yediye çeyrek kala

altıya on kala

Now let’s proceed to some other possibilities:
*from x until y
-den / -dan / -ten / -tan … -a / -e + kadar; e.g.:
birden ikiye kadar – from one until two
altıdan onda kadar – from six until ten
*since
we need to employ -den / -dan / -ten / -tan + beri; e.g.:
ondan beri – since ten
beşten beri – since five
This construction is also used for days, months, years etc.; e.g.:
Hazirandan beri – since June
Çarşamba gününden beri – since Wednesday

Digital time-telling
Of course, as in many other countries, Turks also use digital time-telling, especially in the military forces, in the radio and TV schedules or in the time-tables at the airports, train stations etc. Examples:
Saat on altı buçuk – 16.30
Saat on beş on – 15.10
Saat yirmi iki on – 22.10

When they need to tell us what is happening or will happen at the specific time, they have to employ all the afore-mentioned rules. Thus at the airport we can hear sentences like this one:
Uçak on beş onda kalkar.
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