Turkey 315: Olur vs Olsun

Welcome to the third installment of Turkish Cultural Sayings, a subset of my other “Turkey Lessons” (available under said category).

Today we will address a pair of words that still confuse me sometimes.  I even had to ask hubby just now, to make sure my explanation was correct.  I’m talking about

olur vs olsun

Both words come from the root verb olmak, meaning “to be”.  But the variation in the endings give them a slightly different meaning.  Both words are used very frequently (daily…maybe even hourly), making understanding them critical to a successful Turkish conversation.

 Olur:  “it is”

Olsun:  “it shall be”

 So how does one use this, culturally?

 In the most general sense, olur is typically applied to something definite.  As in, it is this way, or no way.  On the contrary, olsun is usually said when you are compromising, or it isn’t really ideal, but can be as it is.

That wasn’t very clear was it…let’s use an example!

  At the pazar, you collect a bag of oranges.  You give it to the vendor, saying you want 2 kilos.  The bag comes to 2.5kg, to which you say olsun, and pay for the 2.5 kg.

 In the same pazar, you make a stop at a sweater stand.  You hold one up to you, and it is perfect!  Your companion looks to you, and asks if it’ll work (olur mu?) to which you respond, olur! Someone is going home with a new sweater!

While this is a hard and fast rule for olur vs olsun, they can commonly be interchanged, depending on the situation.  Different people in different cities may utilize these two terms with different levels of severity.

 Go out and give your new vocabulary a try!

aka, reason to go to the pazar

Are there any cultural phrases/words you struggle with?

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