The words var and yok are the equivalents of “there is/there are” and “there isn’t/there aren’t” respectively. “Var olmak” means “to exist“. If “var” is used with a subject, this indicates that something exists. Conversely, “Yok olmak” means “disappear“. If used with a subject “Yok” indicates the non-existence of something.
“Var” and “Yok” are such useful two words that you would easily use a grammatical change.
Yok: There is not / There are not
“Yok” indicates something’s or someone’s absence.
Kalem burada yok.
There is no pencil here
Kendine güvenin yok.
You do not have a self-confidence
Moreover, “Yok” can mean “No”. But please watch out when using this way because this use is a little bit of informal even though it can make you sound like a real Turkish native.
Partiye gelecek misn?
Will you come to the party?
Var: There is / There are
“Var” indicates something’s existence. For example, Burada sadece pastahane var. (eng. there is only patisserie here.)
Annenler evde var mı? (lit. Are your mothers at home? The overuse of the plural suffix -ler/-lar somehow makes the sentence more polite. Even, Annenler evde varlar mı? or Annenler evdeler mi? )
In Turkish, ” sahip olmak ” or “haiz olmak” (old use) means “to have”. Instead of using these words, Turkish people simply use “var” or “yok” to describe the things they have.
Kedilerin dokuz hayatı var.
Cats have nine lives.
Kalemin var mı?
Do you have a pencil?
Nasıl yani? Hiç paran yok mu?
What? Don’t you have any money?
Benim korkum yok
I have no fear; lit. there is not my fear; there does not exist my fear
The last two translations may look odd in English; however, in Turkish saying “Benim korkum yok.” is easier than saying “Ben korkuya sahip değilim.”
Paradigm of var/yok
In this part, we will see the change of var and yok with different tenses.
I have a cat; lit. I have my cat
I don’t have a cat; I don’t have my cat, it is lost
I had a cat, I had my cat
O yıllarda gri bir kedim vardı.
Those years I had a gray cat
O yıllarda kedim halen vardı.
Those years I still had my cat. it was alive
I didn’t have a cat; I didn’t have my cat
I have a cat when used in a formal way; I surely have a cat
I don’t have a cat. only one meaning
It is said that I have a cat; It is said that I have my cat
It is said that I don’t have my cat, It is said that I don’t have a cat
If I have my cat; If I have a cat
If I don’t have my cat, If I don’t have a cat
While I have my cat; While I have a cat
Var and Yok is the base form of third-person-singular. For other persons, the personal suffixes can be added. You’d mostly encounter var and yok without personal suffix; However, ‘varım’ or ‘yokum’ can be encountered as well. Yet these uses are ‘frozen’ and mostly used for specific concepts.
Var mısın, Yok musun?
eng. Are you in or out?
fr. Cap ou pas cap?
İddiaya var mısın?
Do you dare to bet?
I am not in
Question Form: Var mı? / Yok mu?
Question form of var and yok is very simple. It is formed by adding question suffix -mı and -mu at the end of var and yok, respectively.
Kitabın var mı?
Do you have a book?
Çayın yok mu?
Don’t you have tea?
Bunu yapmaya isteğin var mı?
Do you have the desire to do it?
Idiomatic Expressions with Var and Yok
When Var and Yok is used together, that defines the quantity of something. “Var yok” can be translated as “a little bit”. Also, there exists another way of saying: “Varla yok arası” (var ile yok arası).
Zamanın var mı?
Do you have time?
Varla yok arası
In this context, “varla yok arası” also implies that “very slight, miniscule”. Do we have pasta at home? Varla yok arası (very litte, we must buy)