Sunday, July 27, 2008

Var (to exist)

That ubiquitous "var" takes some getting used to for a native English speaker. You simply can't say that you have something in Azeri. OK - you can say that you possess something - but for most purposes you can't get by without var.

Let's look at a few examples first, and then we can go into more of the grammar.

You are in a shop and you want to know if they have fizzy water. Qazlı su var? You just say what you want and add var to the end. If the shopkeeper has what you are looking for, he or she will respond "Var, var!" This exchange literally means "Does fizzy water exist?" "It exists, it exists!" You can also say Sizdə qazlı su var? This means "Is there fizzy water in your store?" Other examples: Pivə var? Do you have beer?/Is there beer (here)? Qırmızı şərab var? Do you have red wine?/Is there red wine (here)? Banan var? Do you have bananas. [Note that you do not use the plural even if you want several bananas.]

Var can also mean "There is" or "There are". Two examples from the excellent Azeri-English dictionary by O. Musayev: Otaqda bir oğlan var. There is a boy in the room. Literally: In the room one boy there is. Həyətdə çox uşaq var. There are a lot of children in the yard. Word for word: In the yard many children there are.

It gets a little more complicated when you want to speak about something that you have. A particularly useful sentence is: Mənim sualım var. I have a question. Lit.: My question exists. Other examples: Mənim maşınım var. I have a car. Sənin karandaşın var. You have a pencil. Orda nə işin var? What work do you have there? Lit.: At there what your work exists? You are now using the possessive or genitive case, so you can consult the post on that if you wish. However, the possessive case is a tad difficult, so you might as well just plug onwards with this lesson on var.

The negative of var is yoxdur. So, if you ask for something and the shopkeeper doesn't have it, your conversation will go like this: Yumurta var? Yumurta yoxdur. Do you have eggs? No, we don't have eggs. Vəzəri var? Vəzəri yoxdur. Do you have garden cress? No, we don't have garden cress. You get the picture. You can also say more complicated things as well, like: Bu şəhərdə heykəl yoxdur. There aren't any statues in this city. Lit.: This in city statues [using singular form] don't exist. OK, you're thinking, when would I ever use that sentence? Right? Hey, I used to say that too. You just learned the word for statue and believe me - Bakıda çox heykəl var! You should be able to translate this sentence now!


Aquarious said...

Hi there,
Thanks for the information. what about [vardi] and [varidi]?
I'm doing research in Azerbaijani phonology in the UK.



alex demontis said...

Bakıda çox heykəl var! = In baku there are a lot of statues :)
it is true... statues all around :))
by the way your blog is very nice, i am studying azeri and it's helping a lot.