Posted by: Andy | May 18, 2010

A Turkish Sense of Humor

One thing I read more than once about the Turkish people before coming here was that they highly valued a good sense of humor.  I don’t think we’ve been able to share this very well in the past, but last night I was given a prime example.  

I was teaching an elementary class.  These students only know two tenses, present simple and past simple and their vocabulary isn’t very extensive.  We’re learning foods and drinks this week.

I was teaching the difference between some and any last night.  Though you never think about it as a native speaker, the rule is, you use some for uncountable nouns and plural nouns in positive sentences: There is some bread.  There are some strawberries.  And you use any for negatives and questions for uncountable nouns and plural nouns: Is there any bread?  Are there any strawberries?  There isn’t any bread.  There aren’t any strawberries. 

No problem, right?  Wrong.

There is an exception to this rule with offers and requests and it always confuses students at this level.  For an offer in question form we use some: Would you like some bread?  Would you like some strawberries?  And we do the same for requests: Can I have some bread?  Can I have some strawberries.

As I’m teaching this last night.  One of my students asked the clarifying question: “Can I have any money? False?”  I said, “Yes, false.”

Then he said, “Can I have some money?”  I said “Yes.”

He simply held out his hand waiting for me to give him money with a giant smirk on his face.  After a few seconds I said, “No.”  

The entire class including myself erupted in laughter.  It was just one of the many examples of the stellar sense of humor possessed by the Turks.



  1. That is awesome. I love clever students, they making teaching so much fun.

  2. I don’t get grammar. I’m going to stop using the words “any” and “some” starting now.

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