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Modern Greek

The Greek language is one of the oldest written languages in the world, and Greek
literary culture extends back in time even past the invention of writing, to the time of
Homer. Greek is a language distinguished by an extraordinarily rich vocabulary. The
vast majority of Modern Greek vocabulary is directly inherited from ancient Greek,
like άνθρωπος (anthropos - man) or θάλασσα (thalassa - sea). Words of foreign origin
have entered the language mainly from Latin, Italian and Ottoman Turkish. During
older periods of the Greek language, loan words into Greek acquired Greek
inflections, leaving thus only a foreign root word. Modern borrowings (from the 20th
century on), especially from French and English, are typically not inflected.

Up until the twentieth century, the archaic (καθαρεύουσα, "katharevousa," "purist")

form of the language was the only one with cultural prestige, and was the formal
language of government. Over the course of the twentieth century, however, the
written language was changed to resemble the modern spoken language, becoming the
modern demotic language (δηµοτική, "of the people"), which is now the official
language of the Greek and Cypriot state. The last change became effective as late as
1981, with the abolition of the polytonic system. This book is about the modern
language, not classical or biblical Greek.

Introduction to the writing system

Fortunately, Greek is spelled mostly phonetically and the Greek alphabet is very easy
to learn. You have probably already seen quite a few of the letters before, since
they're used in maths, physics and chemistry. Others, particularly the capital letters,
are often identical or very similar to Latin letters (the letters most of the western
European languages, including English, use). Here are some letters that you can
immediately recognise, in their upper and lowercase forms:


These are called alpha, iota, kappa, omikron and tau.

The capital letters are all exactly the same as in the Latin alphabet. The small letters
show some subtle differences:

• The small alpha looks similar to how most people write their small As, not
like a computer a though.
• The i-dot is missing on the small iota.
• Small kappa and small tau look exactly like a miniature version of the capital
letter, when at least some people would write them a little differently in the
Latin alphabet.
• The small tau is also a miniature version of the capital one, whereas the Latin
lowercase "t" is written as a cross.

Knowing these few letters, you can already understand when a cartoon shows people
shouting "α!" or "ο!". ο also happens to be the masculine article. το is the one for

Here's how to pronounce the letters you just learned:

• Α α is pronounced as the a in father, the IPA symbol is [a]

• Ι ι is pronounced as the ee in meet, the IPA symbol is [i]
• Κ κ is pronounced as a regular English k
• Ο ο is pronounced as in obey, the IPA symbol is [o]
• Τ τ is pronounced as a plain t (without the extra air at the end that native
English speakers like to add), [t]

Let's practice reading some more. For example, do you know the American band
whose greatest hit was "Africa"? It's Τότο. (All solutions can be found at the bottom
of this page)

Wait!!! Why is there an accent on the omikron?

This accent indicates that the word stress should be on the ο. It's pronounced TOto,
not toTO. Every Greek word of at least two syllables gets one accent indicating which
syllable is stressed. This is a great feature for learners, since - unlike in English or
German for example - you don't have to memorise the stress.

Here's another word for practise: κακάο. This is what the Greeks call cocoa. And
κότα means "hen" in Greek.

I'd like to introduce you to one more letter in this lesson:


This is the letter Rho. It looks like P, but it's actually the Greek equivalent of R. Be
careful not to confuse it. Its pronunciation is closer to a Spanish R than an English

Knowing this letter and the ones introduced above, you can read quite a few new
words. For example, do you recognise the following country names: Ιράκ, Κροατία,
Κατάρ? The city Κάιρο? And κάρτα, which means "card" in Greek?

The next letter you should learn is Nu:


Again the capital letter looks the same as in the Latin alphabet. The small letter looks
similar to a lowercase V. It's still pronounced like a regular N (IPA [n]) though. This
letter appears in the prefix νανο- for example. It also appears in the following names
that you should be able to read now:

ΝΑΤΟ (very difficult ;-) )
Άννα (a girl's name)
Ιράν (a country in the Middle East)
Κίνα (a country in the Far East)
Τίρανα (capital city of Albania)
Ανόι (capital city of Vietnam)

Next letter is Mu:


While the capital letter is identical again, the lower letter is decidedly different from
the Latin one this time. It's very commonly used as a special symbol in various
academic fields though. The pronunciation is just like a regular M (IPA [m]). Here are
words with Mu:

µαµά (every child's call)

Μαρόκο (African country south of Spain)
Οµάν (Arabic country)
Αµµάν (capital of Jordan)

I'd also like you to meet the letter Epsilon:


Capital letter as in the Latin alphabet, small letter a variation on the capital letter. You
have probably seen it before. Epsilon is pronounced approximately as in bet (IPA [ε]).
German "Bett" and French "mère" are exactly the same as this Greek sound. Practise
reading some more words:


Finally, here's the letter Lambda:


This is the equivalent of the letter L. It looks quite different, but you will probably be
able to memorise it quickly anyway (anyone familiar with the Cyrillic alphabet will
immediately notice its similarity with the letter Л). Be careful not to confuse a capital
alpha with a capital lambda! Here are a few more words to practise, and of course this
letter and all the others will frequently appear in the following lessons, too.


The next letter you should learn is Pi:


Both the capital and the small letter look different from the Latin alphabet, but they
should be familiar to anybody with a high school education in maths. Pi is
pronounced as a regular P (IPA [p]). Here are some sample words that you should be
able to read now:

Πεκίνο (old European name for Beijing)

Πιέρ (French name)

Now you're probably wondering how to write B. The answer is not Beta, because
Beta is pronounced in Modern Greek as an English V. In order to represent the sound
of a regular B, Greeks need two letters: Mu and Pi (µπ). Sometimes at the middle of a
word µπ may sound like [mb], but this detail is not very strict for the pronunciation.
Here are some examples:


Now you're going to learn an extremely important letter, which is very common in
Greek: Sigma.


Sigma has three forms, rather than just two like the other letters. There's one capital
sigma (Σ), which is also used in science, e.g. as the mathematical symbol for sums,
and there are two versions of small sigma. The first one (σ), which looks like a circle

with an added line is used at the start or the middle of a word. The second small sigma
(ς), looking similar to an ill-proportioned small S is only used at the end of a word.
Sigma is pronounced as an English S (IPA [s]). Knowing this letter (and the ones
taught before), you can read lots of new words:

παπάς (not "dad" but the Greek word for "priest")

µπαµπάς (this is the correct word for "dad")
Πέτρος (common Greek name)
Ισπανία (important country in Europe)
Κόστα Ρίκα
Σρι Λάνκα
Παρίσι (capital of France)
Σαν ... (common start for city names)
Μπρισµπέιν (city in Australia)
Σάο Πάολο

Now it's time for another letter combination, similar to µπ. When they mean the sound
of D, Greeks don't write Delta but Nu and Tau combined: ντ. Sometimes at the middle
of a word ντ may sound like [nd], but this is not very strict for right pronunciation.
Generally, it's used to mean [d] especially in foreign words. Example words:


Delta, the letter you might expect to sound like D, actually sounds like th in "this"
(IPA: [ð]). The capital form closely resembles the Cyrillic letter Д. Here's the letter,
the last one for this lesson:


Delta appears in lots of words, so take this opportunity for a major revision:

∆ανία (country north of Germany)

Λονδίνο (capital of the UK)

Let's start with Eta:


Even though the capital letter looks like an H and the small letter looks somewhat like
a small N, this is actually a vowel. In Hellenistic, Medieval, and Modern Greek, it is
pronounced like the Spanish "i" (IPA [i]), same as the letter Iota. In Ancient Greek, it
used to be pronounced like a long "e", as in the word "pain". That's why words which
got derived in the past from Greek and are spelled with an Eta are actually spelled
with an E in English, which is also a different sound from the original eta. An
example: δηµοκρατία became "democracy" and not "dimocracy" in English. In Attic
Greek it must have sounded different from both. Fortunately, this reference to those
English words is a way to know whether a Modern Greek word is spelled with Eta or
Iota. In standard transliteration this letter is rendered as ī (the dash is used in order to
distinguish it from Iota), while in names and toponyms it is transcribed simply as
i(with the disadvantage of being unable to distinguish it from Iota). Sometimes h is
used just because of the similarity of the respective capital letters, providing though a
weird and wrong spelling. Practice your reading now:


There is yet another letter that sounds like i: upsilon.


The shape of this Greek letter seems to refer us to both Y and U, and that's correct:
when English words derive from Greek ones, most of times this letter is rendered as Y
in English and vice versa. Also, in very ancient Greek this letter was pronounced like

the u in "rule" (IPA [u]) but later it transformed to the French U sound (German Ü,
IPA [y], sound which doesn't exist in English). In medieval Greek the letter started
sounding just like Iota and Eta. Example words:


Now you're probably wondering how to write the u sound as in "rule" in Modern
Greek. Greeks need two letters for this: Omikron and Upsilon (ου). This probably
sounds familiar to those who have studied French, because French also spells [u] as
"ou". Here are a lot of sample words with this letter combination, for practise:


Now you're going to learn another very important Greek letter: Omega.


This is the second variety of O in Greek. The O that you already learned is called
Omikron, which translates to "small O". This one is called Omega, which translates to
"big O". They are both pronounced the same, as o in obey. In standard transliteration,
this letter is rendered as ō because in ancient Greek it had the sound of a long [o],
which made it essentially a different vowel. Transcription in names and toponyms is
usually just o. Sometimes unofficially it is rendered as w(inspired by the shape of the
small letter), but this leads to weird and incorrect spelling, as in some pretty weird-
looking transliterations, like "egw agapw". Knowing this letter (and the ones taught
before), you can read some new words:



The last letter I'd like to introduce to you in this lesson is Beta.


As I mentioned earlier, this letter sounds like an English V (IPA [v]), not like a B.
That's why it is often used for English words that contain V or W. In older times it
was used also for B though, cause of the common origin of the two letters, but it was
again pronounced as a V. Compare the sound of Beta to the sound of the Spanish 'B',
which has a V sound unless it's found in the beginning of a word. Beta is generally
very often used and there are lots of example words that you can use for practice:

Ελ Σαλβαδόρ

The first new letter you'll learn is Phi:


Both letters have no resemblance to English letters. The pronunciation is familiar

though: it's just like an English F (IPA [f]). If English derived a word containing Phi

from Greek, it is typically spelled with ph instead of simply f - just like in the letter
name "Phi" itself. Practise using the following Greek words:

Σαν Φρανσίσκο

The next letter is easier again. This is Zeta:


The capital Zeta looks like a Z and the small Zeta looks like a more curvy version of
it. It's pronounced as an English Z (IPA [z]), too. Easy, isn't it? Example words:

Νέα Ζηλανδία

An interesting combination in Greek is Tau-Zeta:

Τζ τζ

This is pronounced as a combination of the sounds of Tau and Zeta (IPA [dz]).
Although "j" is a letter in the English alphabet, there is τζ is not a letter in the Greek
alphabet. It is what the previous statement says, just a sound coming from a
combination of letters. In words derived from English, this combination is sometimes
used to replace the j sound as in "journalist" or the g sound as in "general", because
there is no sound [dʒ] in Greek. Practise reading the following words:

Τζορτζ Μπους
Ρίο ντε Τζανέιρο

Now you're going to learn another very important Greek letter: Gamma.


This is equivalent of G in Greek, except that it isn't pronounced as a regular English

G. When Gamma is followed by a 'light' vowel sound such as E or I, it is pronounced
like the English Y in "year" (IPA [ȭ]). When it is followed by a 'dark' vowel sound
such as A, O or U, it is pronounced in a way that doesn't exist in English, kind of like
the ch in "Bach" or the lake "Loch Ness" in Scotland, with the difference that vocal
chords should be vibrated when pronouncing it. (Listen to a sound sample.) This letter
comes up very often in Greek, so you'll have lots of opportunities to practise.


A variation occurs when there are two Gammas in a row:


This combination is pronounced like the ng in the English word "ring" (IPA: [ŋg]).


Finally, how to spell the actual [g] sound as in "garden"? For that, you need two
letters again: Gamma and Kappa.

Γκ γκ

Sometimes when this combination is at the middle of words then it represents the
sound ng in the English word "ring" (like γγ), but when the word is a foreign

loanword and the intention is to have a [g] sound, then it is pronounced as [g].
Though, this detail is not very significant for the pronunciation and it is not wrong to
always pronounce γκ as a [g] sound. Greek words you already know that include this
combination are:


The next letter you should learn is Theta:


Both the capital and the small letter look different from the Latin alphabet. This letter
is pronounced as the th in thumb and coincidentally the IPA symbol for this sound is a
small Theta: [θ]. Here are some sample words that you should be able to read now:

κιθάρα (a musical instrument)

Now for a letter that looks somewhat familiar again:


This is the letter Chi. The capital letter looks exactly like an X and the small letter
looks maybe like an x drawn by a first-grader. The pronunciation is not like X though.
It's either of two sounds that don't exist in English. When Chi is followed by a 'light'
vowel sound such as e or i, it sounds like the ch in the German word ich (IPA [ç]).
When it is followed by any other vowel sound or by a consonant, it is pronounced like
the ch in the Scottish word loch or the German word Bach (IPA [x]).

Some words for practise:


Χουάν (Spanish name)
Χοσέ (another Spanish name)
Νέο ∆ελχί

Now you're probably wondering how to write the x (ks) sound that is rather common
in Greek. The answer is the letter Xi:


This letter looks unfamiliar, but it sounds exactly like the English x as in axe (IPA
[ks]). Here are some examples:


The very last Greek letter to learn is Psi.


Psi is pronounced like ps as in apse (IPA [ps]). There are not that many English words
with this letter combination, but in Greek it is more common. Practise reading:


Greek phrases
Translation Phrase IPA Pronunciation
Greek ελληνικά /ǫlini'ka/ eh-lee-nee-KAH

γειά σας /ja sas/ YA suss (formal/plural)

γειά σου /ja su/ YA soo (informal/singular)

please παρακαλώ /paraka'lǤ/ pah-rah-kah-LOH

thank you ευχαριστώ /ǫfxari'stǤ/ ef-khah-ree-SSTOH
that one εκείνο /e'kinǤ/ eh-KEE-noh
how much? πόσο κάνει; /'pǤsǤ 'kani/ POH-soh KAH-nee
English αγγλικά /aŋgli'ka/ ung-glee-KAH
neh (this is a faux ami for many
yes ναι /nǫ/ speakers of other European
no όχι /'Ǥçi/ OH-hee
sorry συγ(γ)νώµη /sig'nǤmi/ sigg-NOH-mee

I don’t δεν /'ðǫŋ

dheng kah-tah-lah-VEH-noh
understand καταλαβαίνω katala'vǫnǤ/
where's the πού είναι οι /'pu 'inǫ i
poo EE-neh ee too-ah-LEH-tess
bathroom? τουαλέτες; tua'lǫtǫs/
generic toast γειά µας /'ja mas/ YAH muss

Do you speak /mi'latǫ

µιλάτε αγγλικά; mee-LAH-teh ung-glee-KAH
English? aŋgli'ka/

— Πώς είσαι;
In this lesson, you will learn to greet people and ask how they are. The verb 'to be' is
discussed and the formation of yes/no questions is introduced. You do not need any
prior knowledge of Greek. But you do need to be able to read it.


Αντώνης: Γεια σου!
Ανθή: Γεια σου!
Αντώνης: Πώς είσαι;
Ανθή: Καλά είµαι! Εσύ πώς είσαι;
Αντώνης Καλά.
Ανθή: Γεια σου!
Αντώνης Γεια σου!

Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
Hi! Γεια!
Hello! Γεια σου!
Hello! (formal) Γεια σας!
Good morning! Καληµέρα!
Good evening! Καλησπέρα!
Good night! Καληνύχτα!
Goodbye Αντίο


• Remember that Γεια σου can be used to say hello and goodbye.
• The most formal way to greet is χαίρετε!


• Γεια σας! Πώς είστε;

How are you?

Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
Πώς είσαι;
Πώς είστε;
How are you?
Τι κάνεις;
Τι κάνετε;
Very well! πολύ καλά!
Well! καλά!
ΟΚ. Εντάξει
So so. Έτσι κι έτσι.
Fairly well. Αρκετά καλά.
And you? ..., εσύ;
Thank you! Ευχαριστώ


• The answer to Πώς είσαι; could be είµαι καλά or it could simply be καλά.
• Τι κάνεις; can be used instead of Πώς είσαι; and in this case, the longer form
of the answer would be again είµαι καλά.
• The most formal way to greet is χαίρετε!


Example 1 (informal)

• Α: Γεια! Τι κάνεις;
• Β: Πολύ καλά, εσύ;
• Α: Καλά!

Example 2 (informal)

• Α: Γεια σου! Eίσαι καλά;

Hello! Are you well?

• Β: Ναι, είµαι καλά, εσύ;

Yes, I'm well and you?

• Α: Είµαι πολύ καλά!

I'm very well!

Example 3 (formal)

• Α: Γεια σας! Πώς είστε;

• Β: Είµαι αρκετά καλά, εσείς;
• Α: Καλά, ευχαριστώ!

• You have probably already noticed, that the words είµαι, είσαι and είστε.
These are three forms of 'to be', corresponding to I am; you are (singular) ; and
you are (plural). The είµαι needs to be changed into different forms to reflect
different meanings. The verb είµαι is an irregular verb so the way it changes to
mean something slightly different, is conjugate, does not follow any pattern.
So it needs to be learn off by heart. But for the moment, all we need are these
three forms.
• If we look at the second mini dialog in the above examples, we notice the
είσαι καλά; question. This illustrates how yes-no question are formed in
Greek. They are formed simply by intonation with no word order change.
When we talk about yes-no question, we talk about questions of the form 'Are
you' or 'Do you ' e.g. Are you hungry? or Do you like apples?. Further yes-no
questions can be formed like this. For example: 'Είσαι εντάξει;'

• In this lesson, you might have noticed that other questions are formed with the
words τι and πώς. These two words are used to form questions. They
correspond to what and how in English. In Greek, simple questions involving
these two words are formed by placing the question word at the beginning of
the sentence. For example, 'Πώς είστε;' and 'Τι κάνεις;'.
• You definitely must have noticed that in Greek the question mark is replaced
by a semicolon.

• We have learnt the ways to say hello. (Γεια σου! Γεια!)
• We now know how to ask how someone is. (Πώς είστε; Τι κάνεις;)
• We are able to answer how we are and ask in return. (καλά! Είµαι εντάξει.)
• We have introduced how to form yes-no questions. (Eίσαι καλά;)
• We can form simply questions with τι and πώς. (Τι κάνεις; Πώς είστε;)

Χαίρω πολύ!
Αντώνης: Γεια σου!
Ανθή: Γεια σου!
Αντώνης: Πώς είσαι;
Ανθή: Είµαι καλά, εσύ πώς είσαι;
Αντώνης: Είµαι καλά.
Ανθή: Πώς σε λένε (or "Ποιο είναι το όνοµά σου" (not used));
Αντώνης: Με λένε Αντώνη (answers the first question) (or "Το όνοµα µου
είναι Αντώνης" (answers the second question)).
Ανθή: (Εµένα) µε λένε Ανθή (or "Το όνοµα µου είναι Ανθή"). Χαίρω πολύ!
Αντώνης: Χαίρω πολύ επίσης.
Ανθή: Γεια σου!
Αντώνης: Γεια σου!

What is your name?

Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
Ποιο είναι το όνοµά σου;
What is your name?
Πώς σε λένε;
Το όνοµα µου είναι ...
My name is ...
Με λένε ...


• Note 'τ'όνοµά µου είναι' might also be said. Where syllables are dropped.


• Το ονοµά µου είναι Μάριος.

• Με λένε Μάριο. (Note that in this case in Greek male names we drop the final

I'm Greek.
Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
English ο Άγγλος, η Αγγλίδα
American o Αµερικανός, Αµερικανίδα
French ο Γάλλος, η Γαλλίδα
German ο Γερµανός, η Γερµανίδα
Chinese ο Κινέζος η Κινέζα
Spanish ο Ισπανός, η Ισπανίδα
Greek ο Έλληνας, η Ελληνίδα
Turkish ο Τούρκος, η Τουρκάλα


• Note that every one of these words has ο or η in front of it this tells us that
these are nouns. The ο or η also tells us the gender, ο is for masculine and η is
for feminine.
• This table also illustrates a pattern if the masculine ends in ος the feminine is
most often formed by adding ίδα after dropping the ος. But this is not always
the case if we look at the words for Chinese.


• Είµαι Άγγλος.
• Είσαι Ελληνίδα;
• Είµαι Γερµανίδα.

I'm a teacher
Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
teacher o δάσκαλος η δασκάλα
dentist ο οδοντίατρος /ο οδοντογιατρός
lawyer o δικηγόρος
engineer o µηχανικός
doctor ο,η γιατρός
actor o ηθοποιός
musician ο,η µουσικός


• The each of the words introduced in the above table have two forms. One for
males and another for females. This roughly corresponds to the actor and
actress that is present in English. But in Greek, this is case for every noun. It is
wrong to use the masculine form to describe yourself if you are female.


Α: Ποιο είναι το επάγγελµα σου;

Β: Είµαι δάσκαλος. Ποιο είναι το επάγγελµα σου;
Α: Είµαι δικηγόρος.

He's handsome
Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
Big µεγάλος, -η, -ο
Small µικρός, µικρή, µικρό
Pretty or Handsome όµορφος, όµορφη, όµορφο
Clever έξυπνος, έξυπνη, έξυπνο
Good καλός, καλή, καλό
Bad κακός, κακή, κακό


• Η Μάρια είναι όµορφη.

• Ο Στέλιος είναι µεγάλος.
• Το όνοµα σου είναι όµορφο.
• O γιατρός είναι καλός.
• O Αντώνης είναι έξυπνος.

• Notice how there is agreement with the definite articles and the noun that is
present before. In summary, 'Η', 'Ο' and 'Το' are the definite articles for
feminine, masculine and neuter nouns. They all correspond to 'the' in English.
In Greek, definite articles are always placed before Peoples names. This
means that Η Μάρια means Maria in English. You'll find definite articles
listed after nouns in Dictionaries. This tells us the gender of the word.
• You have probably noticed that there are three forms of each of the adjectives
listed in the table above. If the adjective ends with ος it is masculine. Feminine
if it ends with η. Finally if it ends with ο it is neuter. This is important because
adjectives have to agree with the nouns that they describe. So if the noun is
masculine then the adjective must also be masculine. This is called agreement.
We can see this illustrated in the examples above, numbers 2, 4 and 5. 'O
γιατρός' is masculine so 'καλός' must also be masculine. The same applies for
feminine nouns look at the first example. Η Μάρια is feminine so the form
must be όµορφη to agree with it. The same is true of neuter nouns look at the
third example.

• If we look at the I'm Greek section, the second example is a question simply
because of its semicolon. Recall that in speak what makes it a question is the
rising intonation towards the end of the sentence. In the same way, we can
form questions asking whether someone is a doctor (Είσαι γιατρός/γιατρά.)

• We are able to ask someone's name and give our own name. (Τι είναι το
όνοµα σου? Με λένε Μάριος.)
• We have learnt the ways to what nationality you are. (Είµαι Άγγλος.)
• We can inquire if someone is a certain nationality. (Είσαι Ελληνίδα;)
• We now know how to ask what profession someone has. (Ποιο είναι το
επάγγελµα σου;)
• We can tell people what we do. (Είµαι δάσκαλος)

professions and nationalities.

Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
accountant λογιστής
baker αρτοποιός
beginner αρχάριος
businessman επιχειρηµατίας
carpenter ξυλουργός
cook ο µάγειρας
garbage man σκουπιδιάρης
general στρατηγός
hairdresser κοµµωτής
housewife νοικοκυρά
journalist δηµοσιογράφος
explorer εξερευνητής
farmer αγρότης
fireman πυροσβέστης
florist ανθοκόµος

librarian βιβλιοθηκάριος
manager ο διευθυντής
mailman ταχυδρόµος
mechanic µηχανικός
musician µουσικός
nurse νοσοκόµα
painter ζωγράφος
pilot πιλότος
philosopher φιλόσοφος
photographer φωτογράφος
physicist φυσικός
plumber υδραυλικός
politician πολιτικός
policeman αστυνοµικός
salesman πωλητής
secretary γραµµατέας
scientist επιστήµονας
soldier στρατιώτης
student ο φοιτητής η φοιτήτρια
surgeon χειρούργος
thief κλέφτης
tourist τουρίστας
volunteer εθελοντής
waiter το γκαρσόνι
writer συγγραφέας
Η υπηκοότητα
Αγγλικά Ελληνικά
American Αµερικανός/Αµερικάνος
Argentinian Αργεντινός
Belgian Βέλγος
Brazilian Βραζιλιάνος
Canadian Καναδός
Chinese Κινέζος
Cypriot Κύπριος
Czech Τσέχος
Dutchman Ολλανδός
Englishman Άγγλος
French Γάλλος
Finnish Φινλανδός
German Γερµανός
Indian Ινδός

Italian Ιταλός
Japanese Ιάπωνας
Mexican Μεξικάνος
Moroccan Μαροκινός
Norwegian Νορβηγός
Portuguese Πορτογάλος
Russian Ρώσος
Slovenian Σλοβένος
South African Νοτιοαφρικάνος
Spaniard Ισπανός
Swede Σουηδός
Swiss Ελβετός
Turk Τούρκος

reading and pronunciation, subject

pronouns, and verbs

Greek has five vowel sounds, all vowels are pronounced nearer the English long
rather than short:

α approximately as in ball (closer to father in a Boston accent)

ε approximately as in bet
ι as in beet
ο approximately as in boat
ου as in boot

Throughout this book, tables highlighted in this color have (or will eventually have)
audio recordings to go with them.

As you can see from these examples, many letters in the Greek alphabet look like
their counterparts in English. There are multiple spellings for some of these sounds:

ι, η, υ, οι, ει, and υι all sound alike.
ε and αι sound like EH as in "kettle".
ο and ω sound like OH as in "over".


The following letters sound like the English letters they resemble:

κ, τ

Note: If you're a native English speaker, try to pronounce a plain τ, that is without the
"h" sound in the end.

Reading practice:

τα, τι, η, τη, το, του, τω, κάτω, κότα, άκου

Most Greek words have a stressed syllable which in words of more than one syllable
is shown with an accent over the stressed vowel.


κακό bad
κατά against, according to, toward

The following Greek consonants sound like familiar sounds from English, but look
different from their English counterparts:

• β vee

• λ elle

• π pee

• δ the

• µ emm

• σ,ς ess

• ζ zee

• ν enn

• φ fee

• θ theh

• ξ eks

• ψ eeps

Vocabulary and reading practice:

ναι yes
καλό good
πού where
µε with
από from
σε in
αλλά but

The following Greek consonants have sounds not found in English:

γ a soft, gargling g sound, except before the sounds ε and ι, where it sounds like y
ρ like Spanish r
χ like the ch in Scottish loch

Vocabulary and reading practice:

γράφω I write
για for
γιατί why?, because
προς to, toward
όχι no
παρακαλώ please

The following combinations of letters have sounds that have to be learned:

ου oo
αυ av before vowel or voiced consonant, else af
ευ ev before vowel or voiced consonant, else ef
ηυ iv before vowel or voiced consonant, else if
µπ b at the beginning of a word, mb elsewhere
ντ d at the beginning of a word, nd elsewhere
χε, χαι heh
κε, και keh

Vocabulary and reading practice:

και and

ή or
αυτός he
αύριο tomorrow
ευχαριστώ I give thanks, thank you (~"Eucharist")
γυρεύω I look for
µπορώ I can
χαίρετε Rejoice! (a greeting and leave-taking)
καλοκαίρι summer

One of the big obstacles for an English speaker trying to learn Greek is that so few
common usage words are related to English ones (although an estimated 10% to 20%
of the total English vocabulary has Greek roots, most of it though of
scientific/technical nature). However, sometimes there is a relationship that would
help you to remember the Greek word, but the relationship isn't obvious, as with
ευχαριστώ and Eucharist. When this happens, we'll note it as in the example above,
with ~. This may mean that the English word is derived from the Greek one, or
merely that both the English word and the Greek one come from a common root.

Names of the letters:

α άλφα ι γιώτα (or ιώτα) ρ ρω (or ρο)

β βήτα κ κάππα (or κάπα) σ σίγµα
γ γάµµα λ λάµδα (or λάµβδα) τ ταυ
δ δέλτα µ µι υ ύψιλον
ε έψιλον ν νι φ φι
ζ ζήτα ξ ξι χ χι
η ήτα ο όµικρον ψ ψι
θ θήτα π πι ω ωµέγα

Personal subject pronouns

Greek has three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Here are the personal
subject pronouns:

εγώ I εµείς we
εσύ you, singular εσείς you, plural
αυτός he αυτοί they (masculine)
αυτή she αυτές they (feminine)
αυτό it αυτά they (neuter)

The second-person plural is also used as the formal form of address, even when
speaking to a single person.


First conjugation
The subject pronouns are usually omitted, because the form of the verb indicates the
subject. For example:

γράφω I write
γράφεις you (singular) write
γράφει he/she/it writes
γράφουµε we write
γράφετε you (plural) write
γράφουν they write

There is no infinitive in modern Greek. For naming a verb, the first-person singular of
the present tense is used as a generic term. For example, we refer to the verb γράφω,
to write.

To summarize the conjugation of a verb, we write it in a table like this:

γράφω γράφουµε
γράφεις γράφετε
γράφει γράφουν

Audio recording: This recording was made by a non-native speaker of Greek. We

would be grateful to any native speaker who could redo it.

Γράφω is an example of a verb belonging to the first conjugation. Verbs in this

conjugation can be recognized because their accent falls before the final ω.

The following verbs belong to the first conjugation:

δίνω give (~"donate")

αλλάζω change
διαβάζω read
κοιτάζω look at
βλέπω see
ακούω hear
φτάνω arrive
φεύγω leave
παίρνω take
αγοράζω buy
ξέρω know
νοµίζω think
βάζω put
πίνω drink

Conjugations of some of these verbs: Audio recording: listen (help·info) This recording
was made by a non-native speaker of Greek. We would be grateful to any native
speaker who could redo it.

The verbs έχω, to have, and είµαι, to be

Two important verbs are έχω, to have, and είµαι, to be. The first-conjugation verb έχω
is regular in the present tense, so it has the same endings as γράφω.

έχω έχουµε
έχεις έχετε
έχει έχουν

To be in English is expressed in the active voice, but the Greek είµαι is passive, and
doesn't have an active form. The ending -µαι is a typical, regular ending for passive
verbs. Although we won't be concerned with passive constructions until later, είµαι is
so important that you need to get it under your belt right away.

είµαι είµαστε
είσαι είστε
είναι είναι

Capital letters

Now that we're ready to handle complete sentences, we need capital letters. Most of
the capital letters of the Greek alphabet are similar in form either to the lowercase
letters, or to their counterparts in the Latin alphabet:

αΑι Ι ρ Ρ
βΒκΚ σ Σ
γΓ λΛ τ Τ
δ∆ µΜυ Υ
εΕνΝ φΦ
ζΖξΞ χ Χ
ηΗοΟ ψΨ
θΘπΠ ωΩ


The order of words in a Greek sentence is much more free than in English, but you
can correctly construct a sentence using the familiar English syntax of subject+verb,
or subject+verb+object. The subject is usually omitted when it is a pronoun.


Είναι καλό. It is good.

Είναι κακό. It is bad.

In Greek, adjectives change their endings to agree with the gender and number of the
nouns they describe (declension). The following vocabulary list introduces some
nouns that happen to be neuter, and some adjectives, which are given in neuter form.
The word το is the definite article, like English "the," used with singular neuter nouns.


νερό water
κρασί wine
τσάι tea
καυτό hot
κρύο cold
άσπρο white
κόκκινο red
θέλω to want


Το νερό είναι κρύο. The water is cold

Το κρασί είναι κρύο. The wine is cold.
Το τσάι είναι καυτό. The tea is hot.
Το άσπρο κρασί είναι κρύο. The white wine is cold.

Negatives are formed by placing δεν before the verb. The question mark in Greek is
the semicolon.


Το κόκκινο κρασί δεν είναι κρύο. The red wine is not cold
Το νερό δεν είναι καυτό. The water is not hot.


Χαίρετε. Hello.
Χαίρετε. Hello.
Έχετε τσάι; Do you have tea?
Οχι, δεν έχουµε τσάι. Θέλετε νερό; No, we don't have tea. Do you want water?
Ναι, ευχαριστώ. Yes, thank you.

Dialogue 1

Greeting others

Mark: Γειά σας.
Anna: Kαληµέρα.
Mark: Τι κάνετε;
Anna: Πολύ καλά και εσείς;
Mark: Πολύ καλά.

Γειά σας Hello!
Kαληµέρα Good morning
Τι κάνετε How are you?
Πολύ καλά Very well
Και εσείς And you?

Dialogue 2

Introducing yourself

Mark: Πως σε λέvε;

Anna: Mε λέvε Άvvα.

Πως How
σε λένε they call you
µε λένε they call me

Summary of the alphabet and

Alphabet / Αλφάβητο
The Greek Language was one of the first written languages in all world. The script
used had some peculiarities not observed today: for instance, the vowels were not
written, and one needed to guess or to know their specific place inside the word. This
alphabet has been evolving, through contact with other cultures and through the
simple action of the time, until it became what it is today. Amongst the Greek
alphabet, we can spot some (or even many) similarities with the Latin (or Roman)
one. The alphabet used nowadays has 24 letters: 7 vowels and 17 consonants.

Letter English Name Greek Name
Aa alpha άλφα
Ββ beta βήτα
Γγ gamma γάµµα
∆δ delta δέλτα
Εε epsilon έψιλον
Ζζ zeta ζήτα
Ηη eta ήτα
Θθ theta θήτα
Ιι iota ιώτα
Κκ kappa κάπα
Λλ lambda λάµδα
Μµ mu µι
Νν nu νι
Ξξ ksi ξι
Οο omicron όµικρον
Ππ pi πι
Ρρ rho ρω
Σ σ* sigma σίγµα
Ττ tau ταυ
Υυ ypsilon ύψιλον
Φφ phi φι
Χχ chi χι
Ψψ psi ψι
Ωω omega ωµέγα
* The sigma has a special lowercase form,
used only at the end of words. Both lowercase
sigmas have the same value.

Pronunciation of the Alphabet

Greek sounds are, in general, soft. As a major rule, each letter carries a single sound
(this is not universal, but almost, as we'll see later in this page). As in the previous
chapter, we see here a table with the various letters. This time, the columns represent
not the name, but the approximate sound of the letters.

Letter How to say it IPA XSAMPA

Aα arc [a] a
Ββ vacuum [v] v
yes before certain vowels,
Γγ [ȭ] before [ǫ] or [i]; [dz] G
otherwise like Spanish agua otherwise
∆δ this [ð] D
Εε bed [ǫ] E
Ζζ zoo [z] z
Ηη see [i] i

Θθ thin [θ] T
Ιι see [i] i

Κκ cute before certain vowels, else knock [c] before [ǫ] or [i]; [k] c, k
Λλ clock [l] l
Μµ mine [m] m
Νν nine [n] n
Ξξ excellent [ks] k_s
Οο oh [Ǥ] O
Ππ ape [p] p
Ρρ like Spanish pero [Ȏ] 4
Σσ soup [s] s
Ττ hate [t] t
Υυ see [i] i
Φφ photo [f] f
like German ich before certain vowels, [ç] before [ǫ] or [i];
Χχ C, x
else like German Loch [x] otherwise
Ψψ maps [ps] p_s
Ωω oh [Ǥ] O

Note: The letter Γγ is the most difficult to pronounce for an English

speaker: it is like a stronger h, simultaneous with the vibration of the
vocal cords; in other words, it is the voiced counterpart of the χ.
Before e and i vowels, it is pronounced as a y like in Diphthongs

Diphthongs are combinations of two vowels that function as a unique sound. Note that
in Modern Greek, the word Diphthong (δίφθογγος) is also used for combination of
vowels that sound like a simple vowel. There are eight diphthongs in Modern Greek.
There are also some similar combinations of consonants:

Tabela II - Diphthongs
Diphthong How to say it IPA XSAMPA
αι bed [ǫ] E
αυ have before certain letters, after before others [av], [af] av, af
ει see [i] i
ευ ever before certain letters, effect before others [ǫv], [ǫf] Ev, Ef
ηυ evening before certain letters, beef before others [iv], [if] iv, if
οι see [i] i
ου soon [u] u

υι see [i] i
γγ finger [ŋg] Ng
good at the beginning of words, finger anywhere
γκ [g], [ŋg] g, Ng
banana at the beginning of words, thumb
µπ [b], [mb] b, mb
anywhere else
day at the beginning of words, sand anywhere
ντ [d], [nd] d, nd

Accent and Diaeresis

Most Greek words have a stressed syllable which is the syllable said with more
strength: for instance, in the English words comfort and peculiarity, the stressed
syllables are com and ar, respectively.

Greek marks the stressed syllable with an accent mark ( ΄ ) over the vowel. In one-
syllable words, the accent is usually omitted. When the stress falls on a syllable that
has a diphthong, the accent is used above the last letter of this diphthong. Thus, words
like Παύλος (Paul) ou γυναίκα (woman), are correctly accented.

If the accent is put on the first vowel of a diphthong, it is not read as a diphthong but
read as two independent vowels, as in the word ρολόι (watch or clock), which has
three syllables, not two. On the other hand, if one wishes to separate the diphthong,
but the accent falls on other syllable, the diaeresis ( ¨ ) is used, as in the word
Εβραϊκός (Hebrew).

There are, however, some words that aren't stressed (usually monosyllabic
grammatical words), and these don't have an accent. Words like these are read as
affixes added to the main word. Examples:

• ο (the masc.) "Ο πατέρας" (The father) is read as a single word - aw-pah-TE-
• µου (my), "Ο πατέρας µου" (My father) is also read as a single word - aw-pa-

Every stressed word with more than one syllable carries an accent. However, there are
monosyllabic words that also have accent, like ή (or) and πού (where). This accent
has a double function:

• It distinguishes words that, otherwise, would be equal - η (the fem.) and που
(that, which);
• It marks words as strong, unlike their weak comparing counterparts.

Irregular verbs, the genitive, family, the
body, prepositions

Irregular verbs
The following three verbs have simplified forms that are used in the present tense, but
the other tenses are actually formed from their longer forms.

Λέγω/λέω, to say:

λέω λέµε
λες λέτε
λέει λένε

Τρώγω/Τρώω, to eat:

τρώω τρώµε
τρως τρώτε
τρώει τρώνε

Πηγαίνω/πάω, to go:

πάω πάµε
πας πάτε
πάει πάνε

Ακούω, to hear (regular form are also used occasionally):

ακούω ακούµε
ακούς ακούτε
ακούει ακούν(ε)

The body

το κεφάλι

το σώµα


το σώµα the body (~"somatic")

το κεφάλι the head (~"decapitate")
ο εγκέφαλος the brain (~"encephalitis", literally "in-the-head")
το µάτι the eye
το φρύδι the eyebrow
τα µαλλιά the hair
the mouth (cognate with "stomach," but means
το στόµα

τα δόντια the teeth (~"dentist")
το αυτί the ear (~"audio")
η µύτη the nose
τα χείλη the lips
τα µάγουλα the cheeks
το σαγόνι the jaw
ο λαιµός the neck
το στήθος the chest (~"stethoscope")
η κοιλιά the belly
το χέρι the arm AND the hand (the whole upper limb)
η παλάµη the palm (cognate with the English word)
the foot AND the leg (the whole lower limb)
το πόδι
η πατούσα (colloquial)/ το πέλµα
the sole of the foot
το γόνατο the knee (~"genuflect")
γυµνός naked (~"gymnasium")
χτενίζω to comb (~"ctenophore," comb jelly)
κάνω µπάνιο to take a bath
ο θάνατος death
η ζωή life (~"zoo")
γεννώ to give birth, give birth to (~"genesis")
η υγεία the health (~"hygiene")
ο πόνος the pain (cognate with the English word)
πονώ to hurt
η καρδιά the heart (~"cardiac")


Η µητέρα χτενίζει το παιδί. The mother combs the child's hair.

Πονάνε τα πόδια µου. My feet hurt.
Γαργαλάς την κοιλιά µου! You're tickling my belly!

Clothing/Τα ρούχα
τα ρούχα the clothing
φορώ to wear
βάζω to put, put on (clothes)
βγάζω to take out, take off (clothes)
το πουκάµισο the shirt
το παντελόνι (singular!) the pants/trousers

η φούστα the skirt
το σακάκι the jacket
το παλτό the coat
τα παπούτσια the shoes
οι κάλτσες the socks or stockings
το καπέλο the hat
η ζώνη the belt (~ "zone")
η γραβάτα the tie (~"cravat")


Βάζω τα ρούχα µου. I put on my clothes.

Βγάζω το παλτό µου. I take off my coat.
∆ε φοράµε παπούτσια. We aren't wearing shoes.

The genitive
What English expresses using possessives or the presposition "of," Greek expresses
using the genitive case. The following example shows the noun σκύλος in all the
subject, genitive, and object cases.

ο σκύλος the dog (subject form) οι σκύλοι the dogs (subject form)
του σκύλου of the dog (genitive form) των σκύλων of the dogs (genitive form)
τον σκύλο the dog (object form) τους σκύλους the dogs (object form)


το πόδι του σκύλου the dog's foot (literally, the foot of the dog)

The genitive plural is easy, because it's always formed with -ων, and the article is
always των.

τα πόδια των σκύλων the dogs' feet

The genitive singular is formed according to a greater variety of patterns, of which

three of the most important are shown here:

ο σκύλος του σκύλου

η ώρα της ώρας
το βιβλίο του βιβλίου
το παιδί του παιδιού

In some nouns, when the antepenult is accented, the genitive is accented at the penult
and when the penult is accented the genitive is accented at the ultimate. There is a set
of rules to distinguish in which cases this happens. Most of the rules derive from
Ancient Greek and have to do with either long and short vowels or Ancient Greek
declensions. This is an issue with Modern Greek itself, since most of the nuances of
Ancient Greek are lost in Modern Greek. People in most cases put the accent
intuitively and at some instances even native speakers have great difficulty in
accentuating correctly. This is why it is often said that in order to properly speak
Modern Greek, one has to have at least a basic level of Ancient Greek.

τα πόδια των ανθρώπων (άνθρωπος/ανθρώπων) the men's feet (genitive plural)

τα πόδια του ανθρώπου (άνθρωπος/ανθρώπου) the man's feet (genitive singular)
τα πόδια των ανδρών (άνδρας/ανδρών) the men's feet (genitive plural)
τα πόδια των πατέρων (πατέρας/πατέρων) the fathers' feet
τα πόδια του άνδρα (άνδρας/άνδρα) the man's feet (genitive singular)

The accent can also advance two positions, from antepenult to ultimate between
nominative plural and genitive plural. The noun το χάδι (the caress) presents the
following declensions:

το χάδι τα χάδια
του χαδιού των χαδιών
το χάδι τα χάδια

Genitive indefinite article

The following list shows the indefinite article in all three of the cases covered so far:

ένας one, masculine subject

ενός of one, masculine genitive
έναν one, masculine object
µία or µια one, feminine subject
µίας or µιας of one, feminine genitive
µία or µια one, feminine object
ένα one, neuter subject
ενός of one, neuter genitive
ένα one, neuter object

Genitive pronouns

µου µας
σου σας
του, της, του τους

When indicating possession, the genitive pronoun follows the noun it modifies.

Στην υγειά σας! To your health (Cheers!)

το βιβλίο µου my book
Το κεφάλι του είναι µεγάλο. His head is big.

When greeting a person you either say Γεια σας (the polite plural) or Γεια σου
(friendly address, more often than not the σου is omitted). Γεια is a short form for
υγεία (health → "hygiene"). For a group of people except the abovementioned Γεια
σας, the salutation Χαίρετε (rejoice) is also utilized.

When a noun followed by a possessive pronoun has the accent on the third syllable
from the end, it gets a second accent on the final syllable:

το γόνατό µου my knee

In Greek, rather than saying that you like something, you say that it is pleasing to you,
using the verb αρέσω:

Μού αρέσει το αυτοκίνητο. I like the car (lit. "The car is pleasing to me.")

This form is a remnant of the ancient dative case (δοτική πτώση). Something similar
happens with certain prepositions (see below).

The following are some common prepositions:

µε with, by means of
µαζί µε together with
χωρίς without
για for
από from (moving away from)
σε, εις in, at, on, moving to
µέσα σε into
πάνω σε on
πάνω από above, over
κάτω από below, under
ύστερα από after
πρίν before (~"pre-")

πρό before, in front of (~"proactive")
ενάντια σε against
εναντίον against
εκ, εξ from, out of (~"ex-wife")


Το κλειδί της Άννας είναι κάτω από το τραπέζι. Anna's key is under the table.
Είµαι από την Αµερική. I'm from America.

If the preposition σε is followed by a definite article, the joint form στο(ν)/στη(ν)/στο

(σε plus το(ν)/τη(ν)/το) is used:

Το κλειδί της Άννας είναι στο τραπέζι. Anna's key is on the table.
Ο Παύλος είναι στο θεάτρο. Paul is at the theater.

As a remnant of ancient Greek's more complex case system, certain prepositions (πρό,
εναντίον, εκ/εξ) are supposed to take the genitive case rather than the object
(accusative) case. In these constructions, the genitive is really being used as the dative
(indirect object) case, as in the use of the genitive with the verb αρέσω. This is a
usage that is dying out, and a beginner doesn't need to worry about it too much. There
are, however, certain fixed phrases that will seem inexplicable otherwise:

πρό Χριστού, π.Χ. before Christ

εν τάξει OK

Prepositions used as prefixes

It is extremely common for Greek verbs to be formed by adding a preposition as a
prefix to a simpler verb. However, the preposition may be in a different form than the
ones given above, e.g., εις rather than σε. A common prefix is συν-/συµ-, from the
ancient Greek preposition συν, with, together. Two other suffixes based on ancient
Greek prepositions are δια, for, because of, relating to, and υπό, under

βάλλω to shoot; in ancient Greek, to throw

εισβάλλω to invade: σε (modern εις)+βάλλω, 'throw in'
συµβάλλω σε to contribute to: συν+βάλλω σε, 'throw together'
εκβάλλω to debouch
αποβάλλω to expel
καταβάλλω to pay, put down money, buckle to
διαβάλλω to slander someone, put someone down
υποβάλλω to submit something, subject to, suggest

πνέω to blow (~"pneumatic")

εισπνέω to inhale something
εκπνέω to exhale, die, expire, terminate something
διαπνέω to run through

λείπω to be away, to be lacking

καταλείπω to leave something behind
εκλείπω to vanish, be in eclipse (~"eclipse")
διαλείπω to be intermittent (also διάλειψη = lapse of memory)
υπολείποµαι (passive) to fall short of (also υπόλοιπο = the rest, residual)


ο πατέρας the father

η µητέρα the mother
ο άντρας the man, the husband
η γυναίκα the woman, the wife
ο γιος the son
η κόρη the girl, daughter
ο αδελφός the brother (~"Philadelphia")
η αδελφή the sister
ο παππούς the grandfather
η γιαγιά the grandmother
ο θείος the uncle
η θεία the aunt
ο ανιψιός the nephew (~"nepotism")
η ανιψιά the niece


ο πατέρας µου my father

ο γιος σας your son
Η Ελένη είναι η κόρη µου. Helen is my daughter.
Είναι η µητέρα της Αννας. She's Anna's mother.
Είναι το σπίτι των αδελφών. It's the brothers' house.

Note that in Greek, a definite article is used with a person's name.

Grimm's law

The words πατέρας and µητέρα are actually closely related to the English words
mother and father. When English and Greek words are derived from the same root in
their common ancestral language, Indo-European, the consonants are related as

πτ κβδγφθχ
f th h p t k b d g

This is known as Grimm's law (after a linguist from the same family that collected the
Grimm's fairy tales). Sometimes it can help you to learn words in Greek.


δύο τρία πόδι

two three foot

In some cases, the Greek word that's cognate to the English one is ancient rather than
modern. For example, brother corresponds to the ancient φρατήρ (e.g. "fraternity"),
not the modern αδελφός, and door to the ancient θύρα rather than modern πόρτα
(which is a loan from italian).

Nouns in -ας and -ης

ο αστροναύτης

Other than -ος, the most common endings for masculine nouns are -ας and -ης.

Ο πατέρας, the father:

subject ο πατέρας οι πατέρες

genitive του πατέρα των πατέρων
object τον πατέρα τους πατέρες

Ο µαθητής, the student, pupil:

subject ο µαθητής οι µαθητές

genitive του µαθητή των µαθητών
object το µαθητή τους µαθητές

These endings are particularly common in nouns referring to professions, e.g., ο

αστροναύτης, the astronaut.


οι ιερέες
ο εργάτης the worker
the doctor
ο γιατρός
ο ιερέας (formal) and in plural οι ιερείς and not οι ιερέες as the priest
is noted by the picture, ο παπάς (coll.) (~"hieroglyph")
ο στρατιώτης the soldier
ο ράφτης the tailor

ο ναυτικός the sailor
ο ναύτης the sailor (military)
ο κλέφτης the thief, guerrilla
ο αγρότης the farmer
ο οδηγός the driver
ο δάσκαλος the teacher
ο φοιτητής the student (university)
the student (technical
ο σπουδαστής
the student (elementary
ο µαθητής
ο υπάλληλος the clerk, the employee
o αστυνοµικός the police officer
ο φίλος the friend
ο γείτονας the neighbor
το µωρό (coll.), το βρέφος (formal) the baby
the young person
ο νέος (also νεαρός, but rarely)
the old man
ο γέρος
γερός strong
πλούσιος rich
φτωχός poor
ο βασιλιάς the king
η βασίλισσα the queen


Ο γιος του φίλου µου είναι ιερέας. My friend's son is a priest.

Ο βασιλιάς είναι πλούσιος. The king is rich.
Ο δάσκαλος έχει τριάντα µαθητές The teacher has 30 students.

The letter ν at the end of a word

You might have noticed above that while both ο πατέρας and ο µαθητής are
masculine nouns, the definite article at the accusative (object) case is different:

τον πατέρα
το µαθητή

There is a general rule that applies to not only the definite article but most words
ending with a ν. According to this rule if the next word does not start with a vowel or
any of the voiceless plosives (κ, π, τ, ξ, ψ) then the ν is often omitted.

Thus, the avoidance of complex consonant combinations helps in keeping the smooth
flow of the speech.


lit. "around ten," used loosely the same

καµιά δεκαριά
way "a dozen" is used in English
Παραγγέλνω ένα κουστούµι. I'm ordering a suit.
Ευτυχώς υπάρχει ενα κατάστηµα που Fortunately, there's a store that sells
πουλάει πολύ καλά υφάσµατα, κι έχει και very good material, and it has a large
µεγάλη ποικιλία υφασµάτων -- µάλλινα, variety of fabrics -- wool, cotton,
βαµβακερά, νάυλον κλπ. nylon, etc.
Οι Έλληνες δε θέλουν ν' αγοράζουν έτοιµα The Greeks don't like to buy ready-
κουστούµια. made suits.
Συνηθίζουν να πηγαίνουν στο ράφτη. They usually go to the tailor.
Ο ράφτης σας παίρνει τα µέτρα και The tailor takes your measurements,
χρησιµοποιεί όλη την επιτηδειότητά του, για and uses all his skill to make your suit
να κάνει το κουστούµι σας τέλειο. perfect.
Απ' το ίδιο κατάστηµα αγοράζω και καµιά At the same store, I'm also buying a a
δεκαριά άσπρα πουκάµισα bunch of white shirts.
Έχουν επίσης και πολύ καλές µεταξωτές They also have very good silk ties in all
γραβάτες σε όλα τα χρώµατα. colors.

Object pronouns, the vocative, more

numbers, food, past tenses in first
Object pronouns
We've already seen the personal subject pronouns in lesson 1, and the genitives in
lesson 3. Here are the object forms:

µε me µας us
σε you, singular σας you, plural
τον him τους them (masculine)
την her τους them (feminine)

το it τα them (neuter)

The object pronouns come before the verb:

Με βλέπουν. They see me.

The vocative
The vocative case is used when the noun is a person (or, conceivably, a thing) being
addressed. The following are some examples of nouns in all four cases.

Masculine nouns
Σκύλος, dog, is a masculine noun. Note the different forms of the definite article.

ο σκύλος the dog (subject, singular) οι σκύλοι the dogs (subject, plural)
του σκύλου of the dog (genitive singular) των σκύλων of the dogs (genitive plural)
το(ν) σκύλο the dog (object, singular) τους σκύλους the dogs (object, plural)
σκύλε! dog! (vocative singular) σκύλοι! dogs! (vocative plural)

The ending -ος is the most common one for masculine nouns, and σκύλος
demonstrates their regular pattern. Another noun in -oς is άνθρωπος, human/man


Ο σκύλος δαγκώνει τον άνθρωπο. The dog bites the man.

Ο άνθρωπος δαγκώνει το σκύλο. The man bites the dog.

Feminine nouns
The noun Η ώρα (the hour, the time) is shown below:

η ώρα the hour (subject, singular) οι ώρες the hours (subject, plural)
της ώρας of the hour (genitive singular) των ωρών of the hours (genitive plural)
την ώρα the hour (object, singular) τις ώρες the hours (object, plural)
ώρα! hour! (vocative singular) ώρες! hours! (vocative plural)

Neuter nouns
Το παιδί (the child) is an example of a neuter noun.

το παιδί the child (subject, singular) τα παιδιά the children (subject, plural)
του of the child (genitive των of the children (genitive
παιδιού singular) παιδιών plural)

το παιδί the child (object, singular) τα παιδιά the children (object, plural)
παιδί! child! (vocative singular) παιδιά! children! (vocative plural)

More numbers
Multiples of 10:

είκοσι 20
τριάντα 30
σαράντα 40
πενήντα 50
εξήντα 60
εβδοµήντα 70
ογδόντα 80
ενενήντα 90
εκατό 100

Most numbers from 1 to 100 are formed by giving a multiple of 10 following by the
second digit of the number. (The numbers from 13 to 19 are written as single words,
and the ones above 20 as two words.)

δεκατρία 13
εξήντα οκτώ 68

The numbers 11 and 12 are exceptions:

έντεκα (or ένδεκα) 11

δώδεκα 12

Past tenses
Imperfect tense in first conjugation
The imperfect tense is used to describe an action in the past that was continuous or
repeated. For verbs in the first conjugation, it is formed from the progressive stem by
moving the accent to the third syllable from the end, and adding endings that differ
from those used in the present. The following example illustrates this with the verb


διαβάζω διαβάζουµε
διαβάζεις διαβάζετε

διαβάζει διαβάζουν


διάβαζα διαβάζαµε
διάβαζες διαβάζατε
διάβαζε διάβαζαν


Η γιαγιά µου διάβαζε. My grandmother used to read.

If the stem of the verb is too short to allow an accent on the third syllable from the
end, the prefix ε- is added:

έγραφα γράφαµε
έγραφες γράφατε
έγραφε έγραφαν

Past tense in first conjugation

The past tense is used to indicate an action that occurred at one time in the past, or
that has been completed. It is formed in the same was as the imperfect, but from the
aorist stem.


διάβασα διαβάσαµε
διάβασες διαβάσατε
διάβασε διάβασαν


Χτες, διάβασε την εφηµερίδα. Yesterday, he read the newspaper.

Past tenses of είµαι and έχω

The verbs είµαι and έχω have only a single past tense, rather than separate imperfect
and past tenses.

Ο Αχιλλέας

Past tense of είµαι:

ήµουν ήµαστε
ήσουν ήσαστε
ήταν ήταν

Past tense of έχω:

είχα είχαµε
είχες έιχατε
είχε είχαν


Ο Αχιλλέας ήταν γιός του Πηλέα, βασιλιά

Achilles was the son of Peleus, king of
των Μυρµιδόνων, και της Νηρηίδας
the Myrmidons, and the nymph Thetis.

Formation of the aorist stem in the first conjugation

We have already seen that aorist stems are often formed by adding an "s" sound. The
following list shows more of the common patterns:

Ο Ευκλείδης
λύνω λύσω loosen
θέτω θέσω put, place
ακούω ακούσω hear
νιώθω νιώσω feel
διαβάζω διαβάσω read
αλλάζω αλλάξω change
υπάρχω υπάρξω exist
ανοίγω ανοίξω open
επιδιώκω επιδιώξω aim
σπρώχνω σπρώξω push
διδάσκω διδάξω teach
γράφω γράψω write
λείπω λείψω lack
σκύβω σκύψω lean, bend over


Έλυσαν τις ζώνες τους. They loosened their belts.

Μπορούµε να ακούσουµε τους σκύλους. We can hear the dogs.
Ο Ευκλείδης ήταν Έλληνας µαθηµατικός, Euclid was a greek mathematician who
που δίδαξε στην Αλεξάνδρεια της taught in Alexandria, Egypt. Today (lit.
Αιγύπτου. Στις µέρες µας είναι γνωστός ως "in our days") he is known as the father
ο πατέρας της γεωµετρίας.[2] of geometry.

The colors/τα χρώµατα

τα χρώµατα
µαύρο black
άσπρο white
κόκκινο red
κίτρινο yellow
πράσινο green
γαλανό/γαλάζιο azure, light blue
µπλε (transliteration from french: bleu) blue
πορτοκαλί (from the fruit) orange
καφέ (from coffee) brown
µωβ/µοβ (transliteration) mauve
γκρι (transliteration from french: gris) grey


Το λουλούδι είναι κόκκινο. The flower is red.

Τα λουλούδια είναι άσπρα. The flowers are white.

Since το χρώµα (the color) is a neuter noun, we use the neuter gender to refer to itself,
although we use the masculine or feminine gender to refer to it as a characteristic of a
masculine or feminine noun:

το µαύρο χρώµα
ο µαύρος σκύλος
η µαύρη γάτα
τα µαύρα µάτια

Foreign words like µπλέ do not change to show case or number:

το µπλε κασκόλ (french: cache-col) the blue scarf

τα µπλε κασκόλ (french: cache-col) the blue scarfs

Food and restaurants

τα σταφύλια

το κρέας

ο ελληνικός καφές

η σαλάτα

το φαγητό/το φαΐ the food
the traditional restaurant
η ταβέρνα
το εστιατόριο the modern restaurant
ο καφές the coffee
το καφενείο the traditional coffee-house
η καφετέρια/το καφέ the modern coffee-house
το µενού the menu
ο σερβιτόρος the waiter
ο λογαριασµός the bill (lit. the account)
το ψωµί the bread
ο φούρνος (colloquial)/το αρτοποιείο (formal) the bakery
η σαλάτα the salad
η µπύρα the beer
το γάλα the milk
το γιαούρτι the yoghurt
το ψάρι the fish
το κρέας the meat (~"pancreas")
η ντοµάτα the tomato
η ελιά the olive
το φρούτο the fruit
το µέλι the honey (~"mellifluous")
η ζάχαρη the sugar
το αλάτι the salt
το πιάτο the dish, plate
το πρωινό (colloquial)/το πρόγευµα (formal) the breakfast
γλυκός sweet
το γλυκό (colloquial)/ το επιδόρπιο (formal) the sweet, the dessert
το κουτάλι the spoon
το µαχαίρι the knife
το πηρούνι the fork
η χαρτοπετσέτα (when not from paper, η
the napkin
το ποτήρι the drinking glass
τα σταφύλια the grapes
το κώνειο the hemlock


Τον παλιό καιρό δεν αφήναν τις A long time ago, women weren't supposed
γυναίκες να κάθονται στα καφενεία. to sit in traditional coffee houses.

The verbs τρώγω, to eat, and πίνω, to drink, are irregular.

The verb τρώ(γ)ω, to eat

Ο Αδάµ και η Εύα έφαγαν το φρούτο.

Present tense:

τρώω τρώµε
τρως τρώτε
τρώει τρώνε


έτρωγα τρώγαµε
έτρωγες τρώγατε
έτρωγε έτρωγαν

Past (The aorist stem is φαγ-):

έφαγα φάγαµε
έφαγες φάγατε
έφαγε έφαγαν

Notice the έ- prefix on the past tense of all persons except first and second person
plural. Example:

Ο Αδάµ και η Εύα έφαγαν το φρούτο. Adam and Eve ate the fruit.

The verb πίνω, to drink

Ο Σωκράτης ήπιε το κώνειο.

Present tense:

πίνω πίνουµε
πίνεις πίνετε
πίνει πίνουν


έπινα πίναµε
έπινες πίνατε
έπινε έπιναν


ήπια ήπιαµε
ήπιες ήπιατε
ήπιε ήπιαν


Ο Σωκράτης ήπιε το κώνειο. Socrates drank the hemlock.

(The scientific name for hemlock is conium maculatum, which is Latin for "poison
hemlock." A very popular rock band in Greece during the sixties and seventies bore
the name "Socrates drank the conium.")

-Πεινώ. Πού µπορώ να φάω; -I'm hungry. Where can I eat?
-Αυτή η ταβέρνα έχει πολύ καλή κουζίνα. -That tavern has very good food. Let's go
Πάµε εκεί. there.
-Γκαρσόν, το µενού παρακαλώ. -Waiter, the menu, please.
-Ξέρω ότι εδώ έχουν φρέσκα ψάρια, καλά -I know they have fresh fish here, and
κοτόπουλα και πολύ νόστιµο κρέας. Αλλά good chicken and very tasty meat. But
τί µπορούµε να πιούµε; what can we drink?
-Στήν Ελλάδα όλος ο κόσµος πίνει ούζο,
-Everybody in Greece drinks ouzo, but
αλλά εµείς µποροµε να πιούµε µπίρα ή
we can drink beer or retsina.
-∆ηλαδή θέλετε να πείτε ότι το ούζο είναι -In other words, you're trying to tell me
το εθνικό τους ποτό; Και µήπως είναι το that ouzo is the national drink? And isn't
αρνάκι το εθνικό τους φαΐ; lamb their national food?
-Βεβαίως, όπως επίσης τα σουβλάκια, ο -Of course, as well as souvlaki,
µουσακάς και τα λοιπά. moussaka, etc.
-Τότε θα δοκιµάσουµε αµέσως τα περίφηµα -Then we'll taste their famous food right
φαγητά τους. Καλή όρεξη. away. Bon apetit!

Song: Γερακίνα
Γερακίνα is a very well known folk song.

Review of old vocabulary:

φέρνω (aorist φέρ-) to carry

πέφτω (aorist πέσ-) to fall
ρίχνω to throw
βγάζω (aorist βγάλ-) to take out
παίρνω to take
πιάνω to grab, here to hitch

New vocabulary:

κινώ to move
βραχιόλι bracelet
βροντώ to rumble, thunder
φωνή voice
καηµός sorrow

καηµένος lit. "sorrowful," used in expressions meaning poor me, poor you, etc.
χρυσός golden
το κορδόνι cord, rope

Κίνησε η Γερακίνα
για νερό κρύο να φέρει

τα βραχιόλια της βροντούν

τα βραχιόλια της βροντούν

Κι έπεσε µες στο πηγάδι

κι έβγαλε φωνή µεγάλη

Κι έτρεξε ο κόσµος όλος

κι έτρεξα κι εγώ καηµένος.

Έριξα χρυσό κορδόνη

και την έπιασα απ τη ζώνη

Γερακίνα θα σε βγάλω
και γυναίκα θα σε πάρω

Yerakina moved to fetch cold water...her bracelets thunder (present).
She fell into the well, and she shouted with a big voice (lit. brought a big voice out of
her mouth).
And everyone came running, and I came running, too, poor me.
Threw down a golden rope, and hitched it to her belt.
Yerakina, I'll pull you out, and take you for my wife.

The countryside, more about second-

conjugation verbs

ο ταύρος

το αγρόκτηµα

τα δέντρα
η ύπαιθρος the countryside ("open air", ~"ether")
το χωριό the village
η φύση the nature (~"physics")
το αγρόκτηµα the farm (~"agriculture")
ο αγρότης the farmer
το ζώο the animal (~"zoo")
το φυτό the plant
το δέντρο the tree (~"dendrite")
το δάσος the forest
ο γάïδαρος the donkey
το άλογο the horse
η αγελάδα the cow
ο ταύρος the bull (~"taurus")
η κατσίκα the goat
το πουλί the bird
το κοτόπουλο the chicken

πετώ to fly
η µύγα the fly
η µέλισσα the bee (~"mellifluous", honeyed)
το µυρµήγκι the ant
το µονοπάτι the path, trail
στενός narrow (~"stenographer")
το στενό the mountain pass
πάω περίπατο/πάω βόλτα to go for a walk (~"peripatetic")
το βουνό the mountain
ο λόφος the hill
η κοιλάδα the valley
ο ποταµός/το ποτάµι the river (~"hippopotamus")
το ρυάκι the stream, creek
ο βράχος the rock
το έδαφος the soil
ο βορράς; βόρειος the north; northern (~"aurora borealis")
ο νότος; νότιος the south; southern
η ανατολή; ανατολικός the east; eastern (~"Anatolia")
η δύση; δυτικός the west; west
ο ήλιος the sun (~"helium," which was first detected in the sun)
η σελήνη the moon
ο ουρανός the sky (~"Uranus," the sky god)
η σκιά the shadow
το αστέρι/το άστρο the star (~"astronaut")
η Γη the Earth


Πού είναι το µονοπάτι; Where is the path?

Το µονοπάτι είναι στενό. The trail is narrow.
το άλογο του αγρότη the farmer's horse
η κοιλάδα της σκιάς του θανάτου the valley of the shadow of death

The verb υπάρχω, to exist

The verb υπάρχω, to exist, is used where we would say there is or there are in

Υπάρχουν αγελάδες στην

There are cows in the countryside.
Υπάρχει κανένα πουλί στο Is there any bird οn the tree? (lit. Is there no bird on
δέντρο; the tree?)

Σκέπτοµαι, άρα υπάρχω. I think, therefore I am.

The verb πηγαίνω, to go

The common verb πηγαίνω has the aorist forms πήγα and να πάω.

Πηγαίνουµε στην ύπαιθρο. We're going to the country.

Πήγαµε στην ύπαιθρο. We went to the country.
Θέλετε να πάτε στην ύπαιθρο; Do you want to go to the country?

More about second-second-conjugation

Imperfect tense
The Imperfect is the Past Continuous in English.

Both first order verbs like αγαπώ (to love) and second order verbs like καλώ (to call),
use the suffix -ούσ-:

καλούσα καλούσαµε
καλούσες καλούσατε
καλούσε καλούσαν


Η µητέρα καλούσε το παιδί της. The mother was calling her child.
Το παιδί αγαπούσε τη µητέρα του. The child loved his mother.

The aorist is the simple past in English.

Verbs use one of the suffixes -ασ-, -ησ, -εσ-. The accent also goes to the previous

The verb αγαπώ (to love) becomes αγάπησα

αγάπησα αγαπήσαµε
αγάπησες αγαπήσατε
αγάπησε αγάπησαν

The verb διψώ (to go thirsty) becomes δίψασα

δίψασα διψάσαµε
δίψασες διψάσατε
δίψασε δίψασαν

The verb καλώ (to call, to invite) becomes κάλεσα

κάλεσα καλέσαµε
κάλεσες καλέσατε
κάλεσε κάλεσαν


Η µητέρα κάλεσε το παιδί της. The mother called her child.

Τα παιδιά δίψασαν. The children went thirsty.

The subjunctive has two forms according to the aspect being perfective or

Perfective Aspect:

να καλέσω να καλέσουµε
να καλέσεις να καλέσετε
να καλέσει να καλέσουν

The perfective aspect uses the aorist stem, which can be one of -ησ-,-ασ-,-εσ.

Imperfective Aspect:

να καλώ να καλούµε
να καλείς να καλείτε
να καλεί να καλούν

The imperfective subjunctive is conjugated exactly like the present tense (with the
addition of να)


Θέλω να σε καλέσω στα γενέθλιά I want to invite you to my birthday (party) this
µου φέτος year. (perfective)
Πρέπει να µε καλείς κάθε χρόνο, You should invite me every year, not only this
όχι µόνο φέτος year. (imperfective)

The seasons
το καλοκαίρι the summer
το φθινόπωρο the fall; the autumn
ο χειµώνας the winter
η άνοιξη the spring

The weather

ο καιρός the weather

η λιακάδα the sunshine
το σύννεφο the cloud
η βροχή the rain
η µπόρα the (rain) shower
η καταιγίδα the storm
η βροντή the thunder
η αστραπή the lightning (from cloud to cloud)
ο κεραυνός the lightning (if reaching the ground)
βρέχω to moisten
βρέχει it rains
το χιόνι the snow
χιονίζει it snows
το χιονόνερο the sleet
η οµίχλη the fog
η καταχνιά the mist
η πάχνη the dew
το χαλάζι the hail
ο παγετός the frost


Θέλετε να πάµε για περίπατο στο µονοπάτι Do you want to go for a walk on the
για το χωριό; ∆ε βρέχει. path to the village? It isn't raining.
Ηταν καλοκαίρι, αλλά έβρεχε. It was summer, but it was raining.
Κάνει ζέστη σήµερα. It's hot today.
Κάνει κρύο στο βουνό. It's cold on the mountain.
∆ε θέλουµε νά πάµε µε τα πόδια, γιατί We don't want to go on foot, because
βρέχει. it's raining.

Ο ∆ίας είναι ο γιος του Κρόνου και της Ρέας. Zeus is the son of Kronos and Rhea. He
Είναι θεός του ουρανού και της βροντής.[1] is the god of the sky and the thunder.

Future tenses
The future tense is formed by adding the word θα before the verb:

Θα κάνει ζέστη αύριο. It will be hot tomorrow.

Combining θα with the present tense gives the future continuous (εξακολουθητικός
µέλλοντας, exakolouthitikos melondas, "future imperfect"), which implies that the
action will continue, perhaps indefinitely:

Θα καθαρίζω το σπίτι. I will be cleaning the house.

If we instead use the aorist stem, we have the future simple (στιγµιαίος µέλλοντας,
stigmieos melondas, "future instantaneous"), which implies that the action will only
happen once:

Θα καθαρίσω το σπίτι. I will clean the house (at a certain time).

-Χαίρετε, κυρία. -Hello, ma'am.
-Χαίρετε, κύριε. -Hello, sir.
-Αυτό το αγρόκτηµα, είναι δικό σας; -This farm, is it yours?
-Ναι. Πού πάτε γιά περίπατο; -Yes. Where are you going on your walk?
-Στο χωριό. Η ύπαιθρος είναι πολύ -To the village. The country is very
όµορφη. Πόσες αγελάδες έχετε; beautiful. How many cows do you have?
-∆ώδεκα, και έναν ταύρο. -Twelve, and a bull.

Song: Τα κλεφτόπουλα

A scene from the Greek War of Independence.

This song dates to the Greek War of Independence, 1821-1827.

κλέφτης thief, guerrilla, resistance fighter

κλεφτόπουλο young resistance fighter
τουφέκι, ντουφέκι long gun (rifle, musket, or shot gun)

Μάνα µου τα, µάνα µου τα κλεφτόπουλα

τρώνε και τραγουδάνε, άιντε πίνουν και γλεντάνε

Μα ένα µικρό, µα ένα µικρό κλεφτόπουλο

δεν τρώει, δεν τραγουδάει, βάι δεν πίνει, δεν γλεντάει

Μόν' τ' άρµαντα, µόν' τ' άρµαντά του κοίταζε

Του ντουφεκιού του λέει: «Γεια σου Κίτσο µου λεβέντη!»

Ντουφέκι µου, ντουφέκι µου περήφανο

σπαθί ξεγυµνωµένο, µια χαρά είσαι το καηµένο

Πολλές φορές, πολλές φορές µε γλύτωσες

απ' του εχθρού τα χέρια µε κυνήγαν νύχτα µέρα

Και τώρα µε, και τώρα µε λησµόνησες

σαν καλαµιά στον κάµπο. ∆εν µου λέεις τι να κάνω

(Note: The words above are transcribed from the recording. In the second-to-last
verse, the traditional words are actually "απ' του εχθρού τα χέρια κι απ' των Τούρκων
τα µαχαίρια.")


Mother, mother, the warriors, they eat and sing, they drink and make merry.

But one young warrior, he doesn't eat, he doesn't sing, doesn't drink or make
He only looks at his weapons, and says to his musket, "Hello Kitso, my brave
My musket, my proud musket, my sword unsheathed, a joy you are, my dear.
Many times, many times you saved me from the hands of my enemies who
chased me day and night.
And now, and now you forget me like a reed in the field. You don't tell me
what to do.

Passive voice, perfect tenses, the verbs

βλέπω and λέω, numbers to 1000
Passive voice
Certain verbs have both active and passive forms:

I marry (i.e. perform a wedding in the capacity of a priest, mayor

and/or best man/woman).
Παντρεύοµαι. I am getting married.

Just as the first-person singular present-tense form, παντρεύω, is used to refer to the
active verb in general, so the first-person singular present tense of the passive voice,
παντρεύοµαι, refers to the passive form in general.


Το κρασί µε ζαλίζει. The wine makes me dizzy.

Ζαλίζοµαι. I get dizzy.

Sometimes the passive voice is used to express the idea of doing something to
oneself, or to describe someone's own physical or mental state:

Κρύβω τα λεφτά. I hide the money.

Κρύβοµαι. I hide (myself)
Η µητέρα χτενίζει το παιδί. The mother combs the child's hair.
Η µητέρα χτενίζεται. The mother combs her (own) hair.
Χτενίζω τα µαλλιά µου to comb one's own hair (a lyrical construction)
Πού χτενίζεσαι; Where do you get your hair done?

In many cases, the passive form has a meaning that can't be guessed simply by taking
the same concept and making the subject of the verb the recipient of the action. The
following are some passive verbs:

βρίσκοµαι be, sit, stand

γυµνάζοµαι drill, train (sports)
διαλύνοµαι break apart
ετοιµάζοµαι get ready
γεννιέµαι be born

Some verbs only exist in the passive voice, for example:

έρχοµαι arrive, come

φαίνοµαι appear (~"phenomenon")
χρειάζοµαι need, require
θυµάµαι remember (~"thymus")
φοβάµαι be afraid (~"phobia")
αισθάνοµαι feel (~"aesthetics")
κοιµάµαι sleep
αποκοιµάµαι fall asleep
σκέπτοµαι to reflect, to ponder something (~"skeptic")
συλλογιέµαι to think (~"syllogism")
κάθοµαι sit
γίνοµαι become
δέχοµαι receive, accept

The present tense of the passive is conjugated like this:

κοιµάµαι κοιµόµαστε
κοιµάσαι κοιµάστε
κοιµάται κοιµούνται


Η µητέρα αποκοιµίζει το µωρό. The mother puts the baby to sleep.

Το µωρό αποκοιµάται. The baby falls asleep.
Το µωρό και η µητέρα αποκοιµούνται. The baby and the mother fall asleep.

Perfect and Pluperfect

As in English, the perfect tenses are formed using the helping verb to have.

The Perfect tense (same as Present Perfect in English) is called Παρακείµενος
(parakeimenos, "being close") is formed by the verb έχω in present tense followed by
the third person singular of the past subjunctive of the verb. The past subjunctive is
formed by the aorist stem plus the suffix -ει.

Έχω γραψει. I have written.

Έχουµε γραψει. We have written.

The Pluperfect tense (same as Past Perfect in English) is called Υπερσυντέλικος

(hypersyndelikos, "hyper-perfect") is formed by the verb έχω in past tense followed
by the third person singular of the past subjunctive of the verb

Είχα γραψει. I had written.

Είχαµε γραψει. We had written.
Είχε αποχαιρετήσει τη γυναικα του. He had said goodbye to his wife.

Future Perfect
Future Perfect is another future tense, which is formed with the word θα preceding the
Perfect tense and signifies that in a moment in the future, an action will be a thing of
the past. Its Greek name is συντελεσµένος µέλλοντας (syndelesmenos melondas) and it
is equivalent to the Future Perfect in English.

Θα έχω γράψει. I will have written.

Note that in Greek there is no equivalent to the Future Perfect Continuous tense. Both
meanings are expressed with Future Perfect and usually the actual nuance is derived
from the neighboring words.

Θα έχω γράψει. I will have written.

Θα έχω γράψει. I will have been writing.

Due to the lack of Future Perfect Continuous, very often the phrase is changed to
Future Continuous.

I will have been waiting for two hours when

No Greek equivalent.
the plane arrives.
The phrase changes to
Θα περιµένω δύο ώρες µέχρι να έρθει I will be waiting for two hours until the
το αεροπλάνο. plane arrives.

The irregular verb βλέπω, to see
The present tense is regular:

βλέπω βλέπουµε
βλέπεις βλέπετε
βλέπει βλέπουν

The aorist uses a stem that is related to the English word "kaleidoscope:"

είδα είδαµε
είδες είδατε
είδε είδαν

The irregular verb λέω, to say


λέω λέµε
λες λέτε
λέει λένε

Aorist past:

είπα είπαµε
είπες είπατε
είπε είπαν

Numbers to 1000
εκατό 100
διακόσια 200
τριακόσια 300
τετρακόσια 400
πεντακόσια 500
εξακόσια 600
επτακόσια (coll. εφτακόσια) 700
οκτακόσια (coll. οχτακόσια) 800
εννιακόσια 900
χίλια 1000
δυο χιλιάδες 2000

The battle of Thermopylae/Η µάχη των

Η µάχη των Θερµοπυλών

η µάχη the battle
ο πόλεµος the war (~"polemic")
πολεµώ to fight
η ειρήνη the peace (~"Irene," "irenic")
προ Χριστού, π.Χ. before Christ
βάλλω to shoot (in ancient Greek, 'to throw')
εισβάλλω to invade (from εις + βάλλω, 'throw in')
η Περσία Persia
ο Πέρσης the Persian
η Σπάρτη Sparta
ο Σπαρτιάτης the Spartan

ο στρατός the army (~"strategy")
το βέλος the arrow
το τόξο the bow
το σπαθί the sword
κρύβω hide
εναντίον (+genitive) against
ενάντια σε (+accusative)
κρατώ γερά stand fast (lit. "hold strong")
επιβραδύνω to slow down (επί+βραδύς)

Much of the following reading was adapted from the Wikipedia article Μάχη των
Θερµοπυλών (Battle of Thermopylae).

Το 484 π.Χ., ο βασιλιάς ∆αρείος της In 484 B.C., King Darius of Persia
Περσίας εισέβαλε στην Ελλάδα. Ενάντια σε invaded Greece. Against 200,000
200.000 Πέρσες, υπήρχαν 4.000 Έλληνες Persians, there were 4,000 Greeks
υπό το βασιλιά Λεωνίδα της Σπάρτης. under King Leonidas of Sparta.
Ο Λεωνίδας αποχαιρετούσε τη γυναίκα του, Leonidas was saying farewell to his
τη Γοργώ. Η Γοργώ τον ρώτησε τι πρέπει να wife, Gorgo. Gorgo asked him what she
κάνει τώρα που αυτός φεύγει. Της απάντησε should do now that he was leaving. He
ότι πρέπει να βρει ένα καλό άνδρα να replied that she should find a good man
συνεχίσει τη ζωή της. and continue her life.
At the Pass of Thermopylae, the Greeks
Στο Στενό των Θερµοπυλών οι Έλληνες
were waiting for the Persians. The
περίµεναν τους Πέρσες. Οι Πέρσες τους
Persians saw them: They couldn't
είδαν: ∆εν καταλάβαιναν γιατί χτενίζαν τα
understand why they were combing their
µαλλιά τους και γυµνάζονταν. Ήταν γιατί
hair and taking exercise. It was because
περίµεναν το θάνατο.
they were expecting death.
There was no fear. They were doing the
∆εν υπήρχε φόβος. Έκαναν το µοναδικό
only thing they knew. To fight. It had
πράγµα που ήξεραν. Να πολεµάνε. Είχε
become their life. When someone said he
γίνει η ζωή τους. Οταν κάποιος είπε πως
had seen the Persian army and their
είχε δεί τον περσικό στρατό και τα βέλη
arrows were hiding the sun, a Spartan
τους έκρυβαν τον ήλιο, ένας Σπαρτιάτης
said: Nice, then we will fight in the
είπε: Ωραία, τότε θα πολεµήσουµε υπό σκιά.
Οι Έλληνες κράτησαν για πεντε µέρες. Όταν The Greeks held out for five days. When
τα σπαθιά τους διαλύθηκαν, πολέµησαν µε their swords broke, they fought with
τα χέρια και τα δόντια. Η µάχη των their hands and teeth. The battle of
Θερµοπυλών επιβράδυνε τους Πέρσες, και η Thermopylae slowed down the Persians,
Ελλάδα µπόρεσε να ετοιµαστεί για να and Greece was able to get ready to
πολεµήσει. Το 479 π.Χ., οι Πέρσες έφυγαν fight. In 479 B.C., the Persians retreated
από την Ελλάδα. from Greece.

Passive imperfect, comparisons,
expressions of time
Passive imperfect tense
Review of the present passive; εµπιστεύοµαι, to trust:

εµπιστεύοµαι εµπιστευόµαστε
εµπιστεύεσαι εµπιστεύεστε
εµπιστεύεται εµπιστεύονται

The passive imperfect, like the active imperfect, indicates an action in the past that
was ongoing:

εµπιστευόµουν εµπιστευόµασταν
εµπιστευόσουν εµπιστευόσασταν
εµπιστευόταν εµπιστεύονταν

Comparisons of adjectives like -er and -est in English are expressed using the endings
-τερος and -τατος:

πλούσιος rich
πλουσιότερος richer
ο πλουσιότατος the richest
ένας πλούσιος πολιτικός a rich politician
ένας πλουσιότερος πολιτικός a richer politician
ο πλουσιότατος πολιτικός the richest politician
η πλουσιότατη βασίλισσα the richest queen

Note the shift in the accent toward the end of the word. The common word µεγάλος,
big, has the irregular form µεγαλύτερος.

The word πιο can be used instead:

Αυτός ο πολιτικός είναι πιο πλούσιος. That politician is richer.

Αυτός ο πολιτικός είναι ο πιο πλούσιος. That politician is the richest.


πολύ much

πολλοί many
πόσος how much
πόσοι how many
περισσότερος more
ελάχιστος least
λίγο a little
λίγοι a few
τόσο ... όσο ... as ... as ...
κοντά almost (used with numbers and amounts)
αρκετά enough
πάρα πολύ very much

Expressions of time
Ένας γέρος
Στου καφενείου του βοερού το µέσα µέρος
σκυµένος στο τραπέζι κάθετ' ένας γέρος·
µε µίαν εφηµερίδα εµπρός του, χωρίς συντροφιά.

Και µες στων άθλιων γηρατειών την καταφρόνεια

σκέπτεται πόσο λίγο χάρηκε τα χρόνια
που είχε και δύναµη, και λόγο, κι οµορφιά.

Ξέρει πως γέρασε πολύ· το νοιώθει, το κοιτάζει.

Κ' εν τούτοις ο καιρός που ήταν νέος µοιάζει
σαν χθες. Τι διάστηµα µικρό, τι διάστηµα µικρό.

Και συλλογιέται η Φρόνηση πώς τον εγέλα·

και πώς την εµπιστευόταν πάντα -- τι τρέλλα! --
την ψεύτρα που έλεγε· «Αύριο. Έχεις πολύ καιρό».

Θυµάται ορµές που βάσταγε· και πόση

χαρά θυσίαζε. Την άµυαλή του γνώση
καθ' ευκαιρία χαµένη τώρα την εµπαίζει.

....Μα απ' το πολύ να σκέπτεται και να θυµάται

ο γέρος εζαλίστηκε. Κι αποκοιµάται
στο καφενείο ακουµπισµένος στο τραπέζι.

Κωνσταντίνος Π. Καβάφης (1897)

An old man is sitting, bent over the table in the back of the noisy coffeehouse, a
newspaper in front of him, companionless.

And in the despair of miserable old age, he thinks how little he enjoyed the years
when he was strong and beautiful, and had a say in things.

He knows he's very old; he can feel it and see it. Still the time when he was young
seems like yesterday. What a short time, what a short time.

And he thinks what a trick Prudence has played on him; how he trusted her -- what
folly! -- and how she lied when she said, "Tomorrow. There's always tomorrow."

He remembers the passions he controlled, and the joys he passed by. Now those lost
opportunities mock his foolish wisdom.

But all that thinking and remembering makes him dizzy, and he falls asleep in the
coffeehouse, bent over the table.