Greek Language Tips for Today

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        This post is locked because I don’t want the list, below, to be broken up by comments and questions. If you have comments or questions, please start a new post. I don’t have a lot of time to answer questions so forgive me if I don’t.
        Note: I am not a Greek language expert. I, too, am learning. However, I’m at a stage where (I hope) I can explain things in simple terms in order to help beginners.

        Manolis

        May 15, 2018
        Greek language tip for today:
        In Greek (and many European languages) there is no “i” sound as in English “tip”, “fit”, etc. In Greek it is always pronounced like “ee” as in “feet” (but shorter). So, if you say any Greek word, remember that iota (ι) is a short ee sound. If you clip the sound as in “bit” then you will be speaking Greek with an “english accent”, which is harder to understand.

        May 16, 2018
        Greek language tip (2) for today:
        The Greek word for “hiccups” is λόξυγγας which – believe it or not – is pronounced “locks-in-gas”! (Remember that the “i” is like a short “ee”, although the difference is barely perceptible in this word.)

        May 17, 2018
        Greek language tip (3) for today:
        The Greek word for “wasp” is σφήκα (sfika) but on Crete it’s pronounced “sfeenga”. It sounds a bit like “stinger” and “finger”. (Remember that the “i” and “ή” sound like a short “ee” and, in this word, it has an accent (tonos) so it is the stressed syllable “sfEEnga”.)

        May 18, 2018
        Greek language tip (4) for today:
        The Greek word for “bee” is μέλισσα (mEleesa) from which we get the word for honey (mElee). The Greek word for “bumblebee” is μπούμπουρας (bOOboorass), which can also mean “numbskull”.

        May 19, 2018
        Greek language tip (5):
        Greek words have three genders (as do German words – although not necessarily the same in both languages – for example chair “der stuhl” is masculine in German but “ee karekla” is feminine in Greek!) English speakers find it strange that objects have genders but it’s not really difficult to remember them and the word itself often gives a clue. For example “neuter” words usually end in”o”, “ι” or “ma” (μα). Words ending in “η” or “α” (but not “μα”) are usually feminine. Words ending in “ος” or “ας” are usually masculine, but with some exceptions. The word for “road” is “odhos” (where “dh” represents the “th” sound as in “that”). But “odhos” (η οδός) is feminine so you will see signs for the National Road as “Η εθνική οδός”. Note that the adjective “national” ends in ita (η) as is usual for feminine words. Note, too, where the stress accent (tonos) lies in each word so that you know how to pronounce it. “Η εθνική οδός” is “ee ethneekEE odhOss”. But PLEASE don’t feel overwhelmed by all this. The best way to learn is to chat with locals. (Simply listening won’t help much because they normally speak far too quickly. You must CHAT with them so that YOU know the subject matter and so THEY have to slow down and speak clearly for you.)
        Another word is στενό, meaning narrow street. So, when asking directions you might hear: “θα στρίψετε στο δέυτερο στενό αριστερά”, meaning “You will turn (take) the second narrow-street (on the) left.

        Greek language tip (6):
        Many Greek Christian names end in sigma (s). Such as “Manolis”. When you address somebody directly, you omit the “s” to say “Hello Manolee”. When you are talking about someone, you pronounce that letter, “This is Manolees”.
        You’ll find previous tips here.

        Greek language tip (7):
        Just as you omit the “s” from the end of a Christian name when addressing someone, so you must also omit it when a noun is the OBJECT of a sentence. Here is an example:
        Here is the garden. I go to the garden.
        Εδώ είναι ο κήπος. Πάω στον κήπο.
        (EdhO EEne o kEEpos. Pow ston kEEpo.)
        Note: if you put these English phrases into Google translate it will probably get them right. But beware! It can not cope with more complex sentences and idioms. For example, type “Can I give you a lift?” into Google translate and it will probably give you the Greek for “can I give you an escalator?” (In case you were wondering, the Greek idiom is actually “Να σε ποω” – Na se pow?)

        Greek language tip (8)
        In English we do not use the present tense as often as past and future. (It’s rare that you will feel the need to tell someone “I eat my lunch” or “I go to London”.) Likewise in Greek we have the Present tense but it’s not used as much as future and past. So, knowing how to construct the future tense is handy. In English we use the word “will” to indicate future. “I will go to London tomorrow.” In Greek we use θα (tha – as in “thanks”). So “I will go” is θα παω (tha pow). This happens to be an easy verb because it does not change between present and future tenses. However, most verbs do change and you have to learn the future tense conjugations. For example “I speak” is μιλάω (meelAoo) but “I will speak” is θα μιλίσω (tha meelEEso).

        Greek language tip (9):
        Yesterday we mentioned the verb “to go”, which is pronounced “pow”. When you are leaving a taverna it is tempting to say “I will go now” but, in Greek, that makes no sense because “pow” must always be used with a place. So you can say θα παω σπίτι (tha pow speetee) meaning literally “that I go house” (I will go home) or you can use the verb “to leave” instead. So “I will leave now” (I am leaving now) is θα φίγω τώρα (tha feego tora).

        Greek language tip (10):
        There are certain “rules” for making the past tense but the most important is that, if the verb has three or more syllables, then you stress the third syllable before the last. If it has fewer than three then you stress the first syllable. For a lot of verbs that have only two syllables, you add “ε” epsilon in front and stress that (but the verb “to go” is an exception). So let’s look at examples:
        I eat is φαω (fow). I ate is έφαγα (Efaga).
        I go is παω (pow). I went to Haniá is πίγα στα Χανιά (pEEga sta HaniA).
        I return is επιστρέφω (epeestrEfo). I returned is επίστρεφα (epEEstrefa).
        Trying to remember too many rules will simply confuse you. It’s best to learn example PHRASES that contain the verbs that you will use most often.
        Note that the past tense verb used with “I” always ends with “α” alpha.
        Let’s look at the “we” form:
        We eat is φάμε (fAme). We ate is φάγαμε (fAgame).
        We go is πάμε (pame). We went to Rethymno is πιγαμε στο Ρέθυμνο (pEEgame sto rEthymno).
        We return is επιστρέφουμε. We returned is επιστρέφαμε (epeestrEfame).
        Practise saying these. Be sure to get the stress right.

        Greek language tip (11):
        You can form the conditional tense by saying θα (tha) before the modified root verb.
        I want is θέλω (thElo). I wanted is ήθελα (EEthela). I would like is θα ήθελα (tha EEthela). Since it’s such a useful phrase, let’s look at the plural, too:
        We want is θέλουμε. We wanted is θέλαμε. We would want (we would like) is θα θέλαμε (tha thElame).
        Notice that ήθελα just broke the “rule” that you add έ before the verb to form the past tense! Rules are useful but Greek has many “irregular” verbs that don’t obey them. I recommend simply learning the phrase and not worrying about rules. If you can remember just one word or short phrase per day, you will be doing extremely well. And, gradually, you will be able to piece together meaningful sentences.

        May 27, 2018
        Greek language tip (12):
        What will you drink? Τι θα πιετε; (tee tha pee-ete?)
        This is the plural and polite form. The singular or familiar form is:
        Τι θα πιενεις; (tee tha peenees?) Yes, it sounds very much like like penis, so it’s easy to remember.
        I am thirsty: διψάω (dheepsaoo) or διψω (dheepso). Pronounce “dh” like “th” in “that”. This is the source of the English word “dipsomaniac” for one who drinks too much alcohol.
        I drink: πίνω (pEEno).
        I drank already: ήπια ήδη (EEpeea EEdhee).
        I drank nothing: δεν ήπια τίποτα (dhen EEpeea tEEpotta).
        I will drink fresh juice of orange: Θα πίνω φρέσκο χυμό πορτοκαλιού. (tha pEEno frEsko hEEmo portokaliOO). Note that orange is πορτοκάλι (portokAlee) but since we are asking for juice OF orange we have to use the “possessive” ending of the noun. But don’t worry about remembering this. “portokAlee” will be understood perfectly.
        Clarification & corrections from Vanessa:
        OK – you can either say “Τι πίνεις;” (what are you drinking?) or “Τι θα πιεις;” (what will you drink?) – “Τι θα πίνεις;” would roughly translate into “what will you be drinking?”. As for “I’ll have an orange juice”, it’s best to say “θα πιω” rather than “θα πίνω”, for the same reason. But if people are going to be in a kafeneio all night drinking raki, you could say “θα πίνω ρακές με την παρέα”, if that makes any sense :)

        May 28, 2018
        Greek language tip (13):
        When someone is leaving you’ll sometimes hear a local say to them “στο καλό” (sto kalO). Of course, literally, this means “to the good” but there is no direct English translation. However, it is used where we might say “mind how you go” or “take care” or even “God speed”. Listen out for it but be careful if you say it yourself. It can be said in a sarcastic manner, which reverses its meaning, and won’t be appreciated! Also note that it is said ONLY to the person who is leaving. If you are leaving, it would be meaningless for you to say it.

        May 29, 2018
        Greek language tip (14):
        Κάλημέρα (kAlee mEra) means literally “good day” but is used only as “good morning”. Frequently it’s followed by “sas” (you).
        From about 1pm you’ll hear καλό απόγευμα (kalO apOyevma) which means literally “good from-meal” or, as we would say, “good afternoon”.
        Later on you’ll hear κάλυ σπέρα (kAlee spEra) which means “good evening”, although I’ve heard it used as early as 3pm.
        In the evening, when someone is leaving, you’ll hear κάλο βράδυ (kAlo vrAdhee) “good evening” or κάλυ νύχτα (kAlee nEEhta) “goodnight”.

        May 30, 2018
        Greek language tip (15):
        The word (prEssa) means “press” but it’s also used to refer to a cement pumping vehicle. The word is feminine so it’s η πρέσα (the press) or μία πρέσα (a press).
        Cement is το tσiμέντο (to tseemento). Note that “to” (neuter version of “the”) is pronounced as in “tock”. However the substance pumped by the pumping machine is not “tσiμέντο” which sticks it all together. It’s “μπετόν” (betOn) meaning “concrete”.
        Gravel is το χαλίκι (to halEEkee) and sand is άμμος. Although this has a typical “masculine” ending, it can be either masculine or feminine – ο άμμος / η άμμος. The dictionary gives an example of its (feminine) use: Τα παιδιά έπαιζαν στην άμμο. (Ta pedheeA Epezan steen Ammo.)
        Τα παιδιά is “the children” (plural, obviously). έπαιζαν is the “imperfect” or “past continuous” (they) conjugation of the verb to play παίζω (pEzo). στην means “in the”, “to the”, “at the”, “on the” for a feminine noun. And note that the sigma ς is omitted because “sand” is the object of the sentence.
        It seems like a lot to learn and it barely scratches the surface! This is why I recommend learning phrases (such as this one) instead of learning verb conjugation tables and reading grammar books. This is how a baby learns and it’s effective! You will make mistakes but you will be communicating far sooner. (How many people have been taking lessons for ten years and can hardly order a drink? Now you know why.)

        May 31, 2018
        Greek language tip (16):
        The word for “drops” is η σταγόνες (stagOness) but there’s a specific word for “eye drops”, which is το κολλύριο (kollEEreeo). If you need “nose drops” you ask for σταγόνες για τη μύτη (stagOness yeea tee mEEtee).

        June 1, 2018 – Καλό μήνα! (KalO mEEna!)
        Greek language tip (17):
        TENDON: a flexible but inelastic cord of strong fibrous collagen tissue attaching a muscle to a bone.
        Τενtώνω (tendOno) – the verb “to stretch”. (Notice, by the way, that there is no letter “D” in Greek. The sound is made by using nee and taf together like “nt”.)
        “It stretches” = τεντώνει (tendOnee).
        “It stretched” – τεντώθηκε (tendOtheeke).
        “It is stretched” = είναι τεντωμένο / τεντωμένος / τεντωμένη (tendomEno/-os/-ee).
        In this last example we are using the verb “to be” (it is) with the adjective “stretched”. In Greek the adjective takes the gender ending for the item it is describing. So “the chain is stretched” would be:
        Η αλυσίδα είναι τεντωμένη (Ee aleesEEdha eene tendomEnee).
        This verb is used ONLY in the literal sense with objects. You can not use it to describe a person who is “stretched” due to overwork or in any other metaphoric or figurative sense.

        Greek language tip (18):
        Money talk!
        Συγνώμι δεν έχω καθόλου ψιλά
        (SeegnOmee dhen Eho kathOloo pseelA.)
        Sorry, I have no change at all.
        KathOloo means “at all”.
        Spelling matters. Whereas ψιλά means “small change”, ψυλά means “high up”. Both are pronounced the same way.

        June 3, 2018
        Greek language tip (19):
        More money talk!
        Can you change a fifty? a twenty? a tenner?
        Μπορείτε να αλλάξετε ένα πενήνταρικο; ένα είκοσαρικο; ένα δέκαρικο;
        (Boreete na alAksete Ena penEEndariko? Ena EEkossareeko? Ena dhEkareeko?)
        Are you a numismatist? Then you might ask:
        “By any chance, have you any coins?”
        Μήπως έχετε νομίσματα;
        (mEEposs Ehete nomEEsmata?)
        “Euros, please.”
        Ευρώ, παρακαλώ.
        As “Euro” is a foreign import word, it does not change in the plural form.
        “mEEpos Ehete” is a common and polite way of asking for something.
        Note that “h” when I type it in English for phonetics is pronounced as a soft “ch” in Scottish “loch” and “dh” represents “th” in “there”.

        June 4, 2018
        Greek language tip (20):
        In a taverna you might like to ask “What have you cooked?”
        Τι έχετε μαγειρέψει;
        (tee Ehete ma-yee-rEpsee?)
        It is not unusual to be taken into the kitchen to see the food so you might ask “Can you show me?”
        Μπορείτε να μου δείξετε?
        (borEEte na moo dhEEksete?)

        June 5, 2018
        Greek language tip (21):
        The Greek word for “please” παρακαλώ (parakalO) is probably the first word you learned. It also serves as “you are welcome” or “don’t mention it”. However, in many village cafés, you will not hear the old men say παρακαλώ when shouting out their drinks orders. You could say that’s slightly rude but it’s just accepted.
        The Greek word for “thanks” is ευχαριστώ (efhareestO). When someone says that you MUST respond with παρακαλώ. No exceptions. For this reason YOU should use ευχαριστώ sparingly. For example, there are ten people in a taverna who have just ordered. The waiter brings out ten plates and sets them down. Each person says ευχαριστώ so the waiter HAS to say παρακαλώ TEN times. Then he brings the ten glasses, bottles of water, bread, etc. Then ten meals. By the time he has finished saying παρακαλώ he is pretty pissed off.
        So please DON’T say ευχαριστώ continually. It’s best left till the end of the meal as you are leaving. When items are brought to the table, all you need to do is smile and nod, or pat your chest with one hand.

        June 8, 2018
        Greek language tip (24):
        The bus = το λεωφορείο (to layoforEEo).
        The bus stop = η στάση του λεωφορείου (ee stAsee too layoforEEoo).
        Notice how the word endings change from “o” to “oo” in the genitive case for this neuter noun to indicate possession: “the stop of the bus”.
        If you are on a bus, approaching your stop, you can shout στάση! if necessary.
        When you enter a bus, simply tell the driver your destination. For example: Γεωργιούπολη παρακαλώ (YourYOUpollee parakalO). Here we see another example of the genitive (possessive) case in the actual name. Γεώργιου means “of George” and πόλη means “town”.
        By the way, please don’t confuse πόλη (pOllee) “town” with πολύ (pollEE), meaning “very”.

        June 9, 2018
        Greek language tip (25):
        The Greek verb “to adjust” is ρυθμίζω (reethmEEzo). It is also used to mean “tune in” and in some instances “to control”. So “can you tune this radio?” is μπορείτε ωα ρυθμίζετε αυτό το ράδιο; (borEEte va reethmEEzete aftO to rAdio?)
        “The room is too hot. Can you adjust the temperature?” Το δωμάτιο είναι πολύ ζεστό. Μπορείτε να ρυθμίσετε τη θερμοκρασία; (to dhomAteeo EEne pollEE zestO. borEEte na reethmEEzete tee thermokrasEEa?)

        June 10, 2018
        Greek language tip (26):
        Family:
        Greek people have extended families and love to talk about them. They will expect you to tell them all about yours so it’s a good idea to learn the basics!
        My son lives in England: ο γιος μου μένει στιν Αγγλία. (O yoss moo mEnee steen anglEEa).
        I have one son: έχω ένα γιο. (Eho ena yo).
        We have three sons: έχουμε τρεις γιους. (Ehoome trees yoos).
        My daughter lives in Australia: η κόρη μου μένει στην Αυστραλία. (ee kOree moo mEnee steen avstralEEa).
        I have one daughter: έχω μια κόρι. (Eho meea kOree).
        I have two daughters: έχω δύο κόρες. (Eho dhEEo kOres).

        June 10, 2018
        Greek language tip (26):
        More Family:
        My sister. Η αδελφή μου. (ee adhelfEE moo)
        My brother. Ο αδελφός μου. (o adhelfOS moo)
        I have one sister. Εχω μια αδελφή. (Eho meea adhelfEE)
        I have one brother. Εχω εναν αδελφό. (Eho Enan adhelfO)
        I have three sisters. Εχω τρεις αδελφες. (Eho trEEs adhelfess)
        I have four brothers. Έχω τέσσερα αδέλφια. (Eho TESSera adhELfeea)
        Note that it is equally correct to say αδερφή, αδερφός (adherfee, adherfOS) etc. Depends on local dialect.

        June 14, 2018
        Greek language tip (29):
        BUILDING WORK
        The builder: ο οικοδόμος (o eekodhOmos).
        The labourer: ο χτίστης (o htEEstees).
        The building: το κτίριο (to ktEEreeo).
        The house: το σπίτι (to spEEtee).
        The house: ο οίκος (o EEkos). This is a more formal word meaning “place of residence” or even referring to a place of work (publishing house, fashion house, etc.) and, while you probably won’t use it much, you’ll see it written on signs, in books and newspapers.
        To construct: κατασκευάζω (kataskevAzo).
        To build: χτίζω (htEEzo).
        Sand: η άμμος (ee Ammos). Notice that this word is feminine, although it has a typically masculine “os” ending.
        “You move the sand”: Μετακινήστε την άμμο (metakeenEEste teen Ammo).
        Gravel: το χαλίκι (to halEEkee).
        Cement: το τσιμέντο (to tseemEnto). Meaning the actual powder.
        Powder/dust: η σκόνη (ee skOnee).
        Concrete: το μπετόν (to betOn).
        There are more formal words for “cement” and “concrete” which might be used instead of these “foreign import” words but you’ll rarely come across them.
        The shovel: το φτυάρι (to fteeAree).
        The gas bottle: η φιάλη (ee feeAlee).
        The concrete mixer: το μπετονιέρα (to betoneeAIRa) – both large and small.

        June 15, 2018
        Greek language tip (30):
        SCHOOL HOLIDAYS
        Today the children finish school for the summer break. The parents collect their children’s school reports απολυτίρια (apoleetEEreea). In Greece, state schooling is paid for via taxes, as is university tuition and books EXCEPT for those children whose parents paid for them to go to a private school. In this case, they must also PAY for university tuition and all associated expenses. This article (in Greek) explains:
        https://www.offsite.com.cy/articles/eidiseis/topika/232399-pairnoyn-apolytiria-apo-idiotiko-sholeio-kai-den-mporoyn-na

        August 27, 2018
        Greek language tip (31):
        CAR REPAIRS

        May I leave it here?
        Μπορώ να το αφήσω εδώ; (Boro na to afEEso edho?)
        [Can that it I-leave here?]

        The windscreen wiper is broken.
        Ο υαλοκαθαριστήρας είναι σπασμένος. (O yalo-katharEEsteeras EEne spasMENos.)

        The dynamo belt is broken.
        Η ζώνη δυναμό είναι σπασμένη. (EE zOnee dheenamO EEne spasMENee.)
        (Note that belt is feminine gender so “broken” takes the feminine ending.)

        The headlight is broken.
        Ο προβολέας είναι σπασμένος. (O provalEEas EEne spasMENos.)
        (Note that headlight is masculine gender so “broken” takes the masculine ending.)

        The pulley.
        Η τροχαλία. (EE trohalEEa.)

        Full, please.
        Γεμάτο, παρακαλώ. (yeMAto parakalO.)

        95 (octane), please.
        ενενήντα πέντε, παρακαλώ. (enanEENda PENde, parakalO.)

        The tyre is leaking (air).
        Το ελαστικό διαρρέει. (to lasteeKO dheeaREE.)

        Can you fix it right away?
        Μπορείτε να το φτιάχνετε αμέσως; (borEEte na to fteeAchnete aMESSos? “ch” as in “loch”)

        Is it ready?
        Είναι έτοιμο? (EEne Eteemo?)

        How much do I owe?
        Ποσο οφειλω; (POSSofEElo?)

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