The first sentences in Greek

Posted on 26. Feb, 2015 by in Vocabulary

By dorena-wm under a CC license on Flickr

By dorena-wm under a CC license on Flickr

The first thing we learn in a foreign language is how to introduce ourselves. However, sometimes it’s not the easiest thing one learns. The Greek phrases that we use are not so easy to remember and many learners need many days of practice in order to “digest” them. Here is what I would say in order to introduce myself:

Με λένε Ουρανία. Είμαι από την Ελλάδα. Μένω στην Αθήνα.

My name is Ourania. I come from Greece. I live in Athens.

What do these phrases really mean?

1. Με λένε Ουρανία = literally it means (they) call me Ourania. Another option would be “είμαι η Ουρανία”= I am Ourania. The word η is a female article and can be translated as “the” so the phrase means “I am the Ourania”.

2. Είμαι από την Ελλάδα = I am from Greece. Από means from. The word την is an article and it means the, so this phrase means “I am from the Greece” (I come from Greece). In Greek, the place names have genders and numbers so την can be τον, το, τους, τις or τα according to the gender of the place name.

E.g: Είμαι από τον Καναδά= I come from Canada. Είμαι από το Μεξικό= I come from Mexico. Είμαι από τις ΗΠΑ= I come from the USA.

3. Μένω στην Αθήνα= I live in Athens. Στην is formed by the preposition σε which means to, in or at and the article την. It can be στον, στο, στους, στις, στα depending on the noun that follows.

E.g.: Μένω στο Κολωνάκι= I live in Kolonaki.

Μένω στους Παξούς= I live in Paxous.

Μένω στα Χανιά= I live in Chania.

Why are these phrases so difficult to remember?

The words την and στην are confusing because they are not translated in English.

Some common mistakes are: Είμαι από στην Αμερική. / Είμαι από Αμερική. / Μένω το Νέα Υόρκη etc.

The good news is that even if one omits them, i.e. if they say “είμαι από Αμερική” instead of “είμαι από την Αμερική” the native speakers will still understand what they mean, so don’t worry too much. The Greeks are very happy when they meet someone who can pronounce a few sentences in Greek, so just relax and enjoy the communication process.

Με λένε Ουρανία. Είμαι από την Ελλάδα. Μένω στην Αθήνα.

Με λένε Ουρανία. Είμαι από την Ελλάδα. Μένω στην Αθήνα.

Playing hide and seek with the final n

Posted on 19. Feb, 2015 by in Grammar

quercus design under a CC at Flickr

quercus design under a CC at Flickr

One of the most confusing topics is the maintenance of the final ν of some articles, pronouns and particles, mostly because the grammar books contain different rules about it.

Below, there’s a list of the cases where the final ν is maintained or omitted. These rules apply mostly when speaking. In written speech the article ν is maintained.

  • The article τον

Μίλησα με τον Τάσο. I talked to Tasos.

Μίλησα με το δάσκαλο. I talked to the teacher.

  • The article την

Είμαι από την Αθήνα. I come from Athens.

Η Ειρήνη είναι από τη Νάξο. Irene comes from Naxos.

  • The personal pronoun την

Την είδα χθες το βράδυ. I saw her last night.

Μου αρέσει αυτή η φούστα. Τη θέλω. I like this skirt. I want it.

  • The indefinite article έναν

Αγοράσαμε έναν καναπέ. We bought a cough.

Χθες το βράδυ είδα ένα γνωστό. Last night I met an acquaintance.

  • The cardinal number έναν

Ήπια έναν καφέ όχι δύο. I drunk one coffee not two.

Φάγαμε ένα μουσακά και δύο σαλάτες και ήπιαμε τρεις μπύρες. We ate a mousaka and two salads, and drunk three beers.

  • The particle δεν

Πού είναι ο Γιώργος; Δεν τον βλέπω. Where’s George? I don’t see him.

Δε θέλω άλλο κρασί, ευχαριστώ. I don’t want more wine, thank you.

  • The particle μην

Μην έρθεις αύριο, έλα την Τρίτη. Don’t come tomorrow, come on Tuesday.

Μη με ξυπνήσεις νωρίς. Don’t wake me up early.

 

The final ν is preserved:

  • When the following word starts by a vowel

Άκουσα την ιστορία. I heard the story.

  • When the following word starts by κ, π, τ, μπ, ντ, γκ, τζ, τσ, ξ, ψ

Μήπως είδες την τσάντα μου; Did you see my bag?

Ποιος είναι ο Γιάννης; Δεν τον ξέρω! Who’s Yannis? I don’t know him.

Δεν περάσαμε καλά χθες. We didn’t have a nice time yesterday.

Μην τρως τόσο πολύ. Don’t eat so much.

 

The final ν is omitted when the word that follows starts by β, γ, δ, ζ, θ, λ, μ, ν, ρ, σ, φ, χ.

Πώς λένε τη φίλη σου; What’s your friend’s name?

Θα μείνουν στην Ελλάδα ένα χρόνο. They will stay in Greece for a year.

Θα τη βρω όπου κι αν πάει. I’ll find her wherever she goes.

Μη ρωτήσεις το Νίκο για τους γονείς του. Don’t ask Niko about his parents.

 

The final ν is never omitted from:

  • the personal pronoun αυτόν and τον

Μην ανησυχείς. Θα τον ξεχάσεις σύντομα. Don’t worry. You’ll forget him soon.

“Πού είναι ο Χάρης;” “Δεν ξέρω. Κι εγώ αυτόν ψάχνω.” Where’s Haris? I don’t know. I’m looking for him too.

  • the article των (genitive plural)

Η τιμές των σπιτιών είναι πολύ υψηλές. The prices of the houses are too high.

Καταλαβαίνεις τη σημασία αυτών των λέξεων; Do you understand the meaning of these words?

  • The adverb σαν

Νιώθω σαν να σε ξέρω χρόνια. I feel like I’ve known you for ages.

final n

Love is more than a four-letter word

Posted on 12. Feb, 2015 by in Culture, Vocabulary

Simon & His camera under a CC license on Flickr

Simon & His camera under a CC license on Flickr

The Greeks are very creative when it comes to words of love. It doesn’t matter if we are cynical or romantic, extrovert or introvert, we all use words of love when addressing our alter ego. Below there is a sample of a “Greek vocabulary of love”. You might think that some of these words are ridiculous and some Greeks believe the same. However, they are commonly used in order to express affection and love.

  • Αγάπη μου= my love. The most famous expression. The diminutive “αγαπούλα μου” (my little love) is also very common. For more information on diminutives, check my last post.
  • Ζωή μου= literally: my life
  • Καρδιά μου= literally: my heart. It’s another way of saying “my love”. The diminutive is καρδούλα μου (my little heart).
  • Κορίτσι μου / κοριτσάκι μου= my girl / my little girl. It can be used for any woman in spite of her age.
  • Κούκλα μου. Κούκλα means doll and it is used when addressing a woman. The derivatives are κουκλίτσα, κουκλάκι (little doll) or κουκλάρα (literally it means big doll and metaphorically hot woman).
  • Μάτια μου= literally: my eyes. I guess the metaphoric meaning would be “my precious”. The diminutive ματάκια μου is common as well.
  • Μωρό μου / μωράκι μου= my baby / my little baby. It can be used to address both men and women.
  • Φως μου= literally: my light.
  • Ψυχή μου= literally: my soul.

The animal kingdom could not be missing from the list. Usually women use these words to address their partners.

  • γατάκι= kitten
  • γουρουνάκι= little pig
  • ζουζουνάκι= little bug
  • κουνελάκι= little rabbit
  • λιονταράκι= little lion
  • μαϊμουδάκι= little monkey
  • τιγράκι= little tiger

The list is endless and the only limit is one’s imagination. Some people use names of flowers (τριανταφυλλάκι μου, my little rose), fruits (βερικοκάκι μου, my little apricot), or they invent words than mean nothing.

 

If you want to write a card to your Greek partner you can pleasantly surprise them by writing a few phrases in Greek:

  • Είσαι η ζωή μου= you are my life
  • Είσαι ό,τι καλύτερο μου έχει συμβεί= you are the best thing that happened to me
  • Θέλω να είμαι πάντα μαζί σου= I want to be with you always

And a  famous love song by Nikos Papazoglou called Αύγουστος (August)

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