How to be polite in Greek

Posted on 09. Sep, 2014 by in Culture, Grammar

Rob Boudon (under a CC license on Flickr)

Rob Boudon (under a CC license on Flickr)

One of the first topics Greek students have to learn is the use of the polite form. It is a relatively “new” element, as it did not exist in ancient Greek, and has its origins in French. It is formed by the second plural person. E.g.  «Τι κάνετε κύριε Δήμου;» (Tee kanete  keerie Demou?) How are you Mr. Demou?



When do we use it?
Native speakers use formal language when addressing older people or people they don’t know well. Some people also use it when they want to keep a distance with their interlocutor.

How to ask to be addressed by our first name?
Sometimes, we are not sure whether we should use the polite form the first time we are introduced to someone. If our interlocutor uses the polite form, we use it too. However, if we want to be on first-name terms with them we can say:
«Να μιλάμε καλύτερα στον ενικό;» (Na milame kaleetera ston eneeko)  which means “shall we better talk on a first-name basis?” (Στον ενικό means in singular).
We can also ask them directly to address us by our first name:
- Πού μένετε κυρία Δημητρίου; (Pou menete keeria Demetriou?)  Where do you live Mrs. Demetriou?
Λέγε με Έλλη…(Lege me Ellie). Call me Ellie.


How do we form it?
The polite form is formed by a verb on the second plural person. Honorifics must be put in the vocative case (κλητική, kleeteekee). If we address a person that we know well, our teacher or an elderly neighbor for instance, we can address them with an honorific followed by their first name:
«Καλημέρα κύριε Πέτρο!» (Kaleemera keerie Petro). Good morning Mr. Petro!
«Καλό σαββατοκύριακο κυρία Αθηνά!» (Kalo savatokeerieeko keeria Atheena). Have a nice weekend Mrs. Athena!


Some extra tips

  • We never address people by their last name without using an honorific, unless we know them very well.
    «Καλησπέρα κύριε Αντωνόπουλε, τι κάνετε;» (Kaleespera keerie Antonopoule ti kanete?) Good evening Mr. Antonopoule, how are you? NOT: «Καλησπέρα Αντώνόπουλε, τι κάνετε;» Good evening Antonopoule, how are you?
    «Έλα ρε Αντωνόπουλε, τι έγινες;» (Ela re Antonopoule, ti egines?) “Hey Antonopoule, where have you been?”( Note that this language is informal).
  • Words like doctor(γιατρέ, giatre) or professor (καθηγητά, katheegeeta) are not followed by a surname:
    «Καλό βράδυ, γιατρέ!» (Kalo vradee giatre). Have a nice evening doctor or «Καλό βράδυ, κύριε Γεωργίου!» (Kalo vradee keerie Georgiou) and NOT «Καλό βράδυ, γιατρέ Γεωργίου!» Have a nice evening doctor Georgiou.

When is it ok not to use it?
If you visit a remote village with few elderly residents it’s acceptable to talk to them using informal language. In fact, the use of the polite form will make them feel rather uncomfortable.
The Greeks are not so strict about the use of the polite form. During conversation they can easily switch to a more casual way of speaking, as it is a way of breaking the ice and of making the communication easier.


TijsB (under a CC license on Flickr)

TijsB (under a CC license on Flickr)

Tzatziki recipe

Posted on 04. Sep, 2014 by in Recipes, Vocabulary

Klearchos Kapoutsis (under a CC license on Flickr)

Klearchos Kapoutsis (under a CC license on Flickr)

Tzatziki (τζατζίκι)  is related to souvlaki, the most famous Greek fast food and Greeks have a love-hate relationship with it: we love it because it’s creamy, fresh and piquant and we hate it because the garlic smell can turn a romantic moment to a disaster. Some people claim that consuming cinnamon or mint after eating tzatziki makes the smell go away. Some others claim that if both people eat it the smell is not annoying. Personally, I think that none of these work and I see no point in eating tzatziki and then destroying the taste that it leaves in the mouth by chewing cinnamon or peppermint, so if you are determined to eat tzatziki, just do so with no guilt!
Tzatziki is of Turkish origin and is used as a dip. Traditionally,it escorts grilled porc, lamb or goat and we eat it with bread, pita bread or fried potatos. However, it can be also eaten with soya kebab, toasted bread, whole-wheat bread, arabic bread, vegetable sticks, chicken, olives and appetizers such as meat balls, giant bins, fried zucchini, tomato or zucchini balls etc.
Below there is a tzatziki recipe translated in English.
Καλή όρεξη!

Συνταγή για τζατζίκι


  • 500 γρ. στραγγιστό γιαούρτι
  • 3  σκελίδες σκόρδο
  • Ένα μέτριο αγγούρι
  • Μία κουταλιά της σούπας ψιλοκομμένο άνηθο
  • Αλάτι
  • Πιπέρι
  • Ελαιόλαδο



  • Καθαρίζουμε το σκόρδο και το λιώνουμε σε γουδί ή το τρίβουμε.
  • Τρίβουμε το αγγούρι και το στραγγίζουμε καλά. Επίσης, το στύβουμε με το χέρι για να φύγουν όλα τα υγρά.
  • Ανακατεύουμε πολύ καλά το γιαούρτι με όλα τα υλικά σε ένα μπολ.
  • Σκεπάζουμε το μπολ και το αφήνουμε στο ψυγείο για μία ώρα πριν το σερβίρουμε.
Litlnemo (under a CC license on Flickr)

Litlnemo (under a CC license on Flickr)


Tzatziki recipe




  • 500 gr strained yogurt
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 medium cucumber
  • 1 soup spoon finely chopped dill
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil




  • Peel off the garlic and mash it in a mortar or grate it.
  • Grate the cucumber and let it drain. You can also squeeze it by hand in order to get rid of its liquids.
  • Mix well the yogurt with all the ingredients in a bowl.
  • Cover the bowl and keep it in the refrigerator for one hour before serving.



If you don’t like dill you can skip it or use fresh peppermint instead.

If you want the taste to be less strong you can use less garlic and add more cucumber.

Strained yoghurt can be found in most big supermarkets or Greek food markets.


Jeffreyw (under a CC license on Flickr)

Jeffreyw (under a CC license on Flickr)


Weights and Measures in Greek

Posted on 20. Aug, 2014 by in Vocabulary

Da4Sal under a CC license on Flickr

Da4Sal under a CC license on Flickr

In Greece, we follow the Metric System for weights and measures. It refers to the units we use in order to measure distance, length and speed, weight, volume and areas, as well as any other set of units used to specify anything that we can measure. Internationally, we often use as units of measurement the names of the scientists that contributed to their respective fields, as for example, for energy, power and pressure, so there is no difference between languages for these measures. However, this is not always the case. Although the Metric system is the official European system of measurement, it is different to the one followed in the US and UK. This may complicate the learning of the language for many, especially students overseas as well as English speaking tourists that visit the country, as they must master not only the new word but also understand the relationship or measurement expressed by it. So, as the tourist season is ripe, this is a good opportunity to revise the basic words that express measures in Greek.

Μέτρα και σταθμά = Weights and measures


η μέτρηση = measurement

το βάρος = weight

το χιλιοστόγραμμο = milligram

το γραμμάριο = gram

το χιλιόγραμμο / το κιλό = kilogram

η μάζα = mass

η ουγκιά = ounce

η λίβρα = pound

η θερμοκρασία = temperature

ο βαθμός = degree

Φαρενάιτ = Fahrenheit

Κελσίου = Celsius

κελσίου = centigrade

σημείο βρασμού = boiling point

σημείο ψύξης = freezing point


ο όγκος = volume

το κυβικό εκατοστό = cubic centimeter

το κυβικό μέτρο = cubic meter

το λίτρο = liter

το χιλιοστόλιτρο = milliliter

η πίντα = pint

το γαλόνι = gallon


το μήκος = length

η απόσταση = distance

το χιλιοστόμετρο = millimeter

το εκατοστό = centimeter

το μέτρο = meter

το χιλιόμετρο = kilometer

η ίντσα = inch

το πόδι = foot

η γιάρδα = yard

το μίλι = mile


η έκταση = area

το τετραγωνικό εκατοστό = square centimeter

το τετραγωνικό μέτρο = square meter

το τετραγωνικό χιλιόμετρο = square kilometer


ο χρόνος = time

το δευτερόλεπτο (to defterolepto) = second

το λεπτό (to lepto) = minute

η ώρα (ee ora) = hour

η μέρα (ee mera) = day

η εβδομάδα (ee evdomada) = week

ο μήνας (o meenas) = month

το έτος / ο χρόνος (to etos / o hronos) = year


η ταχύτητα (ee taheeteeta) = speed

μέτρα ανά δευτερόλεπτο (metra ana defterolepto) = meters per second

χιλιόμετρα ανά ώρα (hiliometra ana ora) = kilometers per hour


sfllaw under a CC license on Flickr

sfllaw under a CC license on Flickr