Colloquial Greek: a list of common phrases Posted by on Aug 7, 2019 in Vocabulary

One of the biggest challenges we face when we communicate in a foreign language is to understand the colloquial language: we hear people speak and even though we know the meanings of the words they use, we cannot decode their phrases. In this post, there is a list of colloquial phrases  which will help you understand what the Greeks mean. We will analyze the phrases focusing on the verb used.


dimitrisvetsikas1969 via Pixabay


#1. φωνάζω. It means to shout, to yell or to call.


Με λένε Ουρανία αλλά με φωνάζουν Ράνια. / My name is Ourania but people call me (I am called) Rania.

Τον λένε Δημήτρη αλλά οι γονείς του τον φωνάζουν Τζίμυ. / His name is Dimitris but his parents call him Jimmy.


#2. έχω. It means to have but when used in the second singular person it can be used when we want to ask how much something costs.


Πόσο τα έχεις τα μήλα; / How much do the apples cost? (Literally: “How much do you have the apples?”) This question could be made to a greengrocer by a customer. The context is informal and it is acceptable to use the second singular person.

Πήγες στη λαϊκή; Πόσο τις έχουν τις μπανάνες; / Did you go to the green market? How much do the bananas cost (Literally: “How much do they have the bananas?”)


#3. φτιάχνω. It means to make or to fix. It can also mean to prepare a meal or a drink or to tidy up.


Σήμερα το πρωί έφυγαν οι πελάτες μας και έπρεπε να φτιάξω όλα τα δωμάτια. / Today our customers checked out and I had to clean all the rooms.

Να σου φτιάξω ένα καφεδάκι; (Do you want me) to make you a coffee?

Πονάει ο λαιμός μου, Μπορείς να μου φτιάξεις μια σούπα, σε παρακαλώ; / I have a sore throat. Can you make me a soup, please?


#4. κάθομαι. It means to sit. It also means to stay.


“Πόσον καιρό θα κάτσετε;” “Είκοσι μέρες.” / “How long will you stay?” “Twenty days.” This is an expression we would use when talking to a friend or an acquaintance and not to a customer. Note that κάτσετε is the colloquial form of καθίσετε.

Θα καθίσουμε λίγες μέρες στο σπίτι της θείας μου που είναι άδειο. / We will stay for a few days at my aunt’s house because no one is there (literally, it is empty).


#5. κάνω. It means to make and to do. It can be also used to mean to prepare the bill or the invoice.


“Θα μας κάνετε το λογαριασμό;” “Αμέσως.” / “Will you make the bill (for us?)” (Literally) / “Right away.” This phrase can be used instead of “τον λογαριασμό, παρακαλώ” (the bill, please).


#6. βγάζω. It means to take out. It can also mean to offer or to treat.


Πήγαμε στη Μαρία να δούμε ταινία. Η μαμά της μας έβγαλε σαντουιτσάκια και φρούτα. / We went at Maria’s to watch a movie. Her mom offered us (little) sandwiches and fruits. Note that the word σαντουιτσάκια is a diminutive of sandwiches.

Μαζί με τον καφέ, μας έβγαλαν βουτήματα και κέικ. / (Literally) Along with the coffee, they offered us butter cookies and cake.


dimitrisvetsikas1969 via Pixabay


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About the Author: Ourania

Ourania lives in Athens. She holds a degree in French Literature and a Master’s degree in Special Education for Children. Since 2008, she has been teaching Greek to foreigners.