Greek Language Blog

“Come on! Hey! Come again?” Examples of the use of ela. Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in Vocabulary

One of the most common Greek words is έλα  (ela). It is the imperative of the verb έρχομαι (erhomai, to come) and literally it means come (in the second singular person):  “Έλα! Το λεωφορείο φεύγει!»  (Ela! To leoforeio fevgei. Come! The bus is leaving!) The plural of έλα is ελάτε (elate, come): «Ελάτε παιδιά, φεύγουμε!» (Elate paidia, fevgoume! Come on children, we’re leaving!)


Έλα may have different meanings depending on its context.


1)    When people answer a phone call from a close friend or a family member, they are very likely to use έλα alone or followed by the person’s name: «Έλα Μαρία!» (Ela Maria. Hey Mary!)

2)    It can be used the other way around: when we make a phone call to someone we are very familiar with, we use έλα. «Έλα, τι κάνεις;» (Ela, ti kaneis? Hey, how you doing?)

3)    Sometimes it is used to express frustration: «Δεν μπορώ να σε δω απόψε!» «Έλα! Είναι η τρίτη φορά που ακυρώνεις το ραντεβού μας!» (“Den boro na se do apopse.” ” Ela! Einai I triti for a pou akironeis to randevou mas!”  “I can’t see you tonight” “Come on! It’s the third time you’re canceling our date!”

4)    It might also used to express stronger emotions, such as irritation or anger. «Έλα, κόφτο!» (Ela, kofto. Come on, cut it out!)

5)    It’s  also used when we are pleasantly surprised: «Τα ‘μαθες; Παντρεύεται ο Πέτρος!» «Έλα!» (“Ta mathes ? Pantrevete o Petros !” ” Ελα !”  « Did you hear the news ? Petros is getting married ! » «  Really ?») It’s also used when we just listened to something that sounds unbelievable. «Η γυναίκα του Πέτρου τα ‘χει με τον Τάκη.» «Έλα!» («I ginaika tou Petrou tahei me ton Taki» «Ela!» «Petro’s wife is having an affaire with Takis.» «No way!»

6)    Sometimes it used to encourage people, like runners, soccer or basketball players etc. In this case it is repeated many times: «Έλα, έλα, έλα!» (Go, go go!)

7)    ‘Ελα can be also used when we didn’t catch what our interlocutor just told us. «Το επώνυμο της Μαρίας είναι δεν είναι Χατζηδημητρίου είναι Χατζηπέτρου» «Έλα;» («To eponimo tis Marias den ine Chatzidimitriou, ine Chatzipetrou.” “Ela?” “Maria’s last name isn’t Chatzidimitriou, is Chatzipetrou.” “Come again?”

8)    Sometimes it might be used to patronize someone, especially children. «Έλα βρε Κώστα, αφού είσαι καλό παιδί, γιατί κάνεις έτσι;» (Ela vre Kosta, afou ise kalo paidi, giati kanis etsi? Come on Kostas, you’re a well-mannered child, why are acting like this?)

Note that it’s very important to use έλα with the right tone of voice!

On the followed video of the prank, there’s an example of the use of έλα. (You can just watch till 0:13)

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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.


  1. Walter Derwin:

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  2. Leticia:

    Interesting, thanks!