Basic Greek Grammar

A basic Greek grammar covering part one of the FSI-Greek course and also illustrated using phrases, sentences and snippets taken from some of the Greek phrases on SurfaceLanguages.

The rules given are general and simplified.

All the examples in this basic Greek Grammar use the Greek alphabet. Learn the Greek Alphabet.

Adjectives

Greek adjectives agree with nouns in gender, number and case. They are listed in the dictionary as :-

first καλος, -η, -ο

'καλος' is used when referring to a masculine noun, καλη to a feminine noun and καλο to a neuter noun.

Adjectives condensed

In brief, when a noun is the subject, the adjective describing the noun often ends in -ο if the noun is masculine, -η if the noun is feminine and -ο if the noun is neuter. In the plural these endings are ούς, ες, α.

Greek Adjectives describes adjectives in more depth.

The Definite Article

The definite article in Greek varies depending on the gender and case of the noun.

Singular Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ο η το
Accusative το(ν) τη(ν) το

Plural Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative οι οι τα
Accusative τους τις τα

τον and την are used before a vowel.

A few examples using the definite article.

ι πληροφορια the piece of information
οι πληροφοριες the information (plural)
βλέπώ τον επιβάτη I see the passenger
Ευχαριστώ για τις πληροφοριες thanks for the information (plural)

The accusative case is used after 'για' (for) so the phrase 'thanks for the information' uses the definite article in the accusative.

The Indefinite Article

Singular Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominativeενας μια ένα
Accusativeενα(ν) μια ένα

Before a vowel the accusative masculine indefinite article is 'εναν'. E.g. 'βλέπώ εναν άχθοφόρο' (I see a porter.)

The indefinite article agrees in gender and case with the noun. So, a hotel 'ένα ξενοδοχείο' uses 'ένα' in the nominative since the word hotel is neuter, but when referring to a masculine noun 'ενας' is used. E.g. 'ενας σταθμός' (a station).

Similarly, the Masculine definite article is 'τον' and feminine definite article is 'την' before a vowel.

The indefinite article is not used in the plural.

Nouns and Gender

Greek nouns decline and can be masculine, feminine or neuter. (See
grammatical terms. Nouns in Greek are listed in the nominative case in the dictionary. 'ο άυτρας' (the man), η δραχμή (the drachma) and το δωμάτιο (the room) are masculine, feminine and neuter respectively (in the nominative case).

Masculine nouns commonly end in -ος, -ας and -ης.

Feminine nouns commonly end in -η and -α. Most animate nouns ending in -η are feminine.

Neuter nouns commonly end in -ο and -ι. Most inanimate nouns ending in -η are neuter.

But to be totally sure of the gender of a noun you have to learn it. The nouns from FSI-Greek are listed along with their definite article which gives the gender.

Greek Nouns. Singular

Masculine nouns change their ending depending on the case. The definite article also differs or disappears altogether in the singular depending on case and gender.

Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ο άντρας η δραχμή το δωμάτιο
Accusative τον άντρα τη δραχμή το δωμάτιο
Vocative άντρα δραχμή δωμάτιο

Greek Nouns. Plural

Some guidelines :-

There is no indefinite article in the plural.

To form the plural of a masculine noun ending -ας or -ης, replace the ending with ες.

To form the plural of a masculine noun ending -ος , replace the ending with -οι.

To form the plural of a feminine noun replace the last letter with -ες.

To form the plural of a neuter noun replace the last letter with -α.

The definite article can either change or be ommitted completely depending on gender and case. See table.

Case Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative οι άυτρας οι θέσεις τα εισιτήρια
Accusative τους άυτρας τις θέσεις τα εισιτήρια
Vocative άυτρας θέσεις εισιτήρια


A few examples of plurals in the nominative.

το εισιτήριο (ticket) τα εισιτήρια' (tickets)
η θέση (the seat) οι θέσεις (seats)
το τρένο (the train) τα τρένα (the trains)
ο σταθμός (the station) οι σταθμοι (the stations)

Personal Pronouns

Personal pronouns in the nominative. Singular and plural.

I εχώ We εμείς
You εσύ You (plural, polite) εσείς
He (informal) αυτός They (masc) αυτοί
She αυτή They (fem) αυτές
It αυτό They (neuter) αυτά

Personal pronouns are not used as frequently in Greek as in English as the person of the verb (E.g. I, you, etc ) is indicated from the ending. They are used for emphasis or when it is not clear to whom the verb refers from the context.

So in the phrase 'αυτός θέλει καφέ' (he wants coffee) it is not necessary to use 'αυτός' (he) as this is clear from the ending of the verb 'θέλει'.

The pronouns for he, she, it and they are also used for the this and these.

This αυτός, αυτή, αυτό
These αυτοί, αυτές, αυτά

Examples using this and these:

αυτός ο αχθοφόρος this porter (masculine noun)
αυτή η βαλίτςα this case (feminine noun)

Prepositions

In Greek
prepositions come before nouns and the noun usually takes the Accusative case.

χωρίς without
χωρίς γάλα without milk
με with
με γάλα with milk
με μπάνιο with bathroom
με ντους with shower
παρά to (time related)
Είναι έντεκα παρά τέταρτο It is quarter to eleven
και and (also past)
Είναι τέσσερις και τέταρτο It is quarter past four

Prepositions. From

από from
απ εδώ from here
απ τήν Αθήνα from Athens

Prepositions. For

για for
Αυτό είναι το τρένο για ..; Is this the train for ..?
για τήυ Πάτρα for Patras
για τήυ Αθήυα for Athens
Ένα εισιτήριο για .. a ticket for/to
Ευχαριστώ για τις πληροφοριες thanks for the information (plural)

Prepositions. At, In, On, To

The Prepositions 'σε' can mean 'at', 'in', 'on' or 'to' depending on the context.

σε at, in, on, to
Μπορείτε να μου το δείξετε στο χάρτη Can you show me on the map?
όλες ο κόσμος πηγαϊνει στό καφενείο Everyone goes to the cafe

Verbs

Greek verbs are divided into three categories.

Category 1

Regular verbs ending in unstressed -ω (in the first person present).

These are broadly split into verbs which have two syllables (dissyllabic) in the first person present such as 'πίνω' and 'εχω', and those which have more than two (polysyllabic) such as 'αρχίζω'.

An example of a dissyllabic verb

The verb εχω 'to have', a dissyllabic verb is conjugated as follows :

I have εχ ω
You have εχ εις
He/she/it has εχ ει
We have εχ ονμε
You have εχ ετε
They have εχ ουν

An example of a polysyllabic verb

The verb αρχίζω 'to leave', a polysyllabic verb is conjugated as follows :

I leave αρχίζ ω
You leave αρχίζ εις
He/she/it leaves αρχίζ ει
We leave αρχίζ ονμε
You leave αρχίζ ετε
They leave αρχίζ ουν

The Verb - can, to be able

The verb μπορώ 'to be able' is conjugated as follows :

I can μπορώ
You can μπορεις
He/she/it can μπορει
We can μπορούμε
You can μπορείτε
They can μπορούν

The Verb - to be

The irregular verb είμαι 'to be' is conjugated as follows :

I am είμαι
You are είσαι
He/she/it is είυαι
We are είμαστε
You are είστε
They are είυαι

Verb. Examples

Examples of Greek verbs. The ending 'ω' gives the meaning 'I' and ετε 'You' (formal) to the verb.

These two endings in particular occur in many of the
Greek phrases on SurfaceLanguages.

φεύγω για τήυ Πάτρα I leave for Patra
φεύγεις για τήυ Πάτρα You leave for Patra
όλες ο κόσμος πηγαϊυει στό καφενείο Everyone goes to the cafe
πίνω I drink
πίνετε You drink
δίψω I am thirsty
αρχίζω I start
αρχίζει It starts
αvτός θελει καφέ He wants coffee
πίνετε πάντα καφέ You always drink coffee


Sentences