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Home / Plan your trip / Greek Language
Language / Survival Kit for Basic Greek

With an oral tradition of 4,000 years and a written one of around 3,000 years, the Greek language is probably the oldest European language that has influenced the Indo-European languages as no other. Modern Greek is a southern Greek dialect which is spoken throughout Greece by a population of around 10 million (plus some 5 million Greeks who live abroad).

Especially in Crete, the Greek language has a recognizable accent and various dialects, some of which are hard to understand, even by mainland Greeks. You won’t have any problems getting by though, as most Cretans who are involved with tourism speak at least some English. However, foreigners who try to speak Greek are always appreciated, since Cretans consider this to be a charming way of getting closer to the local culture and to make contact. And don’t worry about making any mistakes, or you will never say anything!

Following words and phrases are a survival kit for basic Greek and will help you communicate in a simple way.

Greek       Pronounced
Α, α       a as in father
Β, β       v as in vet
Γ, γ       y as in yes (before an e or i) and gh ("with air" before consonants or a/o/ou)
Δ, δ       dh as in they
Ε, ε       e as in wet
Ζ, ζ       z as in zero
Η, η       ee as in breeze
Θ, θ       th as in thanks
Ι, ι       i as in bit
Κ, κ       k as in cold
Λ, λ       l as in love
Μ, μ       m as in man
Ν, ν       x as in ox
Ξ, ξ       v as in vet
Ο, ο       o as in not
Π, π       p as in pink
Ρ, ρ       r as in red
Σ, σ, ς       s as in sorry
Τ, τ       t as in ten
Υ, υ       ee as in here
Φ, φ       f as in fine
Χ, χ       ch as in loch or a thick h sound
Ψ, ψ       ps as in psalm
Ω, ω       o as in not

LETTER COMBINATIONS AND DIPHTHONGS

αι       e as in bed
αυ       av / af, depending on the following consonant
ει       ee as in breeze
οι       ee as in breeze
ευ       ev / ef, depending on the following consonant
ου       oo as in boom
γγ       ng as in anger
γκ       g as in good
γξ       nks as in anxiety
μπ       b as in bad (at the beginning of a word), mb as in amber (in the middle)
ντ       d as in dear
τς       ts as in hats
τζ       dz as in heads

Following words and phrases are a survival kit for basic Greek and will help you communicate in a simple way

COMMUNICATION ESSENTIALS

Hello sas /
reteh
Goodbye Adéeyoh
Good morning Kaleera
Good evening Kaleespéra
Good night Kaleenéehta
Yes Neh
No Óhee
Please Parakalóh
Here you go Oréesteh
Thank you Efhareestóh
You’re welcome Parakalóh
Okay Endáksee
Sorry Seegmee
Excuse me Meh seegchoréeteh

How are you? Tee neteh?
I’m fine Ka
And you? K’ yesées?
What’s your name? Pos se neh?
My name is… Me neh….
Where are you from? Apóh poo éeseh?
I’m from… Éemeh apóh….
Do you speak English? Meeteh Angleekáa?
I don’t understand Dhen katalanoh
I don’t know Dhen roh
I have Éhoh
Do you have… Éheteh…
I’d like… Tha éethela

Hold on a second Meesóh leptóh
Let’s go meh
Have a seat tseh
See you! Stoh Kalóh
Cheers! mas! / Eeseeyéea!
Enjoy your meal Kalée órexee
Stranger, guest nos
Stop it! Stata!
Leave me alone Afeeséh me!
Go away Féeyeh!

A little gho
A lot Polée
Hot Zestóh
Cold Kréeyo
Quickly Ghréeghora
Slowly Seeghá

 

DIRECTIONS

Where is… Poo éeneh?
How far is it to… soh makree íneh ya…
Straight ahead Efthéeya
Left Areesteráa
Right Dhexyáa
At the corner Stee ghonéeya
At the traffic lights Sta farya
Bridge feera
Tunnel Tóonel

Near Kondáa
Far Makree
Opposite Apénandee
Behind soh
Next to Dhéepla stoh
In front of Bros apóh

 

 

 

 

SIGHTSEEING

City lee
Village Horyóh
Countryside Eparhéeya
Market Laeekée
Square Platéeya
Old town Pal lee / palyóh horyóh
Museum Mooséeyoh
Church Ekleeséeya
Archaeological site Archaeoloyikós ros
Beach Paraléeya
Sea Thálassa


EMERGENCY / HEALTH
Help! Vohéetheeya!
Stop! Halt Stamatéesteh!
Call a doctor Fonáxteh énan yatróh
Call an ambulance Foxteh éna asthenoroh
Call the police Foxteh teen asteenoméeya
Call the fire brigade Foxte teen peerosvesteekée

Where is the hospital? Poo éeneh to nosokoméeyoh?
Where is a pharmacy? Poo éeneh éna farmakéeyoh?
Where is a dentist? Poo éeneh énas odhondéeyatros?
Where is the medical centre? Poo éeneh to yatreekóh kéntroh?
Where is a private clinic? Poo éeneh méeya eedheeyoteekée kleeneekée?
I’m ill Éemeh árrostos (m) / árrostee (f)
It hurts here Poee edhóh
I have… Éhoh…
I sprained my ankle Strambóoleexa to dhee moo
I’m allergic to… Éemeh alleryeekós (m) / alleryeekée (f) ya..

Condoms Profeelakteekáa
Contraceptives Andeeseeleepteekáa
Medicine Fármakoh
Diarrhoea Dheeyáreeya
Sun protection cream Ándee eeleeyakóh (dhee)
ACCOMMODATION

I’m looking for a room Psáhnoh ya éna dhoteeyoh
I’m looking for a hotel Psáhnoh ya éna xenodhohéeyoh
I’m looking for an apartment Psáhnoh ya éna dheeyareesma

Single room Monókleenoh
Double room Dhéekleenoh
Bed Kretee
Breakfast Proeenóh
Bathroom Bányoh
Toilet Tooata
Hot water Zestóh neróh
Cold water Kréeyo neróh
The key To kleedhée
How much is it? soh nee?
Can I see it? Boróh na to dhoh?
Cheap Fteenóh
Expensive Akreevóh
Per night Tee vradhyáa
Per person Toh átomoh
I’m leaving today Févghoh séemera

SHOPPING / SERVICES

 

What time opens… Tee óra anéeyee
What time closes… Tee óra kléenee
The shop Toh maghazée
The bank Ee trápeza
The tourist office Toh tooreesteekóh ghraféeyoh
The post office Toh taheedhroméeyoh
The telephone centre Toh teelefoneekóh kéndroh
The embassy Ee presvéeya
Passport Toh dheeyavatéereeyoh
Visa Ee véeza

How much is it? soh nee?
It’s too expensive Éeneh polée akreevóh
It’s cheap Éeneh ftheenóh
I don’t like it Dhen moo arésee
I’ll take it Tha toh roh
May I see Boróh na dhoh
I’m just looking Aplós keezoh
Do you accept credit cards? Dhéhesteh peestoteekés kártes?

 

ON THE MOVE

 

Taxi Taxée
Bus Leoforéeyoh
Boat Kavee
Plane Aeroplánoh
Train Trénoh
Ticket Eeseetéereeyoh
Station Stathmós
Bus stop Stásee

I’d like to hire a car Théloh na neekyásoh éna aftokéeneetoh
I’d like to hire a bike Théloh na neekyásoh éna meehakee
I’d like to hire a jeep Théloh na neekyásoh éna dzeep
I’d like to hire a bicycle Théloh na neekyásoh éna podhéelatoh

Gas station Venzeedheekoh
Gas Venzéenee
Diesel Petréleoh
Leaded Sóoper
Unleaded Amóhleevdhee
Oil dhee
Fill it up meeséh toh
Where do I pay? Poo pleenoh?
Can I park here? Boróh na parroh edhóh?

Garage Gkaráaz
The bike has broken down To meehakee laseh
The car won’t start To aftokéeneetoh dhen pérnee brostáa
I have a flat tyre Épatha lásteehoh
I’ve run out of gas Émeena apóh venzéenee
I’ve had an accident Épatha éna atéeheema

QUESTION WORDS

Where Poo
When teh
Why Yatée
What Tee
Who Pyós
How Pos
How much soh

 

 

TIME

What time is it? Tee óra éeneh?
Half past one Méeya keh meesée
A quarter past one Méeya keh tartoh
A quarter to two Dhéeyoh pa tartoh
Three o’clock Trees ee óra
One hour Méeya ee óra
One minute Éna leptóh
One second Éna dhefteleptoh

Yesterday Hthes
Today Séemera
Tomorrow Ávreeyoh
Morning Proée
Noon Messeree
Afternoon Ayevma
Evening Vrádhee
Night Néehta

DAYS OF THE WEEK

 

Monday Dhefra
Tuesday Tréetee
Wednesday Tetártee
Thursday Pémptee
Friday Paraskevée
Saturday Sávatoh
Sunday Keereeyakée

MONTHS

 

January Yanooáreeyos
February Fevrooáreeyos
March Márteeyos
April Apréeleeyos
May Mý-os
June Eeóoneeyos
July Eeóoleeyos
August Ávghoostos
September Septémvreeyos
October Októvreeyos
November Nohémvreeyos
December Dhekémvreeyos

SEASONS

 

Spring Áneexee
Summer Kaloree
Autumn Ftheeporoh
Winter Heenas

 

NUMBERS

1 éna
2 dhéeyoh
3 tréeya
4 téssera
5 péndeh
6 éxee
7 eftáa
8 okhtóh
9 enyáa
10 dhéka
11 éndeka
12 dhódheka
13 dhekatréeya
14 dhekatéssera
15 dhekapéndeh
16 dheka éxee
17 dheka eftáa
18 dhekaokhh
19 dheka enyáa
20 éekosee
21 éekosee éna
30 treeyánda
40 saránda
50 penéenda
60 exéenda
70 evdhoméenda
80 oghdhónda
90               enenéenda
100              ekatóh
200 dheeyakósya
1,000 héelya
2,000 dhéeyo heelyádhes
1,000,000 éna ekatoméereeyo

 

GREEKS’ GREEK

Ya! Hi!
Éla! Come / come on / speak up
Ópah! Hold it / stop / oops
Tee yéeneteh? What’s up?
Étsee ky’étsee So and so
Seeghá seeghá Slowly / not so fast / take your time
Reh! Hey, you
Éla reh / áde reh! What’s up man / come on man / really?
Maka Lit ‘wanker’, but often used as an informal, familiar address, or as an insult (depending on context)
Mánghas Dude, smartass
Kakee Lit ‘fish trident’: someone who’s ‘fishing’ for customers (PR) or women
Meemeh! Wow!
Eemeeseh! Relax!
Ghatoh! Shit / fuck it
Áde ghaméesoo Fuck you
Reh, to bóostee! (Lit ‘fag’): what a moron!
Ay sto dhyáoloh! Go to hell / Get out of here, really? (depending on context)
Varmeh I’m bored
Tseeghároh cigarette
Kapnéezees? Do you smoke?
Éhees fotyáa? Do you have a light?

ACRONYMS

AFM (pron: Ah Fee Mee) tax number
ANEK Shipping Company of Crete SA
EHIC European Health Insurance Card
ELPA Greek Motoring and Touring Club
ELTA Greek Postal Service
EOS Greek Mountaineering Association
EOT Greek Tourism Organization
FPA (pron: Fee Pee Ah) VAT, Value Added Tax
IKA Institution of Social Insurance
KKE Communist Party of Greece
KTEL National Bus Cooperative
ND New Democracy (political party)
OAED Organization of Labour Force
OTE Greek Telephone Company
PALSO Panhellenic Association of Language School Owners
PASOK Panhellenic Socialist Party
TEVE Greek Insurance Scheme for the Self-employed

GLOSSARY

Aghorá ancient city’s commercial area; today: (street) market; in general: shopping precinct
Áyios / Ayía saint, holy
Andártes rebels, Cretan fighters for independence
Balica early Christian church
Bouzoúki stringed lute-like instrument
Dhimaro town hall
Dhotia rooms for rent
Ekklissáki miniature chapel, often along the road, in commemoration
of someone who died in an accident on that spot
Epara countryside
Epitáphios construction depicting Christ on his bier, decorated with flowers for the Easter procession
Eteo-Cretan lit: true Cretan; Eteo-Cretans are believed to have been descendants of the Minoans, who kept their language and culture alive by seeking refuge in the mountains of eastern Crete during the Mycenaean / Dorian period
Hellás / Eldha Greek name for Greece
Ikonostássio wooden partition between the nave of a church and the altar, often embellished with icons
Kafeo coffeehouse (traditionally male only)
Kámbos (fertile) agricultural plain
to lower (as in town or village)
Kérnos ancient cult vessel or altar for offerings
Lárnaca Minoan clay coffin
Linear A Minoan script (not deciphered)
Linear B Mycenaean script (deciphered)
Lustral basin a small, sunken chamber in Minoan palaces, reached by steps
ra small, violin-like instrument
Mandidha traditional Cretan rhyming song with often improvised lyrics
Melmi north wind that blows across the Aegean in summer
Medhes appetizers
Moní monastery, convent
Necrópolis lit: city of the dead, ancient cemetery
os / a / o new, young
Nomós prefecture (Crete is divided into four)
tos prevailing southern wind, mainly in spring and autumn
Odhós street
Panaa Mother of God, the Virgin Mary
Paniri local festival, celebration of a holy day
Paraa beach, seafront
Peak sanctuary hilltop shrine
Períptero (street) kiosk
Peristyle columns surrounding a building or an area (temple, courtyard)
Philonia hospitality
thos large ceramic storage jar
Plaa square
Prolea portico to an ancient building
Retika blues songs, commonly associated with the underworld of the Interbellum period
Rhýton libation vessel
Ritika traditional patriotic songs of West Crete
Spíleo cave
Stoá columned (covered) walkway, usually in an aghora
Vólta stroll, promenade, ride