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Telling Time in Modern Greek: The Greek Word for Time & More

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Time is a human invention. It’s used to make our everyday lives easier, since it helps us communicate effectively. 

Ever wondered how to tell the hours, minutes, and seconds in Greek? Or about the Greek word for time? 

Even if you’ve never wondered, you’ll certainly need this knowledge while visiting Greece or when talking with your Greek friends. 

From arranging a business appointment to arranging a date with someone you really like, telling the time in Greek is a pretty important skill to learn. 

Telling the time in Greek is very similar to English, so this is considered an easy chapter. The first thing you need to know is that Greece uses both the twenty-four-hour format and the twelve-hour format, the latter of which is more often used in verbal speech. Secondly, you need to familiarize yourself with the Greek numbers.  

Thirdly, just keep reading and all of your questions around how to tell the time in Greek will be answered.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Time Phrases in Greek Table of Contents
  1. How to Ask for the Time in Greek
  2. The Hours in Greek
  3. Minutes and Seconds in Greek
  4. The Hours Divided into Minute-Packages
  5. General Time Reference Throughout the Day
  6. Time Adverbs in Greek
  7. Greek Proverbs and Sayings Related to Time
  8. Conclusion

1. How to Ask for the Time in Greek

A Table Alarm Clock

Asking for the time in Greek is probably the most important aspect of time-telling you need to know. 

  • Greek: Τι ώρα είναι;
  • Romanization: Ti óra íne?
  • Translation: “What time is it?”

Pretty easy, right?

Now let’s have a look at how to ask for the time of a specific event. 

  • Greek: Τι ώρα είναι ο αγώνας / η συγκέντρωση / το ραντεβού;
  • Romanization: Ti óra íne o agónas / i singéndrosi / to randevú?
  • Translation: “What time is the game / the gathering / the appointment?”

Now let’s assume your phone battery is dead and you’re not wearing a watch. How could you possibly find out what time it is? The answer lies right below.

  • Greek: Μήπως έχετε ώρα, παρακαλώ;
  • Romanization: Mípos éhete óra, parakaló?
  • Translation: “Do you have the time, please?”

The question above is widely used and it’s considered pretty polite when you’re not sure if someone has a watch or when you don’t know each other. The answer here would be the current time, thus this phrase can be used as an alternative to the simple Τι ώρα είναι; question. 

2. The Hours in Greek

A Young Woman Holding and Pointing at an Alarm Clock

First things first, let’s have a look at how to say the hours in Greek. 

  • Greek: η ώρα
  • Romanization: i óra
  • Translation: “hour” / “o’ clock”
  • Greek: ακριβώς
  • Romanization: akrivós
  • Translation: “sharp”

So, when you need to tell the hour, you can use the sentence below.

  • Greek: Είναι……………….. η ώρα (ακριβώς).
  • Romanization: Íne ………………….. i óra (akrivós).
  • Translation: “It’s ……………………….. o’clock (sharp).”

While the addition of ακριβώς is optional, you can fill the blank space above with one of the hours below. 

Hours in Greek:

  • μία (mía) — “one”
  • δύο (dío) — “two”
  • τρεις (tris) — “three”
  • τέσσερις (téseris) — “four”
  • πέντε (péde) — “five”
  • έξι (éxi) — “six”
  • επτά/εφτά (eptá/eftá) — “seven”
  • οκτώ/οχτώ (októ/ohtó) — “eight”
  • εννέα/εννιά (enéa/eniá) — “nine”
  • δέκα (déka) — “ten”
  • έντεκα (édeka) — “eleven”
  • δώδεκα (dódeka) — “twelve”

In verbal speech in Greece, the most common way to tell the time is based on the twelve-hour clock. However, in written speech, it’s more common to use the twenty-four-hour clock.

3. Minutes and Seconds in Greek

A Solar Clock

Time flies. With GreekPod101.com, you won’t realize how quickly you’ll be an expert in Greek. As minutes and seconds pass by, you get a little bit closer to your Greek learning goals!

So, here’s how to say the minutes and the seconds in Greek. It will take only a minute to learn this!

  • Greek: το λεπτό / τα λεπτά
  • Romanization: to leptó / ta leptá
  • Translation: “minute” / “minutes”
  • Greek: το δευτερόλεπτο / τα δευτερόλεπτα
  • Romanization: to defterólepto / ta defterólepta
  • Translation: “second” / “seconds”
  • Greek: και
  • Romanization: ke
  • Translation: equivalent to “and” / “past” in English
  • Greek: παρά
  • Romanization: pará
  • Translation: equivalent to “to” in English

Now, let’s have a look at how to tell the time through some comprehensive examples:

  • Greek: Είναι τρεις και δεκαοκτώ (03:18 / 15:18).
  • Romanization: Íne tris ke dekaoktó.
  • Translation: “It’s eighteen past three.”
  • Greek: Είναι δύο παρά εικοσιπέντε (01:35 / 13:35).
  • Romanization: Íne dío pará ikosipénde.
  • Translation: “It’s twenty-five to two.”

4. The Hours Divided into Minute-Packages

A Clock Indicating a Quarter of an Hour
  • Greek: μισή
  • Romanization: misí
  • Translation: “half”
  • Greek: τέταρτο
  • Romanization: tétarto
  • Translation: “quarter”

There is no Greek equivalent for “a third” of the hour. This can be translated in Greek as και είκοσι

or παρά είκοσι, as referenced in the previous section of this article. 

Here are some helpful phrases for telling time in Greek this way:

  • Greek: Είναι έξι και τέταρτο.
  • Romanization: Íne éxi ke tétarto.
  • Translation: “It’s a quarter past six.”
  • Greek: Είναι οκτώ παρά τέταρτο.
  • Romanization: Íne októ pará tétarto.
  • Translation: “It’s a quarter to eight.”
  • Greek: Είναι έξι και μισή.
  • Romanization: Íne éxi ke misí.
  • Translation: “It’s half past six.”

5. General Time Reference Throughout the Day

Time

Since the twelve-hour clock is preferred in oral speech in Greece, when someone says “at nine o’clock,” you probably need to know if they’re referring to the morning or the evening. This is indicated by using the phrases below.

  • Greek: το πρωί
  • Romanization: to proí
  • Translation: “in the morning”

Example:

Greek: Στις έξι (η ώρα) το πρωί. 

Romanization: Stis éxi (i óra) to proí.

Translation: “At six (o’clock) in the morning.”

  • Greek: το απόγευμα
  • Romanization: to apóyevma
  • Translation: “the afternoon”

Example:

Greek: Στις τρεις (η ώρα) το απόγευμα. 

Romanization: Stis tris (i óra) to apóyevma.

Translation: “At three (o’clock) in the afternoon.”

  • Greek: το βράδυ
  • Romanization: to vrádi
  • Translation: “the night”

Example:

Greek: Στις δέκα (η ώρα) το βράδυ. 

Romanization: Stis déka (i óra) to vrádi.

Translation: “At ten (o’clock) at night.”

While the words above are common in everyday speech, in formal situations—for example, in the news—the way to indicate the exact time in Greek is by using the appropriate phrase from the list below.

  • Greek: προ μεσημβρίας (π.μ.)
  • Romanization: pro mesimvrías
  • Translation: “ante meridiem” (a.m.) / “before midday”
  • Greek: μετά μεσημβρίαν (μ.μ.)
  • Romanization: metá mesimvrían
  • Translation: “post meridiem” (p.m.) / “after midday”

However, at this point, you should note that in Greek you need to say the full phrase instead of just the initials. 

Here are some more time reference phrases you can use to indicate different time periods throughout the day. 

  • Greek: το μεσημέρι
  • Romanization: to mesiméri
  • Translation: “noon” / “midday”

Example:

Greek: Στις δώδεκα το μεσημέρι. 

Romanization: Stis dódeka to mesiméri.

Translation: “At twelve o’clock noon.”

  • Greek: τα μεσάνυχτα
  • Romanization: ta mesánihta
  • Translation: “midnight”

Example:

Greek: Είναι δώδεκα τα μεσάνυχτα. 

Romanization: Íne dódeka ta mesánihta.

Translation: “It’s twelve o’clock midnight.”

  • Greek: το ξημέρωμα / τα ξημερώματα
  • Romanization: to ximéroma / ta ximerómata
  • Translation: “dawn/early morning hours”

Example:

Greek: Ήρθε στις πέντε η ώρα τα ξημερώματα. 

Romanization: Írthe stis pénde i óra ta ximerómata.

Translation: “He came at five o’clock in the morning.”

6. Time Adverbs in Greek

In this section, we present you with a list of some useful time adverbs in Greek to cover each and every case. All of these words for time in Greek can answer the question “When?”

A Spiral Clock
  • Greek: τώρα
  • Romanization: tóra
  • Translation: “now”
  • Greek: αυτήν τη στιγμή
  • Romanization: aftín ti stigmí
  • Translation: “currently” / “at this moment”
  • Greek: εν τω μεταξύ
  • Romanization: en to metaxí
  • Translation: “meanwhile”
  • Greek: πριν
  • Romanization: prin
  • Translation: “before”
  • Greek: μετά
  • Romanization: metá
  • Translation: “after” / “later”
  • Greek: σύντομα
  • Romanization: síndoma
  • Translation: “soon”
  • Greek: σχεδόν
  • Romanization: schedón
  • Translation: “almost”
  • Greek: σε λίγο / σε λιγάκι
  • Romanization: se lígo / se ligáki
  • Translation: “in a bit” / “in a little while”
  • Greek: το συντομότερο δυνατό
  • Romanization: to sindomótero dinató
  • Translation: “as soon as possible”
  • Greek: οποιαδήποτε στιγμή
  • Romanization: opiadípote stigmí
  • Translation: “anytime”
  • Greek: για πολύ καιρό
  • Romanization: ya polí keró
  • Translation: “for a long time”

7. Greek Proverbs and Sayings Related to Time

Improve Listening

Learning some proverbs always takes you a step further into getting to know the Greek culture. Therefore, here are some of the most popular proverbs, sayings, and time expressions in Greek.

  • Greek: Ο χρόνος είναι χρήμα.
  • Romanization: O hrónos íne hríma.
  • Translation: “Time is money.”
  • Greek: Ο χρόνος είναι ο καλύτερος γιατρός.
  • Romanization: O hrónos íne o kalíteros yatrós.
  • Translation: “Time is the best doctor (corresponding to ‘Time heals all wounds.’).”
  • Greek: Ο χρόνος πίσω δεν γυρνά.
  • Romanization: O hrónos píso den yirná.
  • Translation: “Time doesn’t come back.”
  • Greek: Ή τώρα ή ποτέ.
  • Romanization: Í tóra i poté.
  • Translation: “It’s either now or never.”

8. Conclusion

Basic Questions

O χρόνος πίσω δεν γυρνά. This is certain. 

So start learning Greek today with GreekPod101.com!

Ή τώρα ή ποτε!

Start by practicing the pronunciation of some of the most important words included in this article. Then, we suggest that you read our blog post on Dates in Greek to gain a more spherical knowledge on the subject. 

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In the meantime… What time is it now while you read this blog post? Write the current hour in Greek in the comments section below.

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