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An Easy-Breezy Greek Grammar Overview

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Grammar books usually consist of endless pages of rules and exceptions…so we’ve decided to make everything simpler for you!

In this overview of modern Greek grammar, we’ll introduce you to the very basics of Greek grammar, from vocabulary to cases. Therefore, if you’re contemplating learning Greek, then you’ve come to the right place!

In the following sections, you’ll find all of the basic grammar principles of the Greek language so you can start your language learning off on the right foot.  

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Greek Table of Contents
  1. General Rules
  2. Verbs
  3. Nouns & Articles
  4. Adjectives
  5. Adverbs
  6. Conclusion

1. General Rules

A Happy Student Wearing a Graduation Hat

We’ve got some good news for you!

Greek grammar shares some similarities with English grammar: 

  • Both languages use the same types of words
  • Both languages have a similar sentence structure

That being said, let’s explore these similarities in the following sections! 

1 – Vocabulary

Just like the English language, Greek features the following word types:

  • Nouns
    η γάτα i gáta – “the cat
  • Articles
    η γάτα – i gáta – “the cat”
  • Adjectives
    η μικρή γάτα – i mikrí gáta – “the small cat”
  • Verbs
    Εγώ τρέχω. – Egó trého. – “I run.”
  • Pronouns
    Εγώ τρέχω. – Egó trého.- “I run.”
  • Adverbs
    Εγώ τρέχω γρήγορα. –  Egó trého grígora. – “I run fast.”
  • Conjunctions / Linking Words
    Εγώ έχω έναν σκύλο και μία γάτα. – Egó ého énan skílo ke mía gáta. – “I have a dog and a cat.”
  • Prepositions
    Εγώ είμαι από την Ελλάδα. – Egó íme apó tin Elláda. – “I am from Greece.”

If you feel like expanding your vocabulary, check out our dedicated articles:

Customize your learning process by creating your own Word Bank, where you can categorize new words and even print them out!

2 – Sentence Structure

Both languages generally follow the SVO pattern (Subject-Verb-Object) when forming sentences. This is something that spurs many people forward with their plans to learn Greek and encourages those who have recently started. If you create your free lifetime account on GreekPod101.com, you’ll be able to create your first simple sentences from Lesson 1.

A Girl Reading a Book
Greek: Η Μαρία διαβάζει ένα βιβλίο.
Romanization: I María diavázi éna vivlío.
Translation:Maria reads a book.”
Subject – Who?
Η Μαρία
Verb – Action
διαβάζει
Object – What?
ένα βιβλίο.

If you want to learn more, check out our Word Order article, where you’ll find extended analyses of the SVO pattern, along with some other less-common sentence patterns. 

2. Verbs

A chapter that every Greek language learner struggles to master is verb conjugations. You see, according to the Greek verb system, verbs in Greek conjugate based on the subject of the sentence, the tense, and the mood.

1 – Tenses

The tenses of Greek verbs are:

  • Present: A continuing action, something happening continuously or repeatedly, a general truth,  or something that is in the process of happening. – It corresponds to the present simple and present continuous.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ μαγειρεύω κάθε μέρα.
    Romanization: Egó mayirévo káthe méra.
    Translation: “I cook every day.”
  • Aorist: An action that happened in the past. Provides no information on how long it took, or whether the results are still in effect. – It corresponds to the past simple.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ μαγείρεψα χθες.
    Romanization: Egó mayírepsa hthes.
    Translation: “I cooked yesterday.”
  • Imperfect: An action that happened in the past for a long period of time or in a repetitive way. – It corresponds to the past continuous.

    Example:
    Greek: Την προηγούμενη εβδομάδα, εγώ μαγείρευα κάθε μέρα.
    Romanization: Tin proigúmeni evdomáda, egó mayíreva káthe méra.
    Translation: “Last week, I was cooking every day.”
Two Children Cooking
  • Future simple: An action that will take place once or momentarily in the future.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ θα μαγειρέψω αύριο.
    Romanization: Egó tha mayιrépso ávrio.
    Translation: “I will cook tomorrow.”
  • Future continuous: An action that will take place in the future continuously, repeatedly, or for a long time period. 

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ θα μαγειρεύω κάθε μέρα.
    Romanization: Egó tha mayιrévo káthe méra.
    Translation: “I will be cooking every day.”
  • Present perfect: An action that has already taken place.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ έχω μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Egó ého mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “I have cooked.”
  • Past perfect: An action that happened in the past before another action or at a certain time in the past.

    Example:
    Greek: Μέχρι τις 2 μ.μ, εγώ είχα μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Μéhri tis dío (metá mesimvrían) egó íha mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “By 2 p.m. I had cooked.”
  • Future perfect: An action that will have taken place in the future by a certain time point.

    Example:
    Greek: Μέχρι τις 2 μ.μ, θα έχω μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Μéhri tis dío (metá mesimvrías) egó tha ého mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “By 2 p.m. I will have cooked.”

2 – Moods

Are you in the mood for some more in-depth knowledge?

As we have already mentioned, Greek verbs conjugate according to the mood, as well. 

Here are the five moods of Greek verbs, along with examples of what they look like:

  • Indicative mood: Presents the action or the event as something certain or real (e.g. an objective fact).

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ μαγειρεύω κάθε μέρα.
    Romanization: Egó mayirévo káthe méra.
    Translation: “I cook every day.”
  • Subjunctive mood: Presents the action or the event as something wanted, expected, or wished for.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ θέλω να μαγειρεύω κάθε μέρα.
    Romanization: Egó thélo na mayirévo káthe méra.
    Translation: “I want to cook every day.”
  • Imperative mood: May express a command (order), request, or desire.

    Example:
    Greek: Mαγείρεψε τώρα!
    Romanization: Mayírepse tóra!
    Translation: “Cook now!”
  • The participle:

    – The uninflected form has an adverbial function and may indicate time, manner, cause, condition, etc.

    Example:
    Greek: Ο χρόνος περνάει γρήγορα μαγειρεύοντας.
    Romanization: O hrónos pernái grígora mayirévodas.
    Translation: “Time passes by quickly while cooking.”

    – The inflected form has the function of an adjective, so it needs to agree in gender, number, and case with the noun it defines. It corresponds to the past participle when used on its own in speech.

    Example:
    Greek: Το κρέας είναι μαγειρεμένο.
    Romanization: To kréas íne mayireméno.
    Translation: “The meat is cooked.”
  • The infinitive: Uninflected form. Not to be confused with the English infinitive. The Greek infinitive is used for the formation of certain tenses: present perfect, past perfect, and future perfect. It corresponds to the past participle when used as part of the verb in the aforementioned tenses.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ έχω μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Egó ého mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “I have cooked.”

    Greek: Μέχρι τις 2 μ.μ, εγώ είχα μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Μéhri tis dío (metá mesimvrían) egó íha mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “By 2 p.m. I had cooked.”

    Greek: Μέχρι τις 2 μ.μ, θα έχω μαγειρέψει.
    Romanization: Μéhri tis dío (metá mesimvrían) egó tha ého mayιrépsi.
    Translation: “By 2 p.m. I will have cooked.”

3. Nouns & Articles

Nouns and articles are another important aspect of Greek grammar. They are gendered and get declined according to each case.

1 – Gender

In Greek grammar, gender is a way of classifying nouns, and this system certainly perplexes many new Greek learners. All Greek nouns are assigned to one of three genders:

Many Different Pets
  • Masculine – e.g. ο σκύλος – o skílos – “the dog”
  • Feminine – e.g. η γάτα – i gáta – “the cat”
  • Neuter – e.g. το ποντίκι – to pondíki – “the mouse”

As you might have already noticed, there are also different articles for each gender category. Generally, the articles should match the gender of the noun. 

Check out our Greek Word of the Day and expand your vocabulary! Learning a new word each day along with its article will quickly familiarize you with this concept.

2 – Cases

Moreover, nouns change their suffixes according to their placement within a sentence. Therefore, there are four cases:

  • Nominative: In this case, the noun is the subject or predicate of the sentence.

    Example:
    Greek: Ο σκύλος τρέχει.
    Romanization: O skílos tréhi.
    Translation: “The dog is running.”

    Greek: Αυτό είναι ένας σκύλος.
    Romanization: Aftó íne énas skílos.
    Translation: “This is a dog.”
  • Genitive: This case is typically used to express possession or indirect objects, among other things.

    Example:
    Greek: Η μπάλα του σκύλου είναι κόκκινη.
    Romanization: I bála tu skílu íne kókkini.
    Translation: “The dog’s ball is red.”
  • Accusative: Here, the noun is typically the object of the sentence or part of a prepositional phrase.

    Example:
    Greek: Εγώ χαϊδεύω τον σκύλο.
    Romanization: Egó haidévo ton skílo.
    Translation: “I pet the dog.”

    Greek: Η μπάλα είναι για τον σκύλο.
    Romanization: I bála íne ya ton skílo.
    Translation: “The ball is for the dog.”
  • Vocative: This is used when addressing someone or something. 

    Example:
    Greek: Σκύλε, κάτσε!
    Romanization: Skíle, kátse!
    Translation: “Dog, sit!”

4. Adjectives

Like in English, adjectives are usually placed before the noun. 

Example:
Greek: ο μικρός σκύλος.
Romanization: o mikrós skílos
Translation: “the small dog”

However, adjectives get declined according to the gender of the noun they refer to, as well as the number and the case. 

Example:
Greek: η μικρή γάτα
Romanization: i mikrí gáta
Translation: “the small cat”

Greek: η ουρά της μικρής γάτας  
Romanization: i urá tis mikrís gátas
Translation: “the tail of the small cat”

Greek: οι μικρές γάτες  
Romanization: i mikrés gátes
Translation: “the small cats”

5. Adverbs

We saved this category for last, because…guess what?! Adverbs in Greek don’t get inflected! These words remain the same, regardless of the way they’re used in speech.

A Girl Hugging a Dog

Generally, adverbs are placed either right after the verb or at the end of the sentence.

Example:
Greek: Ο σκύλος τρέχει γρήγορα.
Romanization: O skílos tréhi grígora.
Translation: “The dog is running fast.”

6. Conclusion

That’s (almost) all, folks!

Sure, there’s so much more to analyze about Greek grammar! Whole books are written for that purpose!

However, this wasn’t our intention here. We simply wanted to introduce you to the basic Greek grammar principles so you can start making sense of it right from the beginning.

Greek is a wonderful language and, although the grammar may seem a bit complicated, we’re sure you are going to master it in no time! 

Start learning Greek today for free and discover our many articles, vocabulary lists, and YouTube videos

Before you go, let us know in the comments which aspect of Greek grammar is most challenging for you so far. We’d love to hear from you and help you out with anything you’re struggling with.

Happy Greek learning!

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