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Learn All About Greek Tenses

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Greek tenses are a cornerstone chapter for every student of the language. They allow you to refer with ease to actions of the present, past, and future—a basic skill required for everyday discussions. 

The good news is that the Greek tenses are very similar to those in English, making it easier to adapt. On the other hand, the bad news is that the Greek language features many different verb groups, as well as many exceptions. 

In this blog post, we’ll demonstrate the use of Greek tenses and provide you with useful examples throughout.

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Beginner Vocabulary in Greek Table of Contents
  1. Present
  2. Past
  3. Future
  4. The Auxiliary Verb “έχω”
  5. Verb Conjugations
  6. Conclusion

1. Present

A Man Pointing at His Wristwatch

Talking about the present is one of the most common ways to describe your current actions, your hobbies, and your habits. There are two Greek present tenses: Ενεστώτας and παρακείμενος.

Let’s take a closer look at each one of them below. 

A- Ενεστώτας (Enestótas) – “Present” 

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek present tense indicates a continuing action, something that happens continuously or repeatedly, or something that is in the process of happening. Present simple and present continuous.
  • τώρα (tóra) – “now”
  • κάθε μέρα (káthe méra) – “every day”
  • κάθε μήνα (káthe mína) – “every month”

Examples:

  • Greek: Εγώ τώρα διαβάζω.
  • Romanization: Egó tóra diavázo.
  • Translation: “I’m reading now.”
  • Greek: Εγώ κάνω γυμναστική κάθε μέρα.
  • Romanization: Egó káno yimnastikí káthe méra.
  • Translation: “I exercise every day.”
  • Greek: Η Μαρία κάθε χρόνο πηγαίνει διακοπές.
  • Romanization: I María káthe hróno piyéni diakopés.
  • Translation: “Maria goes on vacation every year.”

B- Παρακείμενος (Parakímenos) – “Present Perfect” 

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek present perfect tense indicates an action that has already taken place. Present perfect
  • ήδη (ídi) – “already”

Examples:

  • Greek: Σήμερα έχω ήδη μαγειρέψει.
  • Romanization: Símera ého ídi mayirépsi.
  • Translation: “Today, I have already cooked.”
  • Greek: Ο Γιάννης έχει διαβάσει αυτό το βιβλίο.
  • Romanization: O Yánis éhi diavási aftó to vivlío.
  • Translation: “John has read this book.”

2. Past

A Calendar Indicating Yesterday

You know what they say: What’s in the past, stays in the past. However, talking about your past experiences can be a very good conversation starter.

Are you ready to tell your Greek friends all about your adventures?

Here are the three possible Greek past tenses for verbs: Αόριστος, παρατατικός, and υπερσυντέλικος.

A- Αόριστος (Aóristos) – “Aorist”

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek aorist tense indicates an action that took place some time in the past. It doesn’t provide any information about how long it took or whether the results of this action are still in effect. Past simple
  • χθες (hthes) – “yesterday”
  • πέρσι (pérsi) – “last year”
  • την περασμένη εβδομάδα (tin perazméni evdomáda) – “last week”

Examples:

  • Greek: Χθες πήγαμε στο Μουσείο της Ακρόπολης.
  • Romanization: Hthes pígame sto Musío tis Akrópolis.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, we went to the Acropolis Museum.”
  • Greek: Πέρσι επισκεφτήκαμε για πρώτη φορά την Ελλάδα.
  • Romanization: Pérsi episkeftíkame ya próti forá tin Elláda.
  • Translation: “Last year, we visited Greece for the first time.”
  • Greek: Πριν μια εβδομάδα ξεκίνησα να μαθαίνω Ελληνικά.
  • Romanization: Prin mia evdomáda xekínisa na mathéno Eliniká.
  • Translation: “One week ago, I started learning Greek.”

➤ If you feel like digging into the aorist tense a bit more, check out our lesson Talking About the Past.

B- Παρατατικός (Paratatikós) – “Imperfect”

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek imperfect tense indicates an action that took place in the past either repeatedly or continuously over a long time period.Past continuous
  • χθες (hthes) – “yesterday”
  • πέρσι (pérsi) – “last year”
  • πριν μία εβδομάδα (prin mía evdomáda) – “last week”

Examples:

  • Greek: Χθες έτρεχα για μία ώρα.
  • Romanization: Hthes étreha ya mía óra.
  • Translation: “Yesterday, I was running for one hour.”
  • Greek: Εμείς περπατούσαμε για δύο ώρες, μέχρι να βρούμε το ξενοδοχείο.
  • Romanization: Emís perpatúsame ya dío óres, méhri na vrúme to xenodohío.
  • Translation: “We were walking for two hours, until we found the hotel.”

➤ Learn more about the imperfect tense by studying our lesson Reminiscing in Greek.

C- Υπερσυντέλικος (Ipersindélikos) – “Pluperfect”

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek pluperfect indicates an action that took place before a certain moment in the past.Past perfect
  • μέχρι χθες (méhri hthes) – “until yesterday”
  • μέχρι πέρσι (méhri pérsi) – “until last year”
  • μέχρι πριν μία εβδομάδα (méhri prin mía evdomáda) – “until last week”

Examples:

  • Greek: Μέχρι χθες δεν είχα φάει ελληνικό φαγητό.
  • Romanization: Méhri hthes den íha fái elinikó fayitó.
  • Translation: “Until yesterday, I hadn’t eaten Greek food.”
  • Greek: Μέχρι πέρσι δεν είχα επισκεφτεί τη Σαντορίνη.
  • Romanization: Méhri pérsi den íha episkeftí ti Sandoríni.
  • Translation: “Until last year, I hadn’t visited Santorini.”

3. Future

A Calendar Indicating Tomorrow

Making plans about the future is what keeps us going. In order to describe your future plans, you’ll definitely need the future tenses in Greek, including συνοπτικός μέλλοντας, εξακολουθητικός μέλλοντας, and συντελεσμένος μέλλοντας

A- Συνοπτικός μέλλοντας (Sinoptikós mélondas) – “Simple Future”

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek simple future tense indicates an action that will take place once in the future.Simple future
  • αύριο (ávrio) – “tomorrow”
  • του χρόνου (tu hrónu) – “next year”
  • την επόμενη εβδομάδα (tin epómeni evdomáda) – “next week”

Examples:

  • Greek: Αύριο θα πάμε στη συναυλία.
  • Romanization: Ávrio tha páme sti sinavlía.
  • Translation: “Tomorrow, we will go to the concert.”
  • Greek: Η Ελένη θα γίνει 28 χρονών του χρόνου.
  • Romanization: I Eléni tha yíni íkosi októ hronón tu hrónu.
  • Translation: “Eleni will become 28 years old next year.”

B- Εξακολουθητικός μέλλοντας (Exakoluthitikós mélondas) – “Future Continuous” 

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek future continuous tense indicates an action that will take place in the future repeatedly or continuously over a long time period.Future continuous
  • από εδώ και πέρα  (apó edó ke péra) – “from now on”
  • από αύριο (apó ávrio) – “from tomorrow on”

Examples:

  • Greek: Από εδώ και πέρα θα διαβάζω περισσότερο.
  • Romanization: Apó edó ke péra tha diavázo perisótero.
  • Translation: “From now on, I will study more.”
  • Greek: Από αύριο θα τρώω πιο υγιεινά.
  • Romanization: Apó ávrio tha tróo pio iyiiná.
  • Translation: “Beginning tomorrow, I will eat more healthy.”

C- Συντελεσμένος μέλλοντας (Sindelezménos mélondas) – “Future Perfect”

DescriptionEquivalent English TenseUsual Time Phrases
The Greek future perfect tense indicates an action that will have taken place in the future by a certain point in time.Future perfect
  • μέχρι αύριο (méhri ávrio) – “by tomorrow”
  • μέχρι τον επόμενο μήνα (méhri ton epómeno mína) – “by next month”

Examples:

  • Greek: Μέχρι αύριο θα έχω μελετήσει τρία μαθήματα.
  • Romanization: Méhri ávrio tha ého meletísi tría mathímata.
  • Translation: “By tomorrow, I will have studied three lessons.”
  • Greek: Μέχρι τον επόμενο μήνα θα έχω χάσει 5 κιλά.
  • Romanization: Méhri ton epómeno mína tha ého hási pénde kilá.
  • Translation: “By next month, I will have lost 5 kilos.”

4. The Auxiliary Verb “έχω”

As you might have already noticed in the examples, some tenses make use of the auxiliary verb “έχω” in their structure. 

More specifically, the present perfect and future perfect utilize the present tense of the verb έχω (ého) – “have,” whereas pluperfect utilizes the past tense of the same verb: είχα (íha) – “had.”

For your convenience, in the table below you’ll find all the forms of this verb.

Παρακείμενος (Parakímenos) – Present Perfect
εγώ (egó) – “I” έχω διαβάσει (ého diavási) – “have read”
εσύ (esí) – “you”έχεις διαβάσει (éhis diavási) – “have read”
αυτός / αυτή / αυτό (aftós / aftí / aftó) – “he / she / it”έχει διαβάσει (éhi diavási) – “has read”
εμείς (emís) – “we”έχουμε διαβάσει (éhume diavási) – “have read”
εσείς (esís) – “you”έχετε διαβάσει (éhete diavási) – “have read”
αυτοί / αυτές / αυτά (aftí / aftés / aftá) – “they”έχουν διαβάσει (éhun diavási) – “have read”

As for the future perfect, the only thing that needs to be added is the preposition θα (tha) – “will.”

Συντελεσμένος Μέλλοντας (Sindelezménos Mélondas) – “Future Perfect”
εγώ (egó) – “I” θα έχω διαβάσει (ého diavási) – “will have read”
εσύ (esí) – “you”θα έχεις διαβάσει (éhis diavási) – “will have read”
αυτός / αυτή / αυτό (aftós / aftí / aftó) – “he / she / it”θα έχει διαβάσει (éhi diavási) – “will have read”
εμείς (emís) – “we”θα έχουμε διαβάσει (éhume diavási) – “will have read”
εσείς (esís) – “you”θα έχετε διαβάσει (éhete diavási) – “will have read”
αυτοί / αυτές / αυτά (aftí / aftés / aftá) – “they”θα έχουν διαβάσει (éhun diavási) – “will have read”

Now, for the past perfect, we’ll need the aorist form of this verb, which is demonstrated below.

Υπερσυντέλικος (Ipersindélikos) – Pluperfect/Past Perfect
εγώ (egó) – “I” είχα διαβάσει (íha diavási) – “had read”
εσύ (esí) – “you”είχες διαβάσει (íhes diavási) – “had read”
αυτός / αυτή / αυτό (aftós / aftí / aftó) – “he / she / it”είχε διαβάσει (íhe diavási) – “had read”
εμείς (emís) – “we”είχαμε διαβάσει (íhame diavási) – “had read”
εσείς (esís) – “you”είχατε διαβάσει (íhate diavási) – “had read”
αυτοί / αυτές / αυτά (aftí / aftés / aftá) – “they”είχαν διαβάσει (íhan diavási) – “had read”

5. Verb Conjugations

A Teacher in Front of a Blackboard, Holding Some Books

In order to complete your knowledge of Greek verbs, you certainly need to study other conjugation factors, as well. More specifically, you should remember that Greek verbs conjugate according to person, number, mood, and voice.

This definitely perplexes things, but you don’t need to worry. Take a look at our Greek Verb Conjugations article in order to familiarize yourself with all the different conjugation factors.  

6. Conclusion

Verb conjugation and tenses are the core of Greek grammar. For more information, check out the Intermediate and Upper Intermediate series on GreekPod101.com.

Greek grammar is vast, and it’s totally okay for you to feel a bit confused, especially if you’re a beginner. So, how would you feel if you had a personal teacher to guide you all the way through this grammar labyrinth? In addition to our great selection of free learning resources, we also offer a personalized service for our Premium PLUS members called MyTeacher, which allows you to enjoy a unique one-on-one learning experience!

Before you go, feel free to let us know in the comments if you still have any questions about Greek tenses. We’d be glad to help!

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