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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Hi, everybody! Stefania here. Welcome to Ask a Teacher, where I’ll answer some of your most common Greek questions.
The Question
The question for this lesson is “When should you use the personal pronoun μου (mu) in genitive and when do you use με (me) in accusative?”
Explanation
Weak personal pronouns, such as μου (mu) in genitive or με (me) in accusative, both meaning "me", will usually come before a verb or after a gerund or a verb in the imperative and will denote a direct or indirect object.
The vast majority of Greek transitive verbs require a direct object in the accusative, although there are a few verbs that require a direct object in genitive. So whether you'll use μου or με (mu/me, "me") for a single direct object depends on the type of verb you have.
Let's go into more detail. First, let's see which type of verbs get a direct object in genitive.
• Verbs of expression, like απευθύνομαι (apefthínome, "to address"), γνέφω (gnéfo, "to wave/nod"), εξομολογούμαι (exomologúme, "to confess"), λέω (léo, "to say"), μιλάω (miláo, "to talk"), and χαμογελώ (hamoyeló, "to smile").
• Verbs of sensations, like αρέσω (aréso, "to like"), βρομάω (vromáo, "to stink"), ξινίζω (xinízo, "to be sour"), and μυρίζω (mirízo, "to smell").
• Verbs of ownership, like ανήκω (aníko, "to belong"), and βρίσκομαι (vrískome, "to have” [normally meaning "to be located"]).
• Verbs that denote an association, like αναλογώ (analogó, "to correspond"), μοιάζω (miázo, "to look like"), and ταιριάζω (teriázo, "to match").
• Verbs that denote modality, like αξίζω (axízo, "to deserve") and χρειάζομαι (hriázome, "to need").
Some examples are...
μου λέει (mu léi) = "he/she/it tells me"
μου αρέσει (mu arési) = "I like"
μου αξίζει (mu axízi) = "I deserve"
Here is a sample sentence.
Μου μυρίζει ένα ωραίο άρωμα. (Mu mirízi éna oréo ároma.)
"I smell a nice perfume."
This direct object in genitive can usually be replaced by a similar prepositional phrase using a preposition such as με (me, "with"), σε (se, "to/in/on/at"), or από (apó, "from"), etc. + accusative. For example,
αυτός μου λέει (aftós mu léi, "he tells me") is the same as αυτός λέει σε εμένα (aftós léi se eména.) Here the personal pronoun changes from the weak form μου (mu) to the strong form εμένα (eména) after the preposition.
A sample sentence with a similar prepositional phrase is...
Αυτό ανήκει σε εμένα. (Aftó aníki se eména.)
"This belongs to me." This can also be rephrased as Αυτό μου ανήκει. (Aftó mu aníki.) using a weak personal pronoun in genitive and still mean the same thing.
Now, with any other transitive verbs apart from those special ones that I mentioned before, we use the weak personal pronouns in accusative as a direct object when needed. For example,
με βλέπεις (me vlépis) = "you see me"
με ενοχλείς (me enohlís) = "you annoy me"
με ακουμπάς (me akumbás) = "you touch me"
In addition to having a single direct object, some verbs get an indirect object as well. For those, if the direct object is not a phrase, it will always be in accusative, even if the verb is one of those that require a direct object in genitive. The indirect object can then be...
1. In genitive or a similar prepositional phrase.
2. Another accusative.
Let's see an example.
● Μου λέει μια ιστορία. (Mu léi mia istoría.) "(S)he is telling me a story." Here μια ιστορία (mia istoría, "a story") is the direct object in accusative answering to "WHAT?" and μου (mu) is the indirect object in genitive answering to "TO WHOM?" Μου (mu) could also be replaced by the prepositional phrase σε εμένα (se eména) ("to me") without changing the meaning: Λέει μια ιστορία σε εμένα. (Léi mia istoría se eména. "(S)he is telling a story to me”).
Here are some more sample sentences.
Ο κηπουρός μού φροντίζει τον κήπο. (O kipurós mú frondízi ton kípo.)
"The gardener is cleaning the garden for me."
Οι γονείς μου μού δίνουν χαρτζιλίκι. (I gonís mu mú dínun harjilíki.)
"My parents give me pocket money."
You may be wondering now how can you know which case to use with your indirect object pronoun.
It depends on the verb as some verbs require the genitive and some others the accusative. Let's see an example, "The nurse is feeding me soup." If you are not sure whether to say "Η νοσοκόμα με ταΐζει σούπα" (I nosokóma me taízi súpa) or "Η νοσοκόμα μου ταΐζει σούπα" (I nosokóma mu taízi súpa), a relatively safe tip is to try replacing "me" with a matching prepositional phrase like "to me" and see if it sounds right. If it doesn't, like in this case, don't use a genitive, like μου (mu). Instead, use an accusative, like με (me) or its strong form εμένα (eména). So the correct sentence is Η νοσοκόμα με ταΐζει σούπα. (I nosokóma me taízi súpa.) OR Η νοσοκόμα ταΐζει εμένα σούπα. (I nosokóma taízi eména súpa.)
Remember, a weak object pronoun in accusative, like με (me) can usually be replaced by its equivalent strong form in accusative, like εμένα (eména), while a weak pronoun object in genitive, like μου (mu), can be replaced by a preposition + its equivalent strong form in accusative, like σε εμένα (se eména, "to me").
Here are some related sample sentences.
Η κυρία Αγγελίδου διδάσκει εμένα ιστορία. (I kiría Angelídu didáski eména istoría.)
"Mrs. Angelidou teaches me history."
Η κυρία Αγγελίδου με διδάσκει ιστορία. (I kiría Angelídu me didáski istoría.)
"Mrs. Angelidou teaches me history."
Sometimes, using the wrong case changes the meaning of what you are trying to say resulting in… interesting sentences! For example,
Σου μαγειρεύω (Su mayirévo, "I cook for you"). Σου (su) in genitive here indicates an indirect object as it is implied that I’m cooking for you something else, a direct object, like “food” which is omitted here.
But if we had σε μαγειρεύω (se mayirévo), where σε (se) is in accusative case indicating a direct object, the meaning changes to "I’m cooking you!" So if you don't want to sound like a cannibal, make sure you use the right case in a sentence like that!

Outro

How was the lesson? Pretty interesting, right?
Do you have any more questions? Leave them in the comments below and I’ll try to answer them!
Γεια χαρά! (Ya hará!)

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