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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 “How do you make a tag question in Greek?”
Explanation
A tag question is a question that a speaker adds after a statement to ask for confirmation. In English, the statement and the question are opposites. So if the statement is affirmative, the tag question will be negative and the opposite. For example...
1. The truck is blue, isn't it?
And
2. The truck is not blue, is it?
In Greek, we do make tag questions to get a confirmation, but the statement and the question don’t necessarily have to be opposites like in English.
Let's go into more details.
Greek tag questions vary depending on the context but for most cases you can simply add the phrase “… έτσι δεν είναι;" ("...étsi den íne?") meaning "… isn’t that so?" or "… isn't he/she/it?" at the end of any statement, whether it’s negative or affirmative. Let's have a look at the previous examples again. In Greek they are...
1. Το φορτηγό είναι μπλε, έτσι δεν είναι; (To fortigó íne ble, étsi den íne?)
And
2. Το φορτηγό δεν είναι μπλε, έτσι δεν είναι; (To fortigó den íne ble, étsi den íne?)
So the structure is like this.
[statement] + [question to confirm whether the statement is true]
It doesn’t matter if the statement is negative or affirmative.
So it’s like saying….
1. [The truck is blue], [this statement is true, right?] being confident that the truck is blue.
And
2. [The truck is not blue], [this statement is true, right?] being confident that the truck is not blue.
Here are some similar sample sentences.
Είναι ακριβό, έτσι δεν είναι; (Íne akrivó, étsi den íne?)
"It's expensive, isn't it?"
Δεν είναι ακριβό, έτσι δεν είναι; (Den íne akrivó, étsi den íne?)
"It's not expensive, is it?"
Another common way to form a tag question is by using the very casual "… ε;" ("...e?")
"… huh?"
Technically, "… ε;" ("...e?") could also be used in these Greek examples I mentioned, but since the word immediately before it would be μπλε (ble, "blue"), which also ends in -ε (-e), we would have a very long unattractive /e/ sound, μπλε ε (ble e). So keep that in mind if you don't want to sound like a sheep when using "… ε;" ("...e?") as your tag question.
Here are some related sample sentences.
Ωραία ταινία ε; (Oréa tenía e?)
"Nice movie, huh?"
Ακούς τι λέω ε; (Akús ti léo e?)
"You can hear what I'm saying, huh?"
Finally, Some other common tag questions in Greek are...
… έτσι; ("...étsi?" "... right?")
… σωστά; ("...sostá?" also "... right?")
… δεν συμφωνείς; ("...den simfonís?" "...don't you agree?")
… δεν νομίζεις; ("...den nomízis?" "... don't you think?")
… δίκιο δεν έχω; ("...díkio den ého?" "... aren't I right/am I not right?")
… καλά δεν τα λέω; ("...kalá den ta léo?" roughly "... am I right?")
and using the statement's main verb in its opposite form.
So if the verb is affirmative, it becomes negative in the tag question. For example,
Το φορτηγό πηγαίνει πολύ γρήγορα, δεν πηγαίνει; (To fortigó piyéni polí grígora, den piyéni?)
“The truck goes very fast, doesn't it?”
If the main verb is negative, we make it affirmative in the tag question, but we usually add before it the conjunction ή (í) meaning "or." For example,
Το φορτηγό δεν πηγαίνει πολύ γρήγορα, ή πηγαίνει; (To fortigó den piyéni polí grígora, í piyéni?)
“The truck is not going very fast, or is it?”
Here are some more sample sentences.
Εμένα μου φαίνεται σωστό, δεν συμφωνείς; (Eména mu fénete sostó, den simfonís?)
"It looks right to me, don't you agree?"
Αυτό το κομμάτι πάει εδώ, σωστά; (Aftó to komáti pái edó, sostá?)
"This piece goes here, right?"

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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