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Lesson Transcript

Maria: Hey everyone, welcome back to GreekPod101.com. And congratulations to you for having the guts to click play on a grammar lesson!
Iro: Yeah, the word "grammar" seems so foreboding.
Maria: Yeah, a lot of us have grammar anxiety…post-traumatic grammar disorder.
Iro: Yes, I know I do - from learning English!
Maria: Fortunately, at GreekPod101.com, we have developed a therapy for this.
Iro: Yes! A painless therapy!
Maria: Yes, we know the current practice is to use grammar book shock therapy, which involves something to the effect of ordering ten pounds worth of grammar textbooks you'll never open from Amazon.
Iro: I've been there.
Maria: Sometimes I get nightmares and cold sweats…the grammar books sitting on the shelves laughing at me.
Iro: Well, what we do is take all that grammar and make it easy for you.
Maria: Yep. We're going to prove it to you today with a grammar head start.
Iro: And we have good news.
Maria: What’s that?
Iro: Well, you might have listened to the lesson all about the Greek alphabet in this series.
Maria: Yes, that is the lesson right before this one, right? .
Iro: Well, not to bring your spirits down, but learning the Greek alphabet is a lot easier than learning the grammar.
Maria: I know that very well. But you did choose to study one of the most complicated languages in the world, right!
Iro: Yes! That's true.
Maria: So if you hate conjugating verbs, can't accept that words have gender, or can't really be bothered with the correct pronunciation, maybe Greek isn't for you.
Iro: However, we can promise a few things…one of them being a simplified grammar class that will be easy for everyone to understand! Second, your life will be a lot richer after this class as you will have gained knowledge of the base of most European grammar!
Maria: We're about to tell you what you need to know right off the bat to give you a jump start on Greek.
Iro: Yes, and you will get the last laugh at the grammar books.
Maria: Okay, so first of all, we need to let you know the good news, which is that Greek is just like English. That is, it is an SVO language…Subject - Verb - Object. So if you know this basic structure, you should be okay.
Iro: Yeah, nothing is that easy!
Maria: However, as English has three tenses (present, past, and future), in Greek, although time does bear upon the meaning of tense, the primary consideration of the tense of the verb is not time, rather, the kind of action that the verb portrays.
Iro: Yeah, also in Greek, the verb meaning needs to be conjugated.
Maria: And the verb determines both gender and tense.
Iro: So let's start with the most basic kind of sentence to illustrate what we mean.
Maria: In a normal Greek declarative sentence, the word order is the same as what we use in a normal English declarative sentence…Subject - Verb - Object.
Iro: So, for example…"Egó spoudázo Elliniká." ("Εγώ σπουδάζω Ελληνικά.")
Maria: "I study Greek" is precisely the same as English. "Egó" is "I," "spoudázo" is "study," and "Elliniká" is the word for "Greek."
Iro: So, "Egó spoudázo Elliniká."
Maria: In Greek, however, the subject can be discarded in a sentence.
Iro: Yes, because the verb is showing us that the first person is speaking.
Maria: The verb determines tense, gender, and person. It's quite useful actually, wouldn't you say?
Iro: Yes. In this case, it's great to have a parallel foundation with English. It gives us an easy place to start. I mean, think of all the things you will be able to say right away. Let's have some more!
How about "(Egó) píno tsái." ("(Εγώ) πίνω τσάι.")
Maria : "I drink tea." Again, the same as English.
Iro: And how about "(Egó) didásko Elliniká" ("(Εγώ) διδάσκω Ελληνικά."), meaning "I teach Greek."
Maria: That’s a good one! So you can see how easy it is to start speaking Greek. You can already make three sentences.
Iro: I love it.
Maria: Yes, okay. But now, I'm sorry, we are going to get negative.
Iro: What? How can we go from all that awesomeness to that?
Maria: Negating verbs!
Iro: Ah yes, making sentences negative. Okay, this is easy too.
Maria: Yes! Throw that grammar book out the window! There is another great thing about Greek…making sentences negative. How do we do it?
Iro: Negation occurs before the verb and any prepositional phrase. And all we have to do is add our negation word there.
Maria: So in the example we just had, to make it negative, you just add a negation word, in this case "den" ("δεν"), in front of the verb.
Iro: "Den spoudázo Elliniká." ("Δεν σπουδάζω Ελληνικά.")
Maria: Which means "I don't study Greek."
Iro: Okay, but we are studying Greek, so let's talk about something else.
Maria: How about tense and everyone's favourite irregular verb, "to be."
Iro: Or not to be…
Maria: …
Iro: So let's start by saying "I am Greek." "(Egó) eímai Elliníida." ("(Εγώ) είμαι Ελληνίδα.")
Maria: Here we have the present, first person, feminine tense PLEASE CONFIRM THAT IT IS FEMININE.
Iro: There are distinct differences between English and Greek verb usage. In English, verbs emphasise the time of action, whether past, present, or future, with their related forms. Greek verbs emphasize the kind of action, with time relationships being secondary. While aware of time factors, Greek is more concerned with the manner in which the action takes place than the time at which it occurred.
Maria: The major features of verbs are tense, mood, and voice.
Iro: Tense expresses time and/or duration of action. Mood expresses the writer or speaker's attitude toward the action. Voice expresses the action as either performed by the subject of the verb or received by the subject. The subject is either acting or being acted upon.
Maria: It all sounds so complicated; so let's give some more examples!
Iro: Okay. Let's start with a sentence with the verb "to go," for example. In Greek, it's "pigaínete" ("Πηγαίνετε").
Maria: And put that in a full sentence, please.
Iro: "Pigaíno sto párko." ("Πηγαίνω στο πάρκο.")
Maria: Literally, "I go to park." Again, we see the simple subject – verb – object order of the sentence. So we get the essence of what is going on here, right? "I…go…to…park."
Iro: The past tense will look like this…"Píga sto párko." ("Πήγα στο πάρκο.")
Maria: "I went to the park." Not too difficult, is it?
Iro: And here is one example of the future tense. "Tha páo stin thálassa ávrio." ("Θα πάω στην θάλασσα αύριο.")
Maria: "I will go to the sea tomorrow." "Tha" means "I will," "páo" means "(I) go," "stin" means "to," "thálassa" means "sea," and "ávrio" means "tomorrow."
Iro: Exactly.
Maria: Ah, I'm feeling less "tense" already.
Iro: That's not funny.
Maria: Sorry.
Iro: Now let's have a closer look at gender.
Maria: In English, some nouns are automatically thought of as masculine or feminine, such as king, man, queen, and woman. Everything else is referred to as "it," such as pencil, dog, and so forth.
Iro: In Greek, however, all nouns are assigned a gender. Some of them, like the words for man and woman, go into the natural classification. Unlike English, nouns that we would think of as "it" are arbitrarily classified into one of these three categories. Here are some examples.
Iro: Masculine - "άντρας"
Maria: "man"
Iro: "πατέρας"
Maria: "father"
Iro: "κύκλος"
Maria: "circle"
Iro: Feminine - "γυναίκα"
Maria: "woman"
Iro: "μητέρα"
Maria: "mother"
Iro: "στέγη"
Maria: roof"
Iro: Neuter - "μολύβι"
Maria: "pencil"
Iro: "λεφτό"
Maria: "minute"
Iro: "κορίτσι"
Maria: "girl"
Maria: As you'll notice, there are some surprises, too. Would you have guessed that the word for "girl" is neuter? The question then becomes how you determine a noun's gender.
Iro: If a noun appears in isolation, the end of the word will give you some clues as to what gender the word is.
If a noun ends in "-ης" or "–ας," it's probably masculine.
If it ends with "-α" or "–η," it's probably feminine.
And finally, if it ends with "-ο," "-ι," or "–μα," it's neuter.
Maria: Whoa, tiring.
Iro: There are, however, exceptions and also some words that end with "–ος" that can be any gender. Luckily for us, nouns don't exist in isolation. In Greek, as in English, you'll almost always find a noun in company with an article.
Maria: Lucky us…
Iro: Now let's look at articles. English has three articles, "a," "an," and "the," right? "The" is the definite article in English. Well, the Greek definite articles are actually gendered.
Maria: You guys sure love gender…
Iro: Yeah! So the articles are as follows…
Masculine - "ο"
Feminine - "η"
Neuter – "το"
Maria: Do some extra examples come with that order?
Iro: Sure! I'll throw them all in there! But let's make them easy.
Masculine - "o ántras" ("ο άντρας"), meaning "the man"
Feminine - "i gynaíka" ("η γυναίκα"), meaning "the woman"
Neuter - "to molývi" ("το μολύβι"), meaning "the pencil"
Maria: There must be more than that, right?
Iro: Of course! We also have indefinite articles! The English ones are "a" and "an," depending on the vowel sound. The Greek ones are…
Masculine - "énas" ("ένας")
Feminine - "mia" ("μια")
Neuter - "éna" ("ένα")
Maria: Some examples, please.
Iro: Just exchange "-o," "-i," and "-to" with these!
Iro: Masculine - "énas ántras" ("ένας άντρας")
Maria: "a man"
Iro: Feminine - "mia gynaíka" ("μια γυναίκα")
Maria: "a woman"
Iro: Neuter- "éna molývi" ("ένα μολύβι")
Maria:"a pencil"
Maria: That's not too difficult I guess… So what's next?
Iro: Plurals!
Maria: Oooh, of course, we don't just talk about one book or a book. Sometimes we have to talk about books, two books, or many books. To make an English noun plural, we usually add "-s" or "-es" to the end. "Book" becomes "books," "fox" becomes "foxes," and so forth.
Iro: Making a noun plural in Greek requires knowing both its gender and the letters with which it ends. Take a deep breath, because here we go.
Iro: For masculine nouns, we start with the singular "ántras" ("άντρας")
Maria: meaning "man,"
which becomes "ántres" ("άντρες")
Maria: meaning "men."
Iro: Likewise, we have "patéras" ("πατέρας")
Maria: meaning "father,"
Iro: which becomes "patéres" ("πατέρες")
Maria: meaning "fathers."
Iro: Finally, "kýklos" ("κύκλος")
Maria: meaning "circle,"
Iro: becomes "kýkloi" ("κύκλοι")
Maria: meaning "circles."
Iro: Well done, so
for feminine nouns, we have "gynaíka" ("γυναίκα")
Maria: meaning "woman,"
Iro: which becomes "gynaíkes" ("γυναίκες")
Maria: meaning "women."
Iro: Similarly, we have "mitéra" ("μητέρα")
Maria: meaning "mother,"
Iro: which becomes "mitéres" ("μητέρες")
Maria: meaning "mothers,"
Iro: and "stégi" ("στέγη")
Maria: meaning "roof"
Iro: which becomes "stéges" ("στέγες")
Maria: meaning "roofs."
Iro: And last. For neuter nouns, here are some examples…"molývi" ("μολύβι"),
Maria: meaning "pencil,"
Iro: becomes "molývia" ("μολύβια")
Maria: "meaning "pencils"
Iro:"leftó" ("λεφτό")
Maria: meaning "minute,"
Iro: becomes "leftá" ("λεφτά")
Maria: meaning "minutes"
Iro: and "korítsi" ("κορίτσι")
Maria: meaning "girl,"
Iro: becomes "korítsia" ("κορίτσια")
Maria: meaning "girls."
Maria: That was an enlightening shot of grammar indeed!
Iro: We promised painless, and I think we delivered!
Maria: Remember that this is your head start on Greek grammar. Keep up with GreekPod101 for more lessons that will teach you Greek in the way you want to learn…without pain!
Iro: Thanks for listening!
Maria: Bye!
Iro: Geia sas!