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Michael: When do you use ο and when do you use ω?
Chrissi: And why are there two letters for the same sound?
Michael: At GreekPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following situation, a language learner, Sasha Lee, is writing down the name of one of her classmates. Sasha Lee, a high school student, wants to confirm the spelling name, Frosso, and tries to spell it out.
Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Frosso: Ναι, Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω.
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Michael: "Phi rho omicron sigma omega?"
Frosso: Ναι, Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω.
Michael: "Yes, phi rho omicron sigma omega."
Michael: Even though the two o’s in the name Frosso sound the same, they’re written with two different letters. The first is an omicron, 
Chrissi: όμικρον,
Michael: meaning "small o, " and the second one is an omega,
Chrissi: ωμέγα,
Michael: meaning "great o."
Despite the meanings suggested by their names, omega and omicron are completely different letters, each with their own uppercase and lowercase form.
Michael: Let’s take a closer look at Sasha's question.
Do you remember she asks,
Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Michael: Learning to spell Greek words correctly requires memorization, constant exposure to vocabulary, and lots of practice. To know which of these o's to use you’ll have to make sure of the spelling each time you learn a word, and then commit it to memory.
However, there are a few tricks that will make it easier to figure out which "o" letter to use. First, let's look at words that have omicron in their ending.
The biggest group are the words that end with -ος (-os). This is a common ending for masculine pronouns, such as "he" or
Chrissi: αυτός 
Michael: adjectives in their masculine form, such as "clean,"
Chrissi: καθαρός,
Michael: and nouns of all genders, such as the masculine noun "rock," 
Chrissi: ο βράχος,
Michael: the feminine noun. "street," 
Chrissi: η οδός,
Michael: and the neuter noun, "chaos,"
Chrissi: το χάος.
Michael: Some neuter nouns are spelled with omega. Examples of such neuter nouns are
Chrissi: το φως,
Michael: meaning "light" and 
Chrissi: το καθεστώς,
Michael: meaning "regime." Yet another group of words that have omicron (o) in their endings are neuter pronouns like
Chrissi: ποιο,
Michael: meaning "which," neuter nouns like "drink,"
Chrissi: ποτό,
Michael: and adjectives in their neuter forms, such as "good,"
Chrissi: καλό.
Michael: The next group of words that are written with an omicron at the end are the -ον ending neuter nouns, like
Chrissi: παρόν,
Michael: meaning "present" and adjectives in their neuter form, like
Chrissi: ενδιαφέρον,
Michael: meaning "interesting." Furthermore, masculine adjectives ending with -ονας, such as
Chrissi: μετριόφρονας,
Michael: or "mediocre" and neuter nouns ending with -ιμο such as 
Chrissi: βάψιμο.
Michael: meaning "coloring" or "painting." That’s already a lot of different groups, right? There are three more to go. The ος (-os) ending in the singular genitive forms of pronouns, nouns, and adjectives, such as,
Chrissi: του πράγματος,
Michael: or "of the thing,"
Chrissi: του απόντος
Michael: or "of the absent," and
Chrissi: κανενός,
Michael: or "of no one." Here too, there are some exceptions, though! 
These are some feminine nouns ending in -η that become -εως (-eos) in their genitive singular form. For example, the noun "knowledge,"
Chrissi: η γνώση,
Michael: becomes
Chrissi: της γνώσεως.
Michael: Furthermore, all the verbs ending in a non-accented
Chrissi: -ομαι
Michael:  in the passive voice, such as 
Chrissi: σέβομαι,
Michael: meaning "to respect" and all the gerunds ending in a non-accented
Chrissi: -οντας,
Michael: such as 
Chrissi: τρέχοντας,
Michael: meaning "running" are written with the omicron. Last but not least, remember to use an omicron when writing the number "two,"
Chrissi: δύο. 
Michael: Now let’s take a look at when to use ω.
Ω is used as an ending of many feminine nouns, such as "echo."
Chrissi: ηχώ.
Michael: And "persuasion." 
Chrissi: πειθώ.
Michael: It’s also an ending for many Greek female names, such as
Chrissi: Κλειώ
Michael: or
Chrissi: Κατερινιώ
Michael: or
Chrissi: Φρόσω.
Michael: Of course, there are more word endings that require the use of omega. This will be the case for the
Chrissi: -ων
Michael: ending masculine and feminine adjectives, such as 
Chrissi: ευγνώμων,
Michael: meaning "thankful." Also, all the plural genitive forms of declinable words such as 
Chrissi: αυτών,
Michael: meaning "of them,"
Chrissi: των παιδιών,
Michael: meaning "of the children," or
Chrissi: των όμορφων 
Michael: meaning "of the beautiful," will be written with an omega. Also, use the omega in all the verbs ending in an accented 
Chrissi: -ώμαι 
Michael: in the passive voice, such as 
Chrissi: Εγγυώμαι
Michael: or "to guarantee" and all the gerunds ending in an accented 
Chrissi: -ώντας,
Michael: an example of which is 
Chrissi: ζητώντας
Michael: meaning "asking." Also the 
Chrissi: -ως 
Michael: ending adverbs, like "luckily,"
Chrissi: ευτυχώς.
Michael: And finally, all the verbs that can be formed in the active voice will end in -ω (-o) in the first person singular of the present tense. For example, the verb, "play,"
Chrissi: παίζω. 
Michael: These are all the grammatical endings using omega that you need to know about. But let’s not forget about two basic words written with an omega — the pronoun, "I."
Chrissi: εγώ.
Michael: And the number eight,
Chrissi: οχτώ.
Michael: This may seem like a lot to learn. But let’s keep in mind that the biggest group of words with an omicron are the words that end with -ος (-os). This is a common ending for masculine nouns, such as "he,"  adjectives and nouns of all genders.
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then repeat after the Greek speaker, focusing on pronunciation. 
Do you remember how Sasha says,
CHRISSI AS Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
CHRISSI AS Sasha Lee: Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω;
Michael: And how her friend says,
"Yes, phi-rho-omicron-sigma-omega."
Ναι, Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω.
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Ναι, Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω.
Ναι, Φ-ρ-ό-σ-ω.
Michael: The reason there are two letters for the same sound comes from ancient Greek. Omicron used to be a short sound, and omega a long sound. This is easy to remember since Omicron literally means "small o" while omega literally means "great o." But in Modern Greek, these letters came to sound the same.
Michael: Great job. Now you know when to use omicron and omega in Greek. That’s all there is to it!
Be sure to download the lesson notes for this lesson at GreekPod101.com — and move onto the next lesson!


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GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 06:30 PM
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What Greek learning question do you have?

GreekPod101.com Verified
Friday at 09:01 AM
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Hi Elisabeth,

Thank you for giving us your feedback. I've shared it with the rest of the team so they can consider it for future series.

Kind regards,


Team GreekPod101.com

Thursday at 05:32 PM
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Sorry, but this lesson would be better if Chrissy did it alone. The male teacher’s heavy American accent and bad pronunciation take my focus away, unfortunately. But American students might disagree 😁