Dialogue

Vocabulary

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Lesson Notes

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Lesson Transcript

Intro

Michael: How is the present perfect tense used in Greek?
Chrissi: And how is it different to the way it is used in English?
Michael: At GreekPod101.com, we hear these questions often. In the following dialogue, Christos Chalepas meets his wife at the doors of their house. He asks her,
"Where are you going?"
Χρήστος Χαλεπάς: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
Dialogue
Χρήστος Χαλεπάς: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
Βάλια Βαμβακά: Στη δουλειά και έχω αργήσει. (Sti duliá ke ého aryísi.)
Michael: Once more with the English translation.
Χρήστος Χαλεπάς: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
Michael: "Where are you going?"
Βάλια Βαμβακά: Στη δουλειά και έχω αργήσει. (Sti duliá ke ého aryísi.)
Michael: "To work and I'm late."

Lesson focus

Michael: The present perfect tense is a bit tricky for students of Greek because not all sentences that use the present perfect tense in Greek get rendered with the English present perfect tense.
Chrissi: This can be seen in our dialogue. Christos’s wife, Vália, says, έχω αργήσει (ého aryísi) using a verb form in the present perfect tense, which we call παρακείμενος (parakímenos) in Greek. This literally means "I have been late." However, the natural translation for this is "I'm late" which uses the simple present tense.
Michael: In order to understand how to use the Greek present perfect tense, we need to explain what the tense denotes.
Chrissi: The present perfect tense in Greek refers to an action or a circumstance that was completed in an undefined moment earlier than the present time.
Michael: Keep in mind that last part: "...earlier than the present time."
Chrissi: Yes, because to us Greeks, being late, for example, is something that has already happened. That moment when we'd still be on time, is already in the past, it's gone. Since we are past that moment, to us it makes sense to say "I have been late" because that action refers to an action that was completed earlier than the present time.
Michael: Now, let's see the opposite thing happening. Let's see an example where we use the present perfect continuous tense in English but render it with the present tense in Greek instead. This will help us understand this tricky Greek tense a bit better. Let's take the sentence "I have been living in Crete for ten years." This gets translated into Greek with the present tense instead.
Chrissi: Ζω στην Κρήτη εδώ και δέκα χρόνια. (Zo stin Kríti edó ke déka hrónia.) instead of Έχω ζήσει στην Κρήτη εδώ και δέκα χρόνια. (Ého zísi stin Kríti edó ke déka hrónia.)
Michael: If we analyze the time of the action in English, we realize that it is implied that the action is still going on. The person has been living in Crete for ten years and is still living there today.
Chrissi: Since this action hasn't stopped, i.e., it is not completed, and is still going on, we can't possibly use the present perfect tense in Greek because it's only for actions that have been completed before the present time. If we used that tense, we would imply that the person is not living in Crete anymore, which is not what the English sentence expresses.
Michael: So when you are not sure whether to use the present perfect tense in Greek, you have to think about whether the action is still going on or whether it has stopped in an undefined moment in the past.
Chrissi: And, finally, keep in mind that, as soon as that moment in the past needs to be defined, for example, by using words such as χτες (htes), "yesterday", πέρυσι (périsi), "last year", and so on, then you can't use the present perfect tense in Greek, and you have to use the simple past tense, like you would do in English.
Michael: For example, "Last year I lived in Crete."
Chrissi: Πέρυσι έζησα στην Κρήτη. (Périsi ézisa stin Kríti.)
Practice Section
Michael: Let's review. Respond to the prompts by speaking aloud. Then, repeat after Chrissi, focusing on pronunciation.
Do you remember how to say "Where are you going?"
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Chrissi: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Chrissi: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Chrissi: Πού πας; (Pú pas?)
Michael: And do you remember how to say "To work and I'm late."
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Chrissi: Στη δουλειά και έχω αργήσει. (Sti duliá ke ého aryísi.)
Michael: Listen again and repeat.
Chrissi: Στη δουλειά και έχω αργήσει. (Sti duliá ke ého aryísi.)
[Beep. Pause 5 seconds.]
Chrissi: Στη δουλειά και έχω αργήσει. (Sti duliá ke ého aryísi.)

Outro

Michael: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Chrissi: Γεια χαρά! (Ya hará!)
Michael: See you soon!

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