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Iro: Γεια σας! Είμαι η Ηρώ.
Maria: Maria here! Pronunciation Series, Lesson Four on Accents.
Hello, and welcome to GreekPod101.com, the fastest, easiest, and most fun way to learn Greek!
Iro: And thanks again for being here with us for this Pronunciation lesson.
Maria: What is our focus today, Iro ?
Iro: Today we will talk about accents in Greek.
Maria: Accents are one of the reasons why spoken Greek can be difficult to understand.
Iro: Yeah. But first things first. You may be wondering, what are accents?
Maria: Well, an accent mark is used over a letter to indicate which syllable is stressed in a word.
Iro: This is something Spanish has too, so it may be easier to understand if you can speak any other European languages.
Maria: Yes, for every word with at least two syllables, one of them will be emphasized more than the other.
Iro: "Accent," or "τόνος" as it is called in Greek, is always placed above a vowel.
Maria: There a few tricky bits about accents that we will look deeper into in this lesson.
Iro: Okay. So let's get to the first problematic area. Where to place the accent.
Maria: Yeah, unlike French, which stresses almost always the last syllable, and unlike Spanish, which stresses very often the second-to-last syllable, Greek stress is more or less unpredictable.
Iro: Exactly. You have to know the sound of the word to know how to stress it.
Maria: In modern Greek, since 1982, there is a single mark that shows where the stress goes, and it looks like a tiny slanted line over the vowel in most fonts.
Iro: And when this little mark is placed over a different vowel in a word with the same spelling, the meaning changes.
Maria: Can you give us an example?
Iro: Of course! How about "Αθηνά", the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom.
Maria: What about her?
Iro: Well, here the accent is placed on the last "-a."
Maria: And…
Iro: Were we to put the accent above the "-i" sound, like this "Αθήνα", we make another word.
Maria: So we do! "Athens," the capital of Greece! Fantastic!
Iro: If you think this sounds confusing and a pain in the neck, you don't know the half of it!
Maria: Yeah, I read that the rules of Ancient Greek were an absolute mess.
Iro: There were five different marks in Ancient Greek, and the rules for placing them, although meaningful in ancient times, were meaningless in later times, because the pronunciation of the language had changed and wasn't indicative anymore of which mark to use.
Maria: Must have been tough going to school.
Iro: Yeah, children had to memorize the stress for each word, and they were making plenty of mistakes in writing.
Maria: What a mess.
Iro: But, fortunately, the system was simplified greatly. Now there is a single accent mark, as I said. But first, we must learn where to put the accent mark, before we learn when.
Maria: Exactly. So where do we put it?
Iro: I mentioned earlier that the accent mark goes only over vowels. And the vowels that take the stress are plain vowels and vowel diphthongs.
Maria: Plain vowels are exactly that. The seven vowels "α," "ε," "η," "ι," "ο," "υ," and "ω".
Iro: Yes, if put in a word, they sound like this…"Έλα" ("to come"), "ισόπεδος" ("level"), and "όμορφη" ("beautiful").
Maria: That was the easy bit. In the case of diphthongs, the stress is different.
Iro: Yeah, when stressing a diphthong, the accent mark is placed over the second letter but stressed as one sound.
Maria: Examples, please.
Iro: So if we have the Greek word for "watermelon" ("καρπούζι"), which is spelled "κ-α-ρ-π-ο-ύ-ζ-ι," the double consonant here is "ού," and if written, the accent mark is placed above the "ύ."
Maria: Any other examples?
Iro: Yes. The double vowels "αυ," "ευ," and "ηυ" are a bit different from the others.
Maria: How is that?
Iro: Well, if we take the word "αύριο" ("tomorrow") in English, when spoken, the accent is on the "-a" sound. However, when written "α-ύ-ρ-ι-ο," the accent mark is placed on the "ύ," the second vowel.
Maria: If the accent mark were placed over the first letter, then we wouldn't know that this is a vowel diphthong and would pronounce each of its constituents separately, stressing the first vowel and pronouncing the second letter.
Iro: Exactly.
Maria: Now you might wonder, isn't there any case where one must write the two letters of these double vowels and pronounce them separately, stressing the second vowel?
Iro: There is indeed a way to write this by using a mark called a "diaeresis" that is placed over the second vowel, thus dismissing the diphthong.
Maria: The diaeresis is still sometimes used in English, over the "-i" of the word "naïve," and for the same reason…showing the special pronunciation of the vowels of this word.
Iro: Isn't it wonderful how complex and yet how logical a language can be?
Maria: Some would say it's unnecessarily complex…
Iro: Fools! Here are some examples. "ευφυΐα," meaning "wit" or "intelligence," "ε–υ-φ-υ-ΐ-α", ευφυΐα.
Maria: Something I'm often told I lack...Ha ha ha.
Iro: No objection there.
Maria: Hey!
Iro: There is one more point to the diaerisis. Don't think that the diaeresis in Greek always goes with an accent mark! Quite the contrary…their co-occurrence is very rare. Much more often, the diaeresis is needed to "dismiss" an unstressed pair of letters that otherwise would look like a diphthong.
Maria: Like "μαϊντανός!"
Iro: Figures you'd give a food example!
Maria: What's wrong with "parsley?" Such a useful herb…
Iro: And actually a really good example. Μαϊντανός, "Μ-α-ϊ-ν-τ-α-ν-ό-ς", μαϊντανός.
Maria: Okay, now that we have got where to put the accent down, how about when to put it?
Iro: Well, as I mentioned earlier, the rule to the accent mark is that the accent mark is only used when stressing words with two or more syllables.
Maria: But this is a language. And language rules are made to be broken!
Iro: Ha ha, yes, and this rule has lots of exceptions.
Maria: Let's hear them!
Iro: There are "little words" in Greek that appear the same (i.e., spelled with the same letters) but are actually different words. In every one of these word pairs, one of the two words in the pair is stressed in actual speech when spoken within a sentence, whereas the other is unstressed.
Maria: Although monosyllabic, we mark the stressed little word with an accent to distinguish it from the other one, which we leave unmarked. It's that simple.
Iro: Here are some examples…
"που" and "πού," meaning "that," as in "το αυτοκίνητο που πέρασε," meaning "The car that passed."
This word is not stressed in English. It's the same in Greek. This kind of "που" is not stressed in a sentence and is not marked with an accent in writing. But there is this other "πού," the interrogative adverb meaning "where," which is always stressed, and it can be used either in questions or in references to questions such as "πού ήσουν," meaning "Where were you?"
"η," "ή." the unstressed one, is the feminine form of the article in the nominative case, singular number. For example, "η φωτιά," meaning "the fire."
The emphasized "ή" is the disjunctive particle meaning "either" or "or."
For example…"ή εγώ ή εσύ," which means "either I or you."
Maria: Wow, I could use a nap after that grammar meal!
Iro: Yeah, but we'll wrap it up here for this lesson.
Maria: Great! Siesta!
Maria: Don't forget that you can leave us a comment on this lesson.
Iro: So if you have a question or some feedback, please leave us a comment!
Maria: It's very easy to do. Just stop by GreekPod101.com,
Iro: click on comments,
Maria: enter your comment and name,
Iro: and that's it.
Maria: No excuses. We're looking forward to hearing from you!
Iro: Γεια σας!


Please to leave a comment.
😄 😞 😳 😁 😒 😎 😠 😆 😅 😜 😉 😭 😇 😴 😮 😈 ❤️️ 👍

GreekPod101.com Verified
Saturday at 03:25 AM
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Hi George,

Thank you for the kind comment :)

I'm glad you are feeling you are making progress! Keep up the good work!


Team GreekPod101.com

George W
Friday at 11:36 AM
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I greatly enjoy listening to all the teachers! This was sort of a review as Stefania covered this in a video lesson.

Thanks for the good teaching. I feel I am making progress!


GreekPod101.com Verified
Monday at 12:06 PM
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Γεια σου Σουζάνα,

Yes, there is a way :)

All lessons are accompanied by their lesson notes, a useful PDF file. You can download the PDF lesson notes from the button above the title that says "Download PDFs" and then clicking on "Lesson Notes" (you need to be at least a "Basic" member to access this feature).


In some other series, the vocabulary and sample sentences can also be accessed from a circle with the number 2 on it that says "Lesson Materials" (not available in this series).

If there's anything else I can assist you with, please let me know.

Γεια χαρά!


Team GreekPod101.com

susan parrelli
Sunday at 10:26 AM
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Γιεα σου Στεφανήα!

The two speakers are great, I enjoy listening to them and they do make me laugh. but Is there any way I can see the spelling of the words they are using for examples? i do get confused because I don't know some of the words they are saying.

Ευχαριστλώ παρά πολύ


GreekPod101.com Verified
Thursday at 11:43 AM
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Hello Xiang!

Thank you for your question!

Your teacher is right, you just raise your tone like you would do when you say "thank you">thAnk you.

We don't have different types of tones like in Chinese, but what I think is confusing you is the natural way we express words.

For example in a conversation in english, with two people thanking each other what you would hear is something like this:

Speaker A: thAnk you!

Speaker B: No, thank YOU!

Notice how the "thank you" can sound as if there are two different tones? Of course both are correct!

So something similar happens to Greek sometimes. I hope you can see what I mean:neutral:.

It is not a different tone, it is just the natural way of expressing things according to the situation. I guess this happens in many languages.

Don't worry, it takes time to understand the "melody" of a language and Greek is difficult because sometimes we express things naturally without any strict tones like the 4 ones that Chinese have.

From my point of view, as Greek, I think that the tonos of each individual word is respected always, but it is a whole sentence that might have a different melody in different cases. Try to imagine that melody as a wavy line that goes up and down. Example:

"Ωραίος είσαι εσύ!"

(Oreos ise esy!)

It can have two different meanings depending on the sentence's melody, overall spead and how long we keep pronouncing a syllable.

Meaning 1: Acknowledging the fact that he is beautiful

Pronounciation1: orEEEos Ise esYY!

(slow speed of speach, long "E" in "oreos" and "Y" in "esy", facial expression is showing excitement).

Melody: goes HIGH in "E" and remains HIGH

Meaning 2: Ironic, negative, like saying "so you think you are smart right?)

Pronounciation: orEos Ise esY.

(quick speed of speach, shorter "E" and "Y", facial expression is showing that the speaker is annoyed or angry)

Melody: goes Up in "E" but the sentence ends LOW

It is hard to explain and understand through text, so what I suggest you is to always stick to the "tonos" of the word to raise your voice and with time as your listening skills improve, you will become more flexible in your expression and melody. If you stick to the "tonos" then you will always be understood. If you don't , then you might create confusion as some words change the meaning according to their "tonos". Example:

Γέρος-gEros-old man


See how it works?! So always stick to the "tonos" and keep listening to as many Greeks as possible to practice your ear in listening the melody of Greek.

The best of luck with your studies!

Let me know if you have any questions. I hope this helped you understand!


Team GreekPod101.com

Tuesday at 08:10 AM
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My first language is Chinese. when it comes tonos, Chinese has 4 diffenert ones.I know all Greek tonos are marked with the same mark. Presumaly the same stress mark. I asked a Greek language teacher how to pronounce the tonos. She said that you raise your voice. But I think some words are raising and while some others are stressing and actually lower your tonos. Please reply.

Helen Rainey
Saturday at 03:34 AM
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The speed (timing and cadence) of the two Greek girls giving the audio lessons has us stopping and starting the audio lesson CONSTANTLY and going back for a replay, or several replays.

The ladies laughing and quipping jokes at each other are cute and fun, you know, their little jovial banter back and forth, but due to their heavy Greek accents when speaking English, speed of delivery of the lesson/grammar/word concepts which they are trying to convey, many times we are left at a loss as to what it is, exactly, they are saying.

Because I know many Greek native speakers, I am a little more "trained in the ear" of deciphering fast spoken, Greek-accented English, but alas, my 9 year old daughter is usually left with her mouth agape and eyes glazed over, asking me "what did they just say??? Why are they speaking English so funny?".

Again, I honestly believe if upon future recording of these audio lessons, the speakers SLOW DOWN their English and use a touch more emphasis on their English pronunciation, even with their accents, they will be far more understandable without having to stop and start and replay all the time.

Over all, the lessons are very good (with a noted error in this particular one with Maria, or the other girl, referring the double vowel "OY" as a double consonant instead. Perhaps this session was speedily recorded and never gone back over to check for these "audio typos". Go back and listen to the tape. :???:

**Maybe adding a toggle button (for easier STOP & START) of the audio, would be a value added feature to the audio lessons offered here at GreekPod 101. Another example for the need of such a feature is the fact that the blank audio space offered to the student [in which to REPEAT what he/she is hearing in the lesson] is almost nil. Again, this is only constructive criticism, as I find the site to be very good learning tool just with certain difficulties in its design and presentation.