Overview of the Parts of Speech in the Greek Language

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When it comes to learning the Greek language, there are a lot of things that should be studied. Sure, you can always learn enough words and phrases to get you through the basics in Greek. This is especially useful if you will be traveling to Greece. However, if you want to learn the language thoroughly, you should take things a step further by learning about the grammar. The parts of speech are the most basic elements of grammar and knowing them will help you form sentences in the Greek language. Here’s a look at the major parts of speech in the Greek language, as well as some examples:

Nouns

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a noun is:

 any member of a class of words that typically can be combined with determiners to serve as the subject of a verb, can be interpreted as singular or plural, can be replaced with a pronoun, and refer to an entity, quality, state, action, or concept

Nouns are an important part of any Greek sentence. They can change form depending on which case they are in the sentence (such as nominative or accusative). In the following examples, the nouns are boldfaced:

  • Το σκυλί έφαγε ένα κόκκαλο.  To skili efage ena kokkalo.  The dog ate a bone.
  • Η γάτα έπινε γάλα. –I gata pane gala.  The cat drank milk.
  • Το αυτοκίνητο έχει κόκκινα καθίσματα. To aftokinito ehee kokkina kathismata. The car has red seats.

Pronouns

According to Webster’s Dictionary, a pronoun is:

any of a small set of words in a language that are used as substitutes for nouns or noun phrases and whose referents are named or understood in the context

In the Greek language, these are the main pronouns:

  • I – Εγώ – ego
  • You – εσύ – esi
  • He – αυτός – aftos
  • She – αυτή – afti
  • It – αυτό – afto
  • We  – εμείς – emees
  • You – εσείς – esees
  • They – αυτοί – afti

Adjectives

According to Webster’s Dictionary, an adjective is:

a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages and typically serving as a modifier of a noun to denote a quality of the thing named, to indicate its quantity or extent, or to specify a thing as distinct from something else

Adjectives are also very common in the Greek language. In the following examples, the adjectives are boldfaced:

  • Το κόκκινο αυτοκίνητο έχει καινούργιες θέσεις. To kokkino aftokinito ehee kenooryies Το κόκκινο αυτοκίνητο έχει καινούργιες θέσεις. thesees.  The red car has new seats.
  • Το κορίτσι είναι μικρό. To koritsi eenai mikro. The girl is little.
  • Η γλυκιά ζύμη έχει ένα υπέροχο σιρόπι. I glikia zimi ehee ena uperoho siropi. The sweet pastry has a delicious syrup.

Verbs

Verbs are an important component of every sentence because it indicates an action done by the subject. In the sentence, “She runs” the subject is “she” and the verb is “runs”. Verbs work the same way in the Greek language. Here’s a more in depth definition from Webster’s Dictionary:

a word that characteristically is the grammatical center of a predicate and expresses an act, occurrence, or mode of being, that in various languages is inflected for agreement with the subject, for tense, for voice, for mood, or for aspect, and that typically has rather full descriptive meaning and characterizing quality but is sometimes nearly devoid of these especially when used as an auxiliary or linking verb

In the following examples, the verbs are boldfaced:

  • Το κορίτσι περπατά πολύ γρήγορα. to koritsi perpata poli grigora. The girl walks very fast.
  • Το βιβλίο είναι ασφαλές εδώ. To vivlio eenai asfales etho. The book is safe here.
  • Αγόρασα ένα νέο φόρεμα. Agorasa ena Neo forema. I bought a new dress.

Adverbs

According to Webster’s Dictionary, an adverb is:

a word belonging to one of the major form classes in any of numerous languages, typically serving as a modifier of a verb, an adjective, another adverb, a preposition, a phrase, a clause, or a sentence, expressing some relation of manner or quality, place, time, degree, number, cause, opposition, affirmation, or denial, and in English also serving to connect and to express comment on clause content

Adverbs work the same way in Greek as they do in the English language. In the following examples, the adverbs are boldfaced:

  • Το παγωτό ήταν εξαιρετικά κρύο. To pagoto itan exepetika kruo. The ice cream was extremely cold.
  • Το βιβλίο είναι αρκετά συναρπαστικό. To vivlio einai arketa sunarpastiko. The book is quite fascinating.
  • Περπατά πολύ γρήγορα. Perpata poli grygora. She walks very fast.

Prepositions

According to Webster’s Dictionary, prepositions are:

a function word that typically combines with a noun phrase to form a phrase which usually expresses a modification or predication

They also work in much the same way in English as they do in Greek. In the following examples, the prepositions are boldfaced:

  • Το βιβλίο είναι πάνω στο τραπέζι. To vivlio eenai pano sto trapezi. The book is on the table.
  • Η γάτα είναι κάτω από την καρέκλα. I gata eenai kato apo tin karekla. The cat is under the chair.
  • Το αγόρι είναι με τη μητέρα. To agori eenai me ti mitera. The boy is with the mother.

As with learning anything in Greek, it is important to familiarize yourself with these concepts. With repeat exposure through practice, they will become more ingrained.


The Learn Greek section on GreekBoston.com was written by Greeks to help people understand the conversational basics of the Greek language. This article is not a substitute for a professional Greek learning program, but a helpful resource for people wanting to learn simple communication in Greek.

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