Right Way to Use a Greek-English Dictionary to Learn

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Having a Greek to English dictionary handy while you learn Greek can be beneficial and a great tool to use. However, there is a right way to use the dictionary and a wrong way. While it is a great tool to use, it is possible to completely overdo it and use it as a crutch. The dictionary isn’t meant to replace your knowledge of the Greek language, but rather enhance it. Here’s a look at the best way to use the dictionary while learning Greek:

Find a Great Dictionary

This may seem obvious, but how effective the dictionary will be for you depends on how good it is. Some companies are better than others. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have a traditional, paper version of the dictionary. You can easily have a digital version that is stored in your phone or other portable electronic device. The goal would be to make sure the dictionary is accessible to you when you need it.

Determine the Word’s Importance

If you looked up every word you encountered that you didn’t know, you would spend a lot of time looking up words. This is completely impractical and it also isn’t necessary. It’s much better to take a reserved approach when looking up words because you will be more likely to remember the words over the long term. Save your efforts to find the meanings of words that are truly important! For example, if you are reading a news article in Greek, only look up the words that you don’t know that you suspect express the main idea of the piece. From there, you will be better able to figure the other words that you don’t know out on your own.

Try to Figure Out the Meaning

Before you look up the word, you should try to determine if you can figure out its meaning on your own. Back when you learned English as a child, teachers instructed you to do this all the time. By looking at the words, sentences, and even paragraphs around the word, you can sometimes guess the meaning of the word on your own. At this point, you could look up the word to determine if you were correct. By trying to figure out the meaning on your own, you are more likely to remember the word over the long term.

When learning Greek, having a translation dictionary handy can be an excellent tool. However, if you aren’t careful, you won’t get the most out of this technique. Look up words that you feel are truly necessary, but you should always take the extra effort to figure out the meanings of the words on your own.


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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