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See also: Words of Greek Origin


1. Grammar and Spelling
2. Punctuation
3. Measurements and Abbreviations
4. Hyphenation
5. Miscellaneous Peculiarities
6. Geographic Distribution
7. Character Set

Section One - Grammar and Spelling

1. Gender: There are three genders in the Greek language: masculine, feminine and neuter. These are reflected in the endings of the nouns. Any articles or adjectives that accompany the nouns should agree with them in gender, case and number.

2. Articles: There are two types of articles, definite (ο, η, το) and indefinite (numerals acting as indefinite articles: ένας, μια, ένα), they precede the head of the noun phrase and agree with it in number, gender and case.

The uses of the articles in Greek are broadly similar to those in English: where English has “the”, Greek normally has the definite article, and where Greek has the indefinite article, English has “a/n”. However, in many cases, Greek uses the definite article, where English does not use anything at all.

The articles τον, την, έναν lose their final ν and become το, τη, ένα in front of the letters β, γ, δ, ζ, θ, λ, μ, ν, ρ, σ, φ, χ.

3. Accents: The accent normally appears on every word that is written in lowercase letters and has MORE than one syllable. In particular, it appears over the vowel that receives the stress of the word (the letters α, ε, η, ι, ο, υ, ω receive an accent).
The accent is also written before an initial capital representing a stressed vowel ( Έ, Ά, Ί, Ύ, Ό, Ή). However, the accent is not used on words entirely in capitals.
Please note that the disjunctive pronoun “or” takes an accent «ή», also the question words “where” «πού» and “how” «πώς», although they are monosyllabic words.

Only the letters ι, υ also receive a dieresis (ϊ, ϋ ). To obtain the dieresis press
shift + ; + letter. Sometimes, depending on the combination of letters and
pronunciation, ι and υ receive both a dieresis and an accent. First go to the
Greek keyboard. The codes are: ΰ [0224], ΐ [0192]. Their capitals also receive
a diairesis and accent.

text it can take any form: it can be written as a left one or a right one. It
does not matter. The accent in the typed document will always be ΄. The
other types do not exist in typed documents.

4. Capitalisation: Adjectives deriving from countries, e.g. French,
English, are always spelt with a lower-case first letter unless they refer to
nationality (not origin). Note that there is a great confusion as to whether
names of languages, e.g. German (i.e. the German language) are spelt with a
lower- or upper-case first letter. The proper spelling is with a lower-case

5. Plurals: Most common endings of plural nouns are: ες, οι, εις, α, η, ων.
Again the plural endings depend on case and gender.

Section Two - Punctuation

1. Question marks: The Greek question mark looks like the English semicolon. Never use '?', it does not exist in Greek.

2. Semi-colons: The Greek semi-colon is a raised point '·’. However, it is not as widely used as the comma.

3. Full stops: Full stops are used at the end of sentences, to indicate abbreviations (e.g. π.χ.), in large numbers (e.g. 1.500 or 15.450.220). Full stops are not common in headings or titles, but they can be found in subtitles, if they form a complete sentence.

4. Inverted commas: Greek uses the following type of inverted commas: « ». Do not leave a space in between. The codes are: » [0187] and « [0171]. E.g. “Give me more work!”, shouted Chloe. «Δώστε μουκιάλληδουλειάφώναξεηχλόη.
“Would anyone like some tea?” asked George. «Θέλει κανείς τσάιρώτησε η Γεωργία.
“I’m bored – can I go home now?”, Michala said. «Βαρέθηκα, μπορώ να πάω σπίτι τώραείπε η Μικαέλα.

5. Apostrophes: The apostrophe is used to indicate that a vowel is deleted at the beginning or at the end of a word. (e.g. Θέλω νανέβωΘέλω να ανέβω = I want to go up).

Note that stylistically, the contracted forms are not used in Greek, unless the style is very informal. So avoid types such as γι'αυτό, κι'αλλo etc.

6. Long/short dashes: The hyphen is not usually used in Greek unless to separate words. The Greek equivalent of the English dash is the bracket.
You will therefore usually find brackets in a Greek text where English would use dashes.

7. Capitalisation: Proper names begin with a capital letter in Greek, e.g.: Κατερίνα, Αθήνα. Also, names of months and days, e.g.: Μάρτιος, Τρίτη.
You will find capital letters in headings, but not usually in the middle of the sentence, unless there is a proper name.

Section Three - Measurements and Abbreviations

1. Measurements: In Greek, the most commonly used measurements are: kilometre, metre, centimetre and millimetre. For TVs and monitors only we use inches.

Always convert measurements, except from inches. Greek does not use miles, oz, feet, lbs.

When writing numbers remember: 3,000 (ENG) = 3.000 (GK) and 5.6 (ENG) = 5,6 (GK).

Time is written with a semicolon between the numbers, e.g.: 10:30 πμ (am) 9:15 μμ (pm).

Date is written as follows:
Τρίτη 9 Μαρτίου 2004
9 Μαρτίου 2004

Always use a space between a number and a measurement abbreviation.

When the expression 'per cent' is used in English, always use the symbol “%” in Greek.

Temperature is written as follows: 30° C

2. Abbreviations:

Note that the English abbreviations for measurements are usually kept depending on the style of the text, e.g. technical and if the final recipient has some technical knowledge. Stylistically, it is not considered appropriate to use abbreviations in published written material. However, the most common ones are: e.g. = πχ (π.χ.), i.e. = δηλ. (δηλαδή) and etc. = κ.α.

Abbreviation for 'second(s)' is: ″ and for minutes ′. So 1 min. and 20 sec., is 1′20″. A good idea to write this is to press the Greek accent + space or press the Greek accent twice+ space.

Other common abbreviations are:
W x L x H = π x β x υ
1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th etc. = 1ος, 2ος, 3ος, 4ος κ.α. (remember these numerals depend on gender, number and case).
Mr/Mrs =
km = χλμ

Section Four – Hyphenation

Hyphenation is mostly used in Greek in line breaks.

When you have double letters, such as λλ, σσ, etc. hyphenate as follows: λ-λ, σ-σ. For example άλλoς = άλ-λoς, θάλασσα = θά-λασ-σα. The only exception is the double γγ, which should never be hyphenated. For example άγγελoς = άγγ-ελoς. Do not separate the following combinations of letters: μπ, ντ, γκ.

Section Five – Miscellaneous Peculiarities

The words Πως (how) and Πoυ (where) receive an accent when they are within a question. For example: Where are you? = Πoύ είσαι;.

Note that there are two forms of the Greek 'σ'. When it is at the end of words it becomes «ς» (press W). This is called sigma final. If it is within a word then it remains as 'σ'.

Section Six – Geographic Distribution

Greek, the first great language of Western civilization, is considered by many to be the most effective and admirable means of communication ever devised. Its lucidity of structure and concept, together with its seemingly infinite variety of modes of expression, render it equally suitable to the needs of the rigorous thinker and the inspired poet.

In time four distinct dialects evolved: Aeolic, Ionic, Arcado-Cyprian, and Doric. With the rise of Athens in succeeding centuries, a dialect of Ionic known as Attic began to produce the great literature of the classical period. Attic became the dominant form of the language and the basis of the Koine, or common language, whose use passed far beyond the borders of present-day Greece. After the conquests of Alexander the Great it was spoken as far east as India, and later was adopted as a second language by the Roman Empire. The New Testament was written in the Koine and it was used by the Eastern Orthodox Church through to the present day.

The Greek alphabet, an adaptation of the Phoenician, dates from about 1000 B.C. It was the first alphabet in which letters stood for vowels as well as for consonants, in contrast to the Semitic alphabets, which had only consonants. Like the Semitic alphabets, it was at first written from right to left, but then shifted to a style in which lines alternated from right-to-left and left-to-right, and then shifted again to the present left-to-right direction. Greek was the official language of the Byzantine Empire from the 4th to the 15th century and thereafter continued to be spoken by Greeks under Turkish rule.

Modern Greek began to take shape about the 9th century, and became the official language of the kingdom of Greece in the 19th. Today Greek is spoken by about 10 million people, including some 600,000 on the island of Cyprus. In addition to the common speech, known as Demotic, an imitation of classical Greek, known as Pure, has been revived for literary purposes.

Greek (Modern) is spoken/used in the following countries:
Greece, Australia, Albania, Canada, Cyprus (Republic of), Germany, Turkey, North America.

Language Family
Family: Indo-European
Subgroup: Hellenic

Source: - Copyright © Kenneth Katzner, The Languages of the World, Published by Routledge.

Section Seven – Character Set

[ ] = Alt key codes

α [ctrl/alt/a] Α
β [0226] Β
γ [0227] Γ [0195]
δ [0228] Δ [0196]
ε [0229] Ε
ζ [0230] Ζ
η [0231] Η
θ [0232] Θ [0200]
ι [] Ι
κ [0234] Κ
λ [0235] Λ [0203]
μ [0236] Μ
ν [0237] Ν
ξ [0238] Ξ [0206]
ο Ο
π [0240] Π [0208]
ρ [0241] Ρ
ς Σ [0211]
σ [0243] Τ
τ [0244] Υ
υ [0245] Φ [0214]
φ [0246] Χ
χ [0247] Ψ [0216]
ψ [0248] Ω [0217]
ω [0249]  


Words of Greek Origin


By Aikaterini Spanakaki-Kapetanopoulos,
Greek Translations,
East Sussex, United Kingdom

info at greek-translations co uk

Aikaterini Spanakaki-Kapetanopoulos  photoGreek is undoubtedly a language of special importance that has been used for centuries to express and refine philosophical and scientific concepts. It is not by chance that the international scientific language has formed, and continues to form, many of its terms by borrowing Greek root words. While all languages lend and borrow words, it appears that the Greek language has contributed an extraordinarily large number of important words of to modern languages.

The English language and international scientific terminology contain a more than hundred and fifty thousand Greek words.
According to a research conducted by Mr. Aristidis Konstantinidis, the English language and international scientific terminology contain a more than hundred and fifty thousand Greek words. His study, which took 28 years to complete, led to the conclusion that one out of four English words is of Greek origin. Lexicographic research shows that Greek is the language of sciences and literature in the English language. According to Mr. Konstantinidis, research on the effect of the Greek language on European vocabulary revealed that, in 1991, French contained 1250, and German 1450 words of Greek roots. Modern English contains words from Plato, Aristotle, Herodotus, Hippocrates, Thukydides, Homer, Hesiodos, and Galinos.

The effect of the Greek language is recognized in the European vocabulary and especialy in the English language, but has not yet been systematically studied. Research done on the French and German languages has shown that there were about 1500 Greek root words included in dictionaries, which is quite a misleading figure. Scientists recognize the fundamental role Greek language has played in forming the vocabulary in their fields, but they do not have an overall picture of the effect on other scientific fields. In Greece, the importance of Greek root words that have been borrowed by other languages is underestimated due to lack of knowledge and systematic work.

All words that have been recorded by Mr. Konstantinidis in his research are words that Englishmen and Americans recognize in their dictionaries as words of Greek origin. The research therefore, has not been based on personal interpretations of etymology. Moreover, a number of dictionaries, except for the Oxford dictionary, identify many words as being of Latin roots, disregarding the fact that some Latin roots may actually come from Greek. E.g., the word "electric" (electricity), is reported as coming from the Latin "electrum," however, without mentioning that this word, in turn, comes from the Greek "electron" (amber) or "kechrimpari." The Oxford Dictionary includes 10,500 Greek words, which constitute 21,6% of the dictionary. Ancient Greek words, that were loan words from Persian, such as the word "agaria" (chore) or Hebrew words, such as "satanas" (satan), have not been included in the study. It's worth mentioning that according to Merriam-Webster's dictionary, the English language has borrowed 57 words from Turkish and 34 words from all Slavic languages. Greek, however, has contributed 41,614 words.

Both English and international terminology uphold and respect Greek rules and tradition. Ηistorical spelling, complex consonants or consonant clusters are often maintained to a great extent, despite the fact that they are not pronounced. The Greek letter [ψ] is given as [ps], Greek plurals are sometimes maintained despite the fact that they represent a difficulty for foreigners. E.g., the word "Ipatitis" (hepatitis), maintains the Greek plural, hepatitides, phenomenon-phenomena, criterion-criteria, phalanx-plalanxes etc. Moreover, grammatical rules are also maintained, as for the creation of complex words. As regards dasia-accented words (Greek polytonic orthography of Ancient Greek) the English letter H is added. For instance, there are 23,000 dasia-accented words in medicine alone, and 11,000 in zoology.

Denying the Greek etymology of words in Western languages does a disservice both to those languages and to Greek. It carries the risk that future generations will not recognize words of Greek roots and their importance. Consequently, neglecting the Greek cultural heritage can lead to denial of Greek identity.

Those who advocate the replacement of the Greek alphabet (another Greek word) by the Latin alphabet, do not realize that this would lead to going back to ancient Greek and polytonic system. But why the English chose Greek to borrow from? First, it is the wealth of Greek words that provides the possibility of selecting among synonyms in order to express oneself adequately and with conceptual precision. It's not by chance what Americans say when in need of a specialized or precise term, that "the Greeks have the word for it." Second, it is the plasticity of the words from which many derivatives can be produced. In medical terminology, 394 basic words produce 17,000 derivatives.

It is not by chance that Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, the well-known French chemist, used Greek in order to name many chemical elements such as chlorine.

It is the magic of history and etymology. Behind a word there is often hidden an entire history, as all the simplicity of the Spartans' life is hidden in the word laconic, . Greek is characterized as the language of sciences, since words that do exist in English, are replaced by Greek words when they are used in the context of scientific terminology, e.g. the science of deserts in known as erimology, from the Greek word "erimos."

It can be agreed that there is disconnect between demotic and literary language. The literary language is populated to a great extent by Greek words either for reasons of prestige or because it's a centuries-old tradition. English is becoming the modern language of science, and some countries such as France, Sweden and Italy are trying to resist this trend. Yet, most countries use English terms, and therefore Greek vocabulary has infiltrated in many Latin-based languages through English.

Although Greece is a small country geographically (Greek word "geographia" meaning geography), it is so rich in history and culture that it has affected much of the world. The Greek language has followed a dynamic course as it infiltrated numerous languages. The Greek language is an element of cultural heritage of Western civilization and a priceless treasure for Greeks and non-Greeks to be proud of.




Babiniotis G. (1998) "Lexicon of Modern Greek", Lexicology Center: Athens, Greece.

Konstantinidis, A. (2006) "The Universal Reach of the Greek Language", ISBN 960-90338-2-2. Athens: self-published.

Published - June 2011

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