conversation in Greek

A New Route To Speaking Better Greek: 5 Simple And Steady Steps

I’m all for hidden gems.

Little coffee shops, bookshops in tiny alleys, a secret beach with emerald waters or a local family bakery that leads you there just by the smell of fresh baked bread.

They all have this one thing in common: Few people know about them because it’s hard to get there.

And to get there, you might assume you need a map, or think you should take the main route, otherwise it’s easy to get lost.

But, hey, do you remember the time you found a beautiful little place, far from crowds and noise?

Well, it wasn’t because you followed the main route.

It was because you were led there by curiosity, excitement and a sense of adventure.

No mistake, hidden gems want to be found this way and they will compensate you with a satisfying sense of accomplishment.

By the way, there is nothing more annoying than the person next to you who holds the map right in front of your nose and anxiously tells you: “nooo, we must go this way, this is the one and only way!”

Let’s take this analogy to language learning - because, why not?

You say to yourself:

“I want to speak Greek! How I wish there was a person sitting next to me right now, so I could practice. How I wish I were at a nice and cozy café happily chatting with a Greek. It’s just so bad I can’t practice what I learn, because I don’t have anyone to talk to”.

Okay I might have added a little Greek drama here.

While I’m sure you’d love to be at a Greek café right now and while I’m sure you do prefer to have someone to talk to in Greek, things don’t look so grim.

It’s true we often think there’s only one way to practice speaking and that is: talking with a native speaker.

Just like the person who stubbornly persists on the one and only way to get to the hidden, beautiful little place (and spoils all the fun), “traditional” learning suggests that there’s no other way around it: in order to improve your speaking, you must speak with a Greek.

What if you could do things a bit differently? What if you could take another, not so obvious way and be a bit brave and adventurous about it?

What if you could speak more Greek, even daily and express your thoughts and ideas, without a Greek speaker?

Taking another route.

A few years ago I was introduced to this idea for practicing speaking: voice recordings.

It’s so simple, really:

You basically record yourself speaking - most phones have now this option (look for “Voice recorder” or “Voice memos”.)

Before helping Greek learners with their speaking by using voice recordings consistently as a weekly practice, I’ve practiced this way too, while learning English and a bit of Dutch.

Here’s what I found:

Recordings are great. They can make an amazing speaking practice.

But only if done right.

I challenge you today to record yourself speaking Greek after you read this guide.

But let me share first a few things I’ve learned along the way. They’ll help you stay focused and keep this activity simple.

#1 Consistency

As with all learning, consistency is key. Recordings are no exception and you need to use them a few times to include them in your way of studying.

You’ll find that it gets easier as you go and that at the end of the month or the trimester you have a solid amount of recordings, a proof of your progress and learning.

No need for a rigid schedule here. Just remember to record yourself a few times to get used to it and then it will organically become part of your learning.

By staying consistent you’ll actually monitor your progress and identify where you need improvement.

#2 Self-confidence

With monitoring in mind, voice recordings can boost your self-confidence.

I bet you’ll find it miraculous how on recording number 1 you stumbled on this and that expression but in recording number 10 you used them without even thinking about them.

It’s gratifying and makes you want to move on. And because it’s like a rehearsal in a quiet studio, it gives you the time to practice and repeat words, expressions and pronunciation you want to get right in an actual discussion.

#3 Focus

You might be asking: What should I talk about?

Well, think of this: What do you want to talk about? How can you find the right vocabulary around that topic? Is there a question you‘d like to answer or even a topic for discussion you’d like to analyze a bit?

A mistake I personally made at the beginning with my own recordings - and I don’t want you to make it too - was that I just started talking about whatever came to my mind.

Although this might be okay for some learners, for me it wasn’t motivating.

Choosing one thing or topic helps you stay focused, make more efficient connections between the new or revised words & their meaning and reduces the overwhelm of trying to include everything at once.

#4 Realistic expectations

It’s easy to get excited and say  “Oh, recordings! Great idea. Yes, I’ll do this!” and then imagine yourself talking and talking - only to find out later that you can barely speak on the voice recorder for one minute.

One minute is surprisingly a lot, by the way. Instagram videos, for example, are one minute long, yet they fit in so much information.

Start with small steps:

Talk about one specific topic or question and use a certain number of new words or expressions.

#5 Be brave

Now, I’m one of those people who usually panic behind the mic or the camera. It’s just what happens, even when no one’s listening.

What I realized however is that the voice that terrifies me the most, is the voice of my perfectionism.

Recordings are meant to be liberating. But when this little voice creeps in, we freeze and then start the negative self-talk.

If you find yourself in a vicious cycle of hitting “play - stop - delete”, be brave and push a bit more. It’s the exact point where you need to allow yourself accept your mistakes and embrace your imperfections.

And when this happens just between you and the recorder, you know you’re a step closer to your “hidden gem” of speaking in real-life situations.

To recap, remember to:

  1. Be consistent with this new activity

  2. Monitor your progress and gain some precious self-confidence along the way

  3. Focus on just one thing

  4. Be realistic about your expectations

  5. Be brave and move past your perfectionism

Let me know how it went! And if you ‘re ready to speak some more Greek, check out here a 3 - week online speaking program I’ve created that helps you do just that.

Happy Greek speaking,

~ Danae

2 Strategies To Keep The Conversation Flowing

Have you ever wished you could speak Greek the way you wanted to in just one day?

Even if we don’t admit it, as much as we enjoy the process of learning, we sometimes act as if it’s possible to learn everything.

We dive into a sea of unknown vocabulary, pile up expression after expression, get lost in a forest of new meanings and nuances.

Courageous? Yes, definitely.

Helpful? Not always.

And then there’s overwhelm and loss of motivation.

How to keep going? How to keep talking?

When we explore the idea of a slow learning process, where the slow language journey doesn’t seem scary anymore, we come to realize the need to navigate the area: We need a compass.

And that’s because you’ve already covered the foundation of the Greek language and you expect to put your learning in use:

  • Put the words in meaningful sentences

  • Understand what you hear in a conversation

  • Reply back

  • Be part of an engaging conversation

And this is what the compass is here for.

To help you with 2 strategies to use, when you still feel your Greek is not “there” yet.

Now, a note about this apparently generic and a bit simplified definition. You’ve noticed I didn’t say “when you’re a Beginner/Intermediate etc” or “when you hold the A1, B2, C1 etc. CEFR level”.

Levels and categories are all useful and give us some information about our learning.

But if we feel we can’t talk the way we want to, or we can’t express our ideas and thoughts and can’t have the pleasure of a chat or a conversation, then levels don’t mean much.

In fact, we might get stuck behind the labels.

But back to our strategies: here’s how they help us find our focus and make connection with the person we talk to - and also our self.

Focus on what’s meaningful to you

Imagine you knew every single word in your own language.

Would you use them all in a conversation? You might had never had the chance to use them all in a lifetime.

I believe language is as alive as we are. The words we use are weaved into our existence and experience.

When we talk about things we like or don’t like doing, when we talk about our schedule, as exciting or boring as it can be or about our feelings, ideas and beliefs, all these words come to life.

And we share this glimpse of our life with the person we talk to.

We let the person zoom into our life and our thoughts.

The same way we don’t talk about everything under the sun, we’re not obliged to learn everything under the sun. We’re free to choose our focus.

When we realize we have a choice in our learning, this is when the magic happens.

We allow ourselves to narrow down and target the areas that are relevant to our life. We then focus even more on the things we mostly talk about.

And then we break the steps down: we don’t just learn the vocabulary with soulless repetition activities (we might use them, yes, but not rely on them), we invite the words in our world, we dig deeper in their meanings, we make them ours.

By focusing on one area, one topic or theme, we’re eventually able to make the connections in multiple levels:

  • connections within the language, between root words for example, which help us form associations, vital to our learning (For more on why and how this is effective, read this great, geeky article here)

  • connections to our own experience, which help us retain vocabulary better as it is relevant to who we are

  • connections to the person or people we talk to, as we start a chat or keep a conversation going, which eventually help us make authentic connections with other humans.

For example, let’s say you’re a person who lives in the city, you like long strolls out in nature, you’re a science fiction writer and your hobby is photography. You also dislike cooking and are not interested in fashion.

How would you prioritize your learning?

Talking about cooking or learning a long list of words about clothes won’t make much sense to you when you feel you still need to find the right words to make a conversation about things that matter to you.

Focus on what you need, then focus some more and then break it down in small, practical steps.

Jazz up the chat with questions

When we feel we can’t use the language the way we wish in a chat with a native speaker, we tend to answer to their questions but avoid making questions.

It could be because we’re not fast enough as the conversation goes on.

Or because we become so shy, we’d rather hide instead of keep being in the conversation.

On the other hand, it might be because we‘re eager to practice, so, subconsciously, we want to take advantage of the opportunity and talk as much as we can.

What this means though, is that the other person starts losing their interest in the chat.

They don’t get any sign you’re interested in them so they stop talking.

Spicing up a conversation doesn’t necessarily require a perfect use of vocabulary or grammar.

Yes, you might stumble. You might forget. This doesn’t need to bewilder you.

Showing your genuine interest to the person you talk to - that’s what makes a good conversation.

And the way to do that is with questions about them.

You might have noticed that in the Greek culture personal questions such as asking about the family or the origin, are not uncommon between people who meet for the first time and they’ve been chatting for a while.

And by origin I mean the grandparents’ birthplace which is usually a village (χωριό) or island (νησί).

So don’t hesitate to break the ice by asking (or asking back) about someone’s family or birthplace for example.

Questions help us to balance the conversation, especially when we still have limited vocabulary or when we still hesitate too much to use it.

Don’t forget them. Sprinkle them in your next chat. They’ll give you a delicious sense of accomplishment.

Next steps:

And if you’re ready to start speaking more Greek, here some helpful ideas:

Did You Like This Article?

Get more of my best learning tips plus learning offers (with a bit of a sunshine, too) only for Greek language enthusiasts, here:

Happy Greek speaking,

~ Danae

54 Short But Mighty Everyday Words and Phrases

It’s about the little things: 

The simple, everyday words you need to use right away.

The short, quirky, little phrases you don't know how to structure in Greek.

(These aren't likely to appear in your course or audio book).

Because when it comes to:

...ask a quick question or reply while at a store

...catch up with your Greek neighbour you met in the street

...help your friend to make dinner for a large group of friends & family, under the gorgeous, starry Greek sky (just sayin'!)

here's the truth: there's no time for translation apps when the conversation keeps going. You just need to know what to say.

Today I’m going to show you 54 of these everyday short words & phrases.

You might find that some are just what you expected while others will surprise you.

Pick the ones you use more often, note down the ones you were wondering how to say. 

These phrases aren't as loud and heavy as the endless tables of conjugations filling our books' pages when we learn languages. And maybe this is the reason why I don’t want you to stumble, like I did, at the little things.

Ready?

 

Agree to something:

1. Έτσι φαίνεται. It looks like it. It seems like it.

2. Τέλεια. Perfect.

3. Α, μπράβο. Well done. You got this.

4. Συμφωνώ απόλυτα. I wholeheartedly agree.

5. Ναι, αμέ*. Yeah, sure.

6. Πολύ καλή ιδέα, ας το κάνουμε έτσι. Great idea, let’s do it this way.

7. Μια χαρά είναι. It’s fine. 

8. Ας γίνει έτσι, λοιπόν. Let’s plan it this way, then. [ Read here about how to use the verb γίνομαι ]

*used in south Greece

 

Disagree or say no:

9. Δεν γίνεται. Can’t happen / work.

10. Δεν έχω χρόνο, δυστυχώς. I don’t have the time, unfortunately.

 

Ask / suggest something:

11. Πάμε; Shall we go?

12. Τι λες (κι εσύ) ; What do you think?

13. Μπορείτε να με (μας) βοηθήσετε; Could you help me (us)?

 

Ask at a store:

14. Έχετε …; Do you have…?

15. Υπάρχει/ υπάρχουν καθόλου…; Is there any ..? Are there any…?

 

Apologize:

16. Με συγχωρείτε, δεν το ήθελα. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.

17. Ωχ, κατά λάθος έγινε! Oh, this was by mistake!

18. Αχ, χίλια συγγνώμη! Ah, a thousand apologies!

 

Thanking:

19. Με έσωσες! You saved me!

20. Αχ, σας ευχαριστώ! Ah, thank you!

21. Να είστε καλά! Be well!

 

Statements and wishes:

22. Καλά να περάσετε! Have a great time!

23. Για να δούμε. Let’s see.

24. Ελπίζω. I hope.

25. Έτσι νομίζω. I think so.

26. Μέχρι στιγμής, όλα καλά. So far so good.

27. Δεν έχω ιδέα. I have no idea.

28. Αυτό ακριβώς έψαχνα. This is what I was looking for.

29. Κανένα πρόβλημα. No problem.

30. Σου έχω μία έκπληξη. I have a surprise for you.

31. Κι εγώ το παθαίνω αυτό. This happens to me as well.

32. Μακάρι να γινόταν. I wish this could happen.

33. Θα τα πας μια χαρά. You’ll do fine.

34. Δεν χρειάζεται να στενοχωριέσαι. No need to be upset.

35. Αυτό είναι το θέμα. That’s the issue / problem.

36. Θα δούμε. We’ll see.

37. Έχει πλάκα! It’s fun / funny.

38. Πόσο μου αρέσει εδώ πέρα! I like it so much here!

39. Απίστευτο μου φαίνεται. It seems unbelievable.

40. Δεν το περίμενα. I didn’t see that coming.

41. Να κανονίσουμε μία μέρα! Let’s arrange (to get together) one day!

 

Start a sentence:

42. Πάντως … However ...

43. Παρ’ όλ’ αυτά … Nevertheless ...

44. Οπότε … So ….

45. Για παράδειγμα … For example ....

 

Expressing sympathy:

46. Κρίμα. Too bad.

47. Λυπάμαι πολύ. I’m so sorry.

 

Emergency:

48. Βοηθήστε με. Help me.

49. Τι έπαθες; What’s wrong?

50. Δεν ξέρω τι να κάνω. I don't know what to do.

51. Χάσαμε τον δρόμο. We ‘re lost (missed the sign, took wrong turn).

 

Not minding:

52. Δεν πειράζει. That’s okay.

53. Δεν με πειράζει. I don’t mind.

54. Δεν με ενοχλεί. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t mind.

 

Time for a Quiz! What do you say? Reply below.

Your friend :

1. Looks worried. You say...

2. Asks you if you like it here.  You say...

3. Is concerned about their new job.  You say...

4. Asks if you like this movie. You say...

You:

5. Break a glass.  You say...

6. Agree to go to the cinema on Saturday.  You say...

7. Suggest to meet with a friend. You say...

8. Can't believe this happened. You say...

 


Eager to learn some more? Join here our small and friendly Facebook community, only for Greek language enthusiasts!


Recommended for you:

9 confidence boosting tips to improve your speaking in Greek [Guest Post]

When I asked Kamila to share her speaking tips in the blog, I knew she'd list some insightful observations you can put to a good use right away.

After all, she speaks 7 languages and inspires other learners with her videos, where she boldly shares her progress and shakes off the errors with laughs, persistence and amazing self-motivation.

Over to you, Kamila and thanks for being here!


Do you want to improve your speaking in Greek but you also feel insecure about yourself?

Do you feel scared of making mistakes?

Or is talking with strangers (especially in your target language) something that’s far out of your comfort zone?

If you can answer one of these questions with a “yes”, you’re at the right place.

I’ve been an introvert person and in the past, I found it hard to speak with others in a foreign language.

“What would they think of me? What if I say something wrong? What if they don’t understand me because of my accent?”, I used to ask myself many of these painful questions.

Speaking with native speakers is very important. Especially if you want to improve your speaking in Greek. But what if your thoughts are making you feel too insecure to approach them?

After years of practice and analyzing what makes people tick, I discovered some techniques to boost my self-confidence and some aspects that helped me build a better connection with the people I wanted to approach.

I’m thrilled to share them in this post as 9 tips you can use to approach native speakers with confidence and improve your speaking in Greek.

1. Discover the reason why you feel insecure

For everything that is withholding you from doing something, you can ask yourself, “Why?”. Why do you feel like this? What is the reason you feel insecure? Is it maybe because of a negative experience you had in the past? Or is it because of your accent?

If you really want to take action, grab a piece of paper and fold it into two sections. Open the paper and write the reason on the left section. Then:

2. Analyze your thoughts

Analyze your thoughts and give everything you’ve written on the left section of the paper a rating based on how relevant it is for you at this moment.

For example, if you feel insecure about speaking Greek with native speakers because you’ve been bullied in the past, this situation is not so relevant for you at this moment. You probably don’t talk with these people anymore and even if you saw them, they’d all be grown up and wouldn’t make fun of others anymore.

Or, if you feel insecure because of your accent, try to think of successful entrepreneurs who give great presentations and sell their products in English while it’s not their native language. If they can capture the attention of thousands of people even when they have a foreign accent, you can do the same.

3. Turn your insecurities into goals

Now, ask yourself how you can overcome your insecurity for each statement that you’ve written on the left section of the paper. This helps you define goals to work towards improving your speaking in Greek.

For example:

I’m afraid that people will make fun of my poor speaking skills --> I’m going to work on my vocabulary and film myself every day so that I see how I express myself.

This will help me have an interesting conversation with a native speaker soon.

4. Just do it (with tiny steps each time)

Overcoming your insecurities is a big goal. It’s not impossible to succeed but you need to take small steps every time. Define activities for yourself not so far out of your comfort zone so that you slowly get more self-confidence.

5. Look specifically for people with the same interests

One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they want to be able to speak with everyone. However, you can’t have a great conversation with everyone because we all have our own preferences, different hobbies and interests, right?

When you talk with people you don’t have a lot of things in common, you may eventually lose your self-confidence and find it harder to approach new people. (Especially in a foreign language and if you’re a shy person!)

Therefore, it’s important to look for people who have the same interests as you. You can use language exchange apps like Italki and HelloTalk to find native speakers.

6. Prepare yourself

Nothing is worse than having an awkward conversation with a native speaker. That’s why it’s important to prepare yourself beforehand.

You don’t have to memorize everything you are going to say but think of interesting questions you can ask and topics you can talk about with the person. If your vocabulary is not so large, you can look up some useful verbs and words that you may need in the conversation.

7. Remind yourself : it’s okay to make mistakes

In school, when we’re taking exams, we lose points for each mistake we make. The more points you lose, the lower your mark will be. After years of going to school, people tend to avoid making mistakes. However, making mistakes is the way we, humans, learn new things.

Forget everything you learned at school and allow yourself to make mistakes!

Mistakes are fun, embarrassing (in a fun way), can help you create new memories, and help you remember things more effectively than when you would learn them out of grammar textbooks.

8. Most Greek people will be impressed by your speaking skills so far

Believe me or not but most native speakers will be impressed by your speaking skills so far.

Most native speakers don’t speak perfect English so when they notice that you’re putting effort into learning their native tongue and take the step to speak with them, they will be impressed.

They won’t nitpick your accent or grammar. They will help you and give you tips instead!

9. Show your interest in their culture

I can’t point out enough the importance of showing your interest in the culture of a native speaker.

This helps you connect better with them and improve your connection. They will like you more and show you their appreciation.

When you have a better connection with a native speaker, you won’t feel insecure anymore. You’ll gain more self-confidence and have the courage to speak with more native speakers.

Conclusion

If you want to improve your speaking in Greek, you need to discover the reason behind your insecurity and define goals for yourself to overcome this. When you also understand how you can improve your connection with the native speaker, this will eventually help you gain confidence too.

What do you struggle with the most when you want to speak Greek with a native speaker? Share it with us in the comments!

Kamila pushes herself out of her comfort zone to get better at speaking in her target languages Spanish, English, French, and Portuguese.

Follow her progress while she's doing so on InstagramTwitter, and Youtube. Oh, and she also shares tips for language learners on Polyglot's Diary


Read more from the blog:

How to use the verb γίνομαι : 18 tangible examples to apply right away

Language learning can be full of surprises.

One day you learn this verb and its meaning. You fill out a grammar activity or two and life’s good.

The next day you see the same word in a completely different context. Hmmm.

And then the following day you hear a native speaker use it in a completely different way.

“Wait a minute. What’s going on.” you’re thinking. "How many "faces" can a word possibly have?"

It’s been too many times I’ve wondered the same for English. But instead of experiencing my “trial end error”, let me save you some time and clear things up.

Let me introduce you to the “multifaceted” verb γίνομαι.

It’s a verb we love using in Greek. Seriously, we love it so much we use it every day. (And you know what? If you love it too, the verb will love you back.)

Okay, enough with the grammar romance (and the silliness). Off to some serious stuff.

Let’s see how to 1. conjugate γίνομαι and then 2. how to use it.

By the end of today’s vocabulary notes, you’ll be able to use it in 9 different ways and 18 different sentences.

Τι γίνεσαι;

First of all, γίνομαι means “to become” but we also use it as “to happen” or “to be”. It can be translated with other words as well, depending on the sentence it’s in. Let’s look closer:

Ask this question for “How are you doing?” - even if it literally means “What do you become?” Notice how we use here the 2nd person (εσύ ) γίνεσαι.

example 1:

- Τι γίνεσαι, Μαρία; (How are you doing?)

- Μια χαρά, εσύ; (Fine, you?)

This is one of the most common ways to ask instead of “Τι κάνεις;” - it also adds some familiarity.

Τι γίνεται;

Here is another version of this question.

You can use it to ask someone “How is it going?” using the 3rd singular person (γίνεται),

as in English.

example 2:

- Τι γίνεται, Μαρία; (How is it going?)

- Μια χαρά, εσύ; (Fine, you?)

I mentioned here the 3rd singular person. Here’s the “twist”: In Greek, this might be also used as a “what’s happening” kind of question.

example 3:

- Τι γίνεται εδώ; (What’s going on here?)

- Οι γείτονες κάνουν πάρτυ. (The neighbours are having [doing] a party.)

To sum up, so far the verb is used to ask questions about someone’s news, life, etc. but also to find out what’s going on.

Τι έγινε;

This is the simple past in the 3rd singular person. If we use it in the sense of “How is it going?” then we end up with something like this:

example 4:

- Επ, Κώστα, τι έγινε; (Hey Kosta, how are you?)

- Γεια σου Άννα, όλα καλά, εσύ; (Hi Anna, everything’s fine, you?)

Are you surprised? Colloquial Greek can accept the simple past έγινε to ask about someone’s life, news etc. even though Anna simply asked about Kostas’ current news.

Tip: With the addition of the quirky little word “ρε”, you can address a close friend “Τι έγινε, ρε; Όλα καλά;” Careful though, as  “ρε” can be perceived as impolite if said to a person you don’t know or don’t know that well or if said with a non friendly tone.

Now how about the 2nd meaning of “what’s happening” - or in simple past “what happened”?

example 5:

- Τι έγινε; (What happened?)

- Οι γείτονες έκαναν πάρτυ.  (The neighbours had [did] a party.)

Έγινε!

Imagine you’re sitting at a café, ready to order. The waiter comes:

example 6:

- Τι να σας φέρω; (What should I bring you?)

- Θα πάρω έναν ελληνικό, μέτριο. (I’ll take a greek coffee, medium sweet)

 - Έγινε! (Done!)

Have you heard of it in an answer before?

In this case, the simple past means “say it’s done!”. As in the English sentence here, the simple past is used to refer to a future action, soon to be completed. To stress out the speed and readiness, the person here replies with Έγινε! (literally: it became) which can be translated as “done”.

Θα γίνει φωτογράφος. Γίνε μέλος, τώρα!

It seems strange we had to get to number 5 to see the verb’s first meaning. But here it is.

When I was a child, one of the most common questions was: Τι θέλεις να γίνεις όταν μεγαλώσεις; (What do you want to become when you grow up?).

Never mind how bizarre now this sounds to me as a question to a 4 year old. The meaning of να γίνεις here shows the potential, the change to something different or new.

As in the examples 7 & 8 :

  • Η Μαριάνα θα γίνει φωτογράφος. (Mariana will become a photographer)

  • Προστάτεψε το περιβάλλον. Γίνε μέλος, τώρα! (Protect the environment. Become a member, now!)

It’s maybe this use of the verb that is mostly confusing as it takes the place of είμαι - to be. Είμαι though is more static and compared to γίνομαι, since it highlights the state someone’s in, not the process or progress.

Δεν έγινε και κάτι.

This is a common expression to say “no big deal”. Again the use is closer to “happen” rather than to “become”.

example 9:

- Πω πω, ξέχασα να πάρω εφημερίδα. (Oh no, I forgot to get a newspaper)

- Έλα, δεν έγινε και κάτι, θα πάρουμε όταν φτάσουμε. (Come on, no big deal, we’ll get one when we get there.)

Add some colour in  your sentence and squeeze this expression in!

Γίνεται; Δεν γίνεται! Γίνεται να πάμε;

Sometimes, γίνεται in a sentence as an impersonal verb is about something that can be done, can happen or in the English metaphorical sense of “work/doesn’t work”.

Let’s see this in the following sentences:

examples 10 - 12:

- Πάμε για καφέ; ([Shall] we go for a coffee?)

- Δεν μπορώ σήμερα. Γίνεται να το κανονίσουμε για αύριο; (I can’t today. Can [it be that] we arrange it for tomorrow?)

  • Προσπαθώ να ανοίξω τον υπολογιστή αλλά δεν γίνεται τίποτα. (I try to turn on the computer but nothing works/happens).

- Θα πάμε με το αυτοκίνητο της. (We’ll take [go with] her car)

- Γίνεται; (Can this work [it be done]?)

- Και βέβαια, δεν το χρειάζεται αυτές τις μέρες. (Of course, she doesn’t need it these days)

If this sounds a bit confusing, stick to using γίνεται / δεν γίνεται to say “this can be done/ can’t be done”. Gradually, and as you listen to how native speakers use it, you’ll get a good grasp of its meaning and way of use.

Έγινε το φαγητό; Δεν έχουν γίνει ακόμα τα καρπούζια.

Believe it or not, we also use it a lot with food words, to describe something is done or made or ready / ripened.

examples 13 - 15:

  • Πεινάω! Έγινε το φαγητό; (I’m hungry! Is the meal ready [done]?)

  • Είναι ακόμα Ιούνιος, δεν έχουν γίνει τα καρπούζια. (It’s still June, watermelons are not yet ripened [ready])

  • Περίμενε να γίνουν τα μακαρόνια και μετά στρώσε το τραπέζι. (Wait for the spaghetti to be ready [done] and then set the table.)

In all the examples, the meaning of something “ready to be eaten” (or not!) is what helps you remember the use of γίνεται here.

Γίνεται χαμός.

I couldn’t leave you without an idiom. Idioms add colour, fun, natural flow. Turn these initially incomprehensible phrases to something you can use right away:

Χαμός literally means “loss” but it’s usually not a gloomy word. We use it to describe a mess, a blast, frenzy, hustle and bustle etc. Let’s see the examples with γίνεται in 3 different tenses:

examples 16 - 18:

  • Έγινε χαμός στο πάρτυ! (The party was a total blast!)

  • Θα γίνει χαμός όταν γυρίσουν σπίτι. (There’s going to be trouble when they come back home)

  • Γίνεται χαμός στον δρόμο από την κίνηση. (The roads are a mess due to traffic.)

Ready for a quiz?

  1. What do you say when you meet someone you know?

  2. How do you say “done!” ?

  3. How do you say “no big deal?”

  4. The food is almost ready. What do you ask?

  5. Traffic in Athens is terrible today. What do you say?

Reply in the comments below and I’ll get back to you with my feedback.


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One Simple Trick To Sound More Natural In Greek

What are the subtle differences between speaking fluently / at an advanced level and speaking like the locals?

Studying a lot, for example reading and getting your hands on anything you find interesting and effective for you will take you a long way.

But when it comes to speaking, like “real life speaking” with locals, is this enough?

The first time I went to Canada, I was indeed speaking English at an advanced level.

I could attend University lectures and talk about these topics adequately. I could write an essay.

When it came to speaking about everyday topics though? Not even close.

Avoid sounding like a robot

I didn't become fluent overnight, but I slowly tried my best to avoid sounding like a robot. How?

I came up with a strategy: I took a few lessons to get a boost in my speaking about everyday topics and also learn about local small talk.

Also, I started paying attention to the way locals talked to each other; noted everything down and attempted to use it. The information I got from my lessons as well as the eavesdropping :-) paid off during all the years I lived in Toronto.

And here’s what I found: There is a way to learn how to sound more natural even before reaching the advanced level. It's a little trick that has to do with using pauses to your advantage.

Pauses that include filler words.

Here’s a visual example to see what I mean:

With Christmas around the corner... what makes a Christmas tree a great Christmas tree? Imagine a tree like this one:

And then imagine adding fillers. Such as ornaments, extra branches or garlands.

Fillers fill in the space between the branches and make your tree stand out; as with ornaments, filler words you naturally use in your native language can help your sentences sound richer when you also speak in Greek.

Why are filler words useful for your speaking?

Filler words are a natural pause to think, without stopping speaking altogether, and before keep going on with what you want to say.

They help your audience understand you have more things to add.

Of course, filler words or sounds are different from language to language.

Often, learners make mistakes by translating the filler words from their language to their target language (which is definitely what I did, too).

This simply proves how much we’re used at using them; we try to find a way to add them in our target language.

In addition, these words & sounds can give you valuable time in order to remember a tricky word or think a bit about what you want to say.

What does λοιπόν, βασικά, έτσι mean in Greek?

Have you ever come across these words?

Below, you’ll find a list of some of these very common filler words & sounds we use in Greek and a link to a great mini - series videos to watch and listen how to use them.

1. Λοιπόν [Lipón]

Translated as “so” or “well”, λοιπόν initiates a topic if used at the beginning of a sentence, or at the end of a question:

Λοιπόν, πάμε να μιλήσουμε για τα ρήματα τώρα.

Τι θα φάμε, λοιπόν;

It even connects sentences, when one of them is the conclusion:

Αγαπώ την Ελλάδα, γι’ αυτό λοιπόν έμαθα ελληνικά!

2. Έτσι [Étsi]

“Like this”, έτσι: when used as a filler word it goes after a question in order to reinforce the meaning, especially when you know the others agree or have to agree with you:

Δεν είναι σωστό, έτσι;

It’s also used when you explain something to others:

Μου αρέσει, έτσι, να πηγαίνω βόλτα στην Αθήνα.

3. Βασικά [Vasiká]

If you know how young people use “basically” in English, then βασικά is basically the same. It highlights the meaning of a sentence, at the beginning of a sentence, in the middle or even at the end.

Βασικά, δεν ξέρω την αδερφή της.

Δεν ξέρω, βασικά, την αδερφή της. 

Δεν ξέρω την αδερφή της, βασικά.

4. Εεεεεε … [ééééé]

Not a word, but a sound, as the sound “um” in English. Use it when you try to think or remember something at the beginning of a sentence. It can prove very handy as you try to remember a certain word; we tend to use it a lot!

Εεεεεε … νομίζω ότι μου αρέσει πολύ αυτό το βιβλίο.

5. Θα έλεγα [Tha élega]

This means “I’d say” and as a filler word goes well with statements, such as:

Είναι, θα έλεγα, τα πιο ωραία σουβλάκια της Αθήνας!

6. Ας πούμε [As púme]

This means “let’s say” and it’s used for examples or when explaining something to others or telling a story:

Το ωραίο κλίμα, ας πούμε, είναι από τα θετικά της Ελλάδας.

Και τότε όλοι έμειναν, ας πούμε, σπίτι και έπαιξαν χαρτιά.

7. Ξέρω ’γω [Kséro 'gó]

This is commonly used when you’re wondering about something, since it's literally translated as "do I know (?)" but really means "I don't know":

- Σου αρέσει αυτό το τραγούδι;

- Ξέρω ‘γω; Καλό είναι.

Among young people, it can be used much more frequently, between any word or meaning:

Θα πάω, ξέρω ‘γω, αύριο να δω μια ταινία…. άκουσα, ξέρω ‘γω, ότι η ταινία αυτή ήταν, ξέρω ‘γω, καλή.

This last one sounds a bit annoying? It is!

As with your native language, find the right amount of how and when to use them to get this nice flow when you speak - even if at the same time you're looking for the right word to say.

Here you’ll find a mini series of 3 videos with locals speaking in Greek and using all of the filler words above. Can you spot them?


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