everyday Greek

Πώς τα πας; Τα έμαθες; How to use these everyday Greek phrases?

Imagine you’re strolling along the street in Athens, a lovely sunny day of Spring…

A lady is standing on the sidewalk. She chats with her friend who’s sitting at her little geranium-filled balcony.

You can't help but overhear their chat:

- Τα έμαθες; Η ανιψιά μου πήγε στην Αμερική. Στο καλύτερο πανεπιστήμιο!

Did you hear? My niece went to the States. At the best University!

- Μα δε στα ‘λεγα εγώ; Αυτή είναι πανέξυπνη!

Didn’t I tell you? She’s a genius!

- Τι τα θες όμως, τα παιδιά μας φεύγουν όλα στο εξωτερικό…

But what can you do, all our children are going abroad.

- Μαρία μου, τα έχουμε πει: θα τα καταφέρει, θα τελειώσει τις σπουδές και μετά θα γυρίσει.

(My) Maria, we talked about it: she’ll make it, she’ll finish her studies and she’ll come back.

- Μακάρι. Πώς τα πας εσύ; Τι κάνεις;

Let’s hope. How about you? How are you?

- Τα ίδια Κατερίνα μου…

Same, (my) Katerina…

What’s this “τα” they repeat all the time? How does it connect to the meaning?

Let’s zoom in on these phrases for a bit:

  • τα πάω/πηγαίνω

  • τα καταφέρνω

  • τα λέμε

  • τα έμαθα

  • τα θέλω

  • τα βρίσκω

  • τα ξέρω

a grammar snippet

Τα here is the personal pronoun. The short (or “weak”) form, to be precise.

It can confuse you, because it’s like the plural neuter article τα: τα παιδιά, τα σπίτια, τα μαθήματα, τα όμορφα, τα καλά.

Here’s how to distinguish it - and why this is important to do:

The article τα is always with a noun or adjective, as in the examples above.

The pronoun τα, however, replaces a noun (this is why it’s called pronoun, after all) and fits well with a verb: τα βλέπω, τα καταφέρνω etc.

The pronoun τα in all the above sentences usually replaces the word “the things”. More on this in a moment.

This distinction is important to help you understand the meaning of the sentence. By realizing τα is not an article, you don’t expect a noun to be right after it.

But let’s go back to the τα when it replaces the word “the things” (τα πράγματα)?

It’s a word we use in Greek to generally talk about a situation. A bit like in English: How are things going? > Πώς πάνε τα πράγματα;

back to our phrases

The phrases we saw above frequently appear in chats and everyday conversations or in other everyday or idiomatic expressions.

For example, you can see:

1.Τα πάω/πηγαίνω

  • Πώς τα πας; (How are things going?)

  • Δεν τα πηγαίνω καλά στη δουλειά. (Things don’t go well for me at work)

  • Τα πηγαίνουμε πολύ καλά μαζί. (We get along well together)

Τα means here: τα πράγματα, η καθημερινότητα, η κάτασταση

2.Τα καταφέρνω

  • Δεν τα κατάφερα στο τεστ χτες. (The test didn’t go well yesterday)

  • Τα καταφέρνεις θαυμάσια, μπράβο! (You can do it great, well done!)

  • Κοίτα, μαμά, τα κατάφερα! (Look, mom, I did it!)

Τα means here: τα πράγματα, αυτά που κάνω

3.Τα λέμε

  • Τα’ λεγα εγώ! (I told you!)

  • Τα λέμε! (Talk to you later)

Τα means here: τα νέα, τα πράγματα που έλεγα

4.Τα έμαθα

  • Τα έμαθες; (did you hear the news?) This is usually used in past tense.

Τα means here: τα νέα

5.Τα θέλω

  • Τι τα θες; και Τι τα θες, τι τα γυρεύεις; (Oh well, what can you do?)

  • Τα ‘θελες και τα’ παθες. (You got what you deserved)

Τα means here: αυτά που συμβαίνουν

6.Τα βρίσκω

  • Δεν τα βρήκαμε με τον Νίκο, χωρίσαμε τελικά. (We didn’t get along with Niko, we separated)

  • Τα βρήκες εύκολα στο σχολείο; (Were things easy for you at school?)

  • Θα τα βρει μπροστά του. (He’ll face the consequences)

Τα means here: αυτά που κάνω, τα πράγματα που γίνονται

7.Τα ξέρω

  • Τα ξέρεις, έφυγε για την Ινδία! (You 've heard the news, s/he left for India!)

  • Δεν τα ξέρεις, όλο τα ίδια και τα ίδια! (You heard the news, didn’t you, same old, same old)

Τα means here: τα νέα, αυτά που γίνονται

All the examples imply there’s something more to this “τα”. We might be talking about the things we do, everyday life, the things someone says or does, our news.

And because the very generic word “πράγματα” is a neuter noun in plural, this is the reason why you usually see its pronoun, τα in the sentences.

Next step: How to learn these phrases

Now that you’ve read about it (and hopefully this explanation made things somehow clearer to you) you’ll start observing more phrases with “τα + verb” in combinations & various tenses - the phrases are usually declined as normal.

Of course, since there are many idiomatic expressions with this structure, you do need to explore them a bit further whenever you meet them.

Don’t hesitate to “play” with the sentences above and add them in your speaking.

We do use them a lot in Greek so start using them too. This will help you sound more natural and add some everyday Greek in your speaking.

And if you’re ready to experiment and speak some more, check my Free Email Course here.

You learn new vocabulary with a short, supporting text and you practice your speaking with bite-sized tasks (voice recordings) and everyday phrases, like the ones above.

At the end you receive my feedback for free.

Are you in?

Happy Greek learning,

~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!


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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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