learn Greek expressions

The 5 Best From The Blog For 2018

Writing on a blog means reaching out, sharing with a community the same love, the same μεράκι.

It’s not about keeping all that you know for yourself; on the contrary, it’s about sharing it freely with the people who know the same love, who get the passion for all the beautiful things a language and a culture represent.

So, for one more year, I feel grateful and happy for being able to share with you this blog.

Below, you’ll find the 5 most loved articles of 2018.

These are articles about expressions and everyday phrases, about finding smart ways to focus and improve your speaking, about common grammar errors you might be making as you speak, while the conversation keeps going.

This list couldn’t include some newer articles that didn’t have the chance to be read as much. You might also find you have a different preference.

But I think this “tradition” is a nice way to remember some of the more “technical” aspects of language (such as the ever confusing Simple and Future tenses, most particularly, the Future Tense) or to find new inspiration and smart ways to spruce up your speaking with the use of a very simple tool you already have with you.

Let’s add some suspense and start the other way round, with the number 5:

#5

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

This article is not about more course books. Or more activities.

If you crave to communicate with locals and feel good about it - but you often stumble after every other word, then keep reading.

You wouldn’t find the “fast, fun and easy” magic recipe for that in this article.

When I wrote it, I was simply eager to share with you an extremely simple way to start speaking, get feedback (even when you learn on your own!) and learn all this new vocabulary to use in actual conversations.

Sounds like magic, but it’s much simpler than that - no wands involved! Read about it here.

#4

Do You Make These 10 Errors In Greek?

This blog post was written after I made the same error for the millionth time (in English). I guess I secretly wished someone had written something similar for me.

You don’t have to be a beginner in Greek; the examples will help you avoid these very common errors you probably make again and again.

In fact, more advanced students make these errors too, especially in long phrases with more complex vocabulary and meaning.

And because you know I love explanations as opposed to “recipes”, you’ll also find why they are said this way and why it matters. Click here to read it.

#3

How To Use The Verb Γίνομαι : 18 Tangible Examples To Apply Right Away

Hmm. The verb γίνομαι.

Yes, we use this verb a lot.

And yes it causes tons of trouble because it doesn’t translate the same in other languages (if it does translate the same in your language, though, let me know, this will be fascinating to know and discuss).

Why should you care to get it right?

Apart from the obvious vocabulary related reasons, it will help you understand what the other person means when they use this verb in a number of different occasions.

You will also add some handy expressions in your speaking that make you sound more natural and avoid awkward silences. Find the article here.

#2

54 Short But Mighty Everyday Words And Phrases

This blog post is a long list, divided in several “themes” to help you use some of the most common phrases Greeks say in various situations.

I had lots of fun writing it!

You’ll also read about how to learn and use these phrases (hint: memorizing the whole list is definitely not included).

#1

How To Use The Future Tenses In Greek

And here we are to number 1.

This was the first post of 2018 and I do like it a lot.

Why? Because it felt good to untangle this thread of a grammar tense that appears to be causing so much trouble to learners.

Go ahead and learn or revise here the subtle or not so subtle differences between Simple and Future Continuous and then use them right away to say out loud your resolutions (or plans and projects) for the new year. Better, share them with me or in our small and friendly Facebook community!

A last note before the end of the year:

I’d like to thank you for coming along to this Greek language journey during the past year (and before that, if you happen to be reading the blog for quite a while).

I always appreciate your support and I thank you for sharing the love for the Greek language.

I wish you Καλές Γιορτές or a Happy Break and a wonderful New Year ahead.

~ Danae


Recommended for you:

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.


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


Read more from my blog:

7 (more) Funny Idioms And Why To Use Them (PART 2)

“Recovery” from speaking with locals in Toronto meant learning how to speak, not from a text book but from (and with!) real life people.

Idioms and everyday expressions play a huge role in that.

So, are you ready to add some spice to your Greek and amaze your friend Nikos when you say:

Show Your Surprise In Greek With These 5 Expressions

Greeks are known for being generally warm, loud and expressive people.

I can’t tell how much any of this is true or not (up to you to say).

But if you want to know what to say when for example your Greek friend announces:

  • they are off to an expedition on Everest or

  • they won the lottery or even

  • they will never eat spanakopita again (never, ever again!)

then you absolutely need to know these 5 Greek expressions:

#1 Τι είπες τώρα! (Ti ípes tóra!) [What did you just say!]

How to say it:

Stress the first word τι more than the other two. Eyes wide open, a smile on your face (or not, as in the case of the spanakopita example - don't smile to that).

# 2 Τι λε(ς) ρε φίλε! (Ti lé(s) ré fíle! [What are you saying, friend!]

How to say it:

I know, I know this one looks more like a question. I promise you, it’s not. Let’s break it down for those who are very curious about all these tiny, one syllable words here.

First, here’s again the τι , which means “what”. It’s indicative of surprise and of wanting to know more anyway.

Then there’s λες. This one means "you’re saying" (present tense).

Do you notice how we drop the ς here? This is informal, casual context and we want to speak quickly plus add some more emphasis on the verb.

Stress the word λε more than the others and drag the vowel ε a bit for extra fun.

Ρε is an interesting word. (More information about it here).

In short, it comes from the word μωρός (vocative: μωρέ → ωρέ → ρε) (moré) [silly]. In Greek you want to use it to call someone angrily or a friend informally or even begin a sentence - again, casually.

# 3 Δεν το πιστεύω! (I don’t believe this!) [Dén tó pistévo]

How to say it:

Stress the first word Δεν and sound like you actually mean it.

(Phew, that was easy!)

# 4 Θα με τρελάνεις! (You’re going to drive me crazy!) [Thá mé trelánis]

How to say it:

After your friend has blurted everything out, you only feel compelled to let them know how crazy their plan is.

So, to be a good and honest friend, warn them: "Keep saying what you’re saying and you’re gonna drive me crazy!"

With some emphasis on τρελάνεις, you’re good to go.

# 5 ‘Ελα, ρε! (Come on!) ['Ela ré]

How to say it:

Again the word "ρε" here!

And if you simply love these open Greek vowel sounds, you’re going to love this.

Stress Ε on έλα and sound like you’re using both a question and a surprised tone.

- there will be no snow in toronto this year! - ela re!

- there will be no snow in toronto this year! - ela re!

Now, I need to tell you something.

Next month I’m leaving Toronto to move to the tiny island of Gavdos south of Crete (less than 150 inhabitants!).

How are you going to reply?

*

*

*

(Just kidding, just kidding!)

Listen to these 5 expressions here:


Ready to Express your Greek?

Read more from my blog:

3 Best Apps To Learn Greek For Free

(This post was updated in July 2018)

Are you a language lover?

Then you'll agree with me.

The best thing to do while on vacation is to start learning a new language.

So, I was in Crete. And I started learning Dutch.

3 Best Apps To Learn Greek For Free | Danae Florou Alpha Beta Greek

Dutch was a language dream of mine.

How did I start learning?

And why do I mention all of this in a post about learning Greek?

Apps. The language learning kind.

I have to say, I was very sceptical with Apps.

Everyone’s raving about how useful, easy and non expensive learning with Apps can be.

I still found it hard to learn with recorded (and sometimes annoying) voices, pop-up ads and non-human interaction.

I guess I wasn’t patient enough? 

Or maybe I thought that Apps had to be as good as human to human learning?

Once I got past these, I appreciated Apps for what they are; a very useful tool, complementary to everything else we use to learn languages.

Please NOTE:

  • I need to mention here that this is NOT a sponsored or affiliated post and that all opinions are my own.

  • This post is about the FREE versions (worth repeating).

  • If you have any questions, tech or otherwise, contact the apps customer service directly.

  • Just to mention that I use these apps on an Android device - not sure how different they can be on an iPhone.

  • Apps change frequently. If you spot any feature not updated in the post, you're more than welcome to add it in the comments.


#1 Memrise

Capture+_2017-08-17-19-12-37.png

Memrise won the Best App award in the 2017 Google Play Awards.

Awards are fantastic - still nothing beats trying something out yourself.

If you haven’t used Memrise to learn Greek, (link) then there are two things you need to know:

α. Memrise focuses on Vocabulary and repetition.

β. All courses are created by its members and some are created by the Memrise team.

BUT: Greek language only has the so called "User Generated Courses (UGC) or Community Courses.

This practically means that you can't find the Greek courses from the “Search” function within the Memrise Mobile App anymore. 

Here's a way to work around this:

  1. Click this link - it will take you to the Greek courses on the website, not in the app.

  2. If you don't have an account, go ahead and create one.

  3. Now when you start learning any Greek course on the website it will automatically be added to your course list within the app (provided you are signed in with the same username).

What’s great:

You can try any course. There’s no test or locked material, you just pick anything you find interesting and suitable.

Let’s say you want to learn Intermediate Greek (link)

Memrise’s free version allows you to use the Learn and Review tool, but not the rest (difficult words, pro chat etc).

In your account’s settings, you can choose how many words you learn and review each time.

You start with a pack of words, which you learn through tap the word, matching, fill in the blank etc. activities. The faster you do it, the more points you earn.

Spaced repetition (vocabulary repetition after some time has passed) is a huge asset and Memrise makes sure you use that a lot.

I also love that you don’t need to use your phone’s keyboard; Memrise gives you the letters under the new word, then you tap on them to write it.

In some courses, there’s audio from native or non-native speakers. Make sure you read the course’s description to pick the right one for you!

As I mentioned before, there’s no official Memrise Course for Greek (yet!), so click the link to find courses created by the community.

While this makes for a “not so great” thing about Memrise, hold on, because it also means you can create your own course to review and share with your teacher (or your students, if you teach Greek).

Another fun feature is the mnemonic you can create to remember a new word. For example, take the word φαγητό (fayitó) [food];

φαγητό

I laughed when I heard on more than 2 occasions how my students thought of the word “fajitas” to remember the Greek φαγητό. So accurate!

This article by James Granahan explains beautifully how mnemonics work for language learning, by the way.

What’s not so great:

You’ve probably guessed it. Course creation by members has sometimes its drawbacks.

In just a single course, I spotted some spelling mistakes, some inaccurate translations to Greek and a wrong accent, which changed the meaning completely.

However, the more popular a course is, the less mistakes it has because people spot them and the team behind it constantly improves it.

Conclusion:

When you use Memrise you’ll find a clean, beautiful design which helps you build your Greek vocabulary or grammar through a large number of courses effectively, steadily and at your own pace.

This last one is important since your answers are saved even if you stop in the middle of your activity. 

#2 Duolingo

This is another winner; Duolingo was Apple's iPhone App of the Year 2013 and it’s definitely another free option for learning Greek.

What’s great:

Duolingo’s courses (link) remind me of a more classical approach to language learning.

You test for your level and your lessons get unlocked as you learn. This way you know exactly what you’re aiming for, so it’s pretty much as if you have your personal tutor.

People who don’t want to get overwhelmed see definitely an advantage in this.

Another benefit of this is that you learn within a well thought plan.

New words are introduced and then repeated; you take out from the lesson some new vocabulary you can actually use.

Another plus is that there’s always audio in the course and you always get an accurate pronunciation, which is so very important when you learn a language.

I love it that it has a slower version of audio, so you can use this if you feel the first one is too fast.

By tapping on the new words, you get both the translation and the pronunciation so you first learn the words this way.

The second part is when you review the words, and it’s where the language games really kick off.

Tapping the right word, filling out the sentence, picking the right answer are some of the activities.

Even if you miss an accent or misspell something, you get a gentle reminder instead of a red cross mark (I can assure you, being a language teacher did not make me feel any better about red cross marks.).

 

What’s not so great:

I do want to know what’s ahead or study a different pack; for example, adjectives or food.

Not being able to do so, makes me feel that the App has all the power. Really not great.

When I first tested my Dutch as a learner, I understood most of the audio but failed to spell the answers accurately.

Does this make me a complete beginner? The App thinks so.

Now I’m forced to start from 0 on Duolingo, which is, to be honest, boring.

I get it, it’s one of the things Apps can’t really understand, because ….you know, Apps!

 

Conclusion:

Duolingo is a great tool to use among others for your vocabulary learning and I’m always happy to see this little green owl peeping on me with encouraging words.

 

#3 Mondly

I got to know about this App from a motivated student of mine, who loves using Apps to learn Greek.

A note though. While the other two Apps have a free and paid version, Mondly (link) has only one free Unit (8 lessons).

To unlock the rest of the Units you need to pay. I’m only focusing on the free version here.

What’s great:

I like how Mondly uses pictures to help you learn the new vocabulary.

It’s great to have another option besides audio & reading and I feel that pictures help me retain vocabulary better.

Recording your voice is another plus for this App.

You really need to try to get an accurate pronunciation and by doing this you practice speaking. I love this feature.

Just like Duolingo, the activities change from tap the right word, write or choose the correct one.

The native speakers’ pronunciation is accurate and their voices are most of the times clear.

I also like the statistics, which give you a better look at your progress and the new words’ review at the end of each lesson.

Mondly gives you the free lesson of the day so you get bite-sized vocabulary each day to practice.

What’s not so great:

Mondly has a darker “look” which doesn’t really appeal to me. But this is relatively minor to a couple other things I didn’t like.

First, Mondly presents the material in a rather random way. You might have chosen, as I did, to learn at the Beginner’s level yet the words you learn seem a bit advanced, given you have just started learning!

Another thing I didn’t like was that you can’t slow down the audio.

There’s this nice dialogue - based lesson, but you need to repeat it over and over to understand the speakers’ fast pace.

I’ve also spotted no accents on a few activities, which is by no means helpful when you learn Greek.

Conclusion:

If you prefer sticking to the free version, you’ll get the daily lesson which is available for 24 hours.

It’s a rather cool way to devote some time to your Greek learning.

So, what do you think?

I won't choose a "winner". This is up to you and your learning style to decide. 

Overall, I’m glad I have these different tools on my phone.

It makes learning a language part of my daily routine. I like that I don’t need to spend hours revising, when I don't really have time to do so.

That said, the best practice is to use apps alongside handwritten notes, books, authentic material and of course speaking with other learners or native speakers.

The best of all of course is that, finally, Greek learners have some practical, on the go tools to practice Greek for free.

Have you used any of these Apps? Which one did you like the most?


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