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10 common Greek words and phrases to change the subject smoothly in a conversation with a Greek

You’re chatting with your friend Panayiota, when you suddenly remember something you wanted to mention.

How to go from one subject to the next, without interrupting the flow of the conversation and without feeling you’re being rude? How do Greeks do this smoothly while chatting with each other?

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Changing the subject in a conversation doesn’t necessarily mean you avoid the subject. If you notice a casual chat, this is something we do all the time to add new ideas, remember something relevant, bring up a story and so on.

In today’s article you’ll learn 10 highly common phrases and how to use them in a way that sounds natural and free-flowing, without any awkward pause in between your thoughts when you chat.

You’ll also understand how Greeks use these phrases in everyday chats to chime in, remember to say something urgent or expand and add more or different ideas to the topic.

Here’s what you can say:

1. Λοιπόν, άκου τι έγινε. So, listen to (here’s) what happened.

This is a rich phrase: Λοιπόν is a word that starts a topic anyway. You can read more about its use as a filler word here. The following phrase άκου τι έγινε is one that you can use to intrigue the co-speaker before letting them know (listen to) the story of what happened.

If you’re wondering about the meaning and use of the verb έγινε, it deserved a page of its own, so I’ve written a whole article about it here

2. Για πες … Tell me ...

You can use this little phrase to prompt the other person to start talking about something. The grammar used here is imperative πες of the verb λέω and along with the particle για, is a request to learn more about something.

3. Για να μην το ξεχάσω. Before I forget.

This is a nice little phrase to use and perfectly polite to say. The structure is different than its equivalent in English, since you use the subjunctive να μην ξεχάσω, which actually means “as to not forget”.

4. Παρεμπιπτόντως. By the way.

A bit of a mouthful to say, but once you get the hang of it, it’s great to use since it’s a highly common word Greeks use in everyday speaking. You can add it at the beginning or at the end of your sentence.

Example:

Παρεμπιπτόντως, τι κάνει η θεία; By the way, how’s aunt?

Τι κάνει η θεία, παρεμπιπτόντως; How’s aunt, by the way?

5. Ανοίγω παρένθεση … κλείνω παρένθεση. Literally: I open a parenthesis …. I close a parenthesis.

Similar to παρεμπιπτόντως, this expression is used to announce the (temporary or not) change of subject, as we do with an actual parenthesis.

The difference to παρεμπιπτόντως is that you start by saying ανοίγω παρένθεση, you then go on with what you wanted to say - usually a short sentence - and lastly you end your thoughts with κλείνω παρένθεση.

6. Μια(ς) που το ανέφερες… Since you mentioned it…

Μια / μιας και or μια/μιας που has nothing to do with the feminine article or the number μια. It’s an expression you can use to start a sentence with the verb αναφέρω (or other verbs) , usually using simple past.

In this case, the whole phrase μιας που το ανέφερες can be used to start a new and somehow relevant thought after what your co-speaker has mentioned.

7. Μιας και το ‘πες. Since you said (mentioned) it.

Here’s how you can use the structure μια(ς) και as an alternative to μιας που, with the verb είπες. The contraction ‘πες is almost always used in fast, natural speech. 

8. Α, (ήθελα) να σου πω. Oh, I wanted to tell you (let you know).

The verb λέω is used here in subjunctive να πω. What’s interesting is that, in Greek, you can use this verb as in: to let know, to inform, to chime in , in addition to its actual meaning “to say”.

9. Κατάλαβα. I understood (I see).

This is probably what is used the most! Κατάλαβα signals your understanding and you can use it frequently not only to show you understood, but also to agree and end a topic in order to switch to another.

Example:

Λουκάς: … και έτσι πήγαμε στο πάρτι χτες.

Στέφανος: Κατάλαβα. Τι κάνει ο αδερφός σου;

10. Τώρα που το σκέφτομαι. Now I come to think of it.

When you have just realized or remembered something, use this phrase the same way as in English. The only difference is the use of the word που, which is necessary to signal the beginning of the sentence, a bit like “now that I think of it”.

Don’t skip this last step…

What’s interesting in language learning is that it’s not about the meaning of the words or the use of grammar only. You might read a list of words or phrases, but without a meaningful context the list has no value.

Here’s a very simple activity to do next, to actually use what you learned in this article:

Pick 1 - 3 phrases and use them in a speaking activity. Use your phone to record a few sentences in Greek by adding the new phrase or word you learned.

Or, pick a phrase and send a short voice message to a friend via Messenger or Instagram.

By limiting the number of new vocabulary, especially phrases, this eventually helps you to:

  • Avoid getting overwhelmed from learning too many new things

  • Practice meaningfully with the new phrases

  • Retain their meaning much better than when you try to fit in too many new things at once

Which phrases did you choose to learn? Write an example in the comments below, if you like.

Did you like this article?

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

Happy Greek learning!

~ Danae

How to use the verb μου αρέσει in Greek: a practical guide with 23 examples

When your friend Katerina calls to invite you over for one of those bubbly, heartwarming Greek get-togethers over lunch with her, she asks:

“Τι να φτιάξω; Τι σου αρέσει;” (What should I make? What do you like?)

You politely insist she doesn’t have to get into trouble, you just wanted to see her.

But, you know how Greeks are about food: Τhere’s no way she ‘ll let you starve, quite the opposite, really.

“Τι σου αρέσει” , λοιπόν; So, what do you like?

In your mind pops Katerina’s τυροπιτάκια, κρεατόπιτα, χωριάτικη σαλάτα, ντολμαδάκια, χαλβάς and all the lovely dishes she makes.

But foods and other nouns in Greek have, as you know, 3 grammar genders:

  • masculine

  • feminine

  • neuter

and 2 numbers:

  • singular and

  • plural.

… and confusion begins. The question now is:

How to use the verb “I like (something)” in Greek: μου αρέσει or μου αρέσουν?

Today’s guide will help you not only say what you like - or don’t like -  but also use this verb about things you like doing.

Let’s dive in:

the reason why it’s different

The difficulty of this seemingly simple verb is that it doesn’t start with a “regular” personal pronoun, e.g. εγώ as in any of the verbs you use, such as εγώ πηγαίνω, εγώ κοιμάμαι etc. , but with the pronoun’s genitive μου (in the case where you talk about yourself).

Then, the verb αρέσει is added, in 3rd person singular or in 3rd plural person αρέσουν:

μου + αρέσει / αρέσουν

Unlike other languages, English or French for example, the structure is similar to the Spanish “me gusta” or “me gustan”.

You don’t need to speak Spanish, obviously, but the little “trick” is that the structure of μου αρέσει / αρέσουν is closer to: “It pleases me / They please me” rather than to the English verb “I like”.

Which actually means this:

  • with 3rd person singular αρέσει, you talk about something in singular: μου αρέσει ο χυμός.

  • with 3rd person plural αρέσουν, you talk about something in plural: μου αρέσουν τα ζώα.

To talk about things you like, or like doing, the verb only changes in singular or plural, since it’s about the number of things, the nouns you like (or don’t like) or about an activity (more on this in a bit).

Simply put, you don’t need to change the ending of αρέσει as you do with other verbs - except from plural form αρέσουν.

If you’re a grammar jargon type, you’ve guessed that μου αρέσει is an impersonal verb, which is why you don’t need to conjugate it to talk about things you like.

The 2 questions you might have now:

#1 Okay, I get that the verb part depends on what follows (Yay! This is more than halfway through.) But what about the personal pronoun?

#2 Which form of the word that follows (noun) do I have to use? Nominative (ο, η, το), accusative (τον, την, το) or genitive (του, της, του) case?

Let’s look closely at the examples below.

  1. Μου αρέσει ο καφές. I like coffee.

  2. Μου αρέσουν τα ταξίδια στο εξωτερικό. I like trips abroad.

  3. Σου αρέσει η σοκολάτα. You (singular) like chocolate.

  4. Σου αρέσουν οι εκπλήξεις; Do you like surprises?

  5. Δεν της αρέσει το κρύο. She doesn’t like the cold.

  6. Της αρέσει απίστευτα αυτή η παραλία. She adores (unbelievably likes) this beach.

  7. Του αρέσει το τσάι. He likes tea.

  8. Του αρέσουν τα παραδοσιακά σπίτια. He likes traditional houses.

  9. Μας αρέσει το βιβλίο που διαβάζουμε. We like the book we read.

  10. Δεν μας αρέσουν οι καφετέριες με καπνό. We don’t like cafés with smoke (of cigarettes, where smoking is allowed).

  11. Σας αρέσουν τα κιμαδοπιτάκια; Do you like minced meat pies?

  12. Δεν σας αρέσει ο θόρυβος που είχε αυτό το σπίτι. You (plural) don’t like the noise this house had.

  13. Σας αρέσουν οι μεζέδες; Do you like mezes (plural)?

  14. Τους αρέσει πάρα πολύ ο χαλβάς που φτιάχνεις. They like a lot the halva you make.

  15. Δεν τους αρέσει η πολυκοσμία. They don’t like crowds.

  16. Δεν τους αρέσουν τα ηλεκτρονικά παιχνίδια. They don’t like computer/video games.

What do you notice?

Regardless of the noun - whether it’s one (ο θόρυβος) or many (τα κιμαδοπιτάκια), whether it’s in feminine (οι καφετέριες) or masculine (οι μεζέδες) - the personal pronoun depends on the person who likes or doesn’t like something.

And, you guessed it right: in all sentences, the nominative case has to be used with the articles ο, η, το and οι, οι, τα - depending of course on the grammatical gender.

To recap, the structure is:

μου + αρέσει / αρέσουν + nominative case

Now, off to the last part. How to say “I like this activity”?

Fortunately, this is much more straightforward: To form the sentence all you need is:

The personal pronoun of choice, e.g. μου and then:

μου αρέσει + να + verb in present tense*

Let’s see some examples:

  1. Μου αρέσει να τρέχω. I like to run.

  2. Σου αρέσει να λες ιστορίες; Do you like telling stories?

  3. Του αρέσει να διαβάζει μυθιστορήματα. He likes to read novels.

  4. Δεν της αρέσει να κοιμάται πολύ αργά. She doesn’t like sleeping very late.

  5. Μας αρέσει να μαγειρεύουμε με λίγο αλάτι. We like cooking with a little salt.

  6. Σας αρέσει να κολυμπάτε; Do you like swimming?

  7. Δεν τους αρέσει να δουλεύουν την Κυριακή. They don’t like working on Sunday.

*A grammar note: να + verb in present tense is a practical way to remember it. Grammatically, it’s the continuous subjunctive mood.

The first part μου αρέσει can be used in past tense (μου άρεσε) and future tense (θα μου αρέσει).

But the second part να + verb in present tense can’t be changed.

Next Step: Say it!

Now tell me, which Greek food you like? And which you don’t?
Or, as your friend would ask: Τι σου αρέσει;

Reply in the comments below!

Did you like this article?

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

Happy Greek learning,

Danae

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?

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

Don’t hesitate to add these phrases in your speaking. Also keep observing other phrases using this structure.

This will help you sound more natural and add some everyday Greek in your speaking.

Did You Like This Article?

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

Happy Greek learning,

~Danae