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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

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


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How to spark up meaningful conversations with 17 easy to adapt questions

Imagine you meet your friend Marina for a coffee in downtown Athens.

You hug and cheerfully comment about how long it has been since you last met.

You sit down and order coffee at a small, busy coffee shop.

She asks you about your news and how is your family doing. You tell her a bit about your trip and your parents, your partner…

Marina eagerly goes ahead and asks you about the problem you had at work, the new hobby you had mentioned on Facebook, the book you had recommended … She can’t wait to catch up with you.

So far everything looks good, doesn’t it? But let’s zoom in a bit more to this dialogue.

Both Marina and you are interested in one another’s lives, you want to hear news, give your opinion about significant matters, talk about hobbies, suggest new books or movies.

However, if you look closer you’ll find that she’s the one asking questions and you’re the one giving answers.

Recall your last conversation in Greek. Is this what happened?

While Marina knows you and likes you, the communication between you and her seems imbalanced. You might be:

  • feeling interrogated, even with Marina’s best intentions

  • struggling to keep up with the pace of a native speaker

  • switching to English often in order to communicate better


Speaking is not necessarily communicating

You’ve probably heard and experienced that speaking in the language you learn is the hardest of all skills.

But is it speaking, or rather communicating that is hard?

Because when you speak, you have the task of forming a sentence.

But when you communicate, you have the tasks of:

  • listening

  • understanding

  • nodding, using body language

  • giving your opinion or comment

  • asking back

And it’s this last one action that determines whether the conversation keeps on going or not.

Imagine that “asking back” is like a hook: It gives both people the opportunity to connect their thoughts and eventually be connected with each other.

If your part in talking lacks the hook, then your Greek friend has nowhere to hang their thoughts.

In Greek, we use the very fitting word “συνομιλητής, συνομιλήτρια”, to describe the people who interact in a conversation (in this case, your Greek friend).

According to the Dictionary , συνομιλητής means the person who co-talks with another person (coming from συν-ομιλώ).

In English the word translates as interlocutor (although I’m not sure how common this word is to express anyone who takes part in any kind of conversing: from short, casual chats to deep, long conversations.)

In Practice

So, how are you going to bring a conversation back to life? How will you show you are curious and eager to find out more about your friend’s life and to show them you’re genuinely interested in them?

By simply asking them.

This is something we automatically do in our own language - and this is one of the reasons you or your friend switch to English/ the language you are both comfortable speaking - but we tend to avoid it in the language we learn.

This might happen for many reasons:

  • we freeze, expecting the native speaker to hold the conversation for both of us

  • we try to say as many things as we can, taking advantage of the fact that we can eventually speak the language with someone after months of lessons, therefore we get carried away

  • we have difficulty in forming questions, because they require a different structure in the sentence

  • we become so self-conscious, that we strive for perfection, which means putting more effort and time to form a proper reply, then we’re too exhausted to attempt a question

  • we can’t keep up with the pace of the conversation and eventually stick to replying only.

To save time and probably some headache as to how to form questions that will enliven your conversations with your Greek friends or relatives, here’s a list of the most common ones:

Questions about their opinion or advice:

  1. Πώς σου φαίνεται/φάνηκε ο/η/το …; How does it seem/looks like to you?

  2. Ποια είναι η γνώμη σου για ..; What’s your opinion about …?

  3. Τι θα με συμβούλευες να …; What would you advise me to …?

  4. Πού προτείνεις να πάμε για …; Where do you suggest we go to …?

  5. Εσύ, τι θα έκανες στη θέση μου; And you, what would you do if you were me …?

  6. Τι νομίζεις /τι λες /τι πιστεύεις για …; What do you think/say/believe about …?

    Questions about life events, current news:

  7. Κι εσύ τι …; And you what …(insert the same verb they just used to ask about you)?

  8. Πώς πήγε ο/η/το …; How did it go?

  9. Και τι τους είπες; Και τι έκανες; And what did you tell them? What did you do?

  10. Και μετά τι έγινε; And then, what happened?

  11. Μου έλεγες για …. Τι γίνεται τώρα; Πώς πάνε τα πράγματα; You were telling me about … What’s going on now? How do things go?

    Questions about personal stories, habits and hobbies:

  12. Πού γνωριστήκατε με τον/την …; Where did you meet …?

  13. Τι συνηθίζετε να κάνετε σ’αυτή τη γιορτή/ημέρα/περίσταση; What do you usually do on this celebration/(special) day/occasion?

  14. Εσένα, ποιος συγγραφέας / ηθοποιός κτλ σου αρέσει; And how about you, which writer/actor do you like?

  15. Εσένα ποιο βιβλίο / ποια ταινία σου άρεσε; And how about you, which book/movie did you like?

  16. Τι κάνει ο / η / το …; How is …?

    A question to offer help with something:

  17. Έχεις πολλή δουλειά; Χρειάζεσαι βοήθεια; Are you busy? Do you need any help?

Don’t skip the study part!

I love lists but only if they bring a meaning to your learning. Stacking one sentence after the next will not help you; using them meaningfully, it will.

Find here some bonus ideas about how to eventually add them to your conversations:

  • When you record yourself speaking, always remember to add a few questions in between. Need a little help to do that? Sign up to my Free Course to complete a speaking project with bite-sized tasks & recordings. At the end, you’ll receive my free feedback (and yes, my answer to your questions!)!

  • When you chat on social media or via any private chat with your friends: social media is less direct than actual conversation, but more direct than emails or cards for example, you can take advantage of the time you need to form sentences but also enjoy a chat at a live or almost live time. In fact, this is what we do in our small, chatty Facebook group which you can find here. Join us!

  • And if you’re ready to speak some more, book your spot to Greek Recorder: This is a short but mighty speaking & feedback service to help you talk about a topic you’re interested in. You use supporting vocabulary, your recordings and my feedback. Choose between 1-Week option or 3-Weeks option (with the option to renew). Check it out here.

Practice, practice, practice. To make meaningful discussions and connect with the other person (your “συνομιλητή”/ “συνομιλήτρια”), questions need to be part of your speaking.

Similarly to learning vocabulary and everyday phrases, you need to learn how to make questions in order to organically add them in any conversation.

Try it out - and let me know how it goes!


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