speak in Greek

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:

2 Things To Remember Next Time You Make A Language Error

What do you think when you make errors in Greek?

“I sound like a toddler”.

“Oh no, that was so unintelligible”.

Then you blush. Or beat yourself up.

Many learners think this way when learning a language.

I thought this way.

So, here’s my story. And what I’ve learned from it.

When I was a student, I spent a year in France. I loved everything about it. The country, the people, the language, the food, the places I’ve visited.

At some point, self-consciousness kicked in. I remember that instead of focusing on my success of finally speaking French, I was focusing all my energy on avoiding the errors.

At all costs.

Instead of focusing on how I loved speaking French (yes, my “Greek accent - conjugated wrong - using a completely different word than the one I wanted - French”) I was focusing on exactly that: the wrong conjugations, my inevitable Greek accent and the mispronunciation of words which changed the whole meaning.

As a result, I avoided expressing myself in French, out of my fear of making errors.

A cat’s point of view

I wasn’t aware that what I was doing wasn't really helping me speak more and better French, until I read this quote in a class about errors in language learning.

The teacher handed everyone this quote by Philippe Geluck’s “Le Chat” comic character:

"On dit qu'on apprend avec ses erreurs, mais à mon avis c'est une erreur. Et si je me trompe, au moins j'aurai appris quelque chose." (We say we learn from our errors, but in my opinion, this is an error. And if I’m mistaken, at least I would have learned something.)

“Le Chat” had said it all.

But why do we feel so bad about errors?

Naturally, as adults, we communicate elaborately in our first language(s). Our vocabulary often reflects our education and status.

Which means that going back to the basics in another language can affect our self esteem.

It requires patience and persistence to keep going. It’s not easy.

When I make a mistake, I tend to blush and avoid eye contact.

You might get frustrated to the point you get agitated.

You might start self-blaming.

Or you might barely react.

But, in some cases, learners feel so bad they eventually stop learning the language all together.

Do you see yourself in any of the above?

Looking at these reactions from the outside, it suddenly seems like too much.

Yet, these are all feelings you can’t easily control.

“Just get over it” doesn’t work.

“Stop feeling anxious” doesn’t work.

“Start speaking” doesn’t work either.

So what does?

The reason #1 why we make errors

The majority of our errors when we learn a language is because of language transfer from our first language to our second. Yes, from the one we’re so good at.

In other words, we transfer the structure of our first language to the language we learn.

We attempt to use our known patterns (syntax, grammar, vocabulary, expressions etc) to the language we learn and by doing so we apply what we know to a language that works differently.

If I got a dollar each time I got confused with “listen” and “hear” - which is only one word, “ακούω” in Greek.

Once, I was talking to a doctor’s secretary on the phone.

The connection wasn’t the best so I quickly asked her “Can you listen to me?”

What I simply meant - the poor me - was the much politer and accurate “Can you hear me?”

My face changed all the tones of red the same moment I uttered the word “listen”.

And I think you can guess how the phone call went.

How can someone feel better about their errors when they might confuse people and create misunderstandings?

It won’t happen overnight.

But realizing how language transfer works might make you more conscious about the reason behind your mistake.

I might blush again if I make an error in English. But I’ll quickly think “I say this because this is how I'm used to say it in Greek”. It’s OK. It’s really OK.

The reason #2 we make errors

Research on errors in language learning also points out how being tired, stressed out, even sleep deprived (any parents of young kids out there?) can actually trigger language errors.

The other day I couldn’t remember the word for “transfer”.

This is the “proof of payment” when we use the public transit in Toronto. It’s just a little piece of paper I’ve been using for 5 years now and I couldn’t remember its name.

I just wanted to tell the driver “May I have a transfer, please?”

But all I was getting in my head was “ticket”.

In the brief moment it takes to get on a bus and ask this 6 word question to the driver, I experienced a “my mind went totally blank-and the driver will think I can’t speak a word of English-but I do know the word-so why can’t I just say it!” kind of moment.

Yet, I was very tired, with a toddler not sleeping so well the last few nights.

There are numerous studies making the connection between memory function and sleep so again, no, there’s no stupidity involved, just a good reason why my mind went blank. 

Plus, here’s the language transfer again: In Athens, we use paper tickets in public transit. It made sense.

Anytime you experience stress, fatigue, feelings of anger, overwhelm and anxiety, such errors can happen.

Have you found that when you speak with a friend at a cozy café, words come easier?

And then, what happens when you try to resolve a stressful situation?

Again, such strong feelings will probably trigger errors as the brain functions change with stress.

So what can you do?

Let’s accept the fact that you will make errors. Everyone does.

Realizing where the errors come from and why you tend to make more of them in some cases, is a reminder of your humanity.

Really. You’re not a robot with a malfunction.

You’re a real person, a learner who makes errors the same way everyone does.

So take notice of your errors, take a deep breath and start making a plan about how to deal with them.

In the next blog post I’ll share with you a list with the most common errors Greek learners make during the Beginner-Intermediate levels, along with some ideas about how to avoid them and better support your overall learning.

Thank you for learning with me,

~ Danae

Learning Small Talk In Greek

Have you ever heard of the word λακωνικός [laconic]?

Yes, it’s a Greek word! It means brief and concise.

It is said that the Spartans didn’t lose time in lengthy explanations and their speech was famous for its terseness.

Not that you want to be laconic in a chat, but usually brief are the chats in our everyday lives, aren't they?

I’ll be laconic now by saying that: living + learning languages in two countries = I know firsthand the frustration of chatting when you learn the language, even more so if it’s small talk!

Here come the Spartans to the rescue (Thanks, Leonidas!). Let's tackle small talk!

Practically speaking, focusing on just a few core words or expressions instead of a big vocabulary list or a list of questions you can hardly remember, helps you with having a foundation, right?

Why do you need a foundation?

A foundation is where you can build your questions and answers, add the words you want and drop the ones you don’t.

But that's only one of the reasons why you want a foundation.

There's nothing more frustrating when you are learning a language than trying to get the words right when talking to a native speaker, am I right?

As adults, we are used to converse with a complex vocabulary and syntax so trying to utter these words in another language is sometimes too hard and too intimidating. 

Is it "just me" being timid then? 

Not quite. 

Research shows that it takes 4 seconds for a silence to become awkward ; We know from our own experience as native speakers of any language that between asking and replying there is only a short amount of wait time.

So this time has been measured to 4 seconds.

When we learn a language, especially during the Beginners level, the wait time can be longer, yet we do want to be understood without getting overwhelmed or feeling embarrassed!

As learners, it's helpful to know that the listener is not a cruel, self centered person who can't wait for us to complete our sentence. It’s just how the flow of conversation is. 

At the same time we need to acknowledge that language learners, especially beginners, need more time to think - actually multitask!

What does it mean, multitask?

A language learner is not your typical speaker. There is a huge amount of work going on in our minds. We need to:

  • understand the accent

  • understand the meaning

  • reply using the right words, in the right order

  • use correct pronunciation, tone and pitch

  • pay attention to body language, gestures and facial expressions.

All in just these 4 seconds we were talking about a while ago!

Of course, some of the things I mentioned above we do automatically or semi-automatically, such as paying attention to the tone or pitch. We don’t shout ΚΑΛΗΜΕΡΑ [good morning] to each other making angry faces!  

It’s definitely a lot of work to speak in a different language, especially for a beginner. This is why a little preparation helps learners  boost their confidence and pay attention to the small talk itself, not just Grammar or accent.

By having a cheatsheet prepared beforehand or a mental note of a few phrases you can use, saves you time - and for the timid ones , it also saves face! 

What can you include in this cheatsheet?

Here are some very common phrases we use in small talk in Greek:

Questions:

  • Γεια σου. Τι κάνεις; Hello. How are you? (informal: see also this article on informal use)

  • Γεια σας. Τι κάνετε; Hello. How are you? (formal: see also this article on formal use)

  • Τι κάνουν τα παιδιά; How are the kids?

  • Πώς πάει η δουλειά; How is work going?

  • Τι νέα; / Τι νέα από τον Καναδά; Τι νέα από τη Θεσσαλονίκη; What news? / What news from Canada? What news from Thessaloniki?

  • Θα πάτε πουθενά το Σαββατοκύριακο; Are you going anywhere in the weekend?

Answers / Comments:

  • Καλά / Μια χαρά. Εσύ; Well (Good). Great. And you? (informal)

  • Καλά / Μια χαρά. Εσείς; Well (Good). Great. And you? (formal)

  • Καλά πάει η δουλειά. / Τα ίδια. / Δύσκολα, πολύ τρέξιμο. The work is fine. Same. Tough, really busy. Note: For "very busy" in Greek we say "πολύ τρέξιμο" literally meaning "lots of running".

  • Τα ίδια. Όλα καλά. Μια χαρά. Πολλή δουλειά. Same. All's good. Great. Lots of work. Note: Πολλή δουλειά is equally used for "very busy" or "lots of work". It literally means "lots of work".

  • Ναι, θα πάμε στο νησί. Όχι, εδώ θα κάτσουμε. Εσείς; Yes, we'll go to the island. No we'll stay here. How about you?

  • Θα χαλάσει ο καιρός. The weather will turn cold. Note: Θα χαλάσει means "it will go bad, spoil, break down" meaning it will turn colder, windier etc.

Have you ever used a cheatsheet for speaking? Was it helpful? Let me know in the comments.


Ready to Express your Greek?

Read more from my blog:

Share this with a friend: