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Lesson 4: Basic Greek Sentences, Noun and Verb Declension, Indefinite Article

In this lesson, we will learn:

  • Noun declension, Part 2: Masculine nouns in -ος, Feminine nouns in -α
  • Indefinite article (ένας, μία, ένα)
  • Basic structure of Greek sentences
  • some more Greek vocabulary

We will also start forming simple sentences, using the rules and vocabulary we’ve been through up to now.

1. Noun Declension

In Lesson 3 we discussed nouns, how they are differentiated by gender and how gramatical gender does not necessarily coincide with natural gender in Greek language. We also laid out 3 examples of noun declension, one for each gender.

Today, we’ll start elaborating on different noun groups and on inflection peculiarities for each one. First, though, we should make a remark on Stressing, as declension calls sometimes for fluctuation of word stress within a paradigm.

Word Stress Rules

Greek words usually have one to six (or even more) syllables.

  • The iron rule is that no word may receive a stress before the antepenult (3rd syllable from the end). To put it differently, Greek words are stressed only on the last, penultimate and antepenult syllables, whether they are simple or composite words and no matter the number of syllables of which they are constructed.
  • When the last syllable of a noun bears the vowels-η- and -ω- or the double vowel -ου- (in ancient Greek these were pronounced as long vowels), then the antepenult cannot be stressed. See the tables below for examples.

Now, after putting forth the above basic rules, we can proceed to inflecting some more Greek nouns, beginning with…

Masculine nouns ending in -ος

Stressed on the last syllable:

Singular Plural
Nom. o καπν-ός


οι καπν-οί
Gen. του καπν-ού των καπν-ών
Acc. τον καπν-ό τους καπν-ούς
Voc. καπν-έ καπν-οί

Stressed on the penultimate:

Singular Plural
Nom. o κήπ-ος


οι κήπ-οι
Gen. του κήπ-ου των κήπ-ων
Acc. τον κήπ-ο τους κήπ-ους
Voc. κήπ-ε κήπ-οι

Stressed on the antepenult:

Singular Plural
Nom. o άγγελ-ος


οι άγγελ-οι
Gen. του αγγέλ-ου των αγγέλ-ων
Acc. τον άγγελ-ο τους αγγέλ-ους
Voc. άγγελ-ε άγγελ-οι

You must have noticed that, in this last paradigm, where the word is stressed on the antepenult, the stress “descends” on the genitive of singular and plural, as well as on the accusative of plural, where the syllables contain the letters -ω- and -ου-, according to the above mentioned Greek word stressing rule.

This happens on the majority of masculine nouns of this group, especially on those which have been in use for many centuries (most are in use since Antiquity, although with slight changes). On the other hand, popular words of more recent origin do not follow the rule. For convenience sake, I shall henceforward introduce new vocabulary (nouns) by mentioning the singular vocative and plural genitive cases, e.g. o άνθρωπος, των ανθρώπων (human). This will help you locate the nouns into their respective declension groups.

Feminine nouns ending in -α: first group

Stressed on the last syllable:

Singular Plural
Nom. η χαρ-ά


οι χαρ-ές
Gen. της χαρ-άς των χαρ-ών
Acc. τη χαρ-ά τις χαρ-ές
Voc. χαρ-ά χαρ-ές

Stressed on the penultimate:

Singular Plural
Nom. η ώρ-α


οι ώρ-ες
Gen. της ώρ-ας των ωρ-ών
Acc. την ώρ-α τις ώρ-ες
Voc. ώρ-α ώρ-ες

Stressed on the antepenult:

Singular Plural
Nom. η θάλασσ-α


οι θάλασσ-ες
Gen. της θάλασσ-ας των θαλασσ-ών
Acc. τη θάλασσ-α τις θάλασσ-ες
Voc. θάλασσ-α θάλασσ-ες

Note: We see that, in this group of feminine nouns, in the plural genitive the stress “descends” to the last syllable (remember ‘γυναίκα’ from Lesson 3?).

Don’t worry. After completing our lessons on Greek nouns declension, a comprehensive table of stressing rules for all 3 genders will be available for you, to help you with a more systematic revision. Now, let’s go and see…

Feminine nouns ending in -α: 2nd group

Stressed on the penultimate:

Singular Plural
Nom. η μητέρ-α


οι μητέρ-ες
Gen. της μητέρ-ας των μητέρ-ων
Acc. τη μητέρ-α τις μητέρ-ες
Voc. μητέρ-α μητέρ-ες

Stressed on the antepenult:

Singular Plural
Nom. η ταχύτητ-α


οι ταχύτητ-ες
Gen. της ταχύτητ-ας των ταχυτήτ-ων
Acc. την ταχύτητ-α τις ταχύτητ-ες
Voc. ταχύτητ-α ταχύτητ-ες

Unlike the previous group, this 2nd group of feminine nouns in -α does not require the stress descending to the last syllable (η μητέρα). In the case of ‘ταχύτητα’, it is the stressing rule about “long” vowels (the -ω- of genitive) forcing the stress to move down to the penultimate.

To practice a little with noun declension, you can take your notebook and exercise by inflecting the following nouns:

ο βοσκός (shepherd)

ο έμπορος, των εμπόρων (merchant)

ο κίνδυνος, των κινδύνων (danger)

ο γέρος, των γέρων (old-man)

η σπηλιά (cave)

η ελπίδα, των ελπίδων (hope)

η χώρα, των χωρών (country)


2. The Indefinite Article

Like a, an in English, the Greek indefinite article appears only in the Singular number.

Note: Context and practice will help you distinguish between the Numeral  for ‘one’ (ένα) and the Indefinite article, as they are practically the same in form.


Masc. Fem. Neutr.










3. Basic Structure of Greek Sentences

Nothing complicated really.

As with English, the basic Greek sentence is comprised of

Subject       +        Predicate

The subject may be a pronoun or a nominal group.

The predicate (= “the part of sentence or clause that expresses what is said of the subject,” is a Verb, either alone (e.g. I sleep, Εγώ κοιμάμαι) or accompanied by

  • an object (direct or indirect)
  • a complement (a nominal group)
  • an adverb.

Some examples of useful Greek phrases:

Το πλοίο φεύγει στις 8 ακριβώς. The boat leaves at 8 o’clock. (verb accompanied by an adverb)

To τρένο φεύγει από την αποβάθρα 2. The train leaves from platform 2. (verb accompanied by a nominal group introduced by a preposition)

(Εγώ)* θέλω ένα ποτήρι νερό. I want a glass of water. (verb accompanied by a direct object)

Η θάλασσα είναι ζεστή. The sea is warm. (verb accompanied by an adjective)

* Notice that in Greek language the presence of the pronoun is not compulsory. Thus, we can say,

Εγώ είμαι Έλληνας (I am Greek), but we can also say

Είμαι Έλληνας, omitting the pronoun (εγώ, I).

Nevertheless, we shall most definitely use a pronoun, when there is danger of getting confused over which the subject is.

Lesson 3: Pronunciation, Article & Noun Declension, Verb “to have”


  • Learn one more set of letters (vowels) combinations
  • Declension: definite article, nouns (Part 1)
  • Auxiliary verb έχω (to have)

1. Vowel combinations

In Lesson 2, we learnt how to pronounce two-letter vowels, i.e. a combination of two vowels that sound as another vowel, completely different from what we see on the page.
In Greek language there are also combinations of two vowels that produce a vowel + consonant sound. This happens as follows:

Vowel combinations:

Greek Pronounced When followed by
αυ af κ, χ, π, φ, τ, θ, ξ, ψ, σ, τσ
ευ ef κ, χ, π, φ, τ, θ, ξ, ψ, σ, τσ
αυ av vowel
γ, β, δ, λ, ρ, μ, ν, ζ, τζ
ευ ev vowel
γ, β, δ, λ, ρ, μ, ν, ζ, τζ

According to the above table, we will pronounce:

ο ευγενικός (adj.) ο evyenikòs gentle, civil
η αυλή i avlì yard
αύριο (adverb) ávrio tomorrow
o ευνοϊκός (adj.) o evnoïkòs favorable
το πεύκο to péfko pine
το αυτί to aftì ear
αυθαδιάζω (verb) afθaδiázo to show impertinence


2. Declension: Definitive Article

Greek is a highly inflected language. Greek articles and nouns (as well as adjectives and pronouns) are inflected for gender, number and case.


Singular Number

Case Masculine Feminine Neutral
Nominative ο η το
Genitive του της του
Accusative το(ν)* τη(ν)* το

*Note: The final consonant is added when the next word (noun, article, etc) begins with:

(i) a vowel or any kind of vowel combination,

(ii) κ, τ, π,

(iii) a double consonant (μπ, ντ, γκ).


Plural Number

Case Masculine Feminine Neutral
Nominative οι οι τα
Genitive των των των
Accusative τους τις τα


3. Declension: Nouns (Part 1)

The next step is to inflect some nouns.

Greek nouns consist of a word root and an ending denoting the word’s gender, number and case. Thus, we can have:


Singular Plural
Nom. o ήλι-ος οι ήλι-οι
Gen. του ήλι-ου των ήλι-ων
Acc. τον ήλι-ο τους ήλι-ους
Voc. ήλι-ε ήλι-οι


Singular Plural
Nom. η γυναίκ-α οι γυναίκ-ες
Gen. της γυναίκ-ας των γυναικ-ών*
Acc. τη γυναίκ-α τις γυναίκ-ες
Voc. γυναίκ-α γυναίκ-ες

*Note: We see that, in the genitive of plural, the stress moves to the ultimate syllable of the noun. This phenomenon pertains to the general rules governing Word Stress, which we will explore in one of our next lessons.


Singular Plural
Nom. το μωρ-ό τα μωρ-ά
Gen. του μωρ-ού των μωρ-ών
Acc. το μωρ-ό τα μωρ-ά
Voc. μωρ-ό μωρ-ά


4. Auxiliary verb “έχω” (to have)

εγώ έχω (eyo eho) εμείς έχουμε (emis ehoome)
εσύ έχεις (esi ehis) εσείς έχετε (esis ehete)
αυτός έχει (aftos ehi) αυτοί έχουν (afti ehoon)
αυτή έχει (afti ehi) αυτές έχουν (aftes ehoon)
αυτό έχει (afto ehi) αυτά έχουν (afta ehoon)
Up to now, we have learnt
  • the Greek alphabet and its pronunciation (Lesson 1)
  • how to pronounce double letters (Lesson 2) and other letters combinations (this lesson)
  • the numbers 1-10 (Lesson 1)
  • the 3 genders of Greek language (Lesson 2)
  • the definitive article (Lesson 2) and its declension (this lesson)
  • declension of nouns (Part 1, this lesson)
  • auxiliary verbs “to be” (Lesson 2) and “to have” (this lesson).
All these will help us start forming small phrases in Greek from Lesson 4 onwards.
Be sure to go through a thorough revision of these first lessons, for we are going to use them a lot!

Lesson 2: Pronunciation, Genders, Verb “to be”


  • Learn how to read combinations of letters
  • Introduction to grammatical genders
  • Learn the definite article
  • Auxiliary verb είμαι (to be)

Two-letter sounds

In Lesson 1, we learnt the Greek alphabet. One thing you should notice is that Greek is not always pronounced exactly as it is spelled – in other words, you do not always read what you see. Sometimes two letters may form a new sound, which either resembles the original letters or is totally unrelated. Let’s see how this works:

Two-letter vowels:

How it is written How it is pronounced
αι ε, like in e-gg
ι, like in s-i-t
ου [u], like in b-oo-k

Two-letter consonants:

How it is written How it is pronounced
μπ b, like in b-ed
ντ d, like in a-dd
g, like in fi-g

According to the above pronunciation rules,

We see We read
η γυναίκα
i yineka
η εικόνα
(image, icon)
i ikona
το πουλί
to pooli
η μπάλα
i bala
ο άντρας
o andras
η αγκαλιά
i agalia



Greek language has got 3 grammatical genders: masculin, feminine, neutral.

The only thing is, they do not necessarily coincide with the natural gender. Thus, we can have inanimate objects or animals using the masculine (male) or feminine (female) gender, whereas persons might be refered to in the neutral gender. For example:

  • το κορίτσι = girl (neutral)
  • η καρέκλα = chair (feminine)
  • ο ήλιος = sun (masculine)

Also, notice the genders in the above pronunciation table.

In vocabulary study, it is paramount that you learn nouns along with their article, which indicates the gender of the noun. This will help you choose the right forms, pronouns, adjectives, etc.


The Definite Article

Greek Pronounced Gender
ο o masculine
η i feminine
το to neutral

In the next lesson, we shall see how the article is inflected. For now, let’s just learn some vocabulary to help us start forming our first sentences later on.

masculine nouns:

ο πατέρας –> o pateras–> the father

ο ήλιος –> o ilios –> the sun

ο καιρός –> o keros –> the weather

ο άνθρωπος –> o an-θ-ropos –> the human

feminine nouns:

η μητέρα –> i mitera –> the mother

η θάλασσα –> i θ-alassa –> the sea

η καρέκλα –> i karekla–> the chair

η βροχή –> i vrohi –> the rain

neutral nouns:

το παιδί –> to pe-δ-i –> the child

το ξενοδοχείο –> to xeno-δ-ohio –> the hotel

το τραπέζι –> to trapezi –> the table

το φαγητό –> to fayito –> the food

In the above list you also see some double vowels “in action.”


Auxiliary verb “είμαι” (to be)

εγώ είμαι (eyo ime) εμείς είμαστε (emis imaste)
εσύ είσαι (esi ise) εσείς είστε (esis iste)
αυτός είναι (aftos ine) αυτοί είναι (afti ine)
αυτή είναι (afti ine) αυτές είναι (aftes ine)
αυτό είναι (afto ine) αυτά είναι (afta ine)

Are you starting to recognize the double vowels we learnt today?

Are you getting familiar with Greek pronunciation?


In Lesson 3, we shall have a final round of letter combinations, we’ll talk about inflection of nouns and articles, and we’ll learn the auxiliary verb “to have.” All these will help us to start forming our first sentences (Lesson 4).