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

Aims:

  • 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
ει
οι
υι
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
γκ
γγ
g, like in fi-g

According to the above pronunciation rules,

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

 

Genders

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).

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