Here is some introductory information that you might find useful before you start the Beginner’s Greek course this September! It is also interesting to know even if you are not intending to take Greek officially, but just want to find out a bit more.


Greek letterLower caseUpper caseEnglish equivalentPronunciation
alphaαΑashort/long a
gammaγΓgg, as in go n, as in ink/lynx after κ, χ, ξ, γ
epsilonεΕeshort e
zetaζΖsdas in wisdom
etaηΗelong e, as in air
iotaιΙishort/long i
kappaκΚchard c, as in skill
The pronunciation is only a rough guide as you will find different people do use different pronunciations.
omicronοΟoshort o
sigmaσ, ςΣss, as in sing, lesson
tauτΤtt, as in stop
upsilonυΥu, ylong/short u
phiφΦphf, as in foot
khiχΧchk, as in kill/loch
psiψΨpsas in lapse
omegaωΩolong o, as in saw


  • You’ll notice there’s no h in the alphabet
  • Words that start with a vowel in Greek all have breathings on the first letter, or the second if they start with a dipthong (a dipthong are two vowels together)
    • A smooth breathing: ἀ, denotes the absence of an ‘h’ sound
    • A rough breathing: ἁ, denotes the presence of an ‘h’ sound
  • All words beginning with ρ and υ take a rough breathing
    • ῥοδον (rose)
    • ὕδωρ (water)


as long a
αιas in high
αυas in how
ειas in fiancee
ευas in cockney belt
as in η
ηυas ευ
οιas in boy, coin
ουas in pool 
υιclose to French huit
as ω
Once again pronunciations are only a rough guide.


  • A verb in Greek has a tense, a person, a voice, and a mood
    • Tense = time
    • Person = I, you, he/she/it, etc.
    • Voice = the relationship between verb and subject
    • Mood = expresses speaker’s attitude toward what they are saying (I know its confusing, once you’ve met it it will make more sense)

Present Active Indicative Verb Conjugation

  • stem + ending = conjugated verb
  • παυω I stop, stem παυ-
1st Person SingularπαυωI stop
2nd PersonπαυειςYou stop
3rd Personπαυειhe/she/it stops
1st Person Pluralπαυομενwe stop
2nd Personπαυετεyou (pl.) stop
3rd Personπαυουσι (ν)*they stop
*movable nu- added when the next word begins with a vowel


  • Nouns decline and change their endings depending on what job they perform within a sentence
  • They fall into specific patterns called declensions (a group of nouns that all follow the same pattern of endings)
  • Nouns have a gender, number and case


“The boy greets the girl”

  • Subject “the boy”
    • The subject is the noun that is doing the verb in the sentence. The subject is represented by word order in English; in Greek (as in Latin) it is show by putting the noun into the Nominative case.
  • Verb “greets”
    • The verb is the action in the sentence
  • Object “the girl”
    • The object is the noun that is having the action done to them. The object is show by putting the noun into the Accusative case.

1st Declension Feminine Nouns (Singular)

  • The first declension is usually feminine
  • There are three possible patterns of endings for feminine 1st declension nouns
  • stem + ending = declined noun
1st declension feminine nouns that end in -η in the nom. sg. go like τιμη, 1st declension feminine nouns that end in –α after ε, ι or ρ go like χωρα, 1st declension feminine nouns that end in –α after any other letter go like θαλλασσα

2nd Declension Masculine (Singular)


2nd Declension Neuter (Singular)


Definite Article

  • The definitive article = ‘the’ vs indefinite article = ‘a’
  • Greek nouns are almost always accompanied by a definite article when you are referring to a specific object (so its used almost all the time).
  • They are also used with names.
  • You leave them out when you are referring to an indefinite object.
  • They decline just like a noun and follow a similar pattern to τιμη, δωρον and λογος.

Reading a Greek Sentence

ὁ ἀγγελος την βοην ἀκουει.

1. First find your verb •ἀκουει

  • identify the person and tense of the verb
  • 3rd person singular present

2. Find your nominative/subject by looking for nominative endings

  • ὁ ἀγγελος 

3. Find your object/accusative by looking for accusative endings

  • την βοην

4. Put it all together

  • The messenger hears the shout.