Introduction - Little Letters

Currently the class has being concentrating on Greek using the Uppercase form of the Greek alphabet, and although in the previous versions of these notes both upper and lower case examples have been used, it is true that we have been reliant heavily on the uppercase.
This year we are making an effort to get fully to grips with the lowercase script and as such these notes will now only use uppercase when the context is appropriate, i.e. Capitalisation of start of sentences, proper names etc.
This is now a sensible approach as the bulk of learning material is written in lowercase and we need to be able to read and understand the character set primarily before we can hope to use such reference material to learn more of the language itself.
To start this process we have gone over a handout in class that described the everyday life of Ελένη Σημίτη, a university lecturer living in Athens giving an account of her normal day at work and socialising in the evenings. I cannot reproduce the text of that here as it was taken from a copy write textbook, but in the course of that reading and comprehension several words and phrases of note were discussed.
Firstly the verb ζω, meaning “to live” was used in the context of the lady “living” in Athens, rather than the verb we are used to in this usage μένω, which literally means “to stay” or “reside”. Both are interchangeable in this usage and just as in English where both can be used to break up an other wise repetitive narrative, so the example we studied used ζω referring to living in Athens and μένω to refer to staying in Χολαργό, a suburb of Athens.

Verb Present Future / Subjunctive Past Imperative
To Live ζω ζήσω έζησα  
ζεις ζήσεις έζησες ζήσε
ζει ζέσει έζησε  
ζούμε ζέσουμε ζήσαμε  
ζείτε ζέσετε ζήσατε ζήστε
ζουν ζέσουν έζησαν  
To Stay/Reside μένω μείνω έμεινα  
μένεις μείνεις έμεινες μείνε
μένει μείνει έμεινε  
μένουμε μείνουμε μείναμε  
μένετε μείνετε μείνατε μείνετε
μένουν μείνουν έμειναν  

Another word pair we came across was μέχρι and ος, which both mean until and again they can be used in similar ways:

Από Δευτέρα μέχρι Παρασκευή...
Από Δευτέρα ος Παρασκευή...

Meaning “From Monday until Friday, or

Έχω δουλεύα ώς τη 5.00.
Έχω δουλεύα μέχρι τη 5.00.

Meaning “I have work until 5 o’clock”

We also noted the meaning variations between three possibly confusing words; ποτέ, πότε and όταν.
Firstly lets look at ποτέ and πότε, and note that the difference between these two words in terms of spelling and pronunciation is just the accent, which changes the meaning from “never” (ποτέ, e.g. δεν αργεί ποτέ - ”she is never late”) with the stress on the last syllable to “when” (πότε) with the stress on the first.

Next let’s throw όταν into the mix which also means “when” but with a different context. Πότε is used when asking a question, (e.g. Πότε φεύγει; - When does it leave?), whereas όταν is used when making a conditional statement.

Όταν φεύγει, πρέπει να πληρώσεις.
When it leaves, you must pay.

One term was used that does not have a direct translation in English was  used in the phrase, τηλεφωνεί στην παρέα, which meant that Ελένη phoned her friends but the term παρέα means more “the people you socialise with” rather than specifically friends which would more normally use the Greek word, φίλοι.

Finally here are few other words that merited a mention as we went through the text:





To wake/get up ξυπνάω Ξυπνάει νωρίς το πρωί She get’s up early in the morning
To drive οδηγώ Δεν οδηγεί She doesn’t drive
Always πάντα Πίωει πάντα νερό She always drinks water
Usually συνύθος Συνύθος το φαγητο είναι καλό Usually the food is good
Often συχνά Συχνά δεν τρώει τίποτε Often she eat’s nothing
To finish τελειώνω Τελειώνει στις 4.30 She finishes at 4:30
Often (many times) καμιά φορά Καμιά φορά πηγαίνει με το μετρό Often she goes by Metro
Late αργά Μένει μέχρι αργα She stays until late.