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December 30, 2009

In Greek there is a certain way to say hello to people  and ask how they are. Let’ s take the following dialogue

Γιώργος: Γεια σου! Hello!
Μαρία: Γεια σου! Hello!
Γιώργος: Πώς είσαι; How are you?
Μαρία: Καλά είμαι! Εσύ πώς είσαι; I am fine! How are you?
Γιώργος: Καλά. Fine

This is the simplest way to greet someone you already know. It is a kind of informal speech so you can use singular – Γειά σου. If you address the speech to someone you do not know , you should say Γειά σας.

The words  είμαι , είσαι , είναι etc  , are just forms of present tense of to be.  The full conjugation of the verb είμαι is the following :

Εγώ είμαι

Εσύ είσαι

Αυτός, αυτή , αυτό είναι

Εμείς είμαστε

Εσείς είσαστε/είστε

Αυτοί, αυτές, αυτά  είναι

Other forms of greetings , very common, are :

Καλημέρα ,   Good morning

Καλησπέρα, Good afternoon

Καληνύχτα,  Good night

Χαίρετε ,       Hello

If you want an etymological analysis of these greeting words , this is not that tough:

Γειά σου , comes from the Greek expression Στην υγειά σου : I wish you good heath.

Καλημέρα , is the composition of the Greek words καλή + μέρα (good day ) , which is equally a wish.

Καλησπέρα , is also a composition of the Greek words καλή + εσπέρα ( good afternoon)

Check the definition of the word εσπέρα in the dictionary of Triantafillidis

εσπέρα η [espéra]  : (λόγ.) το χρονικό διάστημα από τη δύση του ήλιου ώσπου να πέσει το σκοτάδι ή και ακόμη πιο αργά, το βράδυ: Aπό πρωίας μέχρις εσπέρας, από το πρωί ως το βράδυ.

Which is the the period from sunset until darkness falls or even later in the evening. An equal greeting , almost synonym to καλησπέρα is καλό απόγευμα (as the words εσπέρα and απόγευμα have the same meaning).

Καληνύχτα , is also a composition of the Greek words καλή + νύχτα ( good night) and a way to greet when you are going to sleep.

Χαίρετε , is discussed in a previous post of mine. Comes from the verb χαίρομαι (is the imperative form of plural meaning be joyful and happy).

This is the basics about the Greek language. You are supposed to know these stuff  if you want to go further. One good source for these basic staff is Wikibooks , where you can find a series of lessons including the Greek letters , pronunciation rules and vocabulary.

My next posts will focus on issues of Modern Greek Grammar and etymology of Greek words , which is quite enlightening when you have to deal with archaic Greek words still in use in our Modern Language.

If you just want to add some Greek greetings that I missed or just leave your remarks  , I will appreciate it. You can  also propose what else you would like to find my next posts about Greek language. I think that is all for today , so I can say  to you


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