Our Everyday Greek: Survival Guide for Greece Travelers: Is the Water Drinkable?

Photo by EUROKINISSI / ELENI ROKOU.

When travelers get to a place, one of the first questions they ask is, if the water is drinkable. They also want to know how to ask for bottled water. In Greece, when you ask for water in a super market or in a café, you get a bottled water, usually spring water, without gas.

Τwo verbs are useful. The verb: πίνεται; is it drinkable? and the verb: θέλω, I want, I would like. The Greek word for the glass, ποτήρι, comes from the verb πίνω = I drink.

The ancient Greek word for the water was ύδωρ, (EEdor). The word ύδωρ (hydro-) is a component of many English words, like hydrodynamic, hydrotherapy, hydromassage, hydromel, hydrate, hydrant, hydroid. In Byzantine (Medieval) Greek the word νερόwas used for the water. It means young water, fresh water and is composed from the Greek word νέο, young, fresh andύδωρ, the water. English words like neon, neologism, neoclassical have as a first compound the word νέο, new, young.

IS THE WATER DRINKABLE?

Here is how you will form your question and the possible answers.
-Το νερό πίνεται;
TOneROPEEnete?
Isthewaterdrinkable?

-Το νερό της βρύσης πίνεται;
TO neRO TEES VREEsisPEEnete?
Is the tap water drinkable?

– Ναι, πίνεται.
NE PEEnete.
Yes, it is drinkable.

– Όχι, δεν πίνεται.
OhiDEEnPEEnete.
No, it isn’t drinkable.

ASKING FOR WATER
Below are the phrases we use to ask for a bottle or for a glass of water. In everyday Greek it’s not a mistake to say “I want some water”, which means I want a bottle of water.
Θέλωνερό.
THEloneRO
I want (I would like) some water.

Θέλω ένα μπουκάλι νερό, μεγάλο.
THEloEnabooKAlineRO, meYAlo
I want (I would like) a big bottle of water.

Θέλω ένα νερό, μεγάλο.
THEloEnaneROmeYAlo
I want (I would like) a big bottle of water.

Θέλω δύο μπουκάλια νερό, μεγάλα.
THEloDEEobooKAlianeRO
I want (I would like) two bottles of water, big ones.

Θέλωένανερό,μικρό.
THEloEnaneROmiKRO
I want (would like) a small bottle of water.

Θέλω ένα μπουκάλι νερό, μικρό.
THEloEnabooKAlineRO, miKRO
I want (I would like) a small bottle of water.

Θέλω δύο μπουκάλια νερό, μικρά.
THEloDEEobooKAlianeRO, miKRA
I want (I would like) two bottles of water, small.

Θέλωέναποτήρινερό.
THEloEnapoTEErineRO
I want (I would like) a glass of water.

Θέλωδύοποτήριανερό.
THEloDEEopoTEErianeRO
I want (I would like) two glasses of water.

BASIC VOCABULARY
Greek word Pronunciation Meaning
Θέλω THElo I want (I would like)
Τονερό TO neRO water
Τομπουκάλι TO booKAli the bottle
Ταμπουκάλια TA booKAlia the bottles
Τοποτήρι TO poTEEri the glass
Ταποτήρια TA poTEEria the glasses
Έναμπουκάλινερό EnabooKAlineRO a bottle of water
Δύομπουκάλιανερό DEEobooKAlianeRO two bottles of water
Έναποτήρινερό EnapoTEErineRO a glass of water
Δύοποτήριανερό DEEopoTEErianeRO two glasses of water
Μεγάλο meYAlo big (singular)
Μεγάλα meYAla big (plural)
Μικρό miKRO small (singular)
Μικρά miKRA small (plural)
Εγώπίνω eYOPEEno I drink
Πίνεται; PEEnete? Is it drinkable?
Ηβρύση EE VREEsi the tap (faucet)
Τηςβρύσης TEES VREEsis of the tap
Ναι NEE yes
Όχι Ohi no

GREEK YOU ALREADY KNOW
Μικρό, in English words like microcosm, microscope, microtip.
Μεγάλο, in English words like megalomania, megabyte, megalithic.

PRONUNCIATION KEY
i (ill), ee (beer), e (ever), o (organ), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are accented.

1 Comment

  1. Yes, indeed the water is drinkable by nature because it is a liquid, which fills the shape of the container.
    I believe, the question that the author meant to ask was, “Is the water safe?”

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