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

June 17, 2018
Dimitra Pontoporou

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 cafe, 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.


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

-Το νερό της βρύσης πίνεται;
Is the tap water drinkable?

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

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

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.
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.
I want (I would like) a big bottle of water.

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

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.

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

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

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

Μικρό, in English words like microcosm, microscope, microtip.
Μεγάλο, in English words like megalomania, megabyte, megalithic.

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


Top Stories


A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.


Firefighters Seek to Corral Massive Texas Wildfires Before Weekend of Higher Temperatures and Winds

CANADIAN, Texas (AP) — The explosive growth of the second-largest wildfire in Texas history slowed as winds and temperatures dipped but the massive blaze was still untamed and threatening more death and destruction.

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed Thursday to fulfill Moscow’s goals in Ukraine and sternly warned the West against deeper involvement in the fighting, saying that such a move is fraught with the risk of a global nuclear conflict.

ATHENS - The greatest problem in Greece following the restoration of democracy in Greece is the missed opportunities, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Thursday evening in a discussion at the "Metapolitefsi: 50 Years Later" conference, which focuses on the fifth-decade anniversary of the restoration of democracy in Greece.

NEW YORK – The Greek Orthodox Folk Dance & Choral Festival Ministry of the Metropolis of San Francisco is dedicated, through Orthodox Christian Fellowship and committed leadership, to promoting, encouraging and perpetuating the Orthodox faith, Greek heritage and culture among individuals, families and communities by expressing it through folk dance, folk art, music and language.

NEW YORK – Greek-American Ellie Falaris Ganelin, gifted musician and Greek Chamber Music Project Director, announced a special replay of a concert to be broadcast on Leap Day, February 29.