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Culture

Special TNH Feature: Our Everyday Greek – Greek Verbs Conjugation Made Easy

By Dr. Dimitra Kamarinou

If you pay attention to the endings, it is very easy to distinguish the verb among the words in a sentence. For example if a word ends in –ω, it is a verb in present tense, first person, singular. Eγώ κάν-ω = I do, εγώ μέν-ω= I stay.

Greek verbs are conjugated. The verb forms have a person, a number, a tense, a mood and a voice.

Person. A verb is in the first person if the subject is I or we, in the second person if the subject is you, and in the third person if the subject is he, she, it, they, the man, the men, the kids, the students etc.

Number. Verbs are either singular, when the subject is a single person or thing (I, you, he, she, it, Maria etc.), or plural, when the subject is more than one person or thing (we, you, they, the girls, Maria and Petros etc.).

Tense. The tense conveys information about the aspect and the time. Verbs can be in the present, in the past, and in the future tense.

Mood. It indicates the type of statement which one is making: factual, hypothetical, wishful, commanding. The Greek verb has four moods, but in this lesson we will learn the indicative one, the mood of factual statements. Είμαι καλά = I am good.

Voice. Defines the way in which the subject of the verb is involved in the action of the verb. When a verb is in the active voice, the subject performs the action indicated. (Maria swims in the sea.) If it is in the passive voice the subject receives the action indicated. (Maria is educated by her teacher.)

Greek verbs add endings to the stem in order to produce the various possible forms. To form the present indicative active, we can obtain the present tense stem by dropping the ending –ω. For example we can form the verb’s κάν-ω stem, after we drop the ending. It is κάν-.  The endings are indicated here as the syllables that follow the -. To the stem we add the following endings, which indicate person and number in order to form the indicative form of a verb in the present tense and the active voice.

Singular                     Plural

First person                -ω                                -ουμε

Second person         –εις                              -ετε

Third person              -ει                                -ουν

 

The table shows how the verb κάνω is conjugated:

Greek verb                 Pronunciation                      Meaning

Εγώ κάν-ω                eyO KAno                               I do

Εσύ κάν-εις               eSEE KAnis                           You do

Η Μαρία κάν-ει          ee MaREEa KAni               Maria does

Εμείς κάν-ουμε         eMEES KAnoome                We do

Εσείς κάν-ετε             eSEES KAnete                     You do

H Μαρία και η Ελένη κάν-ουν ee MaREEa ke ee eLEni KAnoon They do

 

USEFUL SPELLING TIPS. It helps to remember that both the ending of the verb –ω and of the personal pronoun that goes together, εγ-ώ = I, is the same. Εγ-ώ κάν-ω. When you hear the sound i in the end of a verb – which is the second or the third person singular -, then you can be certain of writing the ending with -ει. Εσύ κάν-εις, ο Δημήτρης κάν-ει.

The verb κάνω is used in many expressions. Κάνω ισπανικά = I learn Spanish. Κάνω ελληνικά= I learn Greek. Kάνω δίαιτα = I am on a diet. The word diet stems from the Greek word δίαιτα. Kάνω γυμναστική = I exercise, I work out.  From the word γυμναστική stem the English words Gym, gymnastics. Kάνω βόλτα = I stroll around. Βόλτα comes from the latin word volta, meaning turn. Kάνω μπάνιο = I take a bath or I swim (in the ocean).

 

Greek phrase                        Pronunciation                      Meaning

Εγώ κάνω ισπανικά.            eyO KAno ispaniKA.           I learn Spanish.

Εσύ κάνεις δίαιτα.                eSEE KAnis DEEeta.          You are on a diet.

Ο Πέτρος κάνει γυμναστική. o PEtros KAni yimnastiKEE.        Peter exercises.

Εμείς κάνουμε ελληνικά. eMEES KAnoome iliotheraPEEa. We learn Greek.

Εσείς κάνετε μπάνιο.           eSEES KAnete BAnio.             You are swimming.

Η Μαρία και ο Γιάννης κάνουν βόλτα. ee MaRIa ke o YiAnis KAnoon VOlta. They stroll around.

 

PRONUNCIATION KEY:

i (idiom), ee (needle), e (energy), o (organism), oo (boot), y (yes), h (helium), th (theory), d (the). The capitalized syllables are the accented ones.

 

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