Home Contents Words Glossary

The Greek Alphabet

Consonants Vowels Diphthongs Breathings Punctuation
Accents Names Examples Reading Exercises

 

o( a)lfabh~toj
The  letters of the alphabet:

A

B

G

D

E

Z

H

Q

I

K

L

M

N

C

O

P

R

S

T

U

F

X

Y

W

a

b

g

d

e

z

h

q

i

k

l

m

n

c

o

p

r

s j

t

u

f

x

y

w

 

ta_ gra&mmata:

Upper

Lower

Greek

English

Equivalent

As in:

A

a

 a!lfa

alpha

a

Athens

B

b

 bh~ta

beta

b

Bacchus

G

g

 ga&mma

gamma

g

Gorgon

D

d

 de/lta

delta

d

Dionysus

E

e

 e2 yilo&n

epsilon

e

Empedocles

Z

z

 zh~ta

zeta

z

Zeus

H

h

 h}ta

eta

e

Elektra

Q

q

 qh~ta

theta

th

Thebes

I

i

 i0w~ta

iota

i

Ithaca

K

k

 ka&ppa

kappa

k

Kronos

L

l

 la&mbda

lambda

l

Labyrinth

M

m

 mu~  

mu

m

Marathon

N

n

 nu~  

nu

n

Nemesis

C

c

 ci=  

xi

x

Xenophon

O

o

 o@ mikro&n

omicron

o

Odysseus

P

p

 pi=  

pi

p

Pan

R

r

 r(w~  

rho

r(h)

Rhodes

S

s, j

 si&gma

sigma

s

Spartans

T

t

 tau~

tau

t

Titan

U

u

 u@ yilo&n

upsilon

u

Fugitive

F

f

 fi=  

phi

ph

Philosophy

X

x

 xi=  

chi

ch

Chorus

Y

y

 yi=  

psi

ps

Psychology

W

w

 w} me/ga

omega

o

Ocean


Note:

  • Some 'obsolete' letters are retained for use as numbers:

 

v

vau
V digamma
J koppa

 

`

 

sampi / san

 

 


Consonants:

g before g, k, c, x is nasal, e.g.:

  • spo&ggoj (spongos): sponge

  • fa&lagc : phalanx


s is written within a word for sigma, j at the end, e.g. sta&sij : stasis.
The sound is soft except before b, g, m, e.g. a!sbestoj (azbestos).


z, c, and y are double consonants with j :

  • z = ds

  • c = ks

  • y = ps


q, f, and x were aspirated consonants, i.e.:

 

  • q = t
  • f = p
  • x = k
followed in each case by an h sound;

 

later, and in modern Greek, the pronunciations are:

 

  • q = 'th' (as in thesis)
  • f = 'f'
  • x = 'ch' (as in chorus)

Vowels:

a,i, and u can be short or long, e.g.:

  • a)gora&  (agoraa)

  • e0pini/kion (epineekion)

 

su& - su (cf. French tu), mu~qoj - (moothos).

 

h - as in the French , or, approximately, 'ey' as in English grey.

 

u - transliterated is usually y, e.g. yuxh&  psyche.

 


iota subscript:

 i, after a~, h, w is written under the vowel and is mute, e.g.:

  • xw&ra|  |

  • a)rxh~|   

  • lo&gw|   

 

but, in 'Upper Case':

  • XWRAI

  • ARXHI

  • LOGWI

 


 o@ mikro&n and w} me/ga ('little o' and 'big o') are later names for the letters,
as is the case with e2 yilo&n and u@ yilo&n ('e plain' and 'u plain'),
so called to distinguish them from similar sounding diphthongs.

Vowels combine in the following diphthongs:

ai ei oi ui au eu hu ou
pai=j ei0j oi]noj ui9o&j au)to&j eu9ri/skw hu{ron ou)dei/j

 

  • ai and ei* as ai in aisle
  • ui as wi in twist
  • au as ow in now
  • eu and hu as u in June
  • ou as oo in too.

 

*some give the distinction between ei and h as that between French and .
ai transliterates as
  • ae  (Ai1gina, Aegina)
  • a    (Ai3dhj, Hades)
  • e    (ai0qh&r, ether).
oi transliterates as
  • e    (oi]koj, eco-)
  • oe  (oi]noj, oeno-).

Breathings:

 An initial vowel, r (rho) or diphthong always has a breathing mark written above it:

 

  •  either   9  (asper, 'rough breathing')
    e.g. o(do&j (hodos), ou{toj (hootos)

 

  • or   0  (lenis, 'smooth breathing')
    e.g. o)ktw& (oktoh), ou)dei/j (oodais).

 

The breathing is written to the left of a Capital, and above the second vowel of a diphthong. A vowel with a 'rough breathing' is aspirated and pronounced accordingly (h...), with a 'smooth breathing' it remains unaspirated. Initial u (upsilon) or r (rho) always has a 'rough breathing'. Breathings, like iota subscripts, are part of the spelling of a word, and must always be inserted, even if accents are omitted.

Punctuation:

 Capital letters are used for Proper Names, to start a new paragraph, and to indicate the beginning of a quotation in direct speech. Breathings and accents are written to the left of Capitals, but above the second vowel of an initial diphthong, e.g.

 

  •   0Aqhnai=oj    Athenian

  •    3Ellhn       Hellene

  •   Ai1guptoj   Egyptian


In Greek:
  • a semi-colon (;) is equivalent to a Question Mark
  • a dot above the line (:) is a (Greek) semi-colon
  • comma (,) and full-stop (.) are the same as in English, e.g.
 
ti/ e0stin; e0sti r(o&don: r(o&don e0sti/ moi.
What is it? It is a rose; the rose is mine / to me.

Accents:

There are three accents:

 

  • acute   (written on one of the last three syllables of a word)
  • grave  \  (generally written in place of an acute on the final syllable)
  • circumflex    =  (written on a long final or penultimate syllable)
Accents were not introduced until the second century B.C., and then as a guide to pronunciation.
Beginners may ignore them,
except for noting the few occasions where the accent is a guide to the meaning, e.g.:

  •  a)lla& = but
  • ti/j; = who?
  • po&te; = when?
  •  a!lla = other things
  • tij  = someone
  • pote  = sometime

Greek Names:

  • most masculine names end in -oj, -aj, -hj, -wn, -euj
  • most feminine names end in -a, -h

Click on highlighted name to hear Greek

Click on highlighted names below to hear a specimen pronunciation.
Agathon   0Aga&qwn Thales   Qalh~j
Agamemnon   0Agame/mnwn Themistocles   Qemistoklh~j
Agesilaos   0Aghsi/laoj Theseus   Qhseu&j
Aias / Ajax   Ai1aj Thucydides   Qoukudi/dhj
Aeschylus   Ai0sxu&loj Isocrates   0Isokra&thj
Aesop   Ai1swpoj Caesar   Kai=sar
Alexander   0Ale/candroj Cimon   Ki/mwn
Alkibiades   0Alkibia&dhj Croesus   Kroi=soj
Antigone   0Antigo&nh Cyrus   Ku~roj
Anacreon   0Anakre/wn Lycurgus   Lukou~rgoj
Anaxagoras   0Anacago&raj Menelaus   Mene/laoj
Antiphon   0Antifw~n Minos   Mi/nwj
Archimedes   0Arximh&dhj Nestor   Ne/stwr
Aristippus   0Ari/stippoj Xenophon   Cenofw~n
Aristotle   0Aristote/lhj Xerxes   Ce/rchj
Aristophanes   0Aristofa&nhj Odysseus   0Odusseu&j
Achilles   0Axilleu&j Oedipus   Oi0di/pouj
Bias   Bi/aj Homer    3Omhroj
Gorgias   Gorgi/aj Orpheus   0Orfeu~j
Darius   Darei=oj Pericles   Periklh~j
Democritus   Dhmo&kritoj Pindar   Pi/ndaroj
Demosthenes   Dhmosqe/nhj Plato   Pla&twn
Diogenes   Dioge/nhj Protagoras   Prwtago&raj
Dionysius   Dionu&sioj Pythagoras   Puqago&raj
Diotima   Dioti/ma Sappho    Sapfw& 
Draco   Dra&kwn Solon   So&lwn
Electra   0Hle/ktra Sophocles   Sofoklh~j
Hector    3Ektwr Sphinx   Sfi/gc
Epicurus   0Epi/kouroj Socrates   Swkra&thj
Euclid   Eu)klei/dhj Teiresias   Teiresi/aj
Euripides   Eu)ripi/dhj Phaedo   Fai/dwn
Heraclitus   9Hra&kleitoj Phidias   Feidi/aj
Herakles   9Hraklh~j Philip   Fi/lippoj

Examples:

Flowers:
 kro&koj  i1rij  a)nemw&nh  o!rxij
crocus iris anemone orchid
 ku&klamij  delfi/nion  eu)kalu&ptoj  
cyclamen delphinium eucalyptus  
Animals:
 mu~j  le/wn  ti/grij  e)le/faj
mouse lion tiger elephant
 kamh~loj  pa&nqhr  r(inoke/rwj  kroko&deiloj
camel panther rhinoceros crocodile

Words with English derivatives:

Click on highlighted word to hear Greek

Click on highlighted Greek words below for a specimen pronunciation.
 a0kmh&   ba&rbaroj  ge/nesij  despo&thj  e0gw&   zw~|on
acme barbarian genesis despot egoist zoo
 h9donh&  qe/atron  i0de/a  kli/mac  lampa&j  mani/a
hedonist theatre idea climax lamp mania
 nau=thj  cu&lon  o0rxh&stra  pa&nqhr  r9ayw|di/a  sxh~ma
nautical xylophone orchestra panther rhapsody scheme
 tu&rannoj  u3pnoj  fwnh/   xro&noj  yeu=doj  w)ke/anoj
tyranny hypnosis phonetic chronology pseudo- ocean

Smooth and Rough Breathings:

Click on highlighted word to hear Greek

Click on highlighted Greek words below for a specimen pronunciation.

a0gw&n

 a3lj

e0gw& 

  e#c

i0xqu&j

 i3ppoj

agony

 salt

I

 six

fish

 horse

o0ktw& 

 o(do&j

u3dwr

r9o&don

   

eight

 road

water (hydr-)

rose (rhod-)

   

The Olympians: oi9  0Olu&mpioi

Click on highlighted name to hear Greek

Click on highlighted Greek names below for a specimen pronunciation.
  0Aqh&nh Athena   0Afrodi/th Aphrodite  Zeu&j Zeus
  0Apo&llwn Apollo  Dhmh&thr Demeter    3Hra Hera
  1Arhj Ares  Dio&nusoj Dionysus    3Hfaistoj Hephaistus
  1Artemij Artemis   9Ermh~j Hermes  Poseidw~n Poseidon

Places: oi9 to&poi

Note: the definite article is used in Greek for names, but not translated:

Click on highlighted word to hear Greek

Click on highlighted Greek words for a specimen pronunciation.
  0Asi/a Asia ai9   0Aqh~nai Athens  h( Krh&th Crete
 Eu0rw&ph Europe ai9 Qh~bai Thebes  h(  9Ro&doj Rhodes
  9Ella&j Hellas / Greece oi9 Delfoi/  Delphi  h( Sikeli/a Sicily

 

These words combine with lo&goj, logos, for the names of sciences:

Click on highlighted word to hear Greek

Click on highlighted Greek words below for a specimen pronunciation.
a1nqrwpoj

 with logos

= anthropology : account of humans
bi/oj   = biology   life
gh~  = geology the earth
ko&smoj = cosmology the cosmos
oi}koj = ecology the (home) environment
te/xnh = technology crafts
yuxh&  = psychology the soul

Reading:

e0gw& ei0mi to_  1Alfa kai\ to_  1Wmega, a0rxh_ kai\ te/loj, le/gei ku&rioj  o(  qeo&j.

e0gw& ei0mi

to_  1Alfa kai\ to_  1Wmega,

a0rxh_ kai\ te/loj,

le/gei ku&rioj  o(  qeo&j.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end, says lord the god.

 

 e0n th=| a0rxh=| h]n o( lo&goj, kai\ o( lo&goj h}n pro_j to_n qeo_n kai\ qeo_j h}n o( lo&goj.
In the beginning was the word, and the word was with (the) god and the god was the word.

Exercises:

1(i)

Words with English derivatives: Suggest a derivative for each:

 

 a)riqmo&j  bi/bloj  gumna&sion  dra~ma
 e0pisto&lh  zesto&j  h#lioj  qro&noj
 i3ppoj  kri/sij  le/wn  mo&noj
 ne/ktar  ce/noj  o(ri/zwn  path&r
 r(h&twr  strathgo&j  trau~ma  u#mnoj
 feu&gw

 

 xarakth&r

 

 ya&lma

 

 w#ra

 

Now check your ANSWERS here.


1(ii)
The heroes,
  oi( h#rwej 
Give the names in English
 o(  0Agame/mnwn  o(  Mene/laoj  o(  0Odusseu&j
 o(  0Axilleu&j  o(  Ne/stwr  o(  Pa&rij
 o(  3Ektwr

 

 o(  0Ore/sthj

 

 o(  Pa&trokloj

 

Now check your ANSWERS here


1(iii)
The women,
  ai( gunai=kej 
Give the names in English:
 h(  0Androma&xh  h(  9Ele/nh  h(  0Ifige/nia
 h(  0Antigo&nh  h(  0Hle/ktra  h(  Kasa&ndra
 h(  9Eka&bh 

 

 h(  Mh&deia

 

 h(  Phnelo&ph

 

Now check your ANSWERS here


1(iv)

Some English words combine Greek roots with -graphy

e.g. grafh& - writing or drawing.

 

Give each complete word and its meaning:

 

bi/oj au)to&j - bi/oj gh~
xo&roj

 

kallo&j

 

fw~toj

 

Now check your ANSWERS here


1(v)

Here are the cast lists of two Greek plays:

 

TA TOU DRAMATOS PROSWPA 

The characters of the play

Name the plays and the characters:

 

SOFOKLEOUS   OIDIPOUS TURANNOS
   
OIDIPOUS IOKASTH
IEREUS AGGELOS
KREWN QERAPWN
TEIRESIAS ECAGGELOS
XOROS    gero&ntwn Qhbai/wn

 

EURIPIDOU   IPPOLUTOS

 

 
AFRODITH FAIDRA
IPPOLUTOS AGGELOS
QERAPONTHS QHSEUS
TROFOS ARTEMIS
XOROS    Troizhni/wn gunaikw~n

Now check your ANSWERS here.

Home Contents Words Glossary