Greeks love it when a foreigner tries to speak some Greek words. This is what get’s you invited into the real Greek culture. And although the Greek language is far from easy and even confusing, don’t be afraid to try to speak some words. Here are 10 simple but useful Greek words and sayings that will get you into the Greek culture:
Yia sas or Yia sou
Yia sas means hello! But why are there two? Well, the Greeks are either very polite or their language is super confusing. Where yia sas means hello to multiple people, with yia sou you’re saying hello to just a single person. To make things more complicated, when entering a Greek store with just one person in the shop, you still use yia sas, I guess for the people that will work the next day? No. Sas is used as you for both multiple people, as well as the polite form of the singular you. Luckily, leaving with andio is always correct!
Efcharistó and Parakaló
Efharisto is thank you and parakaló means either you’re welcome or please. Again these words are different when multiple people are involved. Say efharistoúme and parakaloúme when traveling with multiple people.
Nai, oxi, and entaxi
Super confusing is that nai means yes, although it may sound like a negative answer. Oxi is no and entaxi is ok. Some locals might say something closer to dax as short for ok.
Kaliméra, kalispera and kalinychta
Kaliméra is good morning, kalispera is good evening and kalinychta is good night. But be aware that Greeks live according to Greek time! Meaning that kaliméra is actually used till the sun goes down, even in summer. Kalispera is used when it’s dark, even when it’s night. And kalinychta is there for when you go to sleep.
Logariasmós or pliróso
When you want to leave the restaurant and you are ready to pay, you can either say that you want the bill, to logariasmós, or that you want to pay, na pliróso. Paying with multiple people will again result in a different word, plirosoume. Combine these two with the next sentence and the Greeks will like you!
I would like in Greek is tha íthela. During your stay in Greece you can use tha íthela when ordering drinks or food, asking for the bill, or in a shop. If you say tha íthela aftó, and then point to whatever thing it is you want, you can be polite to the Greeks without even speaking Greek.
I hope this word will not be useful to you during your holiday in Greece, however, it is best to know it. Voítheia means help in Greek. Always good to remember in case something goes wrong during your stay.
You will hear Greek moms saying this word all the time. But when someone says this to you, he or she is trying to prevent you from some accident to happen. Próseche means be careful or watch out.
Sygnómi or lypámai
Excuse me or sorry. But how to use them in the Greek way is a bit difficult. When you bump into someone on the street, you can use sygnómi. Ordering food and wanting the waitress’s attention? You can say lypon. When you want to say I am sorry, it is lypámai. And excuse me will be me synchoreíte. Maybe easiest to stick to sygnómi and the Greeks will understand what you mean.
Siga siga as a word does not have a translation. One siga means slow, but when this word is used two times it is a mental state more than a speed limit. Siga Siga is the way of living in Greece, it means don’t rush. Relax, and enjoy the journey as much as the destination. When a Greek tells you siga siga, you’re probably too stressed, so slow down!
Are you curious about other useful words and sayings in Greek? Leave a comment below and we will help you to translate or explain them!
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