Are you traveling through Greece and wondering how to greet the locals in this beautiful country? Or maybe you already learned about Kaliméra before, but notice that the Greeks reply to you saying something different? Unfortunately, there are many ways of greeting in Greek. Here is an overview of the most important ones. Combined with how to pronounce them, as well as how to use them properly.
Kaliméra, kalispéra and kaliníchta.
In Greek, kali means good. Opposite to kako, which means bad. You pronounce kali with an “a” like in the one in already. The “i” is more like the ee in see. Ka – lee.
Méra, spéra, and níchta are the different parts of the day. Respectively, morning, evening, and night. In Greek, there is no distinguishment between morning and afternoon when it comes to greetings. Basically, you use méra when it is light outside, and in the dark, you use spéra.
Good to know is that greeting someone in Greek with kaliníchta is not done. While this word is super close to the other two, it is only solely used to end the night. Good night, and sleep well.
In kaliméra and kalispéra, the “e” is like the ones in here or ever. The tone on top means these letters are emphasized when pronouncing the whole world. In Greek, however, this does not mean the e-sound becomes different. You kind of have to say the part of the word that has the tone more slowly than the rest of the letter. Saying it slightly louder might also work.
The “a” in both spéra and méra, is again like the one in kali. Ka-lee-ME-ra, and Ka-lee-SPE-ra. In which the “me” is not like the English me, but much shorter.
Kaliníchta is slightly more difficult to pronounce. Nicht is like night, with an “i” like the ee in see, and a g-sound that is not known in the English language. The sound is like Bach, the father of music. Whose name is continuously mispronounced as well. Ka-lee-NEE-chta.
The easy way of greeting is Yia
Don’t want to make things complicated during your holiday but still want to try out some Greek greeting words? Use Yia sas!
Yia sas means hello, and is used for either greeting many people, or greeting a single person politely. There is no distinguishment between the times of the day, and to make it even more friendly for foreigners, yia sas also be used when you leave a store or tavern. Hello, goodbye, and thank you all combined in one word!
The only situation in which yia sas can not be used as a way to greet a Greek is when you say hi to a single person you know. In this case, sas is either replaced with sou or completely left out. However, as a tourist who visits Greece for a holiday, this situation is rare.
Yia sas is not only easy to use, but it is also easy to pronounce. Yia is like “jah” in jahoo. And have you watched Outlander? The first part of Sassenach perfectly matches the pronunciation of sas. Jah-sas. Remember this one!
Curious about more easy Greek words to use during your stay in Greece? Check out our 10 Greek words you should know when traveling in Greece. Or leave a comment below!
Frequently asked questions
Yia sas, or Jah-sas is used to greet multiple people in Greek or politely greeting a single one. Yia sou is used for a friend or other person you know well. Yia sas can also be used to say goodbye or thank you, although it is better to use antio or eufharisto.
Méra means day, and spéra means evening. Kaliméra is used to greet the Greeks during the day, between sunrise and sunset. Kalispéra is a way to greet each other in de dark.
Unlike good morning and good evening, kaliníchta, good night, is not used as a way to great people. Kaliníchta is used to end the night, like sleep well.
The Greek language is not easy to learn for foreigners. In fact, Greek is one of the hardest languages to learn for English speakers. The first struggle is the Greek alphabet, but also the grammar makes it very difficult to speak correctly. Luckily, the Greeks are friendly enough to award you for trying. Even the easiest Greek words are appreciated by the locals, making learning the language really rewarding.
Then meelao Ellinika. Greece in Greek is Ellada, or Hellas, and has had this name since ancient times. Greece is the name that the Romans gave to Hellada. Why? This is something that remains unknown today.