Modern Greek/Lesson 14

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Lesson 14: Passive voice, perfect tenses, the verbs βλέπω and λέω, numbers to 1000

Passive voice[edit]

Certain verbs have both active and passive forms:

Παντρεύω. I marry (i.e. perform a wedding in the capacity of a priest, mayor and/or best man/woman).
Παντρεύομαι. I am getting married.

Just as the first-person singular present-tense form, παντρεύω, is used to refer to the active verb in general, so the first-person singular present tense of the passive voice, παντρεύομαι, refers to the passive form in general.


Το κρασί με ζαλίζει. The wine makes me dizzy.
Ζαλίζομαι. I get dizzy.

Sometimes the passive voice is used to express the idea of doing something to oneself, or to describe someone's own physical or mental state:

Κρύβω τα λεφτά. I hide the money.
Κρύβομαι. I hide (myself)
Η μητέρα χτενίζει το παιδί. The mother combs the child's hair.
Η μητέρα χτενίζεται. The mother combs her (own) hair.
Χτενίζω τα μαλλιά μου to comb one's own hair (a lyrical construction)
Πού χτενίζεσαι; Where do you get your hair done?

In many cases, the passive form has a meaning that can't be guessed simply by taking the same concept and making the subject of the verb the recipient of the action. The following are some passive verbs:

βρίσκομαι to be, to be located
γυμνάζομαι drill, train (sports)
διαλύομαι break apart
ετοιμάζομαι get ready
γεννιέμαι be born

Some verbs only exist in the passive voice, for example:

έρχομαι arrive, come
φαίνομαι appear (~"phenomenon")
χρειάζομαι need, require
θυμάμαι remember (~"thymus")
φοβάμαι be afraid (~"phobia")
αισθάνομαι feel (~"aesthetics")
κοιμάμαι sleep
αποκοιμάμαι fall asleep
σκέπτομαι to reflect, to ponder something (~"skeptic")
συλλογιέμαι to think (~"syllogism")
κάθομαι sit
γίνομαι become
δέχομαι receive, accept

The present tense of the passive is conjugated like this:

κοιμάμαι κοιμόμαστε
κοιμάσαι κοιμάστε
κοιμάται κοιμούνται


Η μητέρα αποκοιμίζει το μωρό. The mother puts the baby to sleep.
Το μωρό αποκοιμάται. The baby falls asleep.
Το μωρό και η μητέρα αποκοιμούνται. The baby and the mother fall asleep.

Perfect and Pluperfect[edit]

As in English, the perfect tenses are formed using the helping verb to have.

The Perfect tense (same as Present Perfect in English) is called Παρακείμενος (parakeimenos, "being close") is formed by the verb έχω in present tense followed by the third person singular of the past subjunctive of the verb. The past subjunctive is formed by the aorist stem plus the suffix -ει.

Έχω γραψει. I have written.
Έχουμε γραψει. We have written.

The Pluperfect tense (same as Past Perfect in English) is called Υπερσυντέλικος (hypersyndelikos, "hyper-perfect") is formed by the verb έχω in past tense followed by the third person singular of the past subjunctive of the verb

Είχα γραψει. I had written.
Είχαμε γραψει. We had written.
Είχε αποχαιρετήσει τη γυναικα του. He had said goodbye to his wife.

Future Perfect[edit]

Future Perfect is another future tense, which is formed with the word θα preceding the Perfect tense and signifies that in a moment in the future, an action will be a thing of the past. Its Greek name is συντελεσμένος μέλλοντας (syndelesmenos melondas) and it is equivalent to the Future Perfect in English.

Θα έχω γράψει. I will have written.

Note that in Greek there is no equivalent to the Future Perfect Continuous tense. Both meanings are expressed with Future Perfect and usually the actual nuance is derived from the neighboring words.

Θα έχω γράψει. I will have written.
Θα έχω γράψει. I will have been writing.

Due to the lack of Future Perfect Continuous, very often the phrase is changed to Future Continuous.

No Greek equivalent. I will have been waiting for two hours when the plane arrives.
The phrase changes to
Θα περιμένω δύο ώρες μέχρι να έρθει το αεροπλάνο. I will be waiting for two hours until the plane arrives.

The irregular verb βλέπω, to see[edit]

The present tense is regular:

βλέπω βλέπουμε
βλέπεις βλέπετε
βλέπει βλέπουν

The aorist uses a stem that is related to the English word "kaleidoscope:"

είδα είδαμε
είδες είδατε
είδε είδαν

The irregular verb λέω, to say[edit]


λέω λέμε
λες λέτε
λέει λένε

Aorist past:

είπα είπαμε
είπες είπατε
είπε είπαν

Numbers to 1000[edit]

εκατό 100
διακόσια 200
τριακόσια 300
τετρακόσια 400
πεντακόσια 500
εξακόσια 600
επτακόσια (coll. εφτακόσια) 700
οκτακόσια (coll. οχτακόσια) 800
εννιακόσια 900
χίλια 1000
δυο χιλιάδες 2000

The battle of Thermopylae/Η μάχη των Θερμοπυλών[edit]

Η μάχη των Θερμοπυλών


η μάχη the battle
ο πόλεμος the war (~"polemic")
πολεμώ to fight
η ειρήνη the peace (~"Irene," "irenic")
προ Χριστού, π.Χ. before Christ
βάλλω to shoot (in ancient Greek, 'to throw')
εισβάλλω to invade (from εις + βάλλω, 'throw in')
η Περσία Persia
ο Πέρσης the Persian
η Σπάρτη Sparta
ο Σπαρτιάτης the Spartan
ο στρατός the army (~"strategy")
το βέλος the arrow
το τόξο the bow
το σπαθί the sword
κρύβω hide
εναντίον (+genitive) against
ενάντια σε (+accusative)
κρατώ γερά stand fast (lit. "hold strong")
επιβραδύνω to slow down (επί+βραδύς)


Much of the following reading was adapted from the Wikipedia article Μάχη των Θερμοπυλών (Battle of Thermopylae).

Το 484 π.Χ., ο βασιλιάς Δαρείος της Περσίας εισέβαλε στην Ελλάδα. Ενάντια σε 200.000 Πέρσες, υπήρχαν 4.000 Έλληνες υπό το βασιλιά Λεωνίδα της Σπάρτης. In 484 B.C., King Darius of Persia invaded Greece. Against 200,000 Persians, there were 4,000 Greeks under King Leonidas of Sparta.
Ο Λεωνίδας αποχαιρετούσε τη γυναίκα του, τη Γοργώ. Η Γοργώ τον ρώτησε τι πρέπει να κάνει τώρα που αυτός φεύγει. Της απάντησε ότι πρέπει να βρει ένα καλό άνδρα να συνεχίσει τη ζωή της. Leonidas was saying farewell to his wife, Gorgo. Gorgo asked him what she should do now that he was leaving. He replied that she should find a good man and continue her life.
Στο Στενό των Θερμοπυλών οι Έλληνες περίμεναν τους Πέρσες. Οι Πέρσες τους είδαν: Δεν καταλάβαιναν γιατί χτενίζαν τα μαλλιά τους και γυμνάζονταν. Ήταν γιατί περίμεναν το θάνατο. At the Pass of Thermopylae, the Greeks were waiting for the Persians. The Persians saw them: They couldn't understand why they were combing their hair and taking exercise. It was because they were expecting death.
Δεν υπήρχε φόβος. Έκαναν το μοναδικό πράγμα που ήξεραν. Να πολεμάνε. Είχε γίνει η ζωή τους. Οταν κάποιος είπε πως είχε δεί τον περσικό στρατό και τα βέλη τους έκρυβαν τον ήλιο, ένας Σπαρτιάτης είπε: Ωραία, τότε θα πολεμήσουμε υπό σκιά. There was no fear. They were doing the only thing they knew. To fight. It had become their life. When someone said he had seen the Persian army and their arrows were hiding the sun, a Spartan said: Nice, then we will fight in the shade.
Οι Έλληνες κράτησαν για πεντε μέρες. Όταν τα σπαθιά τους διαλύθηκαν, πολέμησαν με τα χέρια και τα δόντια. Η μάχη των Θερμοπυλών επιβράδυνε τους Πέρσες, και η Ελλάδα μπόρεσε να ετοιμαστεί για να πολεμήσει. Το 479 π.Χ., οι Πέρσες έφυγαν από την Ελλάδα. The Greeks held out for five days. When their swords broke, they fought with their hands and teeth. The battle of Thermopylae slowed down the Persians, and Greece was able to get ready to fight. In 479 B.C., the Persians retreated from Greece.

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