Modern Greek/Lesson 2b

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Cases, Genders and Number[edit]

Greek has three genders: masculine, feminine and neuter.

The gender of the noun may or may not be a reflection of its gender in real life. In the case of animals and people, which both have easily defined genders, it follows. But there are many occasions where it makes no sense at all. The gender is just a grammatical feature of the language.

Whereas in English only pronouns have cases (I/me/my), in Greek all nouns have four cases (κλίσεις), which are indicated by changing their endings. The endings provide a clue to the nouns grammatical role in the sentence.

nominative (ονομαστική) used when the noun is the subject of a verb
genitive (γενική) used to indicate possession
accusative (αιτιατική) used when the noun is the object of a verb or preposition
vocative (κλητική) used when the noun is being addressed

Ancient Greek had separate cases for direct objects (the accusative) and indirect objects (the dative), but in modern Greek a single case is used for both (except in a few cases where the genitive, rather than the accusative, is used for indirect objects).

Number just gives an idea of the how many of the noun are involved. Number is either Singular or Plural.

The concepts of all the cases are introduced below. But only the nominative, subject, and accusative, object, are presented for the moment in the lesson. The other two cases follow shortly.

The sentence uses articles. Articles are always present in english. Articles come in two varieties definite and indefinite. The definite article is: the for both singular and plural. As the name implies, gives an indication of a specific object or person. The indefinite articles are: a or some in the plural. Once again the name indicates the role in grammar. If we simply consider the difference between the bag and a bag, it becomes clear. The bag implies a bag that those in the conversation are familiar with. Whereas a bag implies just a bag that no one is necessarily knows anything about. The plural indefinite article does not exist in Greek.

The use of articles is different to English. Articles are used more often in Greek than in English. They are even used before names.

Before getting into the precise details let us present an example of the cases in English.

Case Nominative Accusative Genitive
The man has the bag of the girl

The sentence could also be expressed as: The man has the girl's bag. "girl's" is still the genitive case. The form used above is closer to the Greek. The following sentence uses a vocative.

Case Vocative Nominative Accusative
Jack, I love you

Masculine nouns[edit]

Σκύλος, dog, is a masculine noun. Note the different forms of the definite article.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative ο σκύλος the dog οι σκύλοι the dogs
Accusative το(ν) σκύλο the dog τους σκύλους the dogs

Audio recording: About this sound Modern_greek_2a.ogg This recording was made by a non-native speaker of Greek. We would be grateful to any native speaker who could redo it.

The ending -ος is the most common one for masculine nouns, and σκύλος demonstrates their regular pattern. Another noun in -oς is άνθρωπος (e.g. anthropology), human/man


Ο σκύλος δαγκώνει τον άνθρωπο. The dog bites the man.
Ο άνθρωπος δαγκώνει το σκύλο. The man bites the dog.

Audio recording: About this sound Modern_greek_2b.ogg This recording was made by a non-native speaker of Greek. We would be grateful to any native speaker who could redo it.

Although -ος is by far the most common ending for masculine nouns, there are others, including -ας as in πατέρας, father, and -ης, as in ναύτης, sailor. These will be discussed in lesson 3.


Ο σκύλος δαγκώνει τον πατέρα. The dog bites the father.

Feminine nouns[edit]

The noun Η ώρα (the hour, the time) is shown below:

Case Singular Plural
Nominative η ώρα the hour οι ώρες the hours
Accusative την ώρα the hour τις ώρες the hours

Audio recording: About this sound Modern_greek_2c.ogg This recording was made by a non-native speaker of Greek. We would be grateful to any native speaker who could redo it.

Neuter nouns[edit]

Το παιδί (the child) is an example of a neuter noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative το παιδί the child τα παιδιά the children
Accusative το παιδί the child τα παιδιά the children

Below is an example of a sentence using the noun.

Tο παιδί έχει το σκύλο The child has the dog.