Greece is a popular travel destination. As in most European countries, it is not difficult to meet someone who speaks English or even Italian. However, the travel experience will be intensified by learning to say some of the simpler phrases in Greek. Even just knowing how to express the most common expressions, such as greetings, will positively influence the way you will be treated. Read on and follow the tips in this article to learn how to say hello in Greek.
Part 1 of 2: Say Hello
Step 1. Say "Yassou" (phonetic transcription gh'A su)
This greeting is best suited for informal situations where you feel you can greet a person with a "Hello". Express your greeting by smiling in a friendly way. Remember that the correct pronunciation may differ slightly from the phonetic transcription proposed by dictionaries; sometimes it will be more like "ghia-su", others closer to "ia-su". Also, note that in more informal contexts you can even just say a friendly "Ya" (phonetic transcription gh'A).
- In formal situations, or when you want to informally greet two or more people at a time, say "Yassas" (phonetic transcription gh'A sas). Use the formal version when addressing a stranger or an elderly person.
- Technically, the more informal "Yassou" would be more suitable for people you know and those much younger than you. In practice, however, you will hear both greetings used interchangeably, so you don't have to worry too much about choosing the "correct" one.
Step 2. Say hello with "Herete"
Say it "E-re-te". The term "herete" can be used in both formal and informal situations. This greeting is commonly used between 10am and 2pm.
Step 3. Say hello according to the time
As in many other cultures, also in Greece it is customary to choose one's greeting based on the time of day: morning, afternoon or evening. You can use the greeting "Yassou" or "Yassas" at almost any time of the day, but the following phrases are more appropriate.
- Kalimera (καλημέρα): "Good morning" (kalimEra phonetic transcription). Use this greeting when you arrive or when you leave a place or event.
- Kalispera (καλησπέρα): "Good afternoon" or "Good evening" (phonetic transcription kalispEra). Use it only when you meet a person or arrive at a place in the afternoon or evening hours.
- Kalinikta (καληνύχτα): "Goodnight" (kalinIkhta phonetic transcription). Use this greeting only to say goodbye in the evening or at night.
Step 4. Learn about the way Greeks greet each other
Greek people tend to greet each other in an open and spontaneous way; However, there are some stark differences between a formal and an informal greeting. Use open, casual body language. Try to make eye contact and smile at both friends and strangers.
- Don't bow and try to kiss the other person's cheek. The first approach is too formal and the second could be considered excessive.
- Don't try to shake hands with the person in front of you, unless they offer it to you. Handshaking is not a widespread habit in Greece; certainly not among friends or locals.
Part 2 of 2: Learning other phrases
Step 1. Learn to say goodbye in the Greek language
Use these greetings appropriately: at the end of the day or a conversation.
- Say hello by saying "Antio" (phonetic transcription adIo). Say the greeting with emphasis on the letter "i". This is the common farewell greeting.
- Say hello by saying "Ya", this term can mean either "hello" or "goodbye".
Step 2. Ask the locals if they speak your language
"Milate …?" (milAte phonetic transcription) means "Do you speak…?" Add the Greek word for your language to build a meaningful sentence. In some cases, conversing in your native language or another European language that you both know could be of great help.
- Italian: "Milate Italika?"
- English: "Milate Agglika '?"
- French: "Milate Gallika '?"
- German: "Milate Germanika '?"
- Spanish: "Milate Ispanika '?"
Step 3. Ask questions
Being able to ask some of the more common questions might be helpful. Your interactions may escalate and go beyond a simple hello. However, remember that you may have difficulty understanding the answers!
- Question "Pos ise?" to ask "How are you?".
- Question "Ti kanis" (phonetic transcription tI kAnis) to ask "What are you doing?".
- Use "Are you kneeling?" to ask "What's going on?".
- Use "Esi?" to answer a question with "What about you?"
Step 4. Talk about yourself
If someone asks you how you are, it may be helpful to answer with a qualifying adverb such as "good" or "bad". "I" in Greek is "Ego". "You" is said "Esi".
- Well: Kala (kalA phonetic transcription).
- I don't feel well: "Den eimai kala".
- Not good: Okhi kala.
- Yes: "Ne" (phonetic pronunciation nE).
- No: "Okhi" (phonetic pronunciation Okh'i).
- Stay calm. Don't appear tense or frustrated if you have trouble making yourself understood. The Greeks are known for their hospitality and will offer to help you as soon as they understand your request.
- Use your notes as little as possible. Try to use the words and phrases stored in your memory. Your spontaneity in communication will greatly benefit.