Kefalonian Roots        Genealogical Services for Kefalonia, Greece


A  Small  Greek  Grammar  for  

Family  History  Researchers




The purpose of this Small Greek Grammar is to assist the family researcher in the reading of Greek genealogical literature.  By no means is this a complete grammar, but it will present basic grammar points, which the family historian may find helpful in his research. 

If, as a researcher, you know of grammar points, which you believe may be beneficial to others, please feel free to e-mail them to Kefalonian Roots at  being sure to write on the Subject Line:  Grammar Points – Add and in the Signature:  your name and e-mail address.  Kefalonian Roots would be happy to add any genealogically useful grammar points to the list.

Throughout this section, the subtitles will be presented in both English and Greek.  This is so that those who do not know Greek can have an optical experience with the Greek language.

                                   Greek  Alphabet – Ελληνικό  Αλφάβητο

Αα,  Ββ,  Γγ,  Δδ, Εε,  Ζζ,  Ηη,  Θθ,  Ιι,  Κκ,  Λλ,  Μμ,  Νν,  Ξξ,  Οο,  Ππ,

Ρρ,  Σσ,ς,  Ττ,  Υυ,  Φφ,  Χχ,  Ψψ,  Ωω


            There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet.  Many are similar in character and sound to the English letters.    


The vowels are:    αεηιουω      η = long e in English   ω = long o in English


The consonants are:     βγδζθκλμνξπρσ (-ς),  τφχψ,

      Note:  When "s" is used within the word it is written   "σ",  when used at the end of a word, it is written   ". 


                            Pronunciation with Nearest English Equivalent Vowels


Nearest English Equivalent

η  ι  υ  ει  οι                          beat
e     ai                         bet
a                         butt
o     ω                         bought
ou                         boot
au        af                       cuff
 au           av                       love
eu        ef                       chef
eu        ev                       ever



Β   β                            οver
Γ   γ             Spanish  fuego / yield
Δ   δ                           father
Ζ    ζ                             lazy
Θ   θ                           author
Κ   κ                             skin
Λ   λ                           leave
μ                              may
Ν   ν                              not
Ξ   ξ                              box
Π   π                        spin
Ρ   ρ                         three
Σ    σ,    ς                         see
Σ   σ                               before voiced consonants                              lazy
Τ    τ                        stick
Φ    φ                               fat
Χ    χ                    Scottish    Loch
 Ψ   ψ                         taps


Consonant Digraphs, Diphthongs, And The Nearest English Equivalent


Greek Digraph  Diphthongs                                                 Nearest English Equivalent


      Γγ                                                                                             finger

      Γξ                                                                                            sphinx                 

      Γκ                                                                                            get

      Μπ                                                                                           bet

      Ντ                                                                                            do

      Τζ                                                                                            Janet

      Τς                                                                                            chair




In the Greek written language, the accented syllable has an accent mark written over it.  This accent mark is called a tόnos - τόνος.

Example - Παράδειγμα

            Child  =  παιδί  (pe - thi)  the ai = short e sound,  the δ = th as in this and the i = long y sound, and accented in this word.  Before the early 1980’s the Greek language was in the Katharevousa form, and used several different accent marks on one word, but since 1981, the Monotonic system has been in use and utilizes only the (‘) “tonos”, accent mark, on multi-syllable words. 


                                                   PUNCTUATION MARKS - ΤΑ ΣΗΜΕΙΑ ΤΗΣ ΣΤΙΞΗ

            For all practical purposes, the punctuation marks are basically the same in both languages.  The two that may be of concern to the researcher are the:

Question Mark  -  Ερωτηματικό

English    ?            Greek    ;

And the Quotation Marks  -  Εισαγωγικά

English  “and”            Greek      και


                                               Important Words  -  Σημαντικές Λέξεις

     The Greek word for Greece is, Eλλάδα; Ελλάς – geographic name

     The Greek words for Greeks are (feminine) Ελληνίδες and (masculine) Έλληνες.

     The Greek words for Greek are (feminine) Ελληνική, (masculine) Ελληνικός and ( neuter) Ελληνικό




                                                         Professions - Eπαγγέλματα

            The words for professions or jobs are useful to the researcher.  Below are a few words, which one may find in the records.

                                                    Jobs  -  Επαγγέλματα

What he works with:                                                                His profession:


Eng.                Gk.              Pronunciation                        Gk.                Pronunciation


Flour            αλεύρι                  (alevri)                              αλευράς                (alevras)

Boat             βάρκα                   (varka)                             βαρκάρης               (vakaris)

Charcoal    κάρβουνo               (carvoono)                     καρβουνιάρης              (carvooniaris)

Iron            σίδερο                   (sithero)                             σιδεράς                 (sitheras)

Library      βιβλιοθήκη              (vivliothiki)                    βιβλιοθηκάριος             (vivliothikarios)

Farm          αγρόκτημα           (agroktima)                         αγρότης                  (agrotis) 

                                                                                          γεωργός              (georgos)

Store            μαγαζί                 (magazi)                             έμπορος               (emporos)


Selling meat πωλάει κρέας     polai kreas)                          κρεοπώλης              (kreopolis)


Pharmacy  φαρμακείον          (pharmakion)                  φαρμακοπιός             (pharmakopios)


Selling fruits πωλάιε φρούτα   (polai fruita)                      μαναβής                   (manavis) 

and Veg.     και   λαχανικά      kay  lahanika)                                                 green grocer

Medicine    ιατρική                 (iatriki)                                ιατρός                 (iatros)  doctor  


The Greek grammar is very complicated.  There is so much that could be presented; obviously this is impossible. If one finds that he would like to learn more about Greek grammar, there are many good books available at the bookstore.  The following section will present information on the nouns, explaining a few examples, which would be of interest to the researcher.




            The Greek nouns are of three genders, Masculine, Feminine, Neuter.  For the researcher it is most important to understand the masculine and feminine endings of names.         



      Given Name   -   Όνομα


            Masculine – Αρσενικά                                Feminine    -   Θηλυκά

            Most male names end in:                             Most female names end in:


                   -oς,  -ης,                                       -ita,  -ούλα,  -ία,   -η,   -ίνα,   -κή  -όta,  -να


Evaggelos –Ευάγγελος                                           Helen     Έλενα                      

 Panagis  -   Παναγής                                         Panayiota  -   Παναγιότα



      Surname   -   Επώνυμο


          -ος,  ης,  -ας,  -ου,  -ακης                                       -ου,  -η,  -α,  -ου,  -άκη


       The above endings are in a series in which the feminine endings on the right correspond to the masculine endings on the left.


.              Ex.           Masculine                                           Feminine 

                    Vallianos   -  Βαλλιάνος                      Vallianou  -   Βαλλιάνου

                    Kambitsis  -  Καμπίτσης                      Kambitsi   -   Καμπίτση

                    Halikas      -  Χάλικας                          Halika       -   Χάλικα

                 Papandreou  -  Παπανδρέου                 Papandreou  -   Παπανδρέου

                   Mazarakis  -  Μαζαράκης                     Μazaraki   -   Μαζαράκη


On this topic, the important thing to know is that the endings of the masculine and feminine surnames of a married couple, siblings and other relatives will vary according to the gender.


       Grammar to show possession or belonging:

    On official papers one can see the following.

Masculine - Αρσενικά

The daughter of Spiros          Η θυγατέρα του Σπύρου.


In Greek, the masculine object of the preposition, in this case showing possession, is written with “ou” at the end.                     EX:     του = of  (masculine)      του  Σπύρου

The ending on the noun is in the possessive case – instead of Spiros – nominative case, it is written Spirou – possessive case.



Feminine - Θηλυά

 The daughter of Elaine             Η κόρη της Ελένης

The daughter of Katherine       Η κόρη της Κατερίνας


In Greek the feminine object of the preposition, in this case showing possession, is written with an “ς” at the end.                     EX:     της =  of   (feminine)   της Ελένης     της  Κατερίνας.         

The ending on the noun is in the possessive case – instead of Ελένη or Κατερίνα -  the nominative case,   is  Ελένης  οΚατερίνας. – possessive case.



 Information of showing possession


Also in the Greek records, the possessive form of the father’s name always follows a person’s name, so that the person is identified with the correct family.  Ex: so as not to confuse Gerasimos Mazarakis, whose father is Kostantinos, with Gerasimos Mazarakis whose father is Panagis, the name is written Gerasimos Mazarakis tou Kostantinou or Gerasimos Mazarakis tou Panagi. This is found even on the name in an address of a letter from a business or government agency.  This is true of masculine and feminine names.   Ex.  Kristina Synodinou tou Spirou, or Elena Rizou  tou  Gerasimou.

On all official documents, identification cards, life event certificates, diplomas etc. the mother’s name also appears, in the possessive case – της Ελένης, της Κατερίνας.


  Greek – European method of writing the date:

  Ελληνικό – Ευρωπαϊκό μέθοδo για το γραψιμό της ημερομηνίας


            One will find that all dates are written    day/ month/ year    It is believed that this is the logical series, going from the day to the more encompassing time period, the month and then to the larger time period, the year.  This can be confusing for people who write the date, month/day/year.





 Μανόλη Τριανταφυλλίδη, ΝΕΟΕΛΛΗΝΙΚΗ  ΓΡΑΜΜΑΤΙΚΗ, Αθήνα, Οργανισμός Εκδόσεως Διδακτικών Βιβλίων, 1996.


Note – Σημείωμα :

Anyone planning to read many Greek genealogical documents is advised to purchase a Greek - English dictionary and a Greek grammar book. 



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