Greek Language Grammar

First, a few notes about large-scale Modern Greek syntax: An affirmative sentence in Greek follows the SVO pattern (Subject, Verb, Object), just like in English.

However, the SVO structure is considerably more relaxed in Greek than in English.

Greek has richer morphology than English, so it is usually quite clear which noun denotes the subject and which one the object, because of their morphological endings (subjects have nominative case endings, objects have accusative case endings, possessors have genitive case endings), and of the articles that precede them (again, articles change according to case).

That is not to say one can jumble subjects, verbs, and objects in Greek, and still come up with a valid sentence.

Rather, one may assume that the normal structure is very similar to the one in English (often a word-for-word translation will not be far from an accurate one), but one should not be surprised if one encounters a sentence with slightly different order; if that happens, it will be for purposes of emphasis.

Interrogative and negative sentences may appear under different patterns (VOS, VSO, etc.). In Ancient Greek, particularly in Classic, the pattern SOV was more common than SVO.

Greek language, like all of the older Indo-European languages, is highly inflected. For example nouns (including proper nouns) have five cases (nominative, genitive, dative, accusative and vocative), three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), and three numbers (singular, dual and plural).

Greek nouns decline (change form) according to case (nominative, accusative, genitive, and vocative) and number (singular and plural).

Verbs have four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and optative), three voices (active, middle and passive), as well as three persons (first, second and third) and various other forms. Modern Greek is one of the few Indo-European languages that has retained a synthetic passive.

The second person singular is used to address friends, relatives and children. The second person plural is used when speaking to a group of friends, relatives or children, but it is also used as the formal singular form to express respect.

There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet: 17 consonants and 7 vowels. It was adapted from the Phoenician alphabet approximately 3,000 years ago. Greek was the first alphabet to use letters for both consonants and vowel sounds: before that, only the consonants were written.

Greek language is currently written from left to right, although this wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, it could be written from right to left and even in alternating directions on each line!

Read more about the Greek Grammar:

Greece Index