Most of us have found ourselves in a place where we have the sudden urge to learn how to correctly pronounce that word or sing along to that otherwise completely incomprehensible song. So, we want to learn that language. We search the internet for apps, videos, e-books, and other resources. And thus begins our epic learning journey.
Indeed, it is all fun and games, until you reach the moment of truth: grammar. A new world opens up before you: tenses, conjugations, suffixes, irregular verbs, auxiliary verbs, you name it. It may seem daunting at first glance – and we totally understand why – but that is no reason to give up hope.
The Logic Behind Conjugation: How Does It Work in Greek
Before we get started with our Greek conjugation practice tips, let’s first define conjugation and how it works in Modern Greek.
Let’s not be intimidated by the word “conjugation” itself. It is, in fact, a common practice even in English. Conjugation depicts all of the modifications that can occur to a verb in order to describe changes based on:
The conjugation groups are formed as a result of these changes. Each language may have one or more of these groups. The Greek conjugation groups are actually two, and fairly easy to master.
- Εγώ έχω έναν σκύλο. (I have a dog.)
- Αυτή έχει μια γάτα. (She has a cat.)
The verbs in the example above are conjugated based on all five of the aforementioned characteristics. Both verbs exhibit the following characteristics: indicative mood, active voice, present tense, and singular number. However, without the distinction in the suffices “-ω” and “-ει”, we cannot understand the person of the verb.
Now, let’s dive deeper into the details of Greek conjugation.
Greek Verb Paradigm: First Steps Towards Mastering Greek Verb Conjugation
Greek grammar is not as difficult as you might believe. Nonetheless, the Modern Greek language has eight tenses, two voices, and five moods. It may also appear difficult to pay attention to the number, person, different types of affixes, and auxiliary verbs. A flawless Greek conjugation practice strategy is the key to mastering all of these.
Master the Personal Pronouns
Mastering the personal pronoun is the first step before moving on to the most common verb conjugation groups. Before you can learn the inflections for person and number, you must first learn how to express them. For the personal pronoun, see this Greek conjugation chart:
|1st Person Singular||εγώ||/e’γο/||I|
|2nd Person Singular||εσύ||/e’si/||you (sing.)|
|3rd Person Singular||αυτός / αυτή / αυτό||/a’ftos/, /a’fti/, /a’fto/||he / she / it|
|1st Person Plural||εμείς||/e’mis/||we|
|2nd Person Plural||εσείς||/e’sis/||you (pl.)|
|3rd Person Plural||αυτοί / αυτές / αυτά||/a’fti/, /a’ftes/, /a’fta/||they (male / female / neutral)|
Note: if you need help with the International Phonetic Alphabet for Greek, check out this site.
Cover the Basics: to be (είμαι), to have (έχω)
Before learning any other Greek verbs, start with the fundamentals: the verbs to have and to be in Greek. The verb to have in Greek also doubles as an auxiliary verb, making it a crucial verb for the perfect tenses. The verb to be, on the other hand, is the most common – and easiest – irregular verb on the list.
Check out this conjugation chart for the verb “είμαι”:
|Είμαι (Present Tense)||To Be (Present Tense)|
|Εγώ είμαι||I am|
|Εσύ είσαι||You are|
|Αυτός/Αυτή/Αυτό είναι||He/She/It is|
|Εμείς είμαστε||We are|
|Εσείς είστε||You are|
|Αυτοί/Αυτές/Αυτά είναι||They are|
On the other hand, the verb “έχω” (to have) is commonly conjugated according to the rules of Conjugation Group A.
|Έχω (Present Tense)||To Have (Present Tense)|
|Εγώ έχω||I have|
|Εσύ έχεις||You have|
|Αυτός/Αυτή/Αυτό έχει||He/She/It has|
|Εμείς έχουμε||We have|
|Εσείς έχετε||You have|
|Αυτοί/Αυτές/Αυτά έχουν(ε)||They have|
As you can see, each verb type in Greek changes depending on the subject. It may appear difficult at first, but by following a few rules and learning the common inflections, it will become second nature!
Have a Look Ahead: Greek Grammar Basics (Moods, Tenses, Voices)
Another piece of information to keep in mind is the different categories that affect each verb form. It is critical to understand the various moods, tenses, and voices in Greek. It will also help you a lot with your Greek conjugation practice.
There are only two (2) grammatical voices in Greek verbs (without delving further into linguistic semantics):
- Active Voice (Ενεργητική Φωνή)
- Passive Voice (Παθητική Φωνή)
Furthermore, Greek has a total of three (3) moods or five (5) moods, if we include the participle and the infinitive. Namely:
- Indicative (Οριστική Έγκλιση)
- Subjunctive (Υποτακτική Έγκλιση)
- Imperative (Προστακτική Έγκλιση)
- Participle (Μετοχή)
- Infinitive (Απαρέμφατο)
Finally, Greek has a total of eight (8) tenses. The Greek tenses are the following:
|Past Tenses||Παρατατικός||Past Continuous|
|Future Tenses||Στιγμιαίος Μέλλοντας||Future Simple|
|Εξακολουθητικός Μέλλοντας||Future Continuous|
|Perfect Tenses||Παρακείμενος||Present Perfect|
|Συντελεσμένος Μέλλοντας||Future Perfect|
These may appear to be a lot, but we promise you’ll get the hang of it quickly!
Tip: You can find a comprehensive guide to Greek Verb Conjugations here.
Learn the Suffixes: Verb Conjugation Groups
After you’ve mastered the fundamentals of Greek grammar, you should move on to the most crucial aspect of conjugation: Greek morphological inflections.
There are two (2) conjugation groups in modern Greek (excluding the irregular verbs). There is a fairly easy rule of thumb for splitting the verbs into these categories. You should ask yourself: “Is the final letter in the active voice accentuated?”. If the answer is no, you have yourself a Group A verb; if it is yes, you should check Group B.
Let’s review the Greek present active indicative suffixes from the two groups.
Conjugation Group A
|Active Voice||Passive Voice|
Conjugation Group B
The conjugation group B is further split into two classes.
|Active Voice||Passive Voice|
|-ώ / -άω||-ιέμαι|
|-άμε / -ούμε||-ιόμαστε|
|-άτε||-ιέστε / -ιόσαστε|
|Active Voice||Passive Voice 1||Passive Voice 2||Passive Voice 3|
The second and third versions in the passive voice of the second class contain verbs derived from various Ancient Greek roots. This is nothing to be concerned about right now. Begin by learning the main suffixes, and everything else will fall into place.
The Struggle of Greek Irregular Verbs
The time for paradigm exceptions has arrived. Irregular verbs are widely despised and, I believe, misunderstood. In contrast to the strict rules of regular verbs, irregular verbs exhibit significant differences. Some of the most common Greek irregular verbs are:
- Είμαι (/’ime/, to be)
- Έχω (/’eχo/, to have)
- Λέω (/’leo/, to say)
- Πηγαίνω (/pi’jeno/, to go)
- Βλέπω (/’vlepo/, to see)
- Δίνω (/’δino/, to give)
- Ακούω (/a’cuo/, to hear)
- Τρώω (/’troo/, to eat)
- Παίρνω (/’perno/, to take)
- Αφήνω (/a’fino/, to let go)
- Φεύγω (/’fevγo/, to leave)
- Καταλαβαίνω (/katala’veno/, to understand)
- Βγαίνω (/’vγeno/, to go out)
In the end, as the saying goes, practice makes perfect. You should always review and revise everything you have learned, by supplementing your Greek conjugation practice with exercises.
You can find a list of Greek conjugation exercises in the following sources:
The Best Strategy for Effective Greek Conjugation Practice
Now that you know the basic knowledge you need to conquer, let’s take a look at how you can make your Greek conjugation practice a lot easier.
Find Your Learning Style
Not all people are the same. Thus, not all people learn the same way. You can have a different and unique approach to learning, depending on how you prefer to study and learn.
For example, if you are a visual learner, you could use videos, flashcards, or images, whereas an auditory learner should focus on podcasts and audiobooks. If you learn better by reading, pick up a grammar book or a novel and give it a try. Finally, if you are a verbal learner, find a Greek native speaker and engage in that awkward two-language conversation!
Keep Notes or Write a Journal
Writing is an excellent way to practice a language. You could begin by taking notes on anything new you learn during your Greek conjugation practice. This will help you remember the things that were more difficult for you.
You could also keep a journal. This can be a study journal in which you write what you have learned and what you intend to learn. It can also be a daily journal in which you write simple phrases about what happened that day. That is entirely up to you!
Speak and/or Chat
We understand how intimidating it can be to begin speaking a new language. However, if you can overcome your social anxiety, speaking practice is the best practice there is if you want to achieve fluency.
So, you can either talk to a native speaker or chat with fellow learners. Whatever you choose, the benefits are tremendous!
Media and Books
Depending on your preferred learning style, media can be a valuable resource. You could, for example, watch TV shows or movies (check out this list of great cinephile Greek movies). You could also listen to podcasts and audiobooks to become acquainted with various accents and intonations.
Reading books is another excellent way to become acquainted with the language. If a novel seems too daunting, try a children’s book first. For beginners, BookBox has some cute videos of children’s stories with subtitles. If you’re feeling brave, pick a popular book, such as Lord of the Rings or an Agatha Christie story – something you are already familiar with – and test the waters. Make a list of any unknown words and use it to broaden your vocabulary.
Check What You Have Learned
It may sound meta, but knowing what you know is one of the most important aspects of language learning. When you have completed a milestone or a section of your practice, you should take a moment to reflect on what you have learned.
Taking notes on what you have studied and going back and revising it every now and then is a good way to not forget what you have covered. Because repetition is the key to learning, you could even schedule a weekly or 15-day checkpoint to reflect on what you have perfected and what you should revise.
Greek Conjugation Practice: Online Resources
Cooljugator is – as its name implies – a cool conjugator. It helps you to find the correct, conjugated form for over 4,500 Greek verbs. On its homepage, you can also find a list of the most common Modern Greek verbs to help you out. A great complimentary resource for your Greek conjugation practice.
Duolingo with its infamous green owl is a very popular online resource for learning Greek. It comes with a free mobile app so you can practice on the go. Aside from conjugation, you can learn important Greek vocabulary and phrases for everyday use.
Clozemaster is an excellent tool for your Greek conjugation practice. It is a simple and gamified learning experience, it offers a great way to practice your verb conjugation. When it comes to different conjugated forms, you have to choose the correct one out of four options or – if you’re up for a challenge – you can even type it yourself!
Greek Conjugation Practice – Conclusion
Each person has their own learning style. Nothing fits all. The only thing that matters at the end of the day is the practice itself, regardless of how you do it. Using the provided resources, you’ll have no trouble learning Greek conjugation in no time!