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How to Learn Greek Vocabulary: Tips, Tricks and Resources

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Every time we try to learn a new language, we encounter three major obstacles: the language’s grammar, its vocabulary, and our perfectionism.

Suppose you want to learn Greek. We’ve previously addressed the difficulties of Greek grammar. As for the perfectionism issue, I wouldn’t even try to tackle it in a blog post. So, that brings us to the third question: how can I learn Greek vocabulary effectively?

Considering that you only need to know a few hundred words when traveling and about 1,500 words to get by in everyday life, things are easier than they seem. Meanwhile, you can learn about 5,0008,000 to be considered an advanced user. Finally, when you reach 15,000, you are (almost) as fluent as a native!

In this article, we will explore a variety of tips, techniques, and resources for learning Greek vocabulary!

Learning Greek Vocabulary: Where to Begin

Sometimes we don’t know where to begin when attempting to approach a language’s vocabulary. Should we learn the traveling basics or how to count? Should we focus on perfecting our verb conjugation or on learning more verbs, even if that means making more mistakes?

The answer is that we should prioritize learning the basic Greek vocabulary first, as these words are the ones that will be most useful in our day-to-day interactions. For some people, this may only mean learning how to introduce themselves and ask for a cup of coffee. Others may need to learn the common Greek vocabulary of a specific profession or vocation.

Here are some general pointers that should help everyone:

Master the Alphabet

The alpha and omega – pun intended – of learning a language with a different writing system, is to learn its alphabet. Before attempting to learn Greek vocabulary, you must first be able to read and write the different letters.

There are 24 letters in the Greek alphabet: 7 vowels and 17 consonants. They are as follows:

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Learning how to read and write is the quintessence of learning Greek, or any new language for that matter. More information on the Greek alphabet and its pronunciation can be found here.

Memorize the Most Common Verbs

To get by in any language, it is necessary to master the most frequently used verbs. Verbs such as “to be,” “to have,” “to go,” and “to pay” can all help you express basic concepts in your daily life.

GreekPod101’s handbook of common Greek verbs contains a handy guide to some of the most common Greek verbs categorized by meaning.

Learn Everyday Nouns

Even so, the list of most common verbs isn’t enough. If you’re wondering how to learn Greek vocabulary, you should start by mastering everyday nouns. All Greek nouns are preceded by an article that indicates their grammatical gender. The following articles are in Greek:

  • Masculine: o (sing.), οι (pl.)
  • Feminine: η (sing.), οι (pl.)
  • Neutral: το (sing.), τα (pl.)

You can find a guide on learning the most common Greek nouns here. For the time being, let’s take a look at how we can learn Greek vocabulary in three steps.

3 Steps to Learn Modern Greek Vocabulary

Step 1: Imagine Yourself as a Stranger in a Strange Land.

The first vocabulary milestone you should aim for should be the words you would want to hear as a local. What I mean is – imagine you’re out walking or working in your neighborhood. If a non-native were to approach you and they tried to communicate using your language, which words would you expect them to know? That’s where you should start!

These words would most likely include greetings, information requests, everyday tasks, ordering food, and possibly expressing some common ideas and feelings.

Step 2: Name Your Surroundings.

If you want to quickly expand your Greek vocabulary fast, the next step is to get to know your immediate setting. Look around your room and try to learn everything you can see. Your κρεβάτι (krevati; bed), your καρέκλα (karekla; chair), your ψυγείο (psigio; fridge).

You could even stick a note on every object in your house and write the Greek name on it. From that point forward, try to name everything you see in Greek. In time, you’ll learn the names of everything by heart.

It may not be that common to sneak the word for “succulent” (παχύφυτο; pah’ifito) in an everyday conversation, but it will help you increase your Greek vocabulary knowledge. This, in turn, will boost your confidence and feed the aforementioned perfectionism.

You could even try saying complete sentences using verbs, prepositions, and the new words you’ve learned. For instance:

  • «Θα ποτίσω το παχύφυτό μου.» – I will water my succulent.
  • «Η γάτα έριξε την κιθάρα στο πάτωμα.» – The cat knocked the guitar to the ground.

Step 3: Try to Express Yourself.

Once you have learned how to order (and pay for) a latte, and you have also learned to name every object that your cat has destroyed, you are ready for the next step. It’s high time you expressed yourself to natives!

Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting that you try to poetically confess your love in Greek (well, in that case, just memorize a few lines from Elytis’ Monogram, one of the most famous Greek love poems, and it should suffice).

What I mean is that you should try to convey some basic, everyday emotions like sleepiness, exhaustion, joy, or hunger. Start by learning the corresponding words and then describing why you feel that way or what you want to do about it. As an example:

  • «Νυστάζω» – I am sleepy.
  • «Νυστάζω και θέλω να κοιμηθώ» – I am sleepy and I want to sleep.
  • «Νυστάζω και θέλω να ξαπλώσω στο κρεβάτι μου για να κοιμηθώ» – I am sleepy and I want to lie down on my bed to sleep.

These are three different ways to express sleepiness, each one becoming more and more elaborate. If you want to try and test your knowledge, this is a great exercise.

The Best Way to Learn Greek Vocabulary

Now that we know how to approach the shallow depths of vocabulary in three steps, let’s talk about the best ways to do it. My favorite way is CPRContextualize, Practice, Revise.


The key to learning new vocabulary is contextualization. The second step mentioned above is based on this theory. Contrary to how we learned as children, attempting to memorize fixed lists of random words by heart will inevitably result in “systematic forgetting.” Systematic forgetting, also known as “cognitive pruning,” is the automatic elimination of irrelevant information to make room for new, relevant knowledge.

The only way to avoid this is to acquire new information by placing it into context. Not only will you learn Greek vocabulary fast, but you will also create a strong memory of the word, ensuring that you will not forget it.

Check out the following section for resources to help you put Greek vocabulary into context.


However you choose to learn, the key to improving your vocabulary is practice. Consistent practice is the only way to guarantee that new information will stick in your long-term memory.

A good way to practice is to make flashcards with all of the words you’ve learned and keep testing your knowledge. Greek vocabulary exercises can also help you learn and practice your new vocabulary.

You can also use apps like Duolingo and Clozemaster to practice your language skills on the go. Clozemaster, in particular, organizes the exercises into “Most Common” collections, which aim to teach words based on how frequently they appear in the language. This way, you can choose what to practice and prioritize learning the most useful words first.


The third and most important aspect of learning Greek vocabulary is to constantly revise what you have learned. This can be accomplished not only through practice, but also by allocating a specific time during the day to review all of the vocabulary you have already learned.

Read your notes and make an attempt to use each word in a sentence. If you can’t remember what the word means or how it’s used, look it up in a dictionary and add an explanation to your notes.

You should do two types of revision sessions: one every few days to study the words you’ve recently memorized, and one once a month to revise all of the vocabulary you’ve already learned.

Contextual Learning & Resources

As previously mentioned, the best way to learn modern Greek vocabulary is by putting it into context. Let’s look at some options.

Listen to Music

One of the best ways to immerse yourself in Greek vocabulary and usage is to listen to it all the time. Listening to music is one way to accomplish this. Just go to any streaming platform and start listening to the most popular Greek artists in the music genre of your choice!

You could even leave the radio on while commuting or doing chores, listening to music as well as live programs from Greek speakers. You could check out ErtEcho, Greece’s state-owned public radio and television broadcaster’s website. It offers a wide range of online radio stations, including newssportsclassical musicjazzrockGreek entechno, and many other choices.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcasts are another excellent way to learn modern Greek vocabulary. You can find anything you’re looking for, from everyday news to information on rare topics. You can also adjust the playback speed, which is a great tool for learning a new language. Check out this article for a collection of popular Greek podcasts – like a personal favorite, Μαρμελάδα Φράουλα (Strawberry Jam), created by two excellent stand-up comedians.

Watch TV Shows and Movies

What better way to learn a language than to listen to native speakers use it while also taking in an entertaining or fascinating story? From Netflix series to cinephile films, you can learn Greek vocabulary by watching – or even listening in the background – whatever you want. One of the major benefits of learning Greek vocabulary through TV shows and movies is that you are exposed to idioms and slang, which is an important step toward fluency.

You could also try watching your favorite shows or movies with Greek subtitles and see if you can figure out what’s being said. Or you could try your luck with Greek dubbed content, but finding anything other than animated movies will be difficult.

Read Books and Articles

Reading is another useful skill for expanding your Greek vocabulary. Of course, you don’t have to read Kazantzakis or Cavafy; you can choose something simpler, like news articles or beginner books.

Are you a sports fan? Check out a sports newspaper. Are you passionate about cooking? Opt for a food-related blog. Are you a devoted music lover? Read an article about your favorite band’s most recent album. If you’re feeling bold, you can try your luck in an open library full of e-books and audiobooks.

You could, of course, begin by reading the headlines in publications like newspapers and magazines. You can learn Greek vocabulary while reading the headlines of all the daily newspapers that are published and staying up to date on current events.

Use Apps

Of course, you can also use apps like Duolingo and Clozemaster to learn the vocabulary of a new language. I highly recommend Clozemaster because it allows you to practice writing and listening with words grouped by their frequency in everyday language use. You can also tailor your practice to your specific learning needs and skills, ranging from simple multiple-choice questions to more difficult text input exercises.

Final Thoughts on How to Learn Greek Vocabulary

As we discussed, there are plenty of ways to learn and memorize Greek vocabulary. Whether you prefer to stick a note on every object in your apartment, watch a TV show or listen to a fun podcast, there are various Greek resources you can use.

The common goal is to actively and passively expand your Greek language knowledge so that fluency is not a long shot, but a simple and attainable goal. The way(s) you choose to achieve that are entirely up to you. Καλή επιτυχία!

Challenge yourself with Clozemaster

Learning Greek vocabulary might seem daunting at first, but don’t worry, it comes naturally with practice.

Test your skills and learn new Greek words by playing a selection of sentences with 1,000 most common Greek words on Clozemaster.

Sign up here to save your progress and start getting fluent with thousands of Greek sentences at Clozemaster.

Clozemaster has been designed to help you learn the language in context by filling in the gaps in authentic sentences. With features such as Grammar Challenges, Cloze-Listening, and Cloze-Reading, the app will let you emphasize all the competencies necessary to become fluent in Greek.

Take your Greek to the next level. Click here to start practicing with real Greek sentences!

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