Guide: Basic Greek Phrases for Tourist

July 28th 2023 in Explore
Guide: Basic Greek Phrases for Tourist

Greek Phrases for Tourists

Travelling to Greece is an experience that will leave you with unique, gorgeous recollections of places that have no place outside of an art book or a landscape artist gallery.

You will also interact with enjoyable people, the Greeks, whose entire culture focuses on hospitality and providing the best they can to their guests. When conversing with visitors, all Greeks consider themselves ambassadors for their culture and ethnic identity, and they will do everything in their power to make you feel welcome and happy.

Although the Greek language is significantly different from Latin languages, complete with a different alphabet, you should be able to communicate with and navigate Greece no matter where you travel because Greeks are English language users. Several may even be fluent in languages other than English. So don’t be afraid that people won’t understand you if they overhear you speaking English, German, or French; they certainly will!

But, you will only benefit from learning a few Greek phrases before your travel. Not only can knowing what to say to the occasional elderly person who doesn’t speak your language help you if you prefer to walk and explore isolated sections of the nations you visit, but you will also stir enthusiasm and get great acclaim from the Greeks.

It doesn’t matter how well you pronounce or utter things; the effort will earn you accolades and joy. It could be the start of multiple friendships.

So, what phrases and words should you be familiar with?

The Basics

Yes = Ne (Ναι) à pronunciation is nae

That’s true; the Greek’ yes’ sounds remarkably similar to the English ‘no’. Please keep that in mind!

No = Ohi (Όχι) à pronunciation is OHchee (the ‘ch’ makes a sound like the ‘wh’ in ‘who’)

Excuse Me = Sygnomi (Συγγνώμη) à pronunciation is seegNOHmee

This phrase will draw attention to you. You can use it in the same way that we use the word “sorry” in English, and you can also use it to apologise.

I Don’t Understand = Den katalaveno (δεν καταλαβαίνω) à pronunciation is den (as in ‘then’) katalaVAEnoh

When presented with quick, enthusiastic Greek, or any other language, it’s always excellent practice to know how to say you don’t understand!

I Don’t Speak Greek = Den milao Ellinika (δεν μιλάω Ελληνικά) à pronunciation is den (as in ‘then’) meeLAHoh elleeneeKA

Again, it’s good to practise informing people in their own language that you don’t honestly speak the language! It’ll be a fantastic icebreaker, and they’ll be willing to accommodate you despite your pantomime!

Do You Speak…? = Milate …? (μιλάτε…;) à pronunciation is meeLAHte…?

Use this phrase and replace the term with the desired language.

Can You Help Me? = Boreite na me voithisete? (μπορείτε να με βοηθήσετε;) à pronunciation is boREEte na me voeeTHEEsete?

Use this phrase to request aid or help that isn’t always urgent or to request a rescue.

Greetings in Greek

Hi – Bye = Geia Sas (Γειά σας) à pronunciation is yeeA sas

First, you need a generic “hi / bye”, which you can use for all occasions. Use “Geia Sas” when attracting someone’s attention or when entering or leaving a room. It works for everything!

Good morning = Kalimera (Καλημέρα) à pronunciation is kaliMEra

Good morning is another word you should know. It brings smiles to the faces of everyone you tell it to! You can say “good morning” until noon (i.e. 12:00). After that, and for the next few hours, just stick to “Geia Sas” (the ‘hi/bye’ default).

Good evening = Kalispera (Καλησπέρα) à pronunciation is kaliSPEra

Good evening is the greeting to use from about 4 in the afternoon. If you want to be super strict with its use, you can use it right after noon (i.e. 12:00).

Good night = Kalinihta (Καληνύχτα) à pronunciation is kaliNIHta

You say good night only when you leave, at least around 9 o clock in the evening. When you say kalinihta, you signal that you either go to bed, return home for the night, or assume that the other person will.

Asking for Directions in Greek

How Do I Go To … = Pos pao sto… (πώς πάω στο…) à pronunciation is as you read it.

The greatest way to find out how to go somewhere. Simply put the location’s name at the end of the phrase.

Can You Write It Down For Me? = Mou to grafete? (μου το γράφετε) à pronunciation is moo toh GRAfete?

Having a local write down the destination, you want to visit is a good idea so you can show it to a Greek and get directions without getting tied up in difficult pronunciations. That also works nicely with taxi drivers.

I Am Looking For … = Psahno ton … (ψάχνω τον) à pronunciation is psAHnoh ton (the ‘h’ makes a sound as in ‘here’)

Use this phrase, adding the place or person you are looking for right after. You will probably make a mistake with the pronoun, as the pronouns are gendered for every noun, but it doesn’t matter. People will understand you. Bonus points if you start with ‘excuse me, I am looking for….’

Food and Drink in Greek

Could I have…? = Boro na eho … (μπορώ να έχω) à pronunciation is bohROH na EHhoh

This is the most efficient way to politely ask for any food or beverage. In truth, you can use it to ask for anything you want. If you don’t know the word of the thing you want, just point!

Cheers! = Geia mas! (γειά μας) à pronunciation is yeeAH mas!

While toasting with a company at your table, use this sentence!

Some Essential Greek Vocabulary

These are some Greek words to be familiar with for the entire sentences.

Airport = Aerodromio (αεροδρόμιο) à pronunciation is aerohDROmeeo (the ‘d’ makes a sound as in ‘the’)

Train Station = Stathmos Trenou (σταθμός τραίνου) à pronunciation is stahthMOSS TRAEnou.

Bus = Leoforeio (λεωφορείο) à pronunciation is leofohREEoh

Taxi = Taxi (ταξί) à pronunciation is taXI

Bathroom/ toilets = Toualeta (τουαλέτα) à pronunciation is tooahLETta

Hotel = Xenodohio (ξενοδοχείο) à pronunciation is ksenohDOHheeoh (the ‘d’ makes a sound as in ‘the’)

Water = Nero (νερό) à pronunciation is nehROH

Food = Fagito (φαγητό) à pronunciation is fahyeeTOH

Bill = Logariasmos (λογαριασμός) à pronunciation is logahreeasMOSS

Drugstore/ Pharmacy = Farmakio (φαρμακείο) à pronunciation is pharmahKEEoh

English = Agglika (Αγγλικά) à pronunciation is aggleeKAH

General Greek Phrases

Thank you = Efharisto (ευχαριστώ) à pronunciation is efhariSTOH

Thank you is universal in all cultures and always adds a touch of courtesy.

You’re welcome = Parakalo (παρακαλώ) à pronunciation is parakaLOH

If anyone tells you “thank you”, this is the word to say back to them!

How much does it cost? =Poso kanei (πόσο κάνει) à pronunciation is POHso KAnee

This is the phrase to use if you need to know the price of something!

Help! = Voitheia! (βοήθεια) à pronunciation is vohEEtheea

When you need help in an emergency, say this word. If you require non-alarming assistance, do not utilise it. Use the other sentence above instead: ‘can you assist me?’