Greek phrases for tourists travel Why Athens
Communicating is so much more fun. Photograph: Everett Collection/ Shutterstock.com

Basic Greek for Travelling

Basic Greek phrases for tourists:

The Greek language is not an easy one to learn or pronounce. We’ve put together a quick guide with audio clips to help you along. Learning to say a few words like ‘hello’, ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ is always a nice gesture when travelling anywhere in the world and the Greeks do appreciate the effort, however good or bad the attempt.

General rules of thumb: Greetings

You would say ‘kalimera’ (good morning) up until 12:00pm, from here onwards ‘yia sas’ (hello) will be the standard greeting. You will hear ‘kalispera’ (good afternoon/evening) from late afternoon right through to the end of the day. If you are leaving a restaurant or passing by the hotel reception desk to walk back to your room, you would say ‘kalinihta’ (good night).

Responses to greetings

If you’ve put your best Greek phrases to the test, many Greeks may respond to your polite greeting with any of the following:

Kalo-so-ri-sateh – welcome (or we welcome you)

Kalo Vrathi – wishing you a pleasant evening

Kalo Xi-mero-ma – wishing you a good dawn or daybreak (usually after you’ve said “good night”)

Greek pronunciation pointers

Letter I

Pronounce the letter I
as “ee” (rhymes with “see”) as in image.

Letter G

Pronouncing the letter “g” is a tough one for those with English speaking backgrounds. The “g” or gamma in Greek can be pronounced like a “y” as in yellow and also as a soft “g” which we don’t have an exact reference for in English.

In basic terms you pronounce the “y” like “yellow” when it has an “I” or “E” after it; e.g. Giro is YEE-ROH.

You use a soft “g” when there is an “A” “O” or “U” after it. E.g. Gala (milk) is “GH-ALA”. Think of the CH in bach or the Loch Ness monster.

Listen for this soft “g” sound in the phonetic audio below in “SIG-NOMI” (sorry or excuse me).

Letter D

Pronounce the letter “d” as you would pronounce the soft “th” in “theology”.

Greek Pronunciation

ENGLISHGreekPhoneticPlay

Good Morning

Καλημέρα

ka-li-me-ra

Play

Good Night

Καληνύχτα

ka-li-ni-hta

Play

Good Evening

Καλησπέρα

ka-li-spe-ra

Play

Hello or Goodbye

Γειά Σας

yia-sas

Play

Yes

Ναι

ne

Play

No

Όχι

o-hi

Play

Thank You

Ευχαριστώ

ef-ha-ri-stoh

Play

Sorry or Excuse me

Συγνώμη

sig-no-mii

Play

Do you speak English?

Μιλάτε αγγλικά

mi-la-te a-gli-ka

Play

I don’t understand

Δεν καταλαβαίνω

then ka-ta-la-ve-noh

Play

Nice to meet you

Χαίρω Πολύ

heh-ro po-li

Play

Please or You’re welcome

Παρακαλώ

pa-ra-ka-loh

Play

I like Greece

Μου αρέσει η Ελλάδα

mou a-resi i E-la-tha

Play