Limenaria, Thassos, Greece

It's All Greek to Me: Essential Words and Phrases for Your Holiday

Greek words phrases simple holiday

As Brits, we don't exactly have the best reputation as holidaymakers. Let's face it, there's always one drunken hooligan in an England football shirt making a fool of himself at your hotel, causing the other British people to wish for the ground to open up and swallow them. Not exactly the best stereotype! Nor are we Brits amazing when it comes to languages. French, German, Spanish, and Italian people (to name but a few!) all seem to visit the UK and have no trouble communicating in English as well as being fluent in their native tongue, but put a British person abroad and we always seem to struggle. It's a little bit embarrassing. However, I was determined not to be a typical monoglottic Brit on my recent holiday to Greece so I made a concerted effort to brush up on my Greek vocab before I got on the plane. I've worked in Greece on archaeological projects in the past so I had a grasp of the basics, but I was determined to improve. I put together this post in the hope of refreshing my memory while also sharing the goods with you! Enjoy!

Greetings

Good morning (spoken before 1300): Kalimera (kah-lee-MARE-ah)
Good afternoon / evening: Kalispera (kah-lee-SPER-ah)
Good night: Kaliniktia (kah-lee-NEEK-tah)

Hello (formal, respectfully spoken to authority figures / those older than you): "Yassas" (YAH-sas)
Hello (informal, spoken to friends / those younger than you): "Yassou" (YAH-soo)
       Don't worry too much about this distinction - "yassas" and "yassou" are often used interchangeably by native Greek speakers!

How are you? / How do you do?: Ti kaneis (tee KAH-nis)
I am well: Kala (kah-lA)
Pleased to meet you: Charika poly (HA-ree-ka po-LEE)
See you later: Ta leme (tah-LEH-meh)

Greek holiday words and phrases simple easy

Manners

Please / You're welcome: Parakalo (par-ah-kah-LO)
Thank you: Efharisto (eff-ar-ee-STOH)
Thank you (on behalf of a large group of people, for example diners at a restaurant): Efharistoomay (eff-ar-ee-STOH-may)
Excuse me: Me synchoreite (me syn-CHOR-eete)
Sorry: Signomi (see-GHNO-mee)

Key words / phrases

Do you speak English?: Milatay Ag-glika? (mee-LAH-teh ag-li-KAH)
I don't speak Greek very well: Den melo kala ellinika (den mee-lo kah-LA helle-nica)
Where is the bathroom?: Pou einai I toualeta (poh-EE-nay ee tua-LEH-tah)
How much is this?: Poso kanei afto (POH-soh KAH-nee af-TOH)

OK: Adaxi
Yes: Ne (n-EY)
No: Oxhi (OK-hee)
       It's easy to get confused - "ne" meaning "yes" can often sound like "no" or "nah!" in English! I mangle this one all the time. 
       Don't worry though, with a bit of practice you'll get there! 

Oops: Opa (OH-pa)
Cheers: Yammas (YAH-mas)

Greek words phrases holiday pronunciation

Eating and Drinking

Can we order?: Na parageloome (na para-gel-oo-ME)
I would like...: Tha ithela (tha eethe-lah)
I am a vegetarian: Eimai hortofagos. (EE-may hor-to-FAH-gos)
I don't eat meat, pork, or chicken: Den troo kreas i kotopoulo (Den tro KRAY-ahs ee ko-TO-poo-lo)
Can you bring us the bill?: To logariasmo (to LO-gari-azmo)
Water: Nero (NE-ro)

Some silly phrases you definitely won't need but will make you laugh anyway!

Help! I am being chased by a bear: Voitheia! Eimai kynigimenos apo mia arkouda!
The dog ate my homework: O skylos efage tin ergasia mou
Brexit is a great idea: Brexit einai mia megali idea
English food is better than Greek food: To angliko fagito einai kalytero apo to elliniko fagito
I can't wait to go home: Den boro na perimeno na pao spiti

If you could become fluent in any language overnight, which would it be? Comment down below!

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