The Greek Grammar


Did you ever wish you could read the New Testament-, or ancient Greek texts-, or the poems of Elytis, Kavafis, or Seferis in the original language they were written in, but you were discouraged by the thought that “it will all be Greek to you” (for Greeks, the respective expression is “it’s all Chinese to me!”)? I am here to tell you that Greek is not as difficult as you may think it is, although I can imagine you responding: “easy for you to say! English is so easy…I was able to learn it while still a babyJ”.

Let’s examine what is needed to learn a foreign language. First, you have to be able to pronounce the words that you read, even if you do not know their meaning. This is quite easy when it comes to Greek; as long as you know the sounds of the letters in the Greek alphabet, you will be able to read Greek because the words are pronounced just the way they are written. Then, you have to start learning the meaning of words to build your vocabulary. However, unless you keep hearing the language being spoken around you, memorizing the meaning of words can be very difficult if you do not know the grammar, which classifies words, puts them in an order. There are so many changes in the endings of nouns, adjectives, and pronouns, depending on gender, case, singular or plural, or the same verb can have many different endings and forms depending on the tense, the “person” (first, second, third) and whether it is in singular or plural, etc. How easy can it be to memorize such words and their meaning if you do not know the set of rules upon which they were built, in other words, the Greek grammar? And even if you are good at memorizing vocabulary, it will be difficult to extract the meaning of a sentence, and even more difficult to construct a sentence, if you do not have a firm understanding of basic grammar to rely on; grammar is very important if the purpose of learning a language is not only to be able to ask for directions to the restroom, but to actually read and write any text you wish to.
There are probably enough Greek grammar books out there, so what can be different in this book? 1) As a scientist, I like things to be presented in a very logical sequence; I have attempted to do that in this book. 2) For every topic, I compare the Greek grammar with the corresponding English grammar, as, I believe, in this way the Greek grammar will be better understood by English speakers. 3) I have avoided details which could be of high importance to a philologist, but are not necessary to somebody who simply wants to learn Greek; in this book, I give you all the grammar basics of Modern Greek in less than 40 pages. Learning Modern Greek will be very helpful in understanding “Bible Greek”, or in learning ancient Greek, if that is one of your goals. Note that this book is appropriate for students of all ages, starting from middle school. A teacher is always helpful, but this book can be studied without any guidance, with the help of a dictionary. My best wishes to you in your endeavor to learn a language with a history spanning more than 2,500 years.