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  5. "His wife drinks milk."

"His wife drinks milk."

Translation:Η σύζυγός του πίνει γάλα.

September 11, 2016



Are there two accents on σύζυγός? Why? What does that mean?


Yes, there are.

It means that there are two stresses on the word.

In a Greek word, the stress can be on the last syllable (ultima), the next-to-last syllable (penult), or the third-from-last syllable (antepenult).

However, some words (clitics) - most of them just one syllable - do not have a stress of their own; they sort of "attach" to the word before them or after them and the combination is then stressed like a single word.

If such a single-syllable clitic comes after a word that has the stress on the third syllable from the end, then in the combined "word", the stress would fall on the fourth syllable from the end: too far.

So an additional stress gets added on the next-to-last syllable of the "word" (the last syllable of the original word): σύζυγος but ο σύζυγός μου.

Compare English words such as "authentification" which have at least two stresses: authéntificátion.

A final note: there are sentences in this course where this required second accent is not present, for technical reasons which I hope will slowly be resolved.

In all such cases, I believe the intention is to accept the correct version in an English-to-Greek translation exercise, but you may be shown the incorrect version in a Greek-to-English translation exercise.


Thank you very much, mizinamo. I seem to remember Ancient Greek (and presumably Katharevousa) doing something much like this with its much more complex system of multiple accent markings. Would this, then, be a situation where there is a primary and a secondary stress, as in the English example?

When referring to most languages, I would use the word "penult" to describe the second to last, or penultimate, syllable. Do you know whether this is used for the last syllable in Modern Greek, because there was some ultima, some final syllable, that dropped off?

In our only example sentence here, it is η σύζυγος, but you refer to ο σύζυγος. Does it change gender for the natural gender of the spouse without changing form?

I do apologize for the multiple questions. Feel free to ignore any or all of them.


Re "penult" - I was just getting my linguistic terms mixed up. The penult is the next-to-last syllable, as you say. I've tried to fix my previous comment. Thanks!

Re gender of σύζυγος - yes, it's a word that can be either masculine or feminine depending on whether it refers to a male spouse (= husband) or a female one (= wife).

Re primary/secondary stress: I'm not quite sure. I believe, though, that the primary stress is the new one (on the penult of the phonological word that includes the clitic) while the original stress becomes a secondary one.


Thanks, that clears up a lot. I was originally assuming there must be a σύζυγη or something. And I think penultimate only stood out to me as I was recently talking to my daughter about the scansion of Shakespeare plays.


I think the general rule is that if an adjective is a compound word, it will have two endings (m=f + n) rather than three (m + f + n), at least in Ancient Greek -- so this would follow that rule since σύζυγος is from συν + ζυγός "yoked together" or something like that.

I'm not sure whether σύζυγος is used as an adjective as well (nowadays) but this may be the noun form of an adjective.


Wow! These forums help a lot, even more than the exercises themselves. Thanks to all for these tips and rules about the language!


When a possessive comes after a word that has an accent mark on the third from the end syllable (as σύ-ζυ-γος), that word also gets an accent mark on the last syllable. The word is then pronounced as in the audio of the exercise. (With both syllables stressed)


About σύζυγός: it is invariable and the distinction between husband and wife is marked only by ο or η. There is a similarity with the French: conjoint/ conjointe. The English word syzygy is used to describe a conjunction or opposition of planets. In other words: a marriage.


Why I cannot use η γυναίκα του πίνει γάλα; Also other question, can I use κυρία;


Why I cannot use η γυναίκα του πίνει γάλα;

You can. Η γυναίκα του πίνει γάλα is one of the accepted translations.

Also other question, can I use κυρία;



Wouldn't the translation of "σύζυγός" be "spouse" instead of either husband or wife? Spouse is either masculine or feminine in English in the same way as "σύζυγός" is in Greek.


Spouse is either masculine or feminine in English in the same way as "σύζυγός" is in Greek.

But in this sentence, it's specifically feminine (η σύζυγος), and so it makes sense to translate it with the specifically feminine "wife".

(But "spouse" is also accepted in the reverse translation, Greek to English.)


I agree, in fact I think "wife" is plain wrong; "σύζυγός" is gender neutral.


If you had ''σύζυγος" you would be using an article "η" or "ο" which would indicate "wife" or "husband". So, it's not wrong.

When we refer to gender we are only referring to the grammatical use of the word the the person/object referred to.


From my husband - native speaking Greek - I learned that 2 Accents in a word, even when followed by mou etc. - are history.

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They are most certainly not. They have always been taught in school but a lot of people just don't write properly in texts/emails. Tons of native speakers don't even add the accent mark, if you can imagine that! Double accents are in fact used by all self-respecting publications with decent sub-editors. You'll see them in print and online and there's no excuse for not teaching them here. :)


Adding to what D... said, they are certainly also pronounced by everyone in oral speech as having two accents.


And may I add that they are taught in Greek schools today.

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