"She is the same secretary."

Translation:Είναι η ίδια γραμματέας.

December 29, 2016

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I am having a terrible time figuring out the uses of "η", "ο", "μια" and "ενα". Can someone help?

  • 1965

Do you mean in the sense of determining which gender of the article to use? Or in the sense of deciding whether to use a definite article or an indefinite article? Or both?

  • 1965

OK... monster post approaching.

So, the most important bit of advice I'd give is to just accept gendering for 'what it is' - don't try and determine the gender of the noun by thinking about any inherent qualities it might have. I drove myself mad doing that when I first started learning Greek (and actually had a tantrum when finding out that beard, γενειάδα, was feminine).

The second most important is that ο, η, το are the definite articles. ένας, μία, ένα are the indefinite articles.

We use definite articles when we are referring to a specific thing and they correspond to 'the' in English. As in: 'I want the book'. You're referring to a specific book; you don't just want any old book, you want that particular one.

Indefinite articles are used in a non-specific way. They correspond to 'a/an' in English. As in: 'I want a book'. You're referring to books in a general way (perhaps you're bored and want something to do) and you want a book to read. It doesn't have to a specific book; any old book will do.

Anyway, my wife's also learning Greek but is a little bit behind where I am and she also struggled with gendering, so I put the below together for her. Hope it helps you a little too.

Determining Gender

  • In Greek, all nouns (things) take one of three genders: masculine, feminine or neuter
  • Generally, the spelling of the noun determines the gender, rather than the other way round
  • The gender of the noun does not imply any judgement whatsoever on the inherent sexuality of the thing
  • For example, ψωλή (male organ) is feminine, κόλπος (female organ) is masculine, and αγόρι (boy) is neuter
  • So, conceptually, for the most part, gendering ‘just is’, rather than following any logical pattern
  • You can usually ascertain the gender of the noun from its ending in the singular form
  • There are plenty of exceptions to these rules, but usually…

Masculine (m) nouns end in:

  • –ας
  • –ης
  • –ες
  • –ος
  • –ους

In other words, masculine nouns always end in an -ς (although not all nouns that end in –ς are masculine)

Feminine (f) nouns end in:

  • –α
  • –η
  • –ου
  • –οδος

Neuter (n) nouns end in:

  • –ι
  • –ο
  • –μα

*Nouns which end in –ος are really tricky, as they are usually masculine, but often neuter, and sometimes even feminine! It’s always best to try and learn the gender of these –ος nouns when you learn the word.


  • Loan words from foreign languages (χάμπουργκερ, χολ, αλκοόλ etc) tend to have un-Greek sounding endings, and tend to be neuter
  • Abstract nouns (ie things you can’t physically touch) tend to be feminine (but not always)
  • The bullet-pointed endings above cover around 95% of all Greek nouns, but there are all sorts of weird exceptions, like -υ and –ις endings. Like –ος nouns, it’s best to try and learn the gender of these when you learn the word

Gendered Articles

In Greek, articles (the/an) have a gender.

If we use an article, its gender must match (‘agree with’) the gender of the noun it is attached to.

For the definite article (the), we have:

  • ο (masculine)
  • το (neuter)
  • η (feminine)

For the indefinite article (an), we have:

  • ένας (masculine)
  • ένα (neuter)
  • μία (feminine)

For example, because γάτα ends in -α, and is therefore feminine, we need to use η (‘η γάτα’) if we are to say ‘the cat’.

Because παππούς ends in –ούς, and is therefore masculine, we need to use ένας (‘ένας παππούς’) if we are to say ‘a grandfather’.

Because αγόρι ends in –ι, and is therefore neuter, we need to use το (‘το αγόρι’) if we are to say ‘the boy’.

Gendered Adjectives

In Greek, most adjectives (describing words), can take one of three genders (m, n, f).

If we use an adjective to describe a noun, it must take on the gender of the noun it describes. This process is called ‘declension’. The only part of the adjective that changes is its ending.

Adjectives are usually learnt in their masculine form, which usually ends in -ος.

There are exceptions, but generally, adjectives will decline in the following ways:

  • –ος (masculine)
  • –ο (neuter)
  • –η (feminine)

Let’s take the adjective καλός (good):

  • In its masculine form it is καλ-ός
  • In its neuter form it is καλ-ό
  • In its feminine form it is καλ-ή

The form that the article and the adjective take need to match (‘agree with’) with the gender of the noun.

For example, because γάτα ends in -α, and is therefore feminine, to say ‘the good cat’, we would need to say ‘η καλή γάτα’.

Because παππούς ends in –ούς, and is therefore masculine, to say ‘a good grandfather’, we would need to say ‘ένας καλός παππούς’.

Because αγόρι ends in –ι, and is therefore neuter, to say ‘the good boy’, we would need to say ‘το καλό αγόρι’.

The only adjectives which do not take a gendered form are those which are loan words from foreign languages (γκρι, μπλε etc). These are called invariable adjectives and they remain the same regardless of the gender of the noun they describe.

There are other, rarer, forms of adjectives (ones that end in -ης, -ων etc), but you do not need to learn these just yet.


Wow. This is amazing. Thank you so much!

  • 1965

You're welcome!

  • 1965

Thank you! Learning Greek takes up most of my spare time; I'm determined to become properly fluent sooner or later :-)


I'm impressed re: how quickly you reached LEVEL 25! I have been at it for quite some time.


Well done!

In your comment about -ος nouns, mentioning that they're most often masculine but can also be neuter, you could probably also mention that they can be feminine, too (not just οδός and compounds of that word). For example, η άμμος "sand".

  • 1965

Thank you! Yes, of course, ψήφος comes to mind too. I've amended.

It's all been a bit of a steep learning curve for me as I was never taught any grammar at all at school or university and couldn't have even told you what an article was eight months ago!


My Goodness. Best monster report I've seen on Duo. Well done! ^.^

  • 1965

Thanks! I had it sitting there on my PC anyway, and thought someone else might be able to use it!


Oh my! Great text layout! :D Have some lingots! ;)

  • 1965

Thanks Troll! Had to spend about 10 minutes playing around with it after I'd pasted it in from Word though ;-)


A topic that I have found extremely difficult and have tended to use the neuter unless I actually know the gender. Your detail has been invaluable. Thank you so much for taking the time to compile this answer.

  • 1965

You're welcome!


Thank you so much!


I would add that you want to look at the ending of the nouns not only in their singular form, but more specifically in the nominative case. The ending of a noun can change depending on its grammatical case, and that can be confusing. For example: ο άντρας πίνει νερό (the man drinks water: “άντρας” is in the nominative form because it’s the subject of the sentence) // βλέπω τον άντρα (I see the man: “άντρα” is in the accusative form because it’s the object of the verb. Even though it lost its final “ ς”, it’s still masculine.)


Great post!

You've given an example of the declension of good : καλός/καλή/καλό, καλοί/καλές/ καλά.

However, I'm stuggling to find examples of how one should decline 'same' in the feminine e.g. ίδιος/?/ίδιο.

I dont think it's ίδιη - this doesn't seem right. Can anyone help me out?


It's ίδια (as in the sentence above).


A secretary can be a man as well, ie masculine - ο γραμματέας ?


A secretary can be a man as well, ie masculine - ο γραμματέας ?


Not in this sentence, of course, since this sentence starts with "she...".

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