https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

When to use the various words for "the", "a/an" (το, η, ο, την) και (ενα, ενας, μια)

I am a native English speaker using the English for Greek speaker course to learn Greek, and one of the things that I have found incredibly confusing is when to use:

το/η/ο/την - what are the general rules? I understand that they all mean "the" but when do you use what.

ενα/ενας/μια - again, I understand that they are the masculine/feminine/neutral forms of a/an but it is not clear when to use what.

Any help is appreciated! Thank you

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63 σχόλια


https://www.duolingo.com/drkameleon
drkameleon
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OK, so let me get a few things straight first:

  • the = definite article
  • a/an = indefinite article.

The greek counterparts are used pretty much in the same fashion as the english ones. And yep, there are a few exceptions, but let's put that aside for now.

Greek, as you may already know, has 3 noun genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), 2 numbers (singular and plurar) and 4 cases (nominative, genitive, accusative and ablative). Also, please note, that there is no plural for indefinite articles, in greek.

The article (as well as adjectives, for instance) always accord with the noun they are accompanying, in terms of gender, number and case.

Examples:

  • The book - Το βιβλίο (neuter / singular / nominative)
  • The books - Τα βιβλία (neuter / plural / nominative)

  • A book - Ένα βιβλίο (neuter / singular / nominative)

  • The woman - Η γυναίκα (feminine / singular / nominative)

  • The women - Οι γυναίκες (feminine / plural / nominative)

  • A woman - Μία γυναίκα (feminine / singular / nominative)

  • The man - Ο άντρας (masculine / singular / nominative)

  • The men - Οι άντρες (masculine / plural / nominative)

  • A man - Ένας άντρας (masculine / singular / nominative)


However, remember these forms are only an example of the nominative case. If you want to use them as part of a sentence, you'll most likely also need the accusative (and/or genitive case).

E.g.:

Η γυναίκα κοιτάζει τον άντρα. (The woman looks at the man).


For some reference on article case and declension, have a look: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Greek_grammar#Articles

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https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

Thank you! Although I am still a bit confused about the nominative, genitive, accusative and ablative - English does not have all of theses as you probably know. But thank you for the help!

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https://www.duolingo.com/drkameleon
drkameleon
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Well, I missed this one! Yep!

OK, let me put it simply (and finger crossed, I will not miss any point this time!):

  • Nominative is used for the Subject of a sentence. (E.g. The man looks at the woman - Subject = The man, Verb = looks at, Object = the woman. So, The man should be in nominative).

  • Genitive is used when something/someone belongs to something/someone. Remember the cases where in English you have a possessive 's or of. (E.g. The man's dog looks at the woman. Subject = The man's dog, Verb = looks at, Object = the woman. According to the rule above the subject should be in nominative. And it will. However, if you look at it closely, the subject, contains another element acting almost like an... adjective - specifying a property of the "dog" : "man's". So, the word "dog" goes in nominative, and the word "man" goes in genitive. The exact translation in greek would be "Ο σκύλος του άντρα" - nominative first, genitive next. It's like saying: "The dog (of the) man")

  • Accusative is used for the Object(s) of a sentence. In the previous example, the object is "the woman" so that goes in accusative.

  • Ablative is used when calling someone, and only then. (E.g. Peter, give me that!). In greek, in ablative there's never an article.


P.S. From a strictly grammar point of view, English still has all this. Yep, nominative, accusative and everything. However, let's say it just happens that the nominative and accusative are the same thing - there's no perceptible difference between the different forms. Want me to point out an interesting case where it's not? Think of the word "who". That's nominative. Genitive is "whose". Accusative is "whom". ;-)

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https://www.duolingo.com/Sarmadaki

The fourth case is called Vocative, not Abblative which is found in Latin.

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https://www.duolingo.com/bnvdarklord

Also let me add one more example of an apparent usage of accusative in English:

>This shirt belongs to him

him is the accusative of he. You wouldn't say "this shirt belongs to he" ;)

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https://www.duolingo.com/drkameleon
drkameleon
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Yes, yes, yes. Spot on. All of the personal pronouns, in english, have an accusative case (object form), e.g. him, as well as a genitive case (possessive form), e.g. his.

Good catch! :-)


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_personal_pronouns#Table_of_basic_personal_pronouns

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https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

Wow! I was not expecting so much help! Ευχαριστω πολι!

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https://www.duolingo.com/drkameleon
drkameleon
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You're welcome! My pleasure!

P.S. "πολύ" :-)

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https://www.duolingo.com/bnvdarklord

If you're using the standard greek keyboard layout, you can add an accent by pressing the key to the right of the L key, and then the vowel you want to accent.

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https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

Awesome! Eυχαριστώ πολύ!

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[απενεργοποιημένος χρήστης]

    I like to think of it as subject and target

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    https://www.duolingo.com/kirakrakra

    drkameleo!

    VOCATIVE/κλητική is the case for the person you are adressing: Listen Petros/ Άκου Πέτρο (=vocative of Πέτρος). Ablative is a case expressing outside from where. It does not in exist neither in Greek nor English

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    https://www.duolingo.com/ThaliPotter
    ThaliPotter
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    its so easy

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    https://www.duolingo.com/glavkos
    glavkos
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    The following links are giving an almost full overview about definite and indefinite articles in Modern Greek in comparison also with Ancient Greek.

    http://www.foundalis.com/lan/artindef.htm

    http://www.foundalis.com/lan/definart.htm

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    https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

    Awesome! Thank you!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16
    jaye16
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    Thanks to all of you for these helpful posts. I'm bookmarking them as well as the references. It's so good to be having a conversation about Greek.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/kkechagias

    το is used for things , neutural η is used for female (and female things or female animals) ο is used for male (or male female animals)

    ενα for neutural for things ενας for male (e.g. ενας man ) μια for female ( e.g. μια woman, μια butterfly )

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    https://www.duolingo.com/lidsville

    then why is it το κοριτσι?

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    https://www.duolingo.com/burbulithrinen

    hello, native speaker here! The truth is that the general rule of the three genders does not apply in any case - η καρέκλα ( "the chair" -feminine even though chairs have no gender) - το κορίτσι ( "the girl" - neutral even though girls are female) I'm afraid you will have to learn these things by heart! Good luck :)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/C02JPXCWDTY3

    It's more confusing using the reverse tree. But you'll have an easier time when they bring out the Greek for English Tree. Meantime I recommend this free course http://www.languagetransfer.org/#!greek-download/c1a3v Now I hadn't realized but there's a bit of politics involved in language training software. So this system is based on the Michel Thomas, Paul Noble, Pimsleur etc method of audio only learning. If found it really helpful. He is threatening to upgrade the course while still keeping it free so I'll probably return to it then. The audio versions keep it simple and I think work well with writing/reading courses like DL.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

    Thank you!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/deniss123456

    The greek counterparts are used pretty much in the same fashion as the english ones. And yep, there are a few exceptions, but let's put that aside for now.

    Greek, as you may already know, has 3 noun genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), 2 numbers (singular and plurar) and 4 cases (nominative, genitive, accusative and ablative). Also, please note, that there is no plural for indefinite articles, in greek.

    The article (as well as adjectives, for instance) always accord with the noun they are accompanying, in terms of gender, number and case.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/danaibalt

    ο/η/ το are definate articles. that means they refer to a spesific object. they have multi[ple forms (like german does) so ο would be ο, του, το(ν) depedning on how you're refering to the object. sorry this isnt very good im a native greek speaker and suck at explaining my own language

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    https://www.duolingo.com/zcggcz2

    No worries! I give you so much credit for trying! I would never be able to explain the complexities of the English language in Greek or any other language for that matter. Ευχαριστώ!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/danaibalt

    Παρακαλώ :)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16
    jaye16
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    You explained it very well. One or two tiny spelling etc errors -no biggy but please learn when to use and not to use words like "suck". Here is one place not to use it. I know it's hard to catch the nuances in another language and hope you don't mind advice from a native English speaker.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/danaibalt

    thanks a lot. :)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/Effie_Kos

    Hallo! In Greek language, like i.e. in german, spanish and other languages nouns and adjectives have genders. (masculine/feminime/neuter=αρσενικό/θηλυκό/ουδέτερο). All nouns have a specific gender, but contrary to English, even things (including concrete objects and abstract ideas) can be masculine, feminine, or neuter, and there is no way to predict the gender from the semantics of the noun a point that causes a lot of frustration to learners of Greek. For example, the wall is masculine, the door feminine, and the floor neuter. o τοίχος / η πόρτα /το πάτωμα. (οριστικό άρθρο) ή για το αόριστο άρθρο ένας τοίχος/μία πόρτα/ ένα πάτωμα So you learn each word together with the gender of it :(

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    https://www.duolingo.com/EllinoryVasalou

    Right. You can use "o"(mele) , ''η''(female), "το" when you want to speak about someone who you know or you have met; Ο άντρας που μου μίλησε.- The man who talked to me(we have met so I know that he talked to me). But you use ένα/μια/ένα for something or someone like all the others. Είδα ένα πράσινο αμάξι.-I saw a green car ( I have never seen this car before so I just mentioned it. I speak greek and I hope you understand this rule.:-)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/LeKats

    So ο/η/το is like "the" and ένα/μια/ένα is like "a", right? Also, do the male and female genders apply only to living creatures of the respective genders or do they apply to some objects too, like in Russian, for example?

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    https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
    mizinamo
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    Yes, ο/η/το is "the" and ένας/μια/ένα are "a". (And ένας/μία/ένα are "one".)

    Genders apply to all nouns in Greek, whether they refer to humans, animals, objects, or abstractions. So, like in Russian or most(?) other languages with grammatical gender in nouns.

    And grammatical gender does not always correspond to natural gender, e.g. το αγόρι "the boy" and το κορίτσι "the girl" are grammatically neuter even though boys and girls are male and female, respectively.

    And masculine and feminine genders can apply to non-humans as in ο αέρας "the air" (masculine) or η ζέστη "the heat" (feminine).

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    https://www.duolingo.com/LeKats

    Okay, thank you!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/Jane-Chan20th

    I don't really have anything to add but to say that I've had yet to find a good way to learn proper Greek for so long and because of you I now know how. Ευχαριστο.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/bill276332

    *ευχαριστώ . I am being a dick here but i have to add that all verbs in greek end with ω instead of ο

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    https://www.duolingo.com/squirrel_d

    o/η/το are the definite article, like "the" in English "την" is one of the numbers of definite feminine article (singular - accusative) The general rules described in Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Greek_grammar#Articles) or in other sites like (http://www.foundalis.com/lan/grkgram.htm)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/karwan7

    yes i can help you better..and hope to be able of helping. there is a site could help you better http://langintro.com/greek/grammar/ you can download whole site also this helped me alot..good luck

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    https://www.duolingo.com/jeanprendiville

    Just wondering, maybe one of your problems is the omission of the indefinite article before occupations eg είναι γιατρός, he is a doctor, but he is a doctor in the hospital, είναι ένας γοατρός δτο νοσοκομείο he is a doctor in the hospital or you can leave out the article which changes the meaning a little. But you always include the definite article. Maybe that helps a little.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/UralMasha
    UralMasha
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    ενα/ενας/μια - are indefinite articles, as "a/an" or numerals "one male/female/smth"; ο/η/το - are definite articles, as "the"; το(ν)/την/το - are definite articles or pronouns in αιτιακή πτώση, when something is acting in relation to something, towards something.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/AnnaKanellh

    Dear, I am a native Greek speaker.The articles ο , η , το are used in many cases.I say:the man=ο άντρας,man's =του άντρα, I love the man=Εγώ αγαπάω τον άντρα.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/KiriakiT.

    Hi! I am a native Greek and I feel very happy that someone tries to learn my language. The user drkameleon is very right. Try to understand them by the examples. Keep joing and good luck!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/annathiakaki

    O,use for man or male.H, use for woman or female. το, use for animal and thinks.But o ουρανός( The sky)write with o and not with τo.And other wordς like η βιβλιοθήκη(The library).We have not rule for that. And i learn English from Greek.Can you help me when we use the do,does? Ένας for male.Ένας άντρας, αλλα και ένας κήπος(ο κήπος).Μια γυναίκα But and μια βιβλιοθήκη(library), η βιβλιοθήκη female.Ένα παιδί(το παιδί)child.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/LeKats

    I do, you do, he/she does, we do, you (plural) do, they do.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/korydalos

    use ''o'' when u speak for a man,for example '' ο Νίκος'' , use ''η'' for woman, and ''το'' for noun or things like ''the house'' that mean: το σπίτι!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/lidsville

    I don't understand why it's το κοριτσι - why is girl neuter?

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    https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
    mizinamo
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    Because grammatical gender does not necessarily correspond to natural gender.

    (Also because κορίτσι is in origin a diminutive with an ending that makes the word neuter.)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/lidsville

    ευχαριστώ! This has really been bothering me! Also, I lived in Greece and I noticed the diminutive "itsi" (and "itsili"?) ending on words - so all words with that ending are neuter, then?

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    https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
    mizinamo
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    Yes, all words in -ιτσι are neuter.

    (If you just hear "-itsi", it could possible be a feminine -ιτση, but I don't think that exists - the only feminine version of this ending that I know is -ιτσα.)

    Other diminutive endings include -ούλα (feminine) and -άκι (neuter).

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    https://www.duolingo.com/lidsville

    is "ili" diminutive or an endearment then? How does Vassos become Vassili or in my village "Vassilitisi" - or was I hearing that wrong? Thanks so much and sorry to pester!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/mizinamo
    mizinamo
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    Βασίλειος is likely to be the name the priest gave him at Christening, and Βασίλης is a more colloquial form of that ending.

    Βάσος would be a short form :)

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    https://www.duolingo.com/lidsville

    Neat! So good to know. Thank you so much!

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    https://www.duolingo.com/eleniathfc

    "το " when is thinks .."η" when is woman or the thinks are like female example " η τηλεοραση " .....the tv ...it is objekt but the meening of thet it is τηλε- οραση

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    https://www.duolingo.com/kataigida.1962

    Hi zcggcz2 ...i'll try! ενα - one basket (neuter) ενας -one man (male) μια -one woman (female)

    I hope to help you ....bye bye

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    https://www.duolingo.com/kcdijbfy-deleted

    Wait what. Greek for English speakers was a course 1 year ago and now it's not? I'm so mad.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/EleniInele

    In greek language there are two kinds of articles. You can use the ο/η/το for specific things/persons etc ...and the ένας/μία/ένα for general use... I eat an apple-- /ένα μήλο /generally ///// I eat the apple/το μήλο / specific apple, probablly the apple i have in frond of me

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    https://www.duolingo.com/jaye16
    jaye16
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    Duo makes it a point to give as much information as possible for each skill. In the Tips&notes for Basic 1 and Basic 2 skills the use of the definite and indefinite articles are described and examples are given. The Tips & notes are found on the Home page of each skill right below the list of lessons. I think you'll find them useful.

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    https://www.duolingo.com/Eluviel1

    τΟ βιβλιΟ , τΟ τραινΟ, τΟ αμαξΙ ,τΟ πορτοκαλΙ we use ''το'' before the words which ends with (o or ι) . H κοπελΑ , Η γιαγιΑ , Η μαμΑ we use ''H-η'' before the words wich ends with (α). Ο μπαμπαΣ , Ο καρεκλαΣ , Ο παππουΣ we use ''o'' befor the words wich ends with (Σ-ς). Also we use ενα,μια, ενας with the same rules. P.S. sorry for my English :)

    πριν από 1 χρόνο
    Μάθε Αγγλικά αφιερώνοντας μόνο 5 λεπτά τη μέρα. Δωρεάν.