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Greek Lesson 12

Hello everyone! This is the 12th lesson of my series of Greek lessons. Here you'll learn countries, cities, nationalities, countries' adjectives and languages vocabulary in Greek, as well as how to say that you come from a country x. Also, you'll learn two little stories about Istanbul (whose original name isn't actually Istanbul) and Melbourne. Remember that I don't write how words are pronounced, because you' ve already learned it in the first lesson.

So, let's start with the countries first! Please learn the words with their articles, and remember that in Greek even countries' names have cases (genitive, accusative, etc)!!!

  • η Ελλάδα = Greece
  • η Κύπρος = Cyprus
  • η Αγγλία = England (be careful! Αγγλία means literally England, but when the average Greek says Αγγλία refers to all the UK, so don't be surprised if you come from Wales or Scotland and a Greek person says that you come from England!!!)
  • η Γαλλία = France
  • η Γερμανία = Germany
  • η Ιταλία = Italy
  • η Ισπανία = Spain
  • η Πορτογαλία = Portugal
  • η Σουηδία = Sweden
  • η Νορβηγία = Norway
  • η Αλβανία = Albania
  • η Τουρκία = Turkey
  • οι ΗΠΑ = the USA
  • ο Καναδάς = Canada
  • η Αυστραλία = Australia
  • η Κίνα = China
  • η Ιαπωνία = Japan

And now let's have a look at some cities:

  • η Αθήνα = Athens
  • η Θεσσαλονίκη = Thessaloniki
  • η Λευκωσία = Nicosia
  • το Λονδίνο = London
  • το Παρίσι = Paris
  • η Λυών = Lyon
  • η Μασσαλία = Marseille
  • το Στρασβούργο = Strasbourg
  • το Βερολίνο = Berlin
  • το Αμβούργο = Hamburg
  • το Μόναχο = Munich
  • η Κολωνία = Cologne
  • η Ρώμη = Rome
  • η Βενετία = Venice
  • η Μαδρίτη = Madrid
  • η Βαρκελώνη = Barcelona
  • η Λισαβόνα = Lisbon
  • η Στοκχόλμη = Stockholm
  • το Όσλο = Oslo
  • τα Τίρανα = Tirana
  • η Άγκυρα = Ankara
  • η Κωνσταντινούπολη = Istanbul
  • η Ουάσιγκτον = Washington
  • η Νέα Υόρκη = New York
  • το Σικάγο = Chicago
  • η Οτάβα = Ottawa
  • το Τορόντο = Toronto
  • η Καμπέρα = Canberra
  • η Μελβούρνη = Melbourne
  • το Πεκίνο = Beijing
  • το Τόκιο = Tokyo

And what for the nationalities? In Greek there are two types for each nationality, one for a male person who comes from a x country and one for a female one.

  • ο Έλληνας - η Ελληνίδα = Greek
  • ο Κύπριος - η Κύπρια = Cypriot
  • ο Άγγλος - η Αγγλίδα = English
  • ο Γάλλος - η Γαλλίδα = French
  • ο Γερμανός - η Γερμανίδα = German
  • ο Ιταλός - η Ιταλίδα = Italian
  • ο Ισπανός - η Ισπανίδα = Spanish
  • ο Πορτογάλος - η Πορτογαλίδα = Portuguese
  • ο Σουηδός - η Σουηδέζα = Swedish
  • ο Νορβηγός - η Νορβηγίδα = Norwaegian
  • ο Αλβανός - η Αλβανή = Albanian
  • ο Τούρκος - η Τουρκάλα = Turkish
  • ο Αμερικάνος - η Αμερικανίδα = American
  • ο Καναδός - η Καναδέζα = Canadian
  • ο Αυστραλός - η Αυστραλιανή = Australian
  • ο Κινέζος - η Κινέζα = Chinese
  • ο Ιάπωνας - η Ιαπωνέζα = Japanese

However, these forms are not obligatory. They vary from one region to another. You can meet several forms of nationalities, like η Πορτογαλέζα, η Αλβανίδα, η Αυστραλέζα, ο Αμερικανός, ο Γιαπωνέζος, etc.

And now for the countries' adjectives!!! Remember that adjectives in Greek have three genders (masculin, feminin and neutral)!!!

  • ελληνικός-ελληνική-ελληνικό = Greek
  • κυπριακός-κυπριακή-κυπριακό = Cypriot
  • αγγλικός-αγγλικά-αγγλικό = English
  • γαλλικός-γαλλική-γαλλικό = French
  • γερμανικός-γερμανική-γερμανικό = German
  • ιταλικός-ιταλική-ιταλικό = Italian
  • ισπανικός-ισπανική-ισπανικό = Spanish
  • πορτογαλικός-πορτογαλική-πορτογαλικό = Portuguese
  • σουηδικός-σουηδική-σουηδικό = Swedish
  • νορβηγικός-νορβηγική-νορβηγικό = Norwaegian
  • αλβανικός-αλβανική-αλβανικό = Albanian
  • τούρκικος-τούρκικη-τούρκικο = Turkish
  • αμερικάνικός-αμερικάνικη-αμερικάνικο = American
  • καναδικός-καναδική-καναδικό = Canadian
  • αυστραλιανός-αυστραλιανή-αυστραλιανό = Australian
  • κινέζικος-κινέζικη-κινέζικο = Chinese
  • ιαπωνικός-ιαπωνική-ιαπωνικό = Japanese

But when do we have to use countries' adjectives? In English, the adjectives of nationalities (French, German,etc) can be used to describe a person who comes from this country or a thing which comes from its country. In Greek we use nationalities adjectives to say that someone comes from one country (for example, My neighbour is Italian, here "Italian" is nationality, but if we want to say The dress is Italian --> it was made in Italian, we will use the country's adjective). :)

And what about languages? Well, languages are formed using the country's adjective and the ending -α or -ά. So, we have:

  • τα ελληνικά = Greek
  • τα αγγλικά = English
  • τα γαλλικά = French
  • τα γερμανικά = German
  • τα ιταλικά = Italian
  • τα ισπανικά = Spanish
  • τα πορτογαλικά = Portuguese
  • τα σουηδικά = Swedish
  • τα νορβηγικά = Norwegian
  • τα ισλανδικά = Icelandic
  • τα αλβανικά = Albanian
  • τα τούρκικα = Turkish
  • τα κινέζικα = Chinese
  • τα ιαπωνικά = Japanese
  • τα ολλανδικά = Dutch
  • τα ρώσικα = Russian
  • τα πολωνικά = Polish
  • τα καταλανικά = Catalan

Well, you've learned countries and nationalities, but how can you say that you come from a country x? Well, to say where you are from in Greek, there are two ways.

1) To use the verb είμαι (to be) and say your nationality then (be careful with genders!)

2) Say the verb είμαι (to be) + από (from) + the definitive article in accusative + your country. For example, Εγώ είμαι από την Ελλάδα. (= I come from Greece.)

And now let's have a cultural lesson.

You know that Athens is the capital of Greece, right? It's also its largest city and Thessaloniki is the "2nd capital" of Greece and its 2nd largest city. But which is its 3rd largest city?

Some people may answer that it's Heraklion, Ioannina, or another city of Greece. In fact, it's Melbourne!!!!! (surprised? Sure!) How can an Australian city be the 3rd largest Greek city?

Melbourne has been the dreamland of many Greek people for many years. In the 20th century, people migrated to Australia to save themselves from poverty after war, and now there are still people wishing to migrate there. My grandma has told me several stories about her neighbours and cousins from her village who couldn't live anymore in Greece, so they went to the harbour of the city, where there were boats which transfered people from Greece to work in Australia and left for the other side of the planet!!! My grandma used to have a cousin in Sydney, who is now dead and his children (my parents' cousins) now live in Australia (although I don't know them). My grandma's father tried to persuade my grandma's mother (when my grandma was a child) to migrate there, but he (fortunately) didn't persuade them. (if they had gone to Australia, I would never learn Greek, so I wouldn't be able to teach you now!) Those who migrated had to spend a whole month on a boat (there were no planes then!) and most of them worked in the industry or in the farms. Most of them are now dead. Some of their children stayed in Australia (like my grandma's cousin's children), while some of them came back to Greece. According to the statistics, in 2011 there were 378,270 people of Greek ancestry in Australia and 99,939 born in Greece. As most of them live in Melbourne and Sydney, it's not odd that Melbourne is the 3rd largest Greek city!!!

So, it's OK with Melbourne. But what's going on with Istanbul (whose name isn't Istanbul)?

As you've learned in this lesson, Istanbul is called Κωνσταντινούπολη in Greek, which is pronounced as "Konstandinupoli". But why is it called like this? Constantinople, as you know, was the capital of Byzantium (330–1453). The city was founded in ancient Greece time (some centuries before the Roman empire) and was called Βυζάντιον. It was an ancient Greek city. However, when the emperor Konstandinos decided to transfer the capital of the Byzantine/Roman empire from Rome to Byzantium (modern Istanbul), he gave a new name to the city: Constantinople. But in 1453, when the city was taken by the Ottoman empire, the Turkish people wanted to change its name (again!) and gave the name Istanbul to the city. But why Istanbul? It comes from the ancient Greek phrase "εις την Πόλη" (to the City). Is tin poli --> Istanbul!!! But in Greek, it's still called Constantinople (Κωνσταντινούπολη).

I hope that you've found this lesson interesting,


Greek discussions directory

March 18, 2015



Interesting indeed!


Great stories, Παναγιώτη :)


Παναγιώτη, when we say we come from country x, do we also use the definite article before the nationality? E.g. "Είμαι η Βουλγάρα" or just "Είμαι Βουλγάρα"? Ευχαριστώ!


No, it's not necessary. "Είμαι Βουλγάρα" is correct.

However, you may use an article before the nationality when you want to stress somebody's nationality. For example:

  • Η Γαλλίδα έχει μία κόκκινη τσάντα. (= The French woman has a red bag)

Here you want to stress her nationality because she was in a group of foreigners and you know absolutely nothing about her aside from her nationality. :-)


Very nice decription and explanation, thanks!

I as well read that the american "ok!" (okay) comes from the "όλα καλά!" when the greek expatriate workers stamped the wares from the boats after having controlled them. Greek's everywhere! ^^

How is it possible to follow all your courses you made? I would be very interested in?


I have also heard this story about "OK", though I am not sure if it is true or it is just a joke.

What do you mean "follow all your courses"? You can find the links to all the discussions that I have created about Greek in the directory: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/5838681 :-)


Γεια σου Πάνο,

Σ' ευχαριστώ πολύ για τον σύνδεσμο. Φαίνεται πολύ ενδιαφέρον. ΄Ειδα, ότι έφτιαξες μαθήματα της ελληνικής γλώσσας και θα ήθελα να τα ακολουθώ. Εν τούτοις, βλέπω, ότι έβαλες και άλλους σύνδεσμους τους οποίους θα ρίξω μιά ματιά αμέσως!

Ήμουν πάρα πολύ απογοητευμένη με την αναβολή του ελληνικού μαθήματος στο ΔΛ. Αλλά νομίζω, ότι θα χρειαστώ βοήθεια με τις μετάφρασες ελληνικών κειμένων. Εάν έχεις κάποιες ιδέες...

Κα κάτι άλο από τα όνοματα με ελληνικές ρίζες: το εαυτό της εταιρίας "Nike" προέρχεται από τη Νίκη. Και τι σκέφτεσαι από το Κοκακόλα; Εγώ σκέφτικα, ότι θα μπορούσε να προερθεί από τις λέξεις "κακό" και "καλό", δηλαδή ένα πότο που περιέχει κάτι κακό που κάνει κάτι καλό, όπως ναρκωτικά! ^^

Εντάξει, δεν θα σε ενοχλώ πιά με την φλυαρία μου!

Καλό σου απόγευμα και πάλι ευχαριστώ! :-)



Πρώτα απ'όλα πρέπει να πω ότι το επίπεδο των ελληνικών σου είναι εντυπωσιακό! Μπράβο!

Το όνομα της Nike όντως εμπνεύστηκε από το όνομα της θεάς Νίκης. Όσο για την κόκα κόλα, δε βρήκα τίποτα για την προέλευση του ονόματός της στη wikipedia.

Καλό απόγευμα και σε σένα! :-)


Σ 'ευχαριστώ για την φιλοφρόνηση σου! Μαθαίνω τα Ελληνικά από δύο χρόνια, αλλά κάθε μέρα! Επιπλέον σπουδάζω με αυτοδίδακτο τρόπο, γιατί μένο μακριά από τις πόλες. Είμαι μισή Ελληνίδα, αλλά γενήθηκα στο εξωτερικό. "Long et dur est le chemin qui, de l'Enfer, conduit à la lumière"! (Chateaubriand) ^^



My Greek is not that good yet (I used Google translate :/), but I've always learned that "Coca-Cola" comes from the main ingredients which it was originally made from: coca leaf (the same plant from which cocaine comes) and the kola nut. :)


Great leasson and great history! ευχαριστώ πολύ!

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