Language tools

On the following links you will find some highly qualified websites on English Grammar, including parsing sentences:

UCL-English Grammar
my English pages

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Irene Droppert
Dutch - Modern Greek
Vlaardingen-The Netherlands

In Modern Greek we have to deal with the following cases:

  • the nominative [1st case] - η ονομαστική
  • the genitive [2nd case] - η γενική
  • the dative [(ancient) 3rd case] - η δοτική
  • the accusative [4th case] - η αιτιατική
  • the vocative [5th case] - η κλητική
The nominative

The nominative, is designating the subject of a verb and the words that agree with it. It is the basic case denoting the declinable words in dictionaries:

  • the subject does or makes something (sentence 1)
  • the subject is in a particular situation (sentence 2)
  • the subject experiences something (sentence 3)
  • doing something to the subject (sentence 4)
ελληνικά αγγλικά
01. Ο Γιάννης έφυγε. John left.
02. Η Ελένη κοιμάται. Helen sleeps.
03. Η Πόπη έπεσε στο έδαφος Poppy fell on the ground.
04. Ξυρίστηκε ο Πέτρος. Peter was shaved.

In addition the nominative is used to indicate a subject predicate, i.e. that the description of the subject, with a word or in a phrase, has the same status and meaning.

Some examples of this are:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ο Γιάννης σπουδάζει δικηγόρος. Jan is studying to be a lawyer.
Τη ξέρω από μικρή. I've known her since (I was a) child.
Θεωρείται πολύ όμορφος. He is considered as very handsome.
Το βιβλίο αυτό χρησιμεύει για έργο αναφοράς. This book serves as a reference.

The same applies to the linking verbs, in which the noun phrase is formed, as the nominal predicate and in which the same property and state of the subject is described. The nominal part of this predicate has to be agreed in number and in gender with the subject.

Some examples of the nominal predicate are:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ο Γιάννης είναι συμπαθητικός. John is sympatic
Ο Γιάννης έγινε καλός γιατρός John became a good doctor
Η Ελένη μου φαίνεται πολύ έξυπνη Helen seems to me very intelligent.
Πάει για αρχηγός της ομάδας. He is going for captain of the team.

The concept "nominal part of the predicate" is conceived differently in Modern Greek than in English. Partly because this part of the predicate corresponds in number and gender to the subject (the nominative), there are also other constructions that connect nouns and word groups with the subject.

A few examples are:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
Ο Γιώργος πέθανε φτωχός. George died poor.
Ο γέρος περπατάει σκυφτός. The old man walks bended.
Ο παπάς του χαιρετάει γονατιστός. The priest greets him kneeling.

When titles and city names, describing a noun-phrase, they also appear in the nominative:

"Η μυστική διδασκαλία του Πλάτωνα στο" "Θεαίτητος" είναι πολύ γνωστό "The secret doctrine of Plato" in "Theaetetus" is well known.
"Η φιλοσοφία για τη ζωή" είναι ένα διδακτικό βιβλίο. "The philosophy of life" is an instructive book
"Η Αθήνα" είναι η πρωτεύουσα της Ελλάδας. Athens is the capital of Greece.
Σε μία όμορφη τοποθεσία στην Αγία Αννα βρίσκεται το "Συγκρότημα Αγγελική". On a beautiful venue in Agia Anna "Aggeliki Studios" are located.
στo χοριό [4de nv.] "Τρίποδες" [1ste nv.] in the village "Tripodes".

The nominative used with some types of fixed expressions:

είναι τέσσερις η ώρα. It is 4 o'clock.
στις τρεις η ώρα. at three o'clock.
πούν'τος; where is he?
να τος! there he is!

In the last two phrases the weak personal pronoun can be seen in the 1st case. That is only possible after «πούν'»(πού είναι) - where is/are and after «να» - there is/are

The genitive
  • The genitive has two groups of grammatical features, very different from each other, in which the formation depends on which control is turning to account.
  • Is the 2nd case checked by a verb then an indirect object is generally indicated.
  • When the 2nd case depends on a common noun severals relations may occur, omdicating the owner of the dependent noun or several abstract relations.

The genitive controlled by a verb

Controlled by a verb the genitive usually indicates that the personal pronoun or the noun-phrase are the indirect objects of the verb. In the following examples, the indirect object denotes the person or thing etc. to whom something has been said, or to whom something has been given:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Έδωσα του Παύλου το κλειδί. I gave the key to Paul.
2Το έδωσε της Χριστίνας He gave it to Christina
3Μου έδωσε ένα δαχτυλίδι. He gave me a ring.
4Της είπα την ιστορία I told her the story.
5Πιάσε μου το βιβλίο. Pick up the book for me.
6Του πήραν το βιβλίο του. They took away his book from him.

In the Greek spoken language it is currently customary to use the preposition «σε» in a sentence with an indirect object, in order to make use of the accusative (4th case). Then the sentences 1 and 2 would be: «Έδωσα στον Παύλο το κλειδί» and «Το έδωσε στη Χριστίνα»

In the examples 3, 4 and 5 the direct object, in the form of the weak personal pronoun in the genitive (2nd case), indicates to whom the action is intended.

Without mentioning the possessive pronoun «του», example 6 could have been interpreted as if one brought along the book for him instead of one took it from him. In such cases optionally the possessive pronoun can be added to show the correct interpretation of the text.

What if the indirect object is influenced by the activity of the verb, as illustrated below?

Του κόψανε τα μαλλιά. They cut his hair.
Μου κλέψανε τα λεφτά. They stole my money.

In the above sentences it is instantly clear that by using these two cooperating indirect objects «του» and «μου», whose hair and whose money it is, otherwise another possessive genitive expression was used.

The 1st person of the weak personal pronoun seems to be the concerning party here. The speaker expresses its interest in the welfare of his interlocutor:

Τι μου κάνεις; How you're doing?
[literal: What are you doing to me?].

The genitive is also used with verbs that usually don't have an indirect object:

Σου πάει πολύ το φόρεμα. The dress suits you very well.
Δεν μου αρέσει αυτό το φαγητό. I do not like that food.
Μου φαίνεται δύσκολο να το καταλαμβάνω. It seems to me difficult to understand it.
Μοιάζει του πατέρα του. He looks like his father.

With some verbs from the καθαρεύουσα only the genitive can be used in formal speaking style, even if no indirect object is indicated. A construction with the preposition «σε» plus the 4th case is not an option here. With the exception of «διαφεύγω», the indirect object must be a noun-phrase and not a weak pronoun in almost all mentioned verbs:

  • διαφεύγω - escape, elude
  • επιζώ - live through, outlast, outlive, survive
  • επωφελούμαι - advantage of
  • προηγούμαι - forego, go before, precede, prelude
  • προεδρεύω - chair, moderate, preside
  • προπορεύομαι - be ahead of, precede
  • προϋπάρχω - preexist
  • υπερισχύω - overcome, overpower, predominate, preponderate, prevail
  • επιμελούμαι * - redact, edit, blank out
  • στερούμαι * - fail in, forfeit, lack
H Iαπωνία προηγείται των άλλων χωρών στην ηλεκτρονική τεχνολογία. Japan has an edge over other countries in electronic technology.
Ο αρχαίος αιγυπτιακός πολιτισμός προϋπήρξε του ελληνορωμαϊκού. The ancient Egyptian civilization existed prior to the Greek Roman.
Υπερίσχυσε του αντιπάλου του. He had ascendancy over his opponent.
Tην έκδοση του βιβλίου την επιμελήθηκε ο ίδιος ο συγγραφέας. The author himself took care of the publication of the book.

* Just like «διαφεύγω", with which the accusative always can be used, making use of this case on the * marked verbs often occur in the less formal language, as in the last sentence.

The genitive depending on a noun

The genitive of a part of speech with a noun which is dependent on a noun has a wider variety of functions in Modern Greek than in Ancient Greek, in which the use of the 2nd case was limited to the possessive function, only when the owner was alive.

* The fact that some nouns have no 2nd case in the plural causes even more complications because in such cases a preposition phrase should be used in the 4th case.

* Clarification

In all three groups of grammatical genders categories (masculine, feminine, neuter) nouns appear of which the 2nd case plural is missing. These are called gaps, which are related to the exceptional status of the 2nd case (the genitive) plural in the Greek accents system.

In MG are many inflection categories for nouns and to a certain extent the placing of the accent is predictable.

Though with these missing cases it is unclear and vague to the writer or speaker whether the accent remains or shifts. On that account in most cases the accusative is chosen in text and spoken language by making use of a preposition, even with nouns of which the 2nd case is not omitting.

The possessive genitive

A noun-phrase or personal pronoun may state that the person or thing etc. that shows it, is in the possession of that which is worded by the noun, on which it depends.

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Το βιβλίο του Πέτρου. Peter's book.
Το βιβλίο του. His book.
Του Πέτρου το βιβλίο. Peter's book (nobody else's).
Αυτονός το βιβλίο His book.
Αυτό το βιβλίο είναι του Πέτρου. This book is Peter's.
Τα πόδια των καρεκλών. The legs of the chairs.
Τα φύλλα από τις ντάλιες. The leaves of dahlias'.

A sub category of the possessive genitive is pointed out in the last two sentences, in which the phrases in the 2nd and 4th case are indicating the entirety of something that is a part in the other fragment.

In addition the earlier mentioned difficulties emerge in the last sentence, of nouns that have no plural genitive, such as «η ντάλια» - dahlia.

The subjective and objective genitive

These functions of the genitive denote the subject or the predicate of an action:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
το γέλιο του μωρού the baby's laughter
το μάζεμα των μήλων the collection of the apples

Sentence 1 means that the baby is laughing - «το μωρό γελάει» and then the baby is the subject. Sentence 2 means that somebody is collecting the apples - «κάποιος μαζεύει τα μήλα» and here is the apples the direct object

A noun phrase or a weak personal pronoun in the 2nd case depending on an abstract noun denotes a more or less abstract relationship, as in the second sentence, the word its designates «το σχέδιό της εικόνας» from the first sentence:

Αυτός ευθύνεται για το σχέδιο αυτής της εικόνας. He is responsible for the design of this sculpture.
Αυτός ευθύνεται για το σχέδιό της. He is responsible for its design.

The noun-phrase in the first sentence is an objective genitive, after all the sculpture is not the subject but the object. Therefore the noun-phrase, the design of this sculpture, corresponds here to the direct object.

However, such as often happens in practice, one could interpret this incorrect as ....for the designing of this sculpture, because of the relationship between the two phrases «το σχέδιο» and «αυτής της εικόνας». In that case «this sculpture» would be the subject and are we dealing with a subjective genitive.

In some cases, it is not quite clear that a connection with the subject or object exists, or that the genitive corresponds to the subject.

Η υποστήριξη των γονιών του. The support of his parents.
Η υποστήριξή του αυτών των γονέων. His support of these parents.

In the first sentence are the parents the subject, because they support him. However this can be misconstrued as if he, himself supports his parents.

In doubt, it is possible that an objective genitive in the form of a noun phrase appears at a subjective genitive with a weak personal pronoun, as in the second sentence, though it rarely happens. By changing the main sentence and slightly adjust the subclause, it is possible, but it is in any case excluded that two weak personal pronouns appear behind the same opening phrase.

Apart from abovementioned functions the genitive still has a variety of other functions as:

  • The genitive of place, time and cause
  • The specific genitive (often without article)
  • The genitive of the streetnames
  • The genitive of quality
  • The genitive of measurement (height, length, time and space)
  • The genitive of content
  • The partitive genitive
  • The genitive of purpose
  • The genitive in surnames
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1 η χαρά της νίκης. the joy of victory
1τα φρούτα του καλοκαιριού summer fruit
2καθηγητής ιστορίας history teacher
2γυαλιά ηλίου sunglasses
3οδός Αθηνάς Athens Street
3πλατεία Δημαρχείου town Square
4άνθρωποι τέτοιου είδους such a kind of people
4συζητήσεις υψηλού επιδέδου high quality discussions
5κορίτσι δέκα χρονών girl of ten years
5δρόμος εκατό μέτρων street of of hundred yards
6μια ομάδα έντεκα γυναικών a group of eleven women
6μια σειρά των βιβλίων a book series
7μια μικρή μερίδα των πατατών a small portion of potatoes
7μέρος της ομιλίας a part of the conversation
8ένα ποτήρι της μπύρας a beer glass
8ένα κιβώτιο ταχυτήτων a gearbox
9κυρία Παπαδοπούλου * Mrs. Pappadopoulou
9Ανδρέας Παπανδρέου Andreas Papandreou

The genitive is used in expressions with the length of time

  • στιγμές ευτυχίας - moments of happiness
  • τόσα χρόνια φιλίας - so many years of friendship

* «Παπαδοπούλου» is the feminine katharevousa form. The masculine surname is «Παπαδόπουλος», with a different accent. Surnames derived from genitives appear in their katharevousa form and have masculine and feminine forms.

Surnames of Christian origin, such as «Παπανδρέου» has been formed from «Ανδρέας» and are used both masculine and feminine.

The genitive of measurement (item 5) is only used in the formal language, apart from the expressions of age. In giving voice to measurements the standard vernacular language is used with the accusative (4th case).

The same goes for the genitive of content (item 6). Herewith the noun-phrase shows out of which the other noun exists. In these cases the preposition «με» is also used, with which one designates the contents of the other pronoun:

  • ένα κουτί με βιβλία - a box with books

Then a couple of phrases on content in which two nouns running after each other. For convenience they are in the 1st case:

  • ένα μπουκάλι γάλα - a bottle of milk
  • ένα ποτήρι κρασί - a glass of wine
  • μερικά κουτιά σπίρτα - various boxes of matches

A noun-phrase or personal pronoun in the genitive may be dependent on an adjective, numeral, pronoun or determiner:

  • The noun-phrase in the genitive
  • The weak personal pronoun in the genitive
  • The noun-phrase or the weak personal pronoun in the genitive
  • The genitive in exclamations
  • The genitive in standard expressions in vernacular (the spoken language)
  • The genitive governed by a preposition
  • The genitive of noun phrases in incomplete constructions
  • The absulute genitive (originated from Ancient Greek)
1είναι άξιος του όνοματός του * he is worth his reputation
1Είναι ένοχος της δολοφονία. He is guilty of murder.
1Θα σας κρατάμε ενήμερο του πρόοδου. We will keep you posted about the progress.
1ένα παντελόνι κόκκινο της φώτιας a crimson trousers
2κανένας τους each of them
2αυτός είναι ο καλύτερος μας he is the best of us
3οι σύγχρονοί μας our contemporaries
3ταυτότητα ονόματος identification name
4αλίμονό σου woe is me
4περαστικά σου get better soon
5είναι της πλάκας it's for fun
5κάνει του κεφαλιού του he does as he pleases
6ανά χείρας near at hand
6εκτός κινδύνου out of danger
7πάω στου Γιάννη I go to John's place (his house)
7του Αγίου Γεωργίου (on) St. George's (day)
8δεδομένης της κατάστασης .... given the situation ....
8προκειμένου για .../προκειμένου να ... regarding ... / so that ...

Item 2 and 3 explained in more detail

Weak personal pronouns are use in the genitive:

  • after numerals, after some adjectives and after pronouns
  • after an adjective in the comparative and superlative degrees **
  • after the reinforcing pronoun «μόνος»
  • after the emphatic possessive pronoun and determiner «δικός (μου)»
Ήρθαμε οι δυο μας. Two of us came.
Ο Γιάννης ήταν ο πρώτος σας. John was the first of yours.
Είναι δύο χρόνια μεγαλύτερη του. She is two years older than he.
Το έκαναν μόνοι τους. They did it themselves.
Αυτή είναι η δική σας καρέκλα. This is your own chair.
Η πιο όμορφη πόλη του κόσμου.*** The most beautiful city in the world.

* In practice, in the formal style, a slight number of adjectives is used being followed by a noun-phrase in the genitive, as in the first sentence «άξιος,-α,-ο». (see the first 3 sentences of point 1 above)

** In practice the construction with the preposition «από» is used more often in the comparative and superlative degrees. For an explanation of the 2nd case after a preposition look at punt 6

*** When an adjective in the superlative is placed before a noun, a phrase in the genitive may follow.

The accusative

The accusative has two main uses:

  • to denote the direct object and the verbal predicate
  • to denote the preposition before the direct object

Direct object and verbal predicate:

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Κάνει τα μαθήματά του. He does his homework.
Ο Γιάννης της έδωσε ένα ωραίο βιβλίο. John gave her a nice book.
Οι μαθητές χρειάζονται έναν υπολογιστή. The pupils need a computer.

The direct object is the person who or the thing that relates directly to the action described by the verb. One can find it quite easy by asking whom or what to all phrases.

Then it becomes clear that in above sentences the italicized phrases are the direct objects, and thus in the 4th case (accusative). The verbs «κάνω», «δίνω» en «χρειάζομαι» are the verbal predicates. (For parsing and analyzing see the links nearby in the highlights of Grammarpedia and UCL-English Grammar)

De accusatief wordt gebruikt om het gezegde van het voorwerp weer te geven:

Την θεωρώ φίλη του. I consider her his girlfriend.
Είδα τον πατέρα μου καπνίζοντας ένα τσιγάρο. I saw my father smoking a cigarette.
Βρήκα την μητέρα μου καθισμένη στην πολυθρόνα I found my mother sitting in the armchair.

Prepositions before the direct object:

Η Κούλα είναι από τη Νάξο. Koula is from Naxos.
Χάρισα ένα μπουκάλι κρασί στη θεία μου. I gave (to) my aunt a bottle of wine.
Γελούσε από τη χαρά του. He laughed out of joy.

The accusative is used after numerous other parts of speech, as:

  • the adjectives «γεμάτος», «όλος», «λίγος», «αρκετός» etc.
  • specific participles «ντυνομένος», «φορτωμένος» etc.
  • specific exclamations and exclamations of compassion and indignation
Η ζωή μου είναι γεμάτη ευχάριστες εκδηλώσεις. My life is full of pleasant events.
Δώσε μου λίγο καιρό. Give me a little time.
Έχουμε αρκετή τροφή για τις αγελάδες. We have plenty of food for the cows.
Ντυμένος τα καινούρια μου ρούχα πήγα στο πάρτι. Dressed in my new clothes I went to the party.
Μου ανοίγει την πόρτα του ασανσέρ γιατί είμαι φορτωμένος ψώνια. He opens the elevator door for me because I'm burdening with groceries.
Μα το Θεό! Gracious me!
Τον καημένο τον Γιάννη! poor John!

The accusative used adverbially:

  • with an adverb indicating a periode of time
  • with an adverb indicating a distance in space or time
  • with an adverb indicating a specific moment *
  • with an adverb denoting speed or a weight percentage
  • with an adverb denoting dimensions of space or height
  • with an adverb denoting the degree of separation of two concepts
  • with an adverb indicating an aim or target
1Διάβασα όλη την ημέρα. I read throughout the day.
2Περπάτησα τρία χιλιόμετρα. I walked three kilometers.
2Κράτησρε μόνο μίαν εβδομάδα. It lasted only a week.
3το απόγευμα during the afternoon
3το Μάιο in May
3Την πρώτη Δεκεμβρίου ** on the first of December
4τριάντα χιλιόμετρα την ώρα thirty kilometers an hour
4δύο χιλιάδες ευρώ τον τόνο two thousand euros per metric ton
5Αυτό το κτίριο έχει ύψος είκοσι μέτρα. This building has a height of twenty meters.
5Το ποτάμι είναι δύο μίλια πέρα. The river is two miles further on.
6Το σπίτι μου είναι τρεις δρόμους παρακάτω. My house is three streets further down.
6Ο φίλος μου είναι δέκα χρόνια μεγαλύτερός μου. My boyfriend is ten years older than me.
7Θα πάω επίσκεψη στους γονείς μου. I'm going to visit my parents.


* The day time is indicated with the preposition «σε» e.g. at three o'clock - «στις τρεις»

** After the first day of the month, the days are indicated with «σε» and the feminine ordinal: on the twenty first of December - «στην εικοστή πρώτη Δεκεμβρίου»

In addition to the above use of the accusative, there are numerous specific expressions in which the 4th case of a noun is used adverbially

στέκομαι προσοχή stand at attention
φέρνω βόλτα I manage, I survive
σε πήρα τηλέφωνο I called you
με πήραν τα αίματα ποτάμι I'm bleeding like a stuck pig
λείπω ταξίδι I'm off traveling (absent)
πάω σπίτι I go home
χέρι χέρι hand in hand
άκρη άκρη on the brink
χρόνο το χρόνο γεράσαμε. from one year to another we get older.
Βελτιώνεται μέρα με τη μέρα. She is improving herself day in and day out.
Είναι δικηγόρος το επάγγελμα He is a lawyer by profession.
Είμαι Αγγλίδα την καταγωγή I'm an English woman from birth.
De vocatief

The vocative is used when one addresses a person or thing.

  • Έλα, Δημήτρη - Come on, Dimitri!
  • Ιατρέ! - Docter!

When someone is addressed in a familiar way, some sayings may be accompanied by some exclamations as «μωρέ», «ρε» or «βρε» which are indeclinable regarding case, number and gender.

These exclamations may also be used on their own. They are considered as rude when used towards strangers, but when the persoon, being addressed, is familiar with the speaker they express affection.

ελληνικά αγγλικά
Σώπα, ρε Πέτρο Shut up, Peter
Έλα, μωρέ! Come on, foolish!
Βρε ηλίθιε! You idiot!
De datief

The ancient 3rd case (the dative) survived in a number of fixed adverbial expressions. Although the dative has not a function in the spoken language anymore, there are still a few remnants in form of clichés and fixed phrases.

Many of those phrases are to be found in phrases, preceded by one of the ancient prepositions

εν ψυχρώ in cold blood
εν δράσει in action, on motion
επι λέξει word for word
πάση θυσία at all costs
καλή τη πίστει in good faith
τοις μετρητοίς cash
εντάξει okay
εντούτοις however