Highligts
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Irene Droppert
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The Greek verbs are conjugated among others to the person singular and plural (and to the tense, voice, aspect, and in a sense to the mood). On this page the person singular and plural will be explained.

  • The person is a grammatical category that indicates whether the subject of the sentence is the speaker, the listener (collocutor) or interlocutor (a person who takes part in a conversation) in a speech situation.
  • The singular and plural indicates that the subject refers to one or more persons or things.
  • The person and the singular and plural forms provide information on the subject of a sentence. This information is reflected in the ending of a verb or can be seen on the personal pronoun, which is sometimes explicitly preceded the verb.
  • The person distinguishes itself in the first, second and third person singular and plural:
Person Singular Person Plural
1st pers. εγώ I 1st pers. εμείς we
2nd pers. εσύ you 2nd pers. εσείς * you
3rd pers. αυτός, αυτή, αυτό he / she 3rd pers. αυτοί, αυτές, αυτά they

* The second person plural is also used in a polite and respectful way, e.g. when we speak to someone we do not know well or if someone is older than we are.

Exampples in singular:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Η Πόπη μαγειρεύει κάθε μέρα. Poppy is cooking every day.
2Μαγειρεύει κάθε μέρα. He/she cooks every day.
3Ο Γιάννης δουλεύει στον κήπο του. John is working in his garden.
4Δουλεύει στον κήπο του. He works in his garden.
  • In sentence 1 the person is «Πόπη» (in singular and also the subject). The verb «μαγειρεύω» has been conjugated in the 3rd person of the present tense singular. When the subject is a pronoun, just like in sentence 2, it is usually omitted in many cases (here it should be the personal pronooun «αυτή» - she), which will result in sentences without a clearly indicated subject.
  • The subject in sentence 3 is «Γιάννης» (in singular and also the subject). The verb «δουλεύω» has been conjugated in the 3rd person of the present tense singular. Sentence 4 differs from sentence 2, because here the possessive pronoun «του» indicates that the subject is a man.
Examples in plural:
ελληνικά αγγλικά
1Ο Γιάννης και η Πόπη δεν ταξιδεύουν πολύ. John and Poppy do not travel a lot.
2Πηγαίνουμε στο αεροδρόμιο. We are going to the airfield.
3Εσείς δεν θα της το δείξετε. You will not show it to her.
4Έφυγαν * πριν από το σκοτάδι. They were leaving before dark.
  • In sentence 1 the persons are clear: «Ο Γιάννης και η Πόπη», (they). The verb «ταξιδεύω» has been conjugated in the 3rd person plural of the present tense.
  • In sentence 2 «εμείς» has been omitted, because the verb «πηγαίνω» has been conjugated in the 1st person plural of the present tense. Here the verb itself indicates the person.
  • «εσείς» in sentence 3 is mentioned and consequently it emphasizes that the verb «δείχνω» should be conjugated in the 2nd person of the present tense.
  • In sentence 4 it is not clear whether the personal pronoun they is masculine or feminine. The verb «φεύγω» has been conjugated in the 3rd person plural of the aorist past tense, which means that a perfective aspect is used.

* When the stem-form of a verb has one syllable, which begins with a consonant and is followed by one syllable, then this form is preceded by the syllable «ε-», with the stress on it. In the past tenses of an active verb, the stress should be on the third syllable from the end, where as the stress remains on the same syllable in the non-past tenses of an active verb. The addition is called the augment and means expansion or enlargement

This augment is normally only used in the two past times of the active verb, the imperfect and the aorist.

Detailed explanation of the personal pronouns and the possessive pronouns

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Examples:

In the first sentence, it is clear that the person and the plural of the verb matches the subject (ο Γιάννης και η Πόπη) of the sentence. The second sentence in the 2nd person singular of the future tense (simple) use of the verb «λέω». We are talking to our collocutor you:

1Ο Γιάννης και η Πόπη ποτίζουν τα λουλούδια τους κάθε πρωί. Yanni and Poppy water the flowers every morning.
2Εσύ δεν θα της πεις τίποτα. You will not tell her anything.

In the next sentences the verbs «συμφωνώ», «ενδιαφέρομαι» and «κάνω» have been conjugated respectively in de 1ste person plural (we), in the 1st person plural (us) and in the 3rd person singular. The personal pronouns «εγώ» & «εσύ» (we), «μας» (us) and «αυτός» (he) were mentioned in sentence 1. We cannot see the right gender in sentence 2 because the personal pronouns «αυτός» or «αυτή» are omitted:

1Αφού εσύ κι εγώ συμφωνούμε, δεν ενδιαφερόμαστε τι λέει άυτος. After you and I agree, we are not interested what he says.
2Κάνει πως δεν το θέλει. He/she does as if he/she does not want it.

The verbs «δουλεύω» and «φταίω» have been conjugated in respectively the 3rd person singular («αυτός») and the 2nd person plural (the polite form) («εσείς»):

1Αυτός δουλεύει σ'ένα εργαστάσιο. He works in a factory.
2Εσείς φταίτε για όλα αυτά. You are to blame for it.

In the next sentences the personal pronouns «εσείς» and «εγώ» are mentioned to emphasize them:

1Εσείς πότε θα πάτε στην εκδήλωση; When are you going to the meeting?
2Εγώ πάντως έχω μια διαφορετική γνώμη γι'αυτό. However, I have a different opinion on it.

With polite and respectful utterances the 2nd person plural is used (sent.1). By using «θρησκευτική» it becomes clear that this question is to asked a woman at (because of the ending «η-»):

1Πιστεύετε σ'αυτό που σας είπε η Ελένη; Do you believe in what Helen told you?
2Είστε θρησκευτική και πηγαίνετε στην εκκλησία κάθε Κυριακή; Are you religious and going to the church every Sunday?

When the sentence is vague, indistinct or general the 2nd person is often used in MG, just like in sentence 1 with «περνάς» (of the verb «περνάω») instead of «... περνά κανείς», which also means one or they. The same in sentence 2 with τρως» in the 2nd person singular of the verb «τρώω», instead of «...τρώει κανείς φτηνά...»:

1Με τον Γιάννη περνάς πάντα πολύ καλά. With John one can always get along quite well.
2Στο εστιατόριο αυτό τρως φτηνά και καλά. In that restaurant you can eat cheap and good.

Actually the same applies for the next sentences. In Modern Greek one or they are not often used like in «Από πού πάει κανείς ...» (one goes or they go ). For both sentences the 3rd person plural is used here:

1Από πού πάνε στην Κόρινθο; From where one goes to Corinth?
2Μπορείτε να μου πείτε πού πουλάνε λουλούδια εδώ; Can you tell me where they sell flowers here?

For a friendly approach the 3rd person singular is used in MG, just like in sentence 1 with the verb «προτιμάω», instead of «τι προτιμάς...». In sentence 2 with the verb «κάνω», instead of «τι κάνεις...»:

1Τι προτιμάει, ο φίλος; What do you prefer, my friend?
2Τι κάνει ο ασθενής μας σήμερα; How is our patient today?

The same applies for a somewhat hostile approach, like in sentence 1, instead of «τι θέλετε...» and in sentence 2 «τι θα ήθελες...» with the verb «θέλω», the 3rd person singular is used in both sentences:

1Τι θέλει η κυρία; What does madam wants?
2Τι θα ήθελε ο κύριος; What would you like, sir?

With instructions, as for instance in cooking recipes, the 1st person is used instead of the imperative:

1Βάζουμε ένα κιλό αλέυρι και το ανακατεύουμε με λίγο νερό. Add a kilo of flour and mix it with a little water.
2Πρώτα καθαρίζουμε το ψάρι και ύστερα το αλατίζουμε. Clean the fish first and then add salt.

When we want to demonstrate that we are emotionally involved in a situation, in MG the verb is emphasized and the 1st person plural, instead of the 2nd person singular or plural is used. In sentence 1 the passive verb «αισθάνομαι» and in sentence 2 the active verb «περνάω» are conjugated in respectively the 1st person plural of the present tense and of the aoristus simple past (completed event):

1Πώς αισθανόμαστε σήμερα; How are you feeling today?
2Πώς περάσαμε χθες; How were you doing today?

A category of verbs in the 3rd person singular, which we calles the impersonals «απρόσωπα»:

3rd person singular Meaning
αξίζει it's worth it
απογορεύεται it's prohibited
επείγει it's urgent
επιτρέπεται it's permitted
μπορεί it can, it's possible
πρέπει it must, it's necessary
πρόκειται it's probable, it's likely
φαίνεται it seems

Natural phenomenons

3rd person singular Meaning
αστράφτει it's sparkles, it's shines
βραδιάζει it will be dark
βρέχει it's raining
βροντάει there is lightning
νυχτώνει it will be night
ξημερώνει it will be dawn
φυσάει it blows
χιονίζει it snows
ψιχαλίζει it mizzles, it is misting

Natural phenomenons with «κάνει»

3rd person singular Meaning
κάνει ζέστη it's hot
κάνει καλή μέρα it's a beautiful day
κάνει κρύο it's cold
κάνει παγωνιά it's freezing
κάνει ψύχρα it's cool

The 3rd person singular of the verb «είμαι» in impersonal sentences:

3rd person singular Meaning
Είναι σίγουρο ότι θα βρέξει. It certainly will rain.
Είναι κρίμα που δεν ήρθε. It's a pity that he did not come.

The 3rd person singular of the verb «έχω» in impersonal sentences:

3rd person singular Meaning
Έχει πολύ φασαρία στο σπίτι μας. There's a lot of noise in the house.
Έχει ψάρια απόψε; Do you have fish tonight?

Impersonal verbs with a personal pronoun in the 2nd case:

3rd person singular Meaning
Δεν του αρέσει να σκέφτεται. He does not like to reflect.
Δε μου κάνει κέφι. I do not feel like it.

Impersonal verbs with a personal pronoun in the 4th case:

3rd person singular Meaning
Δεν με πειράζει να πάω. I do not mind to go.
Μ'ενοχλεί που δεν το πρόβλεψα. It bothers me that I did not foresee it.
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