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Verb tenses (continuous, non-continuous)
by Szabolcs Horvát - Friday, 21 August 2009, 06:25 AM
  There is a flashcard program I use, which lets one download decks made by other users. I sometimes use a deck of cards that challenges one to translate simple sentences from English to Greek. Unfortunately it is not possible to trace the origin or contact the author of these pre-made decks, so I do not trust them completely.

There are several sentences similar to these:

I want to write. -> Θέλω να γράφω.
She doesn't want to write. -> Δεν θέλει να γράφει.
They don't want you (sing.) to write. -> Δεν θέλουν να γράφεις.

I would have translated these with να γράψω, να γράψει, and να γράψεις.

My question is: is it possible to decide which is the right translation without a context? Or are these translations arbitrary? I am still somewhat confused about the continuous and non-continuous forms (so far explained only in L59 out of the lessons I listened to). Probably that is because my mother tongue only has past, present and future tenses.

It seems to me that the Greek continuous forms are not quite the same as the continuous tenses in English (to be + -ing form). At least in lesson 59, they are used to describe not only to actions in progress, but also actions that repeat. They also seem to refer to longer time spans than the time necessary to complete the action. (E.g. "Κάθε Σάββατο βράδυ ... θα πηγαίνουμε έξω.")

If anyone knows of an online source that explains these tenses, please post the link. Unfortunately it is difficult to google for Modern Greek topics because of all the interference from Biblical Greek (and to some extent, Classical Greek)...

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Re: Verb tenses (continuous, non-continuous)
by Guest User - Friday, 21 August 2009, 11:36 AM


Just as Greek would never say, "γράψω ένα τραγούδι", so no English speaker would customarily say, "I want to be writing a song".

I've found that the Greek speaker can use both continuous and non-continuous forms even when repetitious behaviour is involved.  For example, Greeks can say both διάβαζα πολλές φορές and διάβασα πολλές φορές.

Να ’στε καλά,