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Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by stephanie bui - Thursday, 6 May 2010, 08:22 AM

Hi, I just wonder, the greek word for 'it' is it 'δεζ' or 'δεν'? I've read the word for it is also 'αυτό' but isn't that the word for 'this' not 'it'?

Also, I wonder about the word order in greek. In lesson 2 it is stated that 'In greek, there is no strict word order like in english' does that apply to only questions or greek in general?

Thankful for your answers!

Picture of Brenda P
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by Brenda P - Saturday, 8 May 2010, 09:03 AM

I was hoping an expert would jump in and answer your questions, but I'll take a stab at it.

Δεν does not mean "it".  Δεν is used in front of a verb to make it a negative.

είμαι = I am

δεν είμαι = I am not

είναι = it is

δεν είναι = it is not

μπορώ = I can

δεν μπορώ = I can not.

αυτός, αυτή, αυτό = he, she, it, this

As for word order, it is more flexible in Greek but I would have to leave it up to an expert to explain it to you.  I'm just learning the language and I'm usually the one asking the questions! smile

Hope this helps


This is me
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by stephanie bui - Saturday, 8 May 2010, 03:51 PM
  thank you so much for answering! I thought no one would help me with this...

I get now that Δεν means 'not'
but what does Δεζ mean then?

I understand now the usage of 'it' in greek, but still wonder what 'Δεζ' is?

Again, thank you so much for helping me out
Picture of Brenda P
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by Brenda P - Saturday, 8 May 2010, 05:49 PM

I have never heard of the word Δεζ (δεζ), and I can't find it in a dictionery.  Could you tell me what way you've seen it used?  The only thing I can think of is, if you heard it in speech rather than written, it could be the short form for θέλεις (you want).  When someone asks me if I want something, to my ear it often sounds like they're saying "θες" instead of "θέλεις".  I really wish a Greek native would come along and answer this.


This is me
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by stephanie bui - Sunday, 9 May 2010, 12:51 PM
  I've heard it spoken, but I guess it's just a shortening then. I really thank you for clearing this up, I really do Brenda smile
Picture of Brenda P
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by Brenda P - Sunday, 9 May 2010, 09:53 PM

Glad I could help, Stephanie.  Good luck with your studies.


Picture of Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets
Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets - Wednesday, 12 May 2010, 08:18 AM
  Dear Stephanie,

Bianca has given you some very good answers already, but I thought I might be able to add one comment or two. I'm not an expert nor a native, but I've been studying Modern Greek for 3 years already.

Re.: it

As Brenda mentioned, δεν means "not", and is one of the two words that can be used to negate a verb (the other one is μην, used to negate subjunctive clauses and orders). *"δεζ" is not a word. You probably misheard θες, an abbreviation of θέλεις: "you want" (mostly used in questions: "do you want?"), or δεν in front of a word beginning with ζ (δεν, like μην and a few other small words, routinely loses its final -ν. It's kept normally only in front of π, τ, κ or vowels. This is often reflected in writing, so you might see δε instead of δεν).

As for "it", you need to understand two things:
  • unlike English, Greek is perfectly fine not having a subject in front of the verb. The verbal ending usually gives enough information already. So like Spanish, in many cases where English uses "it", you can simply use the verb alone, especially in the cases where "it" is actually completely empty and has no meaning except as a fill-gap because English verbs have to have a subject (so for instance "it rains" is βρέχει, with no subject). This is also true every time English uses a personal pronoun as a subject. In Greek you won't do that unless you want to emphasise the subject (so "I'm going home" would simply be πάω σπίτι. Saying εγώ πάω σπίτι would mean something closer to "it is I who's going home" or "as for me, I'm going home").
  • While English has specific 3rd person personal pronouns (he, she, it, they), Greek does not (at least, not as the subject of a verb). Instead, and only if it is really necessary, it uses the demonstrative pronoun αυτός (αυτή, αυτό): "this" instead. As you might imagine, it is only used to strongly point out what you are talking about. So while it is true that "it" can be translated as αυτό, its use is relatively limited (basically, only when you are truly concerned that the listener will not understand what you are talking about).
Re.: word order

While the claim of lesson 2 could be relativised a little (Greek has some strict word order rules. For instance, the article can't be put after the noun, and words like αυτός, εκείνος and όλος, when put before a noun, have to be put before the article, unlike other adjectives that must be put between the article and the noun - so you say το άσπρο σπίτι: "the white house" but εκείνο το σπίτι: "that house" -), it is true that in general, the order between the subject, the verb and the object is much freer in Greek than in English.

In English, word order in declarative sentences is always Subject-Verb-Object ("I see you"), except in questions where it is Auxiliary-Subject-Verb-Object ("Do you see me?"). Deviations from those word orders are very uncommon, and mostly restricted to poetry or old literary language. In Greek, however, while the standard word order is also Subject-Verb-Object, it's perfectly normal to rearrange that order, and not only in questions. It's done usually for effect, to put the emphasis on something other than the subject, or simply because of euphony (because it sounds "better" that way) . And since nouns in Greek are declined for function, such reorderings normally don't cause any misunderstandings. Rather, they add something to the meaning of the sentence. Probably the most common word order alteration done in Greek is to put the subject after the verb, even in declarative sentences, in order to deemphasise the role of the subject and emphasise the verb itself (this is especially done with verbs that denote involuntary action, perception, or verbs for which the subject actually undergoes the action rather than it originates it, like passive verbs or verbs like αρέσει: "to like").

So yes, in general, word order in Greek is much freer than in English, and that's not only restricted to questions.
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Re: Questions about some words and sentence patterns
by Guest User - Saturday, 6 August 2011, 09:29 PM
  Sorry for replying you after so long time, maybe you have already found the answer.
I'm a native Greek and I'm sure there's no such a greek word!
Maybe you have heard "Δες" which is used when you wanna command someone to see something: "Watch"