Picture of Brenda P
by Brenda P - Friday, 1 April 2011, 07:02 AM
For the verb "to owe", some of my dictionaries say οφείλω...others say χρωστάω. Are they interchangeable? Is one more colloquial than the other? Are there any subtle differences?
Picture of Greg Brush
Re: οφείλω/χρωστάω
by Greg Brush - Friday, 1 April 2011, 12:00 PM
  No, they're different.

οφείλω means "owe" in its older English sense of "ought (to)", "should", or "must", and carries some sense of obligation or duty:
Η Ελλάδα οφείλει να μεταρρυθμίσει τη δική της οικονομία. = Greece must reform its economy.

χρωστώ/χρωστάω means "owe" or "be in debt" financially, and has to do specifically with money:
Η Ελλάδα χρωστάει 50 δισεκατομμύρια ευρώ στην Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα. = Greece owes 50 billion euros to the European Central Bank.

Greg Brush

Picture of Brenda P
Re: οφείλω/χρωστάω
by Brenda P - Friday, 1 April 2011, 01:11 PM
  Thank you so much, Greg. That's an important difference to know!!
Picture of florin constantin
Re: οφείλω/χρωστάω
by florin constantin - Wednesday, 27 April 2016, 07:51 AM
  Hi Greg!

Regarding "χρωστάω" you said it has to do specifically with money. However, I think this isn't exclusive because I heard Giorgos Mazonakis in his song "Terma" saying:

"Δε σε χρωστάω τέτοια χάρη"