Picture of Brenda P
σαν / όπως
by Brenda P - Friday, 15 April 2011, 05:31 PM

Are σαν and όπως interchangeable? If not, what is the difference in meaning, and which one would I use in the sentence "I trust you like no one else."

Σε εμπιστεύομαι σαν/όπως κανέναν άλλο.

Picture of Guest User
Re: σαν / όπως
by Guest User - Saturday, 16 April 2011, 02:57 AM
  Hi, Brenda!

It is a very interesting question ; I often had trouble too with this isssue.
I guess we will be able to cope with this when we'll encounter them in a lot of different kind of sentences, with different senses in there.
Untill Greg post his response, I will try to give you an answer.
Ι think they are not always interchangeable.

-In your sentence, I guess you may use either of the two, meaning "like" (the same when you use them like "as")

-When you use the phrase "σαν να" , wich means "as if" , then you cannot interchange "σαν" with "οπως".

-Again , when "σαν" has the meaning of "while/when" , I guess you can't interchange "σαν" with "όπως"

i.e. (in a song)

βρέχεις νεράκι την ψυχή βαθιά σαν τριγυρνάς = you wet my soul with cool water when you surround me



Picture of Brenda P
Re: σαν / όπως
by Brenda P - Saturday, 16 April 2011, 06:34 AM
  Thanks very much for your help, George. Maybe Greg will be able to add to that smile
Picture of Arshak Davidian
Re: σαν / όπως
by Arshak Davidian - Sunday, 17 April 2011, 03:21 AM

I too am eager to see Greg's answer, it's a good question. Meanwhile here's my perception of it.

Although σαν and όπως have a very close meaning, they cannot always be used interchangeably. I agree with George's examples where they cannot.

While both have a meaning of as, like, such as, σαν more readily can refer to a noun, a state, while όπως gives the answer to πώς, i.e. how an action is implemented. I can put it into a not-very-English expression as how as.

I'll try this way, consider κόπει σαν μαχαίρι and κόπει όπως μαχαίρι. While both expressions mean it cuts like a knife, the second has a slightly different meaning in mind implying όπως το μαχαίρι θα κόψει, it cuts as a knife would. While in the first the similarity stresses on the knife itself, in the second it stresses more on the process of cutting, how it's done.

The range of use of these two words is very wide I suppose, here's one other example which comes to mind όπως επίσης. Here certainly one cannot replace όπως with σαν. Although dictionaries explain επίσης as also, too, it has a meaning of similarly, i.e. how.

I'll keep a close eye on this discussion. Thanks for the question.

Picture of Brenda P
Re: σαν / όπως
by Brenda P - Sunday, 17 April 2011, 06:41 AM
  Thanks for your help, Arshak. It's all very interesting. This is a thread I'm going to have to print out for reference smile