Getting started on ancient Greek
Getting started on ancient Greek

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Getting started on ancient Greek

5 Vocabulary

Now you will look at a few items of Greek vocabulary, starting with nouns, which can be defined as the names of people, places and things.

Review the following Greek nouns. You might find it helpful to read the words aloud. Can you think of any English words that could help you commit these to memory?

  • ἄγγελος   messenger
  • γῆ       land
  • θεός      god
  • ἵππος    horse
  • λόγος       word, reason, story
  • νίκη       victory
  • ποταμός   river

If you find derivations useful, perhaps ‘theology’ would help with θεός and λόγος, or ‘geology’ γῆ and λόγος. ἄγγελος is not an angel, although an ‘angel’ is a divine messenger. It may, or may not, help to connect νίκη with a well-known sporting brand (spelled identically but pronounced differently). ἵππος and ποταμός combine to produce hippopotamus, ‘river-horse’.

Activity 7 Match the nouns

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Without looking back at the list, try matching the nouns with their English equivalents.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. god

  2. messenger

  3. river

  4. word, reason, story

  5. victory

  6. land

  • a.ποταμός

  • b.γῆ

  • c.λόγος

  • d.ἄγγελος

  • e.θεός

  • f.νίκη

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = e
  • 2 = d
  • 3 = a
  • 4 = c
  • 5 = f
  • 6 = b

Here are six common verbs to review. Verbs can be defined as words that describe actions (‘eats’, ‘runs’) or, less frequently, states (‘is’, ‘seems’). Links with English are less obvious here, so you might need to find other techniques for recalling them.

Note that the English translations include the personal pronoun ‘I’, although no word for ‘I’ is supplied in Greek. It is embodied in the ending -ω. Greek personal pronouns like ἐγώ (‘I’) exist, but are retained for special occasions, such as emphasis.

  • ἄγω      I lead
  • βαίνω   I go
  • ἔχω      I have
  • λέγω    I say
  • παύω   I stop
  • φέρω    I carry, I bring

παύω is connected to the English word 'pause’. λέγω, ‘I say’, and λόγος, ‘word, story’, are related to each other, so it might help to learn them together.

But the connections are harder to make than with the first group. Different memorisation techniques might therefore be needed – some suggestions will be made later in Session 8.

Activity 8 Match the verbs

Timing: Allow about 5 minutes

Match the Greek verbs with their English equivalents.

Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

  1. I have

  2. I say

  3. I carry, bring

  4. I lead

  5. I go

  6. I stop

  • a.ἄγω

  • b.ἔχω

  • c.βαίνω

  • d.φέρω

  • e.λέγω

  • f.παύω

The correct answers are:
  • 1 = b
  • 2 = e
  • 3 = d
  • 4 = a
  • 5 = c
  • 6 = f

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