Learn how to say good morning in Greek, when to say it, and what to avoid doing if you don’t want to look like a Greek-speaking novice. Good morning is one of the most popular phrases that you can learn to say in pretty much any Western language.
Facts About Greek
Greek is an Indo-European language that claims the title of the longest documented history of this family of languages. The Greek alphabet has been used for nearly 3,000 years, and it’s more than 3,000 years old.
Here are a few fun facts about Greek and a few reasons why you might want to learn Greek yourself.
Who speaks Greek?
More than 13 million people speak Greek all over the world. It’s the main language of the Mediterranean.
About 365,000 people in the U.S. speak Greek, and the country saw a large wave of immigration during the 1800s and 1900s. Tens of thousands of Greeks flocked here to escape poverty back home.
Today, the largest population of Greek citizens in the U.S. live in New York (particularly in Queens in New York City) and New Jersey.
Why learn Greek?
Greek is an important language! Many of our words and letters in English come from Greek, and many great works of literature were written in Greek.
If you want to read The Illiad, Medea, The Poetics, or other famous Greek works as they were written — in Greek — you’ll need to learn how to speak the language.
Greek is the alpha and omega of the alphabet: the word alphabet means alpha plus beta! Alpha is the first letter in the Greek alphabet (A) and beta is the second letter in their alphabet (B).
While not all English letters correspond so closely with Greek letters (the last letter in the Greek alphabet isn’t Z — it’s omega, which means the end of everything).
The New Testament was even originally written in Greek (not Latin or Italian!).
How hard is Greek for English speakers?
We’re not gonna sugarcoat it for you: Greek isn’t an easy language to learn if your first language is English.
Yes, we share a lot of words (and letters), but the two languages come from completely separate language families (English is a Germanic language).
Experts believe that learning Greek for an English speaker is just as difficult as learning Hindi or Farsi. Of course, the Greek alphabet is totally different than the English alphabet, so you’ll need to learn a separate alphabet in addition to new vocab, grammar, and sentence structure.
Check out our tips on how to learn Greek down below, should learning the ins and outs of this language get you down.
How to Say Good Morning in Greek
Good morning is a very common phrase to say in Greece! You can use this phrase much of the day (not just first thing in the morning or before noon as we do in English-speaking countries).
To say good morning in Greek, you’d say, “Kaliméra!”
Since the Greek alphabet is different than the English alphabet, you’ll see the word kaliméra written like this: Καλημέρα.
Most English speakers find it easier to pronounce Greek words than words in languages that weren’t derived from Latin.
Of course, you wouldn’t pronounce everything in Greek the same as you would in English! The good news is that pronouncing Greek words is slightly easier than pronouncing words in some other languages (such as English).
Want even more good news? There are no silent letters in Greek! That means that you won’t need to worry if a letter is pronounced or not — unlike in English where words like gnome, name, or even bomb.
When saying good morning in Greek, you could sort of sound out the word and say, “kah-lee-meh-rah.”
Just make sure to take note of the accent above the e and emphasize the “meh” when pronouncing this word.
If you really want to sound like a local, you may want to practice saying Greek words with a language translation app, like Vocre.
Vocre offers text-to-speech, speech-to-text, and even voice-to-voice translation. The best part is that you can download the app on your phone when you have wifi or cell service and continue to use it even if your signal is lost.
When to Say Kaliméra
For many of us English speakers, knowing when to say good morning is a little confusing. Different cultures use this phrase much differently than we do in the U.S.
You can use kaliméra to greet someone first thing in the morning or anytime in the morning really. You can also use this phrase in the afternoon.
When combined with the word yassas, kaliméra simply means hello. If you combine kaliméra with yassas, you’ll be greeting someone with more formality (which is ideal if you want to pay respect to someone, as with someone older or someone with more authority).
Yassas on its own is a very informal greeting.
If you want to greet someone in the afternoon, you could say, “kalo mesimeri.” Though, many Greek speakers do not use this phrase, so steer clear of it if you want others to think you’re a local or fluent in Greek.
You can use kalispera to say good evening or kalinychta to say good night.
Don’t want to say good morning when you greet someone? Learning how to say hello in other languages can help you get a leg up on learning the language.
There are plenty of Greek greetings you can use to say hi, hey, how are you, nice to meet you, and much more! They include:
- Yassas: hello
- Ti kaneisi?: how are you doing?
- Chárika gia ti gnorimía: nice to meet you
If you’re wandering the streets of Greece and you’re obviously a foreigner, there’s a good chance that you’ll hear the most common Greek greetings. Though, you may want to familiarize yourself with as many Greek greetings as possible!
The good news is that if you don’t already know many of these words before your trip, you will probably know them by the time you return home.
One tradition in Greece that we don’t practice in the U.S. is to wish someone a happy month on the first day of the month. It’s kind of like saying, Happy New Year!” But you say it on the first day of each month — not just the first few days of January.
Back in ancient times, the first day of each month was considered a mini holiday (like Saturdays or Sundays in the U.S., depending on your culture).
We know we’d like to take a vote to go back to celebrating the first day of each month as a holiday!
If you want to use the evening equivalent of kaliméra, you could say, “Kalispera,” (to say good evening) or, “kalinychta,” (to say good night), or you could say… “kaliméra!”
Kalispera can be used at any time throughout the evening (after 5 p.m.), but kalinychta is only used as a way to say good night before you go to bed.
You could also simply say goodbye or, “Antío sas.”
καλωσόρισμα noun. welcome
Another common greeting in Greek is kalo̱sórisma, which simply means welcome.
Another way to say hello to someone who is arriving at your home is, “Kalo̱sórisma,” or welcome. You may also hear this word when you first arrive in the country or get to your hotel. You may also hear this word at restaurants or stores, too.
There are many words and phrases that simply cannot be translated from other languages into English.
Because of cultural differences, many words in other languages don’t have a purpose in English (though we happen to think we should jump on this bandwagon and create some English translations of these super cool words!).
Some of our favorite Greek words that cannot be translated into English include:
Meraki: When you do something with so much soul, love, or flow state that a little piece of you is infused into what you’re doing.
Philoxenia: Admiration for someone you don’t know; love for a stranger in a welcoming manner.
Nepenthe: A thing or action that helps you forget your suffering, anxiety, stress, or other negative feelings.
Eudaimonia: Feeling happy and content during travel.
We happen to love that last one — but then again, we may just be biased!