Greek Alphabet: English Equivalents and Pronunciation
Language is a remarkable tool that allows us to communicate, express our thoughts, and share our ideas with others. Among the multitude of languages spoken around the world, Greek stands out as a language of great historical and cultural significance. With a rich heritage dating back thousands of years, the Greek language has contributed immensely to human civilization, including philosophy, mathematics, science, and literature.
If you’re looking to explore this captivating language and embark on a journey to learn Greek, the first step is to become familiar with its beautiful alphabet.
In this blog article, we will provide information on every letter in the Greek alphabet and teach you how to pronounce them, offering English equivalents to help you grasp their sounds more easily.
So come on, take the first step and you’ll soon be enjoying Greek podcasts about your favorite subjects!
Greek Alphabet: English Pronunciation of Every Letter
1. Alpha (Αα)
As in Άνθρωπος (Anthropos) (Man, human)
Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and its sound is similar to the English “a” in words like “father” or “apple.”
2. Beta (Ββ):
As in Βιβλίο (Vivlio) (Book)
The Greek letter Beta was pronounced /b/ in classical Greek, which is why the symbol is very similar to the Latin “b”. However, its modern sound is closer to that of the English letter “v”.
3. Gamma (Γγ):
As in Γάτα (Gata) (Cat)
The Greek letter Gamma represents a sound similar to the English “g” in words like “game” or “good.”
4. Delta (Δδ):
As in Δάσος (Dasos) (Forest)
Delta is the Greek letter equivalent to the English letter “d.” Its pronunciation is the same as the English “d” sound.
5. Epsilon (Εε):
As in Ελλάδα (Ellada) (Greece)
Epsilon sounds similar to the English short “e” as in words like “bed” or “get.”
6. Zeta (Ζζ):
As in Ζώο (Zoo) (Animal)
Zeta is pronounced like the English “z” in words such as “zebra” or “zero.”
7. Eta (Ηη)
As in Ήλιος (Ilios) (Sun)
Originally, Eta was a long /e/ sound: /ɛː/. In fact, in many archaic variants of the Greek alphabet, it was written with that symbol. However, around 300 AD, Eta switched from /ɛː/ to /i/. Today, The Greek letter Eta corresponds to a sound similar to the English long “e” in words like “see” or “meet.”
8. Theta (Θθ)
As in Θάλασσα (Thalassa) (Sea)
The Theta letter in Greek is pronounced as the “th” in English words like “thin” or “thank.”
9. Iota (Ιι)
As in Ίδιος (Idios) (Same)
The Greek letter Iota sounds like the English “ee” in words like “see” or “”, which means that this sound can be represented by two different letters: Iota and Eta.
10. Kappa (Κκ)
As in Καλημέρα (Kalimera) (Good morning)
Kappa represents a sound similar to the English “k” in words like “key” or “kite.”
11. Lambda (Λλ):
As in Λουλούδι (Louloudi) (Flower)
Lambda is pronounced the same as the English “l” sound in words like “love” or “lamp.”
12. Mu (Μμ)
As in Μητέρα (Mitera) (Mother)
The Greek letter Mu sounds similar to the English “m” in words like “mother” or “man.”
13. Nu (Νν)
As in Νερό (Nero) (Water)
Nu represents the same sound as the English “n” in words such as “no” or “nice.”
14. Xi (Ξξ)
As in Ξύλο () (Wood)
Xi is pronounced like the combination of “ks” in English words like “kicks” or “box.”
15. Omicron (Οο)
As in Όνομα (Onoma) (Name)
Omicron sounds similar to the short “o” in words like “hot” or “top.”
16. Pi (Ππ)
As in Πόλη (Poli) (City)
Pi is pronounced the same as the English “p” in words like “pen” or “pat.”
17. Rho (Ρρ)
As in Ρολόι (Rolio) (Clock)
The Greek letter Rho has a sound similar to the English “r” in words like “red” or “run.”
18. Sigma (Σσς)
As in Σχολή (Scholi) (School)
Sigma corresponds to the English “s” sound in words such as “sun” or “snake.” However, when placed at the end of a word, Sigma is written as “ς” and pronounced as a soft “s” sound.
19. Tau (Ττ):
As in Τρένο (Treno) (Train)
Tau is pronounced the same as the English “t” sound in words like “time” or “tap.”
20. Upsilon (Υυ)
Υπέροχος (Yperochos) (Wonderful)
Upsilon sounds similar to the English “u” in words like “boot” or “moon.” It can also be pronounced as the English “ee” in words like “see” or “free,” depending on its placement within a word.
21. Phi (Φφ)
As in Φωτογραφία (Fotografia) (Photograph)
The Greek letter Phi corresponds to the English “f” sound in words like “fun” or “fish.”
22. Chi (Χχ)
As in Χορός (Choros) (Dance)
Chi is pronounced as a sound similar to the combination of “k” and “h” in English words like “khaki” or “loch.”
23. Psi (Ψψ)
As in Ψυχή (Psychi) (Soul)
The Greek letter Psi represents a unique sound not commonly found in English. It can be pronounced as a combination of “ps” in words like “psychology” or “pseudo.”
24. Omega (Ωω)
As in Ωκεανός (Okeanos) (Ocean)
Omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet, and its sound is similar to the
English long “o” in words like “go” or “home.”
Here’s a summary of everything we’ve covered so far:
Greek Alphabet: English Pronunciation Chart
|Alpha (Αα)||“a” as in “father” or
|Άνθρωπος [Man, human]|
|Beta (Ββ)||“b” as in “book”||Βιβλίο [Book]|
|Gamma (Γγ)||“g” as in “game” or
|Delta (Δδ)||“d” as in “dog”||Δάσος [Forest]|
|Epsilon (Εε)||Short “e” as in “bed” or
|Zeta (Ζζ)||“z” as in “zebra” or
|Eta (Ηη)||Long “e” as in “see” or
|Theta (Θθ)||“th” as in “thin” or
|Iota (Ιι)||“ee” as in “see” or
|Kappa (Κκ)||“k” as in “key” or
|Καλημέρα [Good morning]|
|Lambda (Λλ)||“l” as in “love” or
|Mu (Μμ)||“m” as in “mother” or
|Nu (Νν)||“n” as in “no” or
|Xi (Ξξ)||“ks” as in “kicks” or
|Omicron (Οο)||Short “o” as in “hot” or
|Pi (Ππ)||“p” as in “pen” or
|Rho (Ρρ)||“r” as in “red” or
|Sigma (Σσς)||“s” as in “sun” or
|Tau (Ττ)||“t” as in “time” or
|Upsilon (Υυ)||“u” as in “boot” or
“moon” or “ee” as in “see” or “free”
|Phi (Φφ)||“f” as in “fun” or
|Chi (Χχ)||“kh” as in “loch” or “k” and
“h” combined as in “khaki”
|Psi (Ψψ)||“ps” as in “psychology” or “pseudo”||Ψυχή [Soul]|
|Omega (Ωω)||Long “o” as in “go” or “home”||Ωκεανός [Ocean]|
Greek Alphabet: English Learners’ FAQs
1. Is the Greek alphabet Cyrillic?
No, the Greek alphabet is not Cyrillic. It is a variation of the Phoenician alphabet, which is one of the oldest writing systems in human history. The Cyrillic alphabet is used to write languages such as Russian and Bulgarian.
2. What is the Greek alphabet called?
The Greek alphabet is also known as the “Hellenic Alphabet” or the “Eta, Epsilon, Sigma” (“Η Ε Σ”) alphabet.
3. What Does ‘Alpha and Omega’ Mean?
The phrase “Alpha and Omega” is derived from the Greek alphabet and is used to signify the concept of beginning and end, or something that is complete. It is often used to refer to God as the creator and sustainer of all things.
4. Is the Greek alphabet hard to learn?
No! Learning the Greek alphabet can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience. With consistency and practice, you can reach a level of fluency in the Greek language. While it may take some time to get used to the new characters, they’re quite easy to write so you’ll be able to make progress with each practice session!
Learn Greek Now!
The Greek alphabet is not only a writing system but also a gateway to the rich cultural and historical heritage of Greece. By familiarizing yourself with the Greek alphabet’s letters and their corresponding sounds, you’ll be on your way to understanding and speaking Greek more confidently.
Remember that practice is key when it comes to mastering pronunciation. Take the time to listen to native Greek speakers and practice mimicking their sounds. With dedication and persistence, you’ll be able to unlock the beauty of the Greek language and connect with its ancient roots.
Would you like to have an experienced Greek teacher to guide you through the whole process? Try taking in-person Greek lessons with Language Trainers so qualified tutors can help you learn the Greek alphabet, pronunciation, and much more in no time! We currently offer Greek classes in New York, Washington D.C., and every other city across the US! Contact Language Trainers today and enjoy your journey of learning this captivating language!