Greek is one of the oldest European languages. Being the language of many foundational texts in science and philosophy, it holds a very important place in the history of Western civilization.
However, while a lot of research has been dedicated to studying the history of this rich language, some confusion about its age and development over time persist. Is it really the oldest language in the world? Is modern Greek the same as the ancient language? What is its connection to Latin?
In this article, you will find the answers to the most commonly asked questions about Greek. And then you’ll learn about the best ways of saying ‘thank you’ in the Greek language!
How old is the Greek language?
Greek has been spoken in the Balkans since the 3rd millennium B.C. The earliest written evidence of the existence of this language is a Linear B clay tablet found in Messinia that dates back to between 1450 and 1350 B.C. This makes Greek the world’s oldest recorded living language.
Is Greek a romance language?
No. While the term “Classics” refers to the study of Latin and ancient Greek, it is important to note that Greek is not a romance language – as opposed to Latin, which is the language origin of French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese.
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European language family and its alphabet different from that of the romance languages. “Classics” is the study of classical antiquity, which encompasses the study of Greco-Roman works that are considered to be the cornerstones of the humanities.
Are ancient Greek and modern Greek the same?
Not entirely. In ancient times, Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean, West Asia and beyond. Since then it has become confined to Greece and Cyprus, where it is used in its simplified, modern form.
Classical Greek refers to ancient Greek. Modern Greek is a simplified version of Classical Greek using the same alphabet. Learning the alphabet is key if you want to speak and read Greek properly. Greek is often transcribed in Latin alphabet characters for practical reasons (e.g. on maps and street signage). This language is informally called Greeklish. However, it has no fast-and-hard rules, which can often lead to confusion.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, you are ready to move on to learn some useful expressions in Greek! Greece has a reputation for being a very hospitable country. The Greeks are known to go out of their way to help other people and to welcome tourists with open arms.
There is no doubt that during your time in Greece you will find yourself eager to express your gratitude at some point. There are many ways to say “Thank you” in Greek. Keep reading to learn the best phrases suitable for different situations and occasions!
These are the most common expressions of gratitude in Greek that can be applied to any situation.
1. Thank you: Ευχαριστώ
Saying “thank you” is, of course, the classic way of expressing gratitude in all languages and a safe bet in order to show one’s appreciation. This translates to “Eυχαριστώ” (efharisto) in Greek.
If you are especially thankful, you can always say “Ευχαριστώ πολύ” (efharisto poli) meaning “Thanks a lot” or “Ευχαριστώ πάρα πολύ” (efharisto para poli) meaning “Thank you very much”.
Another variation, that is perhaps better reserved for a more formal setting, is “Θερμά ευχαριστώ” (therma efharisto) which translates to “Warm thanks” and expresses deep gratitude. In this spirit, you can also say “Ευχαριστώ από τα βάθη της καρδιάς μου” (efharisto apo ta vathi tis kardias mou) meaning “Thank you from the bottom of my heart”.
2. Be well: Να’σαι καλά
One of the most popular Greek phrases for gratitude is “Να’σαι καλά” (na se kala), meaning “Be well”. In Greece, you will hear it everywhere and it is not uncommon to use it as a substitute for “Thank you”. Express your gratitude to someone by sending them positive wishes for their day using this simple phrase.
3. I am grateful: Είμαι ευγνώμων
Another straightforward way of expressing your gratitude is, naturally, to say that you are grateful to a person. “Είμαι ευγνώμων” (ime efgnomon) means exactly that (“I am grateful”) and is a sure-fire way to show your appreciation.
4. I appreciate it: Το εκτιμώ
Expressing gratitude can also come in the form of expressing one’s appreciation. Instead of saying you are grateful, you can say “Το εκτιμώ” (to ektimo), which means “I appreciate it”. You can add the words πολύ (poli), i.e. a lot, or πάρα πολύ (para poli), i.e. very much, to this phrase to show that you are especially appreciative.
Whether you are talking to a boss or to an elderly person, some situations require a formal expression of gratitude. Here are some ideas for giving your ‘thanks’ a more formal tone.
5. I remain obliged: Μένω υπόχρεος/η
A polite way of expressing gratitude in Greek is saying “Μένω υπόχρεος” (meno ipohreos) (if you’re male) or “Μένω υπόχρεη” (meno ipohrei) (if you’re female).
This indicates to the people that you are very appreciative of their actions and that you now have a feeling of obligation towards them. This is a way to let them know that you will be at their disposal if they need your help in the future.
6. Thanks: Ευχαριστίες
The word “Ευχαριστίες” (efharisties) means “thanks” and it is considered to be a rather formal expression in Greek. It is best used within a phrase, such as “Θα ήθελα να εκφράσω τις ευχαριστίες μου” (tha ithela na ekfraso tis efharisties mou), meaning “I would like to express my thanks” and is ideal for navigating a formal situation. Alternatively, it can be used on its own, particularly in writing, as a way to sign off a polite and formal e-mail.
7. Gratitude: Ευγνωμοσύνη
While the Greek word for gratitude, i.e. ευγνωμοσύνη (evgnomosini), cannot be used on its own to express thanks, it can be used within a phrase in a similar way to “ευχαριστίες”. Saying “Θα ήθελα να εκφράσω την ευγνωμοσύνη μου” (tha ithela na ekfraso tin evgnomosini mou) means “I would like to express my gratitude” and it is the most polite and straight-forward way to say thank you in a formal setting.
8. Very kind of you: Πολύ ευγενικό εκ μέρους σας
Another simple, yet polite, way to express one’s gratitude is to simply point out the kindness of someone’s actions. “Πολύ ευγενικό εκ μέρους σας” (poli evgeniko ek merous sas) means “Very kind of you”.
The particularity of this phrase lies in the word “sas” which indicates the so-called “polite plural”. This form is generally used when addressing strangers, elderly individuals or figures of authority with politeness and respect.
If you are addressing someone you know well, you can use the singular form and say “Πολύ ευγενικό εκ μέρους σου” (poli evgeniko ek merous sou) instead.
Are you looking for a more memorable and genuine way to thank someone in Greek? These colloquial phrases express gratitude in a warm and personal way that has a stronger impact than your traditional “thanks”.
9. I owe you a big favor: Σου χρωστάω μεγάλη χάρη
If you want to let someone know that “you owe them one”, you can say “Σου χρωστάω μεγάλη χάρη” (sou hrostao megali hari). This literally means “I owe you a big favor” and shows people in no uncertain terms that you will be at their disposal if they ever need you in the future.
10. You’re enslaving me: Με σκλαβώνεις
A phrase that is often used to express gratitude in Greek is “Με σκλαβώνεις” (me sklavonis), literally translating to “You’re enslaving me”. This colloquialism is used endearingly to show that you are very grateful to someone, to the point that you are willing to act as their “slave”, fulfilling all of their wishes as their command.
11. How can I repay you? – Πώς μπορώ να σου το ανταποδώσω?
When words are not enough and you feel that you need to repay someone’s kindness in actions, try directly asking them what they would like to get in return. Ask them “Πώς μπορώ να σου το ανταποδώσω?” (pos boro na sou to adapodoso?) and find out if there is anything you can do for them to tangibly express your gratitude.
12. You’re the best: Είσαι ο καλύτερος/η
Is there a better way to show you’re thankful to someone other than telling them excitedly they’re the best? This genuine compliment can convey gratitude with warmth and affection. Who doesn’t like hearing they are the best, after all? If you are talking to a male, say “Είσαι ο καλύτερος” (ise o kaliteros). And if you are talking to a female, say “Είσαι η καλύτερη” (ise I kaliteri) and brighten up their day!
13. What would I do without you? – Τι θα έκανα χωρίς εσένα?
In the same vein, you can express your gratitude by asking the rhetorical question “Τι θα έκανα χωρίς εσένα?” (ti tha ekana horis esena?). Let people know they are indispensable to you by suggesting life would not be the same without them!
14. You made my day: Μου έφτιαξες τη μέρα
Whether you received a physical gift or some kind words, let people know they have pleased you by telling them they made your day: “Μου έφτιαξες τη μέρα” (mou eftiakses ti mera). It is a no-fail way to bring a smile to someone’s face and make them feel special!
15. It means a lot to me: Σημαίνει πολλά για εμένα
Another way to express your gratitude is to tell people how much their kind actions meant to you. “Σημαίνει πολλά για εμένα” (simeni pola gia emena) translates to “It means a lot me” and is guaranteed to make your thankfulness come across.
16. I have no words: Δεν έχω λόγια
Sometimes people’s kindness can be overwhelming, and we find ourselves at a loss for words because all the existing ways of saying “thank you” are not enough. For these occasions, you can simply say you have no words. “Δεν έχω λόγια” (den eho logia) is a phrase which conveys the magnitude of your gratitude by expressing that you are unable to find the right words!
Greece: Where Thanks Goes a Long Way
Finally: whatever your choice of words is, you can be sure that your expression of gratitude will be appreciated and go a long way in Greece. This is especially true if you make an effort to speak the language when talking to locals.
English is taught in schools and is widely-spoken throughout Greece since the country’s economy largely relies on tourism. But your efforts to learn a little bit of Greek and to speak the local language will not go unnoticed. Your polite words pronounced in Greek will undoubtedly encounter a lot of friendly smiles… even if your accent is not totally on point!