the greek alphabet

The Greek alphabet

The Greek alphabet (looking back)

The Greek language is one of the most ancient languages and one that has taken many centuries to develop into its present-day form. The most commonly accepted theory about its origins suggests that the Greek alphabet came down from the Phoenician alphabet and this is suggested by the shapes, names, and arrangements of the letters. Using and adapting the Phoenician alphabet, many changes and modifications were made: these modifications of existing letters resulted in the creation of new and additional letters.

Nowadays, Greek is the official spoken language of Greece and of Cyprus and it is also a minority language spoken in parts of Italy, Albania, Romania, Armenia, and Ukraine. There are many different local dialects of the Greek language with a variety of pronunciations in different parts of Greece and Cyprus.

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Here are some of the main features of the Greek alphabet:

  • The Greek alphabet includes 24 letters: 7 vowels and 15 single and 2 double consonants.
  • The Greek letters can be grouped into 3 categories: single and two-letter vowels /Single, double and two-letter consonants /Combinations.
  • It is written from left to right.
  • The letter sigma has three different forms (Σ, σ, ς). The use of each form depends on its position in a word.
  • Diacritical marks such as the accent mark (‘) are used to help the reader with pronunciation.

Now let’s see the Greek letters one by one and see how each letter is  pronounced:

Simple Vowels

-A, α    a as in bat

        -Η, η      i as in fatigue

        -Ι, ι         i as in fatigue

                              -Υ, υ       i as in fatigue                       

Some uses:

You can use Η, η as a definite article for feminine words eg.  η μαμά, η φίλη

As an ending for feminine words eg. η πόλη, η αρχή

You can use Ι, ι as an ending for neutral words eg. το παιδί, το σπίτι


   –Ε, ε       e as in pen

Ο,ο     o as in lot

Ω, ω  o as in lot

Some uses:

You can use Ο, ο an ending for neuter words eg. το μωρό, το παγωτό

You can use Ω, ω as an ending for verbs in the active voice: (1st person) e.g. εγώ τρέχω, εγώ αγαπώ

Two-letter vowels

EI,ει       i as in fatigue

OI, οι     i as in fatigue

AI, αι   e as in pen

ΟΥ, ου u as in lubricant

Some uses:

You can use EI,ει  as an ending for verbs in the active voice (3rd person) eg. αυτός τρέχει, αυτή πίνει

You can use OI οι as a definitive article and as an ending for masculine nouns (-ος) in the nominative form plural  e.g.

Οι σκύλοι, οι άνθρωποι

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Simple Consonants

 Β, β v as in voice                                                                   Μ, μ m as in meet

Γ γ  y as in year                                                                       Ν, ν n as in need

Δ, δ th as in them                                                                   Π, π p as in peep

Ζ, ζ z as in zebra                                                                     Ρ, ρ   r as in run

Θ, θ th as in thick                                                                  Σ, σ, ς  s as in soft

Κ, κ k as in key                                                                       T τ    t as in tea

Λ, λ l as in live                                                                        Φ, φ  f as in fire

                                                                                              Χ, χ   h as in happy

Double Consonants

Ξ, ξ ks as in beaks

Ψ, ψ ps as in shops

Τhey sound as two letters together, ξ= k+s and Ψ=p+s

Now, I would like to introduce you a friend with a ‘’special name’’: μπανταγκ/γγατσουτζου! Weird isn’t it? Well, my friend’s name comes from the two letters consonants and a vowel so it is easier to pronounce:

ΜΠ, μπ   b as in beat

ΝΤ, ντ   d as in dignity

ΓΚ, γκ/ ΓΓ, γγ   g as in go

ΤΣ, τσ   ts as in its

ΤΖ, τζ dz as in beads


Various letter combinations result in the production of a variety of different sounds.

Α + Υ = ΑΥ, αυ

Ε + Υ = ΕΥ, ευ

You can pronounce the combinations of   α and ε with υ “αυ”, “ευ” as “af”, “ef” before γκ, κ, ξ, π, σ, τ, φ, χ

However, you can pronounce the combinations like “αυ” “ευ”,  as “av”, “ev”, before a vowel or before β, γ, δ, λ, μ, ν, ρ.

Learn more about us and the Greek Alphabet!

Now it is time for our surprise challenge and to have a little fun with a quiz.

Valentinos Filippou

Valentinos Filippou

My name is Valentinos Filippou. I have been an online Greek tutor since 2014. I’ve been teaching one-on-one Skype lessons and making video lessons for my students so as to explain different aspects of the Greek language.

More About Me



FAQs about The Greek Alphabet

The Greek alphabet contains 24 letters. However, there are many more sounds because there are many combinations of letters which produce other sounds.

The twenty-four Greek letters (each in uppercase and lowercase forms) are:

Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, and Ω ω.

 The Greek alphabet (each in uppercase and lowercase forms) in order is as follows:

Α α, Β β, Γ γ, Δ δ, Ε ε, Ζ ζ, Η η, Θ θ, Ι ι, Κ κ, Λ λ, Μ μ, Ν ν, Ξ ξ, Ο ο, Π π, Ρ ρ, Σ σ/ς, Τ τ, Υ υ, Φ φ, Χ χ, Ψ ψ, and Ω ω.

By memorizing the sounds of the Greek letters. However, it is very important to bear in mind that there are more sounds in the Greek language than the Greek letters. So, you need to memorize the combinations of letters which produce other sounds as well. 

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