The definite & the indefinite article

The definite article [ the nominative case]

In Greek, the word for the (definite article) depends on whether the noun it’s accompanying is masculine, feminine or neuter, singular or plural.

  Singular the   Plural the  
m the (brother) o (αδερφός) the (brothers) οι (αδερφοί)
  the (man) o (άντρας) the (men) οι (άντρες)
f the (mother) η (μητέρα) the (mothers) οι (μητέρες)
n the (child) το (παιδί) the (children) τα (παιδιά)

The definite article is used much more in Greek than in English, notably:With proper nouns, e.g. place names: ο Όλυμπος Olympus, η Κρήτη Crete, το Λονδίνο London

….and people’s names, except when you’ re addressing them  directly: ο Νίκος Nikos but Γεια σου Νίκο! Hello Nikos!; η Μαρία Maria but Γεια σου Μαρία! Hello Maria!

When saying my, your etc: η μητέρα μου my mother; ο αδερφός σου your brother

When expressing likes and dislikes: Μoυ αρέσει ο καφές I like coffee ; Δεν μου αρέσουν οι ελιές Ι don’t like olives.

The Indefinite Article

The Greek indefinite article is identical to the number one.

  m f n
a/an, one ένας αδερφός a/one brother μία μπύρα a/one beer ένα ουίσκι a/one whisky

When saying you have one brother or want a/one coffee etc, both article and noun lose their final -s Έχω ένα αδερφό Ι have α/one brother Θέλω ένα καφέ/ I want a/one coffee.

Because the indefinite article is also the word for one, it’s more specific than a, an in English, and refers to a certain or special person or thing.

Some/any

Where English uses some or any, Greek uses the noun on its own.

Θέλω γάλα Ι want some milk

Έχετε μήλα; Have you got any apples?

The indefinite article (ένας, μία, ένα -> a, an) is only used before singular nouns. We remind that in Greek there are three genders: Masculine, Feminine and Neuter. The indefinite article (just as the definite) always has to match the gender of its noun.

You can also read: The Stress System

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