When you are travelling, it is always a great opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture fully; this doesn’t just mean sampling the local cuisine and adventuring into new and exciting destinations, it could also mean learning a few phrases. Not only will this help you to communicate while on your travels, it can also help you navigate around the area. You may also impress a few of the locals, and even make some new friends. Who knows where it will take you?
The official language spoken in Crete is in fact Greek, but you will find that many locals speak English – they are keen to make you feel at home, so why not do the same?
The Greek language is one of the oldest European languages, featuring in written documents from around 3,400 years ago! You can be part of this long-standing history by simply learning a few phrases. Without further ado, let’s get learning!
Being able to give a friendly and fluent greeting in another country can make a great first impression. Greek people tend to be open and casual in their greetings, so there are few strict differences between informal and formal. And of course, there are a few varieties…
Hello – Yassou (Yah-Soo) – This can also be shortened to ‘ya’ in an informal setting, but in a more formal setting say ‘Yassas’ such as when addressing a stranger or an older person.
Hello- Herete (HE-Reh-Teh) – You can use in both formal and informal situations, although it is typically used between 10am and 2pm.
Good Morning- Kalimera (Kah-Lee-MEH-Rah)
Good Afternoon- Kalispera (Kah-Lee-SPARE-a)
Good Evening- Kalinta (Kah-Lee-NEE-hta)
Top Tip: Don’t attempt to shake hands unless offered to you – this is not a common custom in Greece.
Goodbye – Antio! – Make sure to stress the ‘I’
Hello/Goodbye –Geia (Gee-ah) This can mean both Hello and Goodbye
Thank You – Efharisto (Ef-Cha-Ri-Sto)
Excuse Me– Signomi
Sorry, I don’t speak Greek– Signomi, then milow elenica
That’s enough [Polite] – Arketa
How are you? /Whats going on? – Ti-Kanis
And you?… Esi?
If someone asks you how you’re doing, you may find it helpful to respond with a basic qualifier rather than a nod of the head…
I’m not OK– Den Eimai Kala
Please– Parakalo (Pa-Ra-Ka-Lo) – Also used for ‘You’re Welcome’
Do you speak…- Mila’te
English – Mila’te Agglika?
French- Mila’te Gallika?
German- Mila’te Germanika?
Spanish- Mila’te Ispanika?
Top Tip: Think that you aren’t getting your pronunciation right? Try smiling wider – this will compensate for any mistake!
How Much is This? – Posso Kanay Afto
Where is the bathroom? – Poo eenay to banio
With milk– May-galla
Greek Coffee– Elliniko
No sugar– Sketo
Wine – Kras-so
Beer – Birra
Hotel – Ksenedohxio
Top Tip: Don’t confuse ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Yes, is ne which sounds quite similar to the English no. No is okhi which sounds like okay to English. Be careful with pronunciation.
Some Words You Will See Around
Anikto – Open
Kleisto – Closed
Exodos – Exit
There’s no doubt that knowing a few words, no matter how simple, makes your travels much easier, and more fun! Even a few words will warm up your welcome and could even inspire a friendship you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Immerse yourself fully in the Crete way of life.