Introduction to the letters of the Greek alphabet. Learn how to read and write in Greek.
You’ve seen them in trigonometry, in physics, and probably in chemistry. Or you might have noticed them over the entrances of fraternities and sororities in many American Universities. The symbols look so familiar to the ones in the Latin alphabet but, at the same time, they are so different.
The letters of the Greek alphabet are indeed very popular. However, they are often mispronounced and used incorrectly. Here, you will learn how to properly write and pronounce them. This should be your first step in your learning journey. The alphabet is the A and Ω of every language.
Facts about the Greek alphabet:
- The Greek Alphabet derives from the Phoenician alphabet.
- It has been used since the late eighth century BC.
- The Greek alphabet consists of 24 letters – from Α to Ω.
- Each symbol has its own name (e.g. the name of the letter “A” is “Alpha” or “Άλφα”)
- The English term “alphabet” is a combination of the first two letters of the Greek alphabet (“Alpha” and “Beta”).
The Greek alphabet letters and symbols:
Αα Ββ Γγ Δδ Εε Ζζ Ηη Θθ Ιι Κκ Λλ Μμ Νν Ξξ Οο Ππ Ρρ Σσς Ττ Υυ Φφ Χχ Ψψ Ωω
The names of the Greek alphabet
ΑΛΦΑ – ΒΗΤΑ – ΓΑΜΑ – ΔΕΛΤΑ – ΕΨΙΛΟΝ – ΣΤΙΓΜΑ – ΖΗΤΑ – ΗΤΑ – ΘΗΤΑ – ΙΩΤΑ – ΚΑΠΠΑ – ΛΑΜΒΔΑ – ΜΙ – ΝΙ – ΞΙ – ΟΜΙΚΡΟΝ – ΠΙ – ΡΟ – ΣΙΓΜΑ – ΤΑΥ – ΥΨΙΛΟΝ – ΦΙ – ΧΙ – ΨΙ – ΩΜΕΓΑ
Pronouncing the Greek letters
One of the biggest mistakes that people who study modern Greek make is pronouncing the Greek alphabet according to the Erasmian pronunciation. Many schools in the West are using alternative pronunciations of ancient Greek that change the phonetic values of the letters. The aim is to imitate the phonological system of the student’s native language, hence making ancient Greek easier to pronounce. As a result, many non-native speakers assume that modern Greek uses the same alternative pronunciations. The reality is that the Greek letters are pronounced in this way: