This article is for native Greek speakers who are learning English. I often hear five common mistakes from Greek learners of English in all levels - from beginners to advanced students. We’ll look at the cause of these errors and I’ll give you some tips on avoiding these mistakes going forward!



1. Literal translations don’t always work


  • Greek Phrase: Βαριέμαι να πάω στα μαθήματα μου.
  • Incorrect English Phrase: I’m bored to go to my classes.
  • Corrected English Phrase: I’m sick/tired of going to my classes.


Why is this wrong? Although this is a common Greek phrase, translating it word for word results in a sentence that doesn’t quite make sense in English.


How do we fix this? The best advice I can give is to check with a reliable Greek-English dictionary before trying to translate any Greek phrases into English. I would recommend WordReference. Search for the base verb of the the Greek phrase (in this case βαριεμαι) and you will most likely find its perfect match in English!



2. Different uses of 'be' and 'have'


  • Greek Phrase: Έχεις δίκιο!
  • Incorrect English Phrase: You have right!
  • Corrected English Phrase: You are right!


Why is this wrong? This is another case of mistranslating from Greek to English. In Greek the word δίκιο is a noun, whereas in English “right” acts as an adjective that describes “you”. We can keep the same grammatical structure by using the English phrase “You have a point!”


How do we fix this? Be careful with any phrase using the verb έχω?. For example:

  • έχει ήλιο.
  • έχει ζέστη.
  • έχει γεύση.


These verb + noun phrases will often change in English, such as with: “it is sunny” and “it is warm”.



3. Using the plural form


  • Greek Phrase: Χρειάζομαι περισσότερες πληροφορίες.
  • Incorrect English Phrase: I need more informations.
  • Corrected English Phrase: I need more information.


Why is this wrong? In Greek and English, different words use either the plural or singular form depending on the language. For example, διακοπες only occurs in the plural in Greek, whilst in English “vacation/s” can be used in both plural and singular. “I’m going on vacation (singular) in Greece” versus Πάω διακοπές (plural) στην Ελλάδα.


How do we fix this? Keep in mind that most words that are only used in the plural in English are items that come in two parts. Mainly tools like scissors, headphones, glasses, or clothing like pants or jeans. You can find more information on plural/singular nouns here.



4. Different uses of verbs


  • Greek Phrase: Θα δώσω ένα τεστ.
  • Incorrect English Phrase: I’ll give a test.
  • Corrected English Phrase: I’ll take a test.


Why is this wrong? This mistranslation comes from a difference in the usage of verbs between English and Greek. When we are about to take an exam, and to express this notion in English, we use “take” (παιρνω) instead of “give” (δίνω). Another example of this happens when we make a phone call. In Greek you would say με πήρε χτες τηλέφωνο, whilst in English you would say, “He gave me a call yesterday”.


How do we fix this? Learning how verbs are used in different phrases is best learned by practicing with native English speakers and noting the differences in usage. Only through this will you be able to sound natural when speaking. For example, you may choose to use the verb τηλεφωνώ because we can say “I will phone you soon” in English. But this phrase is rarely used in everyday speech and has been replaced by “call”.



5. Pay attention to word order


  • Greek Phrase: Εξηγήστε το μου.
  • Incorrect English Phrase: Explain me it.
  • Corrected English Phrase: Explain it to me.


Why is this wrong? One of the beautiful things about the Greek language is the ability to place words anywhere in a sentence and it still makes sense. However, English follows a strict word order. We must start with the subject, followed by verb and object. Here the sentence is a command so the subject is implied: “you”. The verb is “explain” and the object is “it”.


How do we fix this? To remember the word order in English, you can memorize these letters:

    • S = Subject.
    • V = Verb.
    • O = Object.
    • M = Manner.
    • P = Place.
    • T = Time.


In Greek, each word’s function in a sentence is determined by its case; whereas in English, it is defined by it’s position within a sentence. Let’s look at some example sentences:



Subject/Το Υποκείμενο

Verb/Το Ρήμα

Object/Το Αντικείμενο

Manner/Ο Τρόπος

Place/Ο Τόπος

Time/Η Ώρα



her coffee


at home

in the morning.





at 10.


is reading

a magazine


on the couch.




As we can see, most mistakes made by Greek speakers come from trying to literally translate Greek phrases and grammar into English. Although both languages share many words (and even idiomatic expressions), a learner must always be aware of the differences in: verb usage, plural and singular forms, verbal phrases, and word order. The best way to improve your level of speaking is through consistent practice with native speakers. I hope that this article has been useful for you! Καλό διάβασμα!


Hero image by Matheus Ferrero on Unsplash