The Greek language contains some nouns that are always in plural form even though they only refer to one thing. On the flip side, there are other nouns that are always in the singular form even though they may refer to more than one thing. Finally, there are some more nouns that have different meanings when in singular or plural forms. Today, we are going to examine the six most important nouns that are always in plural form (plus one additional group), the six most important nouns that are always in the singular form, and two nouns that have different meanings when in either singular or plural form.
Greek nouns always in plural form
Christmas in Greek is used always in the plural form, whereas if you use the singular form it makes no sense.
- Christmas is my favorite holiday - Τα Χριστούγεννα είναι η αγαπημένη μου γιορτή
- My cousin will come to Greece during Christmas - Ο ξάδελφός μου θα έρθει στην Ελλάδα τα Χριστούγεννα
Midnight is another word that is used only in plural.
- I never go to bed before midnight - Ποτέ δεν πάω στο κρεβάτι πριν τα μεσάνυχτα
- Math was my favorite subject in school - Τα μαθηματικά ήταν το αγαπημένο μου μάθημα στο σχολείο
- My birthday is in March - Τα γενέθλια μου είναι τον Μάρτιο
The opening ceremony
- The opening ceremony of the store in Ermou will take place tomorrow - Τα εγκαίνια του καταστήματος στην Ερμού θα γίνουν αύριο
- I paid a 4 euros toll to cross the bridge - Πλήρωσα 4 ευρώ για να περάσω τη γέφυρα
All of these words are always said and written in their plural forms. While, if you use the singular form, it makes absolutely no sense.
Finally, I would like to present to you a group of words that are always in plural, this is -- the languages:
In Greek we always say: Μιλάω καλά ελληνικά και ΟΧΙ μιλάω καλά ελληνικό
Remember then that the languages in Greek is always in plural form except if you are using the noun ‘language’ in your sentence.
- Μιλάω την ελληνική γλώσσα πολύ καλά
Greek nouns always in singular form
Now, let’s move to the subject of Greek nouns that are always in singular form.
Basically, the nouns are:
- θάρρος - audacity
- ειρήνη - peace
- θέα - view
- γη - earth
- αφή - touch
- τάβλι - backgammon
How would you say in Greek: ‘This house has nice views of the sea on one side and mountains on the other?’
You must say: Αυτό το σπίτι έχει ωραία θέα στη θάλασσα από τη μια πλευρά και στα βουνά από την άλλη.
So, you cannot use the plural form as you do in English.
There is, of course a logic behind the fact that these nouns are only in the singular form. For example, we have the word ‘the earth’. Αs we know the earth is the only one in the universe, therefore we cannot have two.
Another example is the word ‘peace’. This word describes a universal value, thus cannot be plural. Τhis concept is only one, you cannot have two.
Two Greek nouns with different meanings as singular or plural forms
Now, let’s examine two nouns that have one meaning when it is in singular form and another meaning when it is in plural form.
The first word which has a different meaning from singular to plural is the word: διακοπή - διακοπές.
So, what does the word διακοπή mean? It means disconnection, interruption or pause.
Great! So, we can say: ‘Χθες είχαμε διακοπή ηλεκτρικού ρεύματος’ - “Yesterday, we had power failure (disconnection)”.
However, what happens when this word is in the plural form? What does διακοπές mean?
The word διακοπές means ‘holidays’ or ‘vacation’ in American English. So, you will say:
- Το καλοκαίρι έκανα διακοπές στην Ελλάδα - “In the summer, I traveled to Greece for the holidays”.
The second word which has a different meaning from singular to plural is the word: έκπτωση - εκπτώσεις.
You would say: Αυτόρασα αυτό το φόρεμα με έκπτωση, which means “I bought this dress at a discount”. When we use this word in the plural form, Αγόρασα αυτό το φόρεμα στις εκπτώσεις, it means “I bought this dress on sale”.
Therefore, when we use the word in the singular form, we are referring to a reduction in the product's price; and when we use it in plural form, we are referring to the period wherein all product prices are reduced.
I hope this article has helped you better understand the functionalities and irregularities of a select group of Greek nouns. If you want to learn more about the Greek language you can take a look at my blog here.
In my blog, you can find video lessons on Greek language and also other resources related to the Greek language.