Author: Ron Graham


Stuff About Greek
—Including the alphabet occasionally refers to Greek words because the New Testament was written in Greek —not classical Greek, nor modern Greek, but the Greek commonly spoken around the world in the time of Christ and the early church.

The following table gives you the names, approximate sounds, and shapes of the letters of the Greek alphabet.

alpha a α Alpha Α
beta b β Beta Β
gamma g γ Gamma Γ
delta d δ Delta Δ
epsilon e ε Epsilon Ε
zeta z ζ Zeta Ζ
eta eeη Eta Η
theta thθ Theta Θ
iota i ι Iota Ι
kappa k κ Kappa Κ
lambda l λ Lambda Λ
mu m μ Mu Μ
nu n ν Nu Ν
xi x ξ Xi Ξ
omicron o ο Omicron Ο
pi p π Pi Π
rho r ρ Rho Ρ
sigma s σ ς Sigma Σ
tau t τ Tau Τ
upsilon u υ Upsilon Υ
phi phφ Phi Φ
chi chχ Chi Χ
psi psψ Psi Ψ
omega ooω Omega Ω

Translators provide the meaning of the Greek to us by way of our own language. And reference books by Greek experts help us research the Greek even though we ourselves may not be schooled in it. To use books such as Strong’s Concordance and Wigram’s Englishman’s Greek Concordance, one needs to know the Greek alphabet.

Simplified Greek presents Greek words in simplified form. Lots of important things that dangle around Greek words are missing —enclitics, breathings, accents, subscripts, and such. Don't worry if you don't know what these are. On the odd occasion when we refer to a Greek word, we will spell it without any of those trappings, just to keep things simple.

We'll treat a Greek word’s basic form, as a symbol of a cluster of related and derivative words. Greek changes the form of words a lot more than English. For example if the word suffer becomes suffering the basic word is still recognizable. However if pascho turns into pathein or patheematoon the basic word is obscured. So we would cite the basic form pascho rather than one of the declensions or other forms of the word.

Some Greek Quirks

Vowell Sounds: Eta is the long or double E, and has an "ee" or "eh" sound. Likewise omega is the long or double O, and has an "oo" or "oh" sound. There are also several dipthongs (two vowels combined) which sound pretty much as they look, and as you would assume they are pronounced.

Consonant Sounds: Chi is not pronounced as the ch in "chap" but as a Scot pronounces the ch in "loch". Gamma in front of other consonants has the "ng" sound as in the word "banging". Examples: Gamma doubled is like the ng in "ring". Gamma with kappa is like the nk in "plonk". Gamma with xi is like the nks in "links".

Shapes: Sigma is an S shape at the end of a word but an O shape within a word.