Greek Language and Alphabet

Ancient Greek was an amazing language. And it's not completely strange to us today; English has borrowed lots of words from Greek. The Greek alphabet is the ancestor of the Latin alphabet that we use in English, and we use Greek letters in advanced math sometimes. Below is an ancient Greek inscription. Do any letters look familiar?

Below is the Greek alphabet. Compare the Greek letters with the English letters, and then scroll down for some practice!

Greek Letter English
Α, α A
Β, β B
Γ, γ G as in "girl"
Δ, δ D
Ε, ε E as in "get"
Ζ, ζ Z
Η, η Like the "ay" in "lay"
Θ, θ Like "th" in "thing"
Ι, ι Like "i" in "machine"
Κ, κ K
Λ, λ L
Μ, μ M
Ν, ν N
Ξ, ξ Like "x" in "fox"
Ο, ο A short "o" sound
Π, π P
Ρ, ρ Rolled "r" like in Spanish
Σ, σ (ς at end of a word) S
Τ, τ T
Υ, υ "U"" sound with lips rounded
Φ, φ F
Χ, χ Rough sound in the throat, like Scottish "loch"
Ψ, ψ "PS" sound as in "lips"
Ω, ω Long "o" sound

Look at the following English words. Then look at each of the Greek words below and try to figure out its meaning. Click to see if you were right. (Note that the Greek words have accent marks. You can ignore those.)

Character, Panther, Cinema, Diploma, Chaos






Now look at the following Greek names and try to pronounce them. You can refer to the alphabet above. Click each name to see its English spelling.