As in any language, you’re going to need to know how to introduce yourself in Greek.
After all, if people don’t know who you are, they won’t be particularly inclined to talk to you.
To get you started, we’re going to go over the many ways you can tell people your name in Greek, as well as ask about your age, profession and which country you’re from.
Like our guide on how to say hello in Greek, we’ll be jumping straight in, and using the Greek alphabet exclusively.
Introducing yourself in Greek
Greek has a surprisingly large collection of ways to ask people their name and replies to those questions.
In this article we’ll go over a few of the most important ones, which should be enough for most people.
Learning the most common one involves some grammar, so we’ll leave that for last, instead starting with the most basic ways to ask somebody’s name, and how to answer.
Note that we’ll start just asking for the first name, and we’re using the informal.
1. πως λέγεσαι; / πως ονομάζεσαι;
English: What’s your name?
The simplest way to ask people their name is by asking either πως λέγεσαι; or πως ονομάζεσαι; (“how are you called” and “how are you named,” respectively).
When asked, you can reply with just your name, so λέγομαι Μάριος or ονομάζομαι Μαρία.
You won’t come across this way to ask somebody their name that much in the wild.
In casual conversations it won’t come up too often, for example.
However, if you’re dealing with more official stuff, people will ask you your name this way.
Another example is to literally ask “what is your name?”
The phrase translates directly, and works out as ποιο είναι το όνομά σου; (lit: “what is the name yours?”)
The best way to answer is to say το όνομα μου είναι Μάριος.
That’s a handy phrase to remember as you can use it to reply to any other way of people asking your name.
Outside of formal situations you won’t hear it too much, but when you do there’s a good chance you’ll also be asked your surname or family name: ποιο είναι το επώνυμο σας;
An often used synonym for επώνυμο is επίθετο, which literally means “adjective” or “epithet,” but in some parts of the Greek-speaking world it’s very common.
No matter how it’s asked, the way to answer is to say or το επώνυμο μου είναι Παναγιώτης.
2. ποιος είσαι; / ποια είσαι;
English: Who are you?
Grammatically speaking, these examples are the most simple, but they’re not very common. One that requires a bit of grammatical knowledge is the very simple question of “who are you?” which in Greek is ποιος είσαι; when speaking to men and ποια είσαι; when addressing women.
It’s not a very polite way to ask somebody who they are, much like in English it comes across as a little aggressive, especially when using the informal as I did in here.
The answer is είμαι ο Μάριος/είμαι η Μαρία (I am Marios/I am Maria).
Note that when answering with είμαι (“I am”), you put the article in front of your name!
It’s really weird to introduce yourself this way (“I am the Fergus”), but when using the verb “to be” in any form you need to do this in Greek.
In extension of this example, when pointing out a friend at a party you would say αυτή είναι η Ειρήνη (“she is Irene”).
You’ll get used to it pretty quickly, thankfully, but it definitely is one of those weird quirks of Greek you just have to get used to, like we discuss in our article on whether or not Greek is easy to learn (spoiler: it is).
3. πως σε λένε
English: How are you called?
We’ve saved the best way to introduce yourself for last, though, mainly because it’s a bit tricky.
The question you’ll come across the most is πως σε λένε (“how are you called,” more or less), though the way it’s pronounced it sounds like one word.
The answer, assuming your name is Μάριος, is to say με λένε Μάριε (“I’m called Marios”).
If you know a bit of Greek grammar, you’ll recognize that change in form as the vocative. You’re using this rare case, used when talking to somebody because you’re talking about what you’re called.
In a way you’re telling somebody what they can call you, and since Μάριος changes form in the vocative, you tell them that form.
However, if you’re worried about this bit of grammar, I have some good news: unless you have a masculine Greek name, you’re alright: female names and foreign names don’t change.
Μαρία stays Μαρία and Fergus and Donovan don’t have their forms changed, either.
If your name is George or John or anything else that has a direct equivalent in Greek, though you do have to follow the rules of the vocative.
They’re not too complicated, though: in short, names ending in -ος get their ending changed to -ε, while other male names (those ending in -ας and -ης, mostly) just lose the final sigma.
It’s a minor change, but it is important to remember it as not using the vocative makes you sound a bit weird.
4. από που είσαι;
English: Where you’re from
Besides your name, another popular question Greek people like to ask is where you’re from, or από που είσαι; (note again that this is informal).
There are two ways to answer this question, the easiest and most common is to say είμαι από την Αυστραλία (“I am from Australia”).
One tricky thing here is to make sure that you use the accusative case for the country here as από always goes with the object, hence why I used την.
The other tricky thing is to check the gender of the country. Almost all countries are feminine (η Αυστραλία, η Ελλάδα), but a few are masculine (ο Καναδάς), and there even a few that are neuter (το Βέλγιο).
The other options seems simpler at first glance, you just say είμαι Αυστραλός if you’re a man or είμαι Αυστραλέζα if you’re a woman.
However, the adjectives for nationality are a little unpredictable in Greek, to say the least, so maybe at first you may just want to stick to using the name of the country.
It’s also more common to say where you’re from rather than state your nationality.
Whichever option you go with, below an overview of a few countries and their names.
|Country (English)||Country (Greek)||Nationality (m,f)|
|America (U.S.)||Αμερική||Αμερικανός, Αμερικανίδα|
Asking career and age in Greek
τι δουλεία κάνεις;
English: What work do you do?
Your job is a lot easier than your nationality, thankfully.
The most common way to ask is τι δουλεία κάνεις; (lit: “what work you do?”).
The answer is to say “I am” and then add your profession in the nominative, no need for articles or different cases. It’s pretty easy.
My reply is usually είμαι δημοσιογράφος (“I’m a journalist,” lit: “people’s writer”) or είμαι συγγραφέας (“I’m a writer”).
As you can see, Greek words for professions are very different from what you may expect as they don’t use Latin roots, so you should look up what your job is in a dictionary.
A few examples should be enough to show you why. For example, an engineer is a μηχανικός (which sounds more like mechanic), while a lawyer is a δικηγόρος (lit: “law-speaker”).
πόσο χρονών είσαι;
English: How many years are you?
Lastly is your age.
We’ve put this last as you won’t come across this question as much as you may expect.
It’s not a huge taboo or anything, it just doesn’t seem to be on the forefront of anybody’s mind in Greece or Cyprus.
The most common way to ask somebody’s age is πόσο χρονών είσαι; (“how many years you are?”).
The answer is είμαι ___ χρονών, where you can fill in the blank with the number of years you’ve been around — we talk about Greek numbers elsewhere.
The only thing to really watch out for here is that you’re using the plural genitive of “years,” so technically you’re saying you’re of 25 years.
Summary: Introducing yourself in Greek
Between these four subjects, you should now know enough to not only ask people about themselves, but also share a little bit about who you are.
Greek people are generally quite gregarious, so expect many different people to ask you questions along these lines, and feel free to ask them yourself.
Next, you should see our guide on how to say ‘how are you’ in Greek.
Don’t forget: the only way to speak Greek fluently is to speak it.