Knowing your numbers in Greek can help you figure out directions, possibly understand what room you were just assigned (if you find the rare hotel desk clerk who doesn't speak English), and understand what time it is or will be when you are supposed to catch that hydrofoil or plane.
Numbers are helpful when you are shopping for produce or at a bakery and want just one roll—Ena.
Count to Five in Greek
Let's get started with learning the numbers one to five. You'll notice there is the English spelling and the Greek spelling along with pronunciation hints. Once you master the first five, it's on to the next few numbers.
1. Ena - EN-a - ένα : Think "EN-a ONE" as in the phrase "An' a one, an' a two..." used to count into a piece of music. Celtic music fan? Think of "Enya".
2. Dio - THEE-oh - δύο : Try remembering "duo" for "dio" - again, like in a musical duo. But note that the actual sound is a soft "Th" rather than the hard dental "D".
3. Tria - TREE-a - τρία : Again, music makes this one easy - think of a trio of musicians.
4. Tessera - TESS-air-uh - τέσσερα : This one is harder, but there are four letters in the name "TESS" .
5. Pente - PEN-day - πέντε : The PENTagon is a five-sided shape - and also an important building for Americans.
Count from Five to Ten in Greek
After you memorize the first five, it's off to the next five numbers. There are hints to help you remember the Greek numbers.
6. Exi - EX-ee - έξι : This one, it may help to think about being s-exi... or sexy, which sounds much closer to "six". Remember, Greeks do give points for just attempting to speak Greek—no one will mind if you say "sexy" instead of "ex-ee".
7. Efta - EF-TA (about equal stress) - εφτά: If only the Romans hadn't messed with the calendar, September would still be the seventh month of the year. Try thinking of a seventy-seven-year-old Septagenarian for help on remembering this one.
8. Octo - oc-TOH - οκτώ: Want some eight-legged octopus for dinner tonight? There you go! However, squid won't help you here - it has to be that eight-legged octopus.
9. Ennea - en-NAY-a - εννιά: Ennea has two "ns" in it - just like our own number nine.
10. Deka - THEK-a - δέκα: Easy - remember a decade is a group of ten years. Just remember that soft "d" again.
A Few More Greek Numbers
Want to go just a bit farther? En-deka - or one-ten, is eleven. Dodeka - or two-ten- is twelve. At thirteen, the order reverses and the small number follows the ten, as in dekatria, or ten plus three. And Zero is mithen.
There you are - you can now count to ten (plus a couple more) in Greek!
Since hotel rooms often number in the hundreds, it's useful to know how the higher numbers are handled. One hundred (100) is ekato - εκατό.
More on Greek numbers, including a way to translate your own name into Greek numeric values.
Once you feel you have a handle on the Greek numbers, take out a piece of paper and number it one through ten. Then, without looking at this article, write down the numbers you have memorized. It doesn't matter if you list the numbers phonetically or exactly as spelled. It's being about to use your new knowledge in Greece that counts!
Once you master that, you can work on learning the Greek Alphabet in Eight Three-Minute Lessons