Learning the numbers (οι αριθμοί) is one of the most useful first steps in learning a new language. Greek is no different, and here will work our way through the numbers, looking for patterns and tips that will help us remember them.
The numbers 0 – 10
The numbers from 0 to 10 are unique and unfortunately don’t really follow any pattern so you just need to learn them. However, variations of several of them are used in English so they will not all be completely unfamiliar.
For example the number 3 in Greek is τρία which leads to the English word tri which means three as in triangle and triathlon.
Another obvious one is οχτώ which is 8 and can be recognised in English words such as octopus and octagon. Names of other shapes can help with learning some of the numbers. For example pentagon ( from the Greek πέντε), hexagon (from the Greek έξι), heptagon (from the Greek εφτά).
Before we move onto the numbers after 10 we need to take a quick detour to discuss inflected numbers.
Fortunately, only three numbers are inflected: 1, 3 and 4. These three change depending on both gender and case. Note, however, this only applies if you are describing a noun, if you are just “counting up” i.e. counting in the abstract then you can use the form in the table above.
For the numbers 1, 3 and 4 the case and gender must match the gender and case of the noun. Here is a table to show how each of these numbers is formed:
Ηere are some examples (ignore how the noun endings change for plural for the time being):
- Map is χάρτης and is a masculine noun, so 4 maps would be: τέσσερις χάρτες
- Chair is καρέκλα and is a feminine noun, so 1 chair would be: μία καρέκλα
- Book is βιβλίο and is a neuter noun, so 3 books would be: τρία βιβλία
Also note that this applies to every number that includes 1, 3 or 4 as a component such as 13, 14, 23, 44, 104, 1001 etc.
The numbers 10 – 19
After 10 some patterns begin to emerge. The numbers from 11 to 19 include a form of the Greek word for 10 (δέκα) together with the numbers from 1 to 9, so:
- 11 is (1+10) which is ένα + δέκα = έντεκα
- 12 is (2+10) which is δύο + δέκα = δώδεκα
- 13 is (10 + 3) which is δέκα + τρία = δεκατρία
- and so on…
The numbers 20 – 100
Again, there is a pattern for most of the numbers from 20 to 100. They all end in -ντα except for 20 which is slightly different from the rest.
The first part of most of the numbers also follows a pattern:
- 30 is τρία (3) + ντα = τριάντα
- 50 is πέντε (5) + ντα = πενήντα
The numbers 101 to 900
The 100 multiples, upto 900, follow a pattern except for 100:
- 100 is εκατό
- 101 is εκατόν ένα (note the additional ν)
The rest, 200 to 900, all end in -ακόσια with the stem representing the multiple.
For example, 200 is διακόσια where δια is like 2 in Greek (δυο) and 300 is τριακόσια where τρια is actually the same as 3 in Greek (τρία) although the accent moves.
Here are the rest of the numbers from 200 to 900: