There are 7 vowel letters in the Greek alphabet

Letter α ε η ι ο υ ω
Greek Name άλφα έψιλον ήτα (γ)ιώτα όμικρον ύψιλον ωμέγα
English Name alpha epsilon eta iota omicron upsilon omega

but only 5 vowel sounds

Latin equivalent a e i o u
Greek letters α ε,αι ι,η,υ,ει,οι,υι ο,ω ου
English examples but bet beat bought boot


There are 17 consonant letters in the Greek alphabet

Letter β γ δ ζ θ κ λ
Greek Name βήτα γάμμα δέλτα ζήτα θήτα κάππα λάμδα
English Name beta gamma delta zeta theta kappa lambda

Letter μ ν ξ π ρ ς τ φ χ ψ
Greek Name μυ νυ ξι πι ρω σίγμα ταυ φι χι ψι
English Name mu nu ksi pi rho sigma tau phi chi psi

but as many as 20 primary

Latin equivalent bh (v) gh dh z th k l m n p r
Greek letters β γ δ ζ θ κ λ μ ν π ρ
English examples very fuego (Sp.) that zest thin task lead man nut step pero (Sp.)

Latin equivalent s t ph (f) kh b d g ts dz
Greek letters ς τ φ χ μπ ντ γκ,γγ τς τζ
English examples sea but fire loch (Sc.) bet bad go sits red zone

and 6 secondary sounds

Latin equivalent gh' (y) k' (q) l' n' kh' g'
Greek letters γι κι λι νι χι γκι,γγι
English examples yield que (Fr.) Puglia (It.) lasagna (It.) hue guerre (Fr.)


Latin equivalents

The correspondence between Greek sounds and letters (or combination of letters) from the Latin alphabet is not the standard one that is used in "Modern Greek through English" books. This represention was chosen based on two criteria:
  • unique decodability : a string of Latin letters should have only one way of pronouncing it (e.g., I couldn't use "th" for δ since it's being used for θ).
  • phonetic relations : e.g., γ is a softer version of the English "g", so "gh" is the most appropriate choice. I couldn't, however, find a good representation for τς and τζ.
    Latin text enclosed between stars (*) will denote pronunciation of Greek words according to the previous conventions
    See also the phonetics page.


    The consonant sounds in Greek are arranged into 6 categories:

  • χειλικά (labial)
    Short Long
    Voiced b bh
    Unvoiced p ph
  • οδοντικά (dental)
    Short Long
    Voiced d dh
    Unvoiced t th
  • λαρυγγικά (velar)
    Short Long
    Voiced g gh
    Unvoiced k kh
  • ουρανικά (palatal)
    Short Long
    Voiced g' gh'
    Unvoiced k' kh'
  • συρριστικά (sibilant)
    Short Long
    Voiced dz z
    Unvoiced ts s
  • ρινικά (nasal)
    Voiced m
    Unvoiced n
  • υγρά (liquids, lit. "wet")
    Short Long
    Unvoiced l r
  • άλλα ουρανικά(other palatal)
    Short Long
    Unvoiced l' n'

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