More Thoughts on Memorizing Greek Grammar (Articles)

Last night I tried to memorize the definite and indefinite articles in Modern Greek. My original idea was to create a 9-step journey and place two definite articles in every locus. Here’s a chart of the information to be memorized:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ο – οι η – οι το – τα
Genitive του – των της – των του – των
Accusative το(ν) – τους τη(ν) – τις το – τους

A memorization challenge in Modern Greek is that different spellings have different pronunciations. For example, των and τον are both pronounced “ton” even though they have different meanings. The former means “of the plural-something” and the latter means “to the singular-masculine-something”.

Mnemonic System for Greek Letters

So, then I created mnemonic images for the Greek letters and double vowels that didn’t have equivalent images in my existing system for letters:

Letters Image Notes
Ωω jaw harp Uppercase omega looks like a jaw harp
Ηη cat dipping paw in puddle Lowercase eta looks like something reaching down
οι edamame “Soy” contains “oi” (pronounced “i” in Modern Greek)
ει samba dancer “Ei” is a distinctive sound in Brazilian Portuguese, though it is also pronounced “i” in Modern Greek.
Δδ triangle (instrument) “Th” as in “the” — to distinguish it from “vτ” which is pronounced “d” in Modern Greek
Ψψ trident Looks like a trident.
Ξξ battle axe A pelekus , used by Hephaestus to split open Zeus’ head, releasing Athena. I use a different axe for #70.

Simplifying Things

I started placing images in a 9-step journey in a bookstore, but the number of images seemed inefficient. Every one-syllable word was getting three images.

I took another look at the chart and realized it would be faster to make quick images with the sounds and add the spellings later.

Genetive, singular is “tu – tis – tu” (masculine, feminine, neuter). That is a woman holding a tuna fish in each arm. (“TU” is 12–a tuna fish, and “TIS” is 110–an “exotic dancer”.)

That reduces it to six simple images:

  • ο – η – το, οι – οι – τα [“o – i – to,  i – i – ta”]
  • του – της – του, των – των – των [“tu – tis – tu, ton – ton – ton”]
  • το(ν) – τη(ν) – το, τους – τις – τους [“ton – tin – to, tus – tis – tus”]

“των – των – των” and “του – της – του” are patterns that are easy to memorize without wasting time on creating a lot of images. I think the spelling differences can be attached to the sounds as I practice reading them in context.

There are similar patterns in the indefinite articles, and I think it can be quickly memorized by looking at the patterns and creating simple mnemonic images:

Masculine Feminine Neuter
Nominative ένας μια ένα
Genitive ενός μιας ενός
Accusative ένα(ν) μια ένα

I’ll post another update when I get to the next lesson in the book…

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