Humanities › History & Culture Pronouncing the Greek Alphabet Share Flipboard Email Print Wolfgang Weinhäupl / Getty Images History & Culture Ancient History and Culture Ancient Languages Figures & Events Greece Egypt Asia Rome Mythology & Religion American History African American History African History Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Nancy Gaifyllia Greek Food Expert Nancy Gaifyllia is a freelance writer who loves to cook and eat Greek food. Living in Greece for over 30 years, she explored its regional specialties. our editorial process Nancy Gaifyllia Updated January 29, 2020 Whether you are traveling to Greece, enjoy eating in a local Greek restaurant, or just a curious person, it can be educational and helpful to know some Greek. One of the best things about learning the Greek language is that words are pronounced the way they are written. There are no silent "e" type letters. If a letter is in the word, it is pronounced. And letters are always pronounced the same way, with the exception of a few diphthongs. The Greek alphabet has 24 letters, some of them representing sounds that are not part of the English language. To create sounds not included in the alphabet, two letters are combined. For example: the hard d sound is made using "nt," the b sound is created by putting together "m" and "p," the j sound is created with a combination of "t" and "z," which doesn't quite match but comes close, and the same goes for the hard ch sound, which is written using "ts." The exception to this rule is in Crete where, in the local dialect, the letter k is often given the hard ch sound, the hard g sound (as in "gutter") is made with "gk." The Greek language does not have a sh or soft ch sound, and while they can be pronounced properly, they're written using the letter "s." Note: This is not a formal language lesson, just a quick pronunciation guide. The Greek Alphabet LetterUpper, lower Name Pronounced When speaking,sounds like A, α alpha AHL-fah ah Β, β vita VEE-tah the letter v Γ, γ gamma GHAH-mah the letter y when it comes before e, u, i; otherwise like a soft gargle gh Δ, δ thelta THEL-tah hard th as in "there" Ε, ε epsilon EHP-see-lon eh Ζ, ζ zita ZEE-tah the letter z Η, η ita EE-tah ee Θ, θ thita THEE-tah soft th as in "through" Ι, ι iota YO-tah ee Κ, κ kappa KAH-pah the letter k Λ, λ lamtha LAHM-thah the letter l Μ, μ mu mee the letter m Ν, ν nu nee the letter n Ξ, ξ xee ksee the letter x Ο, ο omikron OH-mee-kron oh Π, π pi pee the letter p Ρ, ρ ro roh, roe a rolled r Σ, σ, ς sigma SEEGH-mah the letter s Τ, τ tau tahf the letter t Υ, υ upsilon EWP-see-lon ee Φ, φ phi fee the letter f Χ, χ chi hee a light gargly ch as in "challah" Ψ, ψ psi psee ps as in "chips" Ω, ω omega oh-MEH-ghah somewhere between "awe" and "oh" Common Diphthongs A diphthong is a sound that is formed by the combination of two vowels in a single syllable. The sound starts in one vowel and then moves toward the other. Some examples in English are coin and loud. This chart outlines some Greek diphthongs. ΑΥ, αυ au av or af ΕΥ, ευ eu ev or ef ΟΥ, ου ou oo ΑΙ, αι ai eh Cite this Article Format mla apa chicago Your Citation Gaifyllia, Nancy. "Pronouncing the Greek Alphabet." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, thoughtco.com/the-greek-alphabet-1705558. Gaifyllia, Nancy. (2020, August 27). Pronouncing the Greek Alphabet. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-greek-alphabet-1705558 Gaifyllia, Nancy. "Pronouncing the Greek Alphabet." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-greek-alphabet-1705558 (accessed September 21, 2021). copy citation Learn the Greek Alphabet With These Helpful Tips When to Change ‘Y’ to ‘E’ and ‘O’ to ‘U’ in Spanish German for Beginners: Pronunciation and Alphabet How Is 'C' Pronounced in French? How Is the Letter 'A' Pronounced in French? How to Pronounce the Letter 'I' in French How to Pronounce More Than 2,500 Words in French How Is 'S' Pronounced in French? Through the Nose: French Nasal Vowels How Is 'EU' Pronounced in French? How to Pronounce 'CH' in French Beginning French Pronunciation Yogh (Letter in Middle English) How Is 'O' Pronounced in French? Understanding the French Language and Using IPA How to Pronounce the French 'X'