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Γεια και πάλι Βασιλική

Two more things I am struggling with.

1.   Syntax - I was told that in Greek it does not matter which way you form a sentance - adjective/noun or noun/adjective. I tend to say for example ένα ποτίρι κράσι άσπρο but was recently corrected  when in Corfu that I should say white wine and not wine white, but that they understood me either way! I was told that was the difference between informal and formal - however, later that day I saw written on a wine label 'wine white' in Greek - so are there any rules and does it matter? Also - I was told that most Greeks now say λεθκό instead of κρασί - which is usual?

2.  In English if addressing someone in the street you don't know their name it seems rude and funny to say 'hello Mr/Mrs! I was told that in Greek this is normal to say γεια σας κύριε/κυρία. Is that the case

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1 Answer

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Γεια σου Ιάκοβε

1. In Greek when we refer to wine, we prefer the adjective λευκό  and not άσπρο. (άσπρο is not wrong, but λευκό is much better).

We can either say “ένα ποτήρι λευκό κρασί” or “ένα ποτήρι κρασί λευκό.”
The first is more common, the second is more emphatic on the “white” property. In Greek we usually put the adjective before the noun. We put it after the noun, when we emphasize on the adjective. The second sentence is like saying “I want white wine, not red.” So both phrases are correct, depending on where we want to emphasize.

About the series of words in a Greek sentence:
Of course there are rules and we cannot put words anywhere. There is much flexibility though, because Greek syntax is more based on the conjugative system (endings of verbs and nouns) and not on the order of words.
“I see you”
In English verbs are not conjugated, so the order of words indicates the subject. (“I”, the word before the verb “see”, is subject.) If we change the order, the meaning changes.
In the phrase “you see”, the subject is "you", because it comes before the verb "see".
In Greek we can say “ βλέπω εσένα” or “εσένα βλέπω”.  There is no difference in the meaning, because the subject is indicated by the ending ω of the verb βλέπω and not by the order of words.  They both mean “I see you.”

So generally, there are rules for the order of words, but the nature of Greek language allows for flexibility.

2. As for the other part of your question:
We say in Greek “Γεια σας κύριε” or “Γεια σας κυρία” when we address with respect to someone that we don't know his/her name.( for example when a service person addresses a customer.)
If we want to greet a person that we know (ex. a  neighbor) it's much better to call him with his/her name. “Γεια σας κύριε Παπαδόπουλε.” Otherwise it sounds a bit as if we don't remember his name or we want to keep him at distance. It is much more polite to greet someone with his name.

In small places (villages), people sometimes greet strangers on the street. You may hear a stranger in a village tell you “καλημέρα”, this is a part of Greek culture.  However “Γεια σας κύριε” sounds too respectful, I haven't heard it.

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Ευχαριστώ για αυτές οι εξηγήσεις που μου βοηθήει πολύ
As you can probably tell I am teaching myself to write and read Greek and your help is most appreciated with these answers.
I understand the syntax more fully now.
As far as writing is concerned I must concentrate on putting the 'tonos' in the right place and deciding when to use ι or η in some names as this is a nightmare!
Thanks again