How To Type In Greek (While Learning The Language)

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm not yet spending any actual time studying the Greek language. I plan to begin studying intensely when February begins, but for now the most important step is comfortably reading and writing in the native Greek alphabet. Once I begin focused study, I don't want my progress to be slowed by problems with the alphabet.

What you see in the photo above is some of my typing practice. I've added support for the Greek keyboard on my Mac so that I could practice typing the words I learn. Typing the words not only helps me to practice using the Greek keyboard, but it also helps me to commit to memory the words I'm learning.

It's super-easy to set your keyboard for typing in another language on the Mac. In the System Settings, under Language & Text, you can add as many additional keyboard layouts as you want by checking the boxes in the Input Sources tab.

Greek typing

If you check the option to Show Input menu in menu bar, you can easily change between keyboard layouts by clicking the flag icon in the menu bar. I also assign keyboard shortcuts to cycle through keyboard layouts with a convenient keystroke.

Also, conveniently, when you're first learning and unsure of where some of the keys are, you can bring up the on-screen keyboard by clicking Show keyboard viewer in that same menu. Personally, I find that I learn faster by reaching for keys (and failing a lot) until I get used to reaching in the right spot. However at times — at least at first — it does help to see where everything is.

You probably noticed the yellow accent key in the photo. It's yellow because it's a two-stroke modifier key. Pressing that key adds an accent mark to the next letter you type. According to the rules of Modern Greek, accents are written for all words of more than one syllable — a feature that makes pronunciation quite easy to learn!

I learn to touch-type in every language I learn, since using the language is the whole reason for learning it, and typing is an important part of using it. For languages with a latin alphabet, the U.S. Extended keyboard makes accent marks easy to type. But for any language with a different alphabet, I highly recommend spending a few weeks just getting comfortable with the alphabet, as I am doing, because it will greatly improve the way you learn later!

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Author: Yearlyglot
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  • "According to the rules of Modern Greek, accents are written for all words of more than one syllable — a feature that makes pronunciation quite easy to learn!"That's an extremely simple yet important insight.  I never knew that about Greek.  Now all those letters will make a slight bit more of sense to me.I too found the flexibility of the multilingual keyboard several years ago, and put it to use almost daily.

  • Hi,
    I'm learning Spanish for few months and it's not so easy for me. First I tried to learn by different self-studying books and websites. But it was difficult for me and I didn’t have any conversations. Than, my friends suggest me to find tutor so I take lessons on It’s a good source and I started to practice speaking. As additional sources I read books, watch videos, try to learn as much words as possible. But even now I'm looking for new opportunities to try something new in language learning.If you know some great ways you tried yourself, let me know, please.

  • On my opinion the best way to learn any language is to have constant speaking practice. In such case the best way is to find a tutor and native speakers. I can advise for searching native speaking tutors. I've learnt Spanish using this website. I'd like to find more ways as additional sources to practice my knowledge. How can you help me?

  • You rightly say above that you can switch between languages via your mouse and the language drop down menu but there is another way too, (which leaves your fingers on the keyboard). You can easily set up a keyboard shortcut to cycle through your languages. I use Option-Cmd-Space Bar. Two taps of that and I'm in 日本語, two more and I'm typing em Português. Sweet.

  • It's super easy to do in Ubuntu and Windows too. I've done it for Turkish and Georgian keyboard layouts.Not knowing the Greek alphabet, how are the keys laid out phonemically? I was impressed that the Georgian layout corresponds, at least roughly, to the same phonemes as the QWERTY keyboard.

  • Fortunately, the key layout is about 60% phonemically similar to English.Of course there are letters we have which they don't, and letters they have which we don't, so our C, H, W, Q, B, etc get remapped a bit...  What I find most interesting, though, is that rather than struggling with typing against my expectation of the standard latin keyboard, I'm more often frustrated by my familiarity with the cyrillic keyboard.  I keep typing G for R, and N for T, and wondering why the hell it's not working!  :)

  • If you look again at the text, I did mention that:"I also assign keyboard shortcuts to cycle through keyboard layouts with a convenient keystroke."

  • Also, the rules of stress in Modern Greek say that stress MUST fall on one of the last three syllables... so with longer words you've got a head-start in figuring out where the stress is, even if it's not entirely clear.

  • Sorry, I missed that.

  • Wow.  Having done little more than taken pictures of Greek writing on ruins here in Turkey, that keyboard looks intimidating.  But as with everything, a bit of time at the keys and it will start to feel natural.  I too began typing in Turkish almost at once and before I knew really any Turkish.  But it helped in so many ways and now I can type in Turkish about as efficiently as I can type in English.  Though the differences on the keyboard are minor compared to what I see above.

  • I love learning to type in a strange new alphabet. The lack of those characters printed on my keyboard forces me to improve my touch-typing, which I feel in turn improves my typing in EVERY language.Also, it helps me to separate the the alphabet from the keyboard, subconsciously.

  • Yeah, learning to type in a set of foreign alphabets is pretty important in particular for socialising in varied social networks like Facebook, Google+ etc and for taking a part in the world-wide web or internet like writing comments on blogs, writing a blog post in a foreign language that has different letters or characters, chatting and so forth. I realised that importance recently as I had to type in French letters that have a slight bit of difference from English letters or in general Latin alphabets. There are also some switchings among several letters and punctuation marks between those two kinds of keyboard. Previously I just learnt foreign alphabets by handwriting them on paper as the case of Arabic and Hindi. I didn't use them in the online world.

  • I'm using a tablet right now, and I can type Greek. I just changed my settings to Greek and English.
    Αα Ββ Γγ Δδ

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