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τι and ποιος in questions: difference

Discussion in 'Ελληνικά (Greek)' started by RVA1, Sep 20, 2013.

  1. RVA1 New Member

    Hello everyone,

    I have been learning Greek for a couple of years but still can not fix the difference between τι and ποιος when they are used in questions for specifying a noun that follows. Here are examples:
    1. τι δουλεια κανεις;
    2. τι ημερομηνια εχουμε σημερα;
    3. σε ποιο ετος εισαι;
    4. ποιο ειναι το επωνυμο σας;

    In my native language τι and ποιος would be translated using one pronoun, it seems the same for English too:
    1. what date is today?
    3. what year are you in? (about studies)

    So, could someone clarify the rule when I should use τι and when ποιος is these kind of questions.
    Thank you in advance.
  2. Perseas Senior Member

    Hi RVA1 and welcome,

    I could rewrite your examples as follows:
    1. "Ποια δουλειά κάνεις;" sounds strange but "Ποια δουλειά να κάνω/εις;" or "Ποιο είναι το επάγγελμά σου;" are Ok.
    2. Ποια ημερομηνία έχουμε σήμερα; ("Tι ημερομηνία..." is more common)

    3. (Σε) τι έτος είσαι; (colloquial)
    4. Τι επώνυμο έχετε; (not the best idea; also, depending on the tone it could be mistaken for "your last name is strange")
    Another example: Τι πρόβλημα έχετε; = Ποιο είναι το πρόβλημά σας;

    It is very difficult to talk about a rule. It's true that "ποιος-α-ο" and "τι" may both mean "what". We can use both "ποιος-α-ο" and "τι" to express the same meaning by reforming a little the sentence (as shown in the examples above). In general, the use of "τι" makes the speech more coloquial, informal.
    Also, "τι" means "what kind": "τι άνθρωπος είσαι εσύ;" ~ "what kind of person are you?". By "τι είναι ΧΧ" we usually mean "what is ΧΧ (definition)?": "τι είναι η καφεΐνη;" ~ "what is caffeine?"
  3. RVA1 New Member

    Perseas, thanks a lot for the explanation you have provided!

    I had a feeling that there was no strict rule (otherwise I would have found it). So, it seems that using "ποιος-α-ο" and "τι" is mostly based on an intuition and that's always a week point for those, who are not native speakers. Developing that kind of intuition requires reading more, talking more etc. So, I will go on.

    And one more question. How do you pronounce abbreviations in Greek? E.g., from my recent text: ΟΑΕΔ. Should I pronounce it using full pronunciation of each capital letter?
  4. elliest_5 Senior Member


    Regarding abbreviations, most of them are pronounced as if you're reading the word. So [oa'eδ]. Cases where you use the letter names are more rare and I suppose are cases where pronouncing the word would be difficult. For example ΑΦΜ would sound problematic as [afm] so we say [a-fi-mi] -note that, even then, we don't go into the trouble of saying "alfa-fi-mi".
  5. Andrious Senior Member

    Take a look in here, as well.
  6. bearded man

    bearded man Senior Member

    Would it be correct to say that 'ti' corresponds roughly to English what, whereas 'piòs' corresponds roughly to English which ? Often they can be used indifferently, sometimes not.
  7. Perseas Senior Member

    It is true. For example: "Which of them is yours? Ποιο απ' αυτά είναι δικό σου;", "What time is it? Τι ώρα είναι;"
    But in this example "ποιος" corresponds to "who": "Who are you? Ποιος είσαι/Ποιοι είστε;"
  8. RVA1 New Member

    Perseas, elliest_5, Andrious,

    Thank you for your answers and the link provided. They are really helpful.

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