"that" = που / πως / ότι - what's the difference?!

alfie1888

Senior Member
English - England
Hi, all!

I keep reading that there's a difference in usage between που, πως and ότι (have I missed any others? I realise να introduces a subjunctive clause...) when they are conjunctions meaning "that". Would any care to explain this to me in detail? I know which to use just through exposure (e.g. νομίζω πως / ότι, ΝΟΤ νομίζω που, etc.) but that's as far as it goes for me. I'd really like to understand this in depth.

Thank you in advance!
 
  • ireney

    Senior Member
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Hello! First of all we are obviously keeping out πώς, πού and ό,τι right?
    Also not including set phrases such as «εκεί που» (Εκεί που είμουνα έτοιμη να φύγω χτυπάει το τηλέφωνο).

    Now πως and ότι are pretty much interchangeable. True, sometimes we may prefer one over the other but there's no rule or anything. And, sometimes, it's just personal preference.

    The difference between που vs πως/ότι is easy to remember if you go prescriptivist in English :D «Που» is not "that"; it's either "which" or "who" and, since we are going that route "whom" .

    Αυτός ο οποίος το είπε να σηκώσει το χέρι του = Αυτός που το είπε ...
    Αυτό το οποίο θέλω να πω = Αυτό που θέλω να πω

    Does it help?
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    I keep reading that there's a difference in usage between που, πως and ότι (have I missed any others? I realise να introduces a subjunctive clause...) when they are conjunctions meaning "that". ...
    A.
    Clauses that are introduced by πως, ότι, που are called ειδικές προτάσεις in Greek.
    Yes, πως and ότι are pretty much interchangeable and both very common.
    On the other hand που is used rarely enough when it has that function.
    Some examples:
    Βλέπεις που δεν τον σέβεται καθόλου; Do you see (the fact) that he/she does not respect him at all?
    Δε λες που της έχτισε ολόκληρη βίλα; Why don't you also consider (the fact) that he built her a whole villa!
    Τα παιδιά θυμήθηκαν που μαζεύονταν στην αλάνα και έπαιζαν μπάλα. Τhe guys remebmered that they used to gather in the field and play football.

    B.
    που
    also introduces relative clauses:
    Πρέπει να βρούμε ξεναγό ο οποίος/που να μιλάει σουηδικά. We must find a tour guide who speaks Swedish.
    O νεαρός που είδαμε στην ταβέρνα... The young man whom we saw at the taverna...

    C.
    που
    also introduces clauses of result:
    Tου μίλησα με τόση αγένεια που θύμωσε πολύ. I spoke to him so rudely that he got very angry.

    D.
    που
    also introduces causal clauses:
    Λυπήθηκε που σκοτώθηκαν τόσοι άνθρωποι. He/she was sorry that(because?) so many people were killed.

    (Most examples are taken from Philipaki-Warburton's grammar)

    I think you are mostly interested in A.
     

    διαφορετικός

    Senior Member
    Swiss German - Switzerland
    Βλέπεις που δεν τον σέβεται καθόλου; Do you see (the fact) that he/she does not respect him at all?
    Δε λες που της έχτισε ολόκληρη βίλα; Why don't you also consider (the fact) that he built her a whole villa!
    Τα παιδιά θυμήθηκαν που μαζεύονταν στην αλάνα και έπαιζαν μπάλα. Τhe guys remebmered that they used to gather in the field and play football.
    Is it true that "που" can be substituted by "το ότι", if it is used as a conjunction?
     

    ireney

    Senior Member
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    The thing is (and we are going to start getting confusing soon I'm afraid) that I consider both "βλέπεις που" and "δεν λες που" as expressions. You see, if you put another verb there you cannot use "που". You cannot say "καταλαβαίνεις που δεν τον σέβεται καθόλου;" or "συμφωνείς που δεν τον σέβεται καθόλου;" You cannot say "Μην πεις που της έχτισε ολόκληρη βίλα" or "σκέψου που της έχτισε ολόκληρη βίλα" etc (I would also translate both a bit differently but that's another matter all together).

    As for the last (τα παιδιά θυμήθηκαν που) I see it as slightly different than "τα παιδία θυμήθηκαν ότι". The first I would translate (and I'm using the translation solely to show the difference in use) as "the children remembered the time/when they used to ..." whereas the other "the children remembered that they used to ..."

    As for your question διαφορετικέ I would say no. "Το ότι" is more like "the fact that"
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    «που» may be used rarely as conjunction that introduces «ειδικές προτάσεις», but formally it has this function. I thing that alfie1988 refers to that case in the title of this thread ("that" = που / πως / ότι - what's the difference?).
    Most examples of my previous post are taken from Philipaki-Warburton's grammar, as I said.
    Here's a link with the subjunctions that introduce subordinate clauses: Γλώσσα (ΣΤ Δημοτικού): Ηλεκτρονικό Βιβλίο
     
    Last edited:

    uress

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Note:
    That = pou when you speak about emotions: E.g. Hairomai/Harika POU irthes telika/eisai edo.
    Pos/oti: after verbs of saying, quoting, etc.
     

    Perseas

    Senior Member
    Note:
    That = pou when you speak about emotions: E.g. Hairomai/Harika POU irthes telika/eisai edo.
    Τhat is correct, but that «που» is different from «που» in the sentence «Δε λες που της έχτισε ολόκληρη βίλα;». <see post #3>
    In «χαίρομαι που...» it is causal, while in «Δε λες που...» it functions as «πως, ότι».
     
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