A fishing boat is tied up at the pier on Ios.

Learning Greek

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A Greek Study Guide

I have been to Greece a number of times, and I have tried to pick up some bits and scraps of the language.

I have been very happy with the Duolingo smart phone app.

By Radio
I had used the recordings of the "Greek By Radio" program from the Cyprus Broadcast Company. It's 105 audio files, about 15 minutes long each, plus some corresponding pages with the complete text, vocabulary tables, and so on.

Eleven years later, I was going back to Greece, and I found the Duolino app to be far superior.

Follow the link to my old notes on the Greek by Radio programs if you want, but below are my study notes for the much more useful Duolingo program.

This page has basic grammar tables. Not exhaustive, but the "just enough" versions that I needed to create while going through the Duolingo lessons.

Hunter S. Thompson on Learning by Writing There are also some word lists. Parts of this page became my personal study guide. Maybe you will find it useful. I know that I do.

I'm convinced that Hunter S. Thompson was right. An effective way to learn something is to figure out how to explain it to someone else. What really matters? What is the minimal explanation? What must you know? I don't claim to know much about the Greek language, but the best way I know to learn anything by myself is to set out to explain it.


It is not too difficult to deal with the language. Really. You will have an advantage if you happen to know any Russian or other East Slavic languages, as Saints Methodius and Cyril devised the Cyrillic alphabet using Greek as much as possible in the cases of similar sounds. Apparently Methodius did most of the work but Cyril got the credit, hence the alphabet's name "Cyrillic" and not "Methodical".

Here's the alphabet — the capital and lower case Greek, the letter's name, and the very approximate English (and NATO and Old English and Scottish and French) equivalent. If you just see boxes or gibberish, use a better browser that understands Unicode.

Greek Name English
Α    α Alpha A as in "father"
Β    β Beta V as in "Victor"
Γ    γ Gamma G as in "goat"
Δ    δ Delta Ð as in "there"
Ε    ε Epsilon E as in "get"
Ζ    ζ Zeta Z as in "Zulu"
Η    η Eta I as in "feet"
Θ    θ Theta Þ as in "thick"
Ι    ι Iota I as in "feet"
Κ    κ Kappa K as in "Kilo"
Λ    λ Lambda L as in "Lima"
Μ    μ Mu M as in "Mike"
Greek Name English
Ν    ν Nu N as in "November"
Ξ    ξ Xi X as in "ox"
Ο    ο Omicron O as in "hOt"
Π    π Pi P as in "Papa"
Ρ    ρ Rho R as in "Romeo"
Σ    ς, σ Sigma S as in "Sierra"
Τ    τ Tau T as in "Tango"
Υ    υ Upsilon I as in "feet"
Φ    φ Phi F as in "Foxtrot"
Χ    χ Chi CH as in "loch"
Ψ    ψ Psi PS as in "lapse"
Ω    ω Omega O as in "note"
Greek English
αι ai as in "aisle"
αυ av as in "mauve" before vowels or voiced consonants
af as in "off" otherwise
ει ee as in "feet"
ευ ev as in "ever" before vowels or voiced consonants
ef as in "left" otherwise
ηι ee as in "feet"
ηυ iv as in "shiver" before vowels or voiced consonants
if as in "if" otherwise
οι ee as in "feet"
ου oo as in "food"
υι ee as in "feet"

Because of a process called ἰωτακισμός or iotacism, many vowels and diphthongs in Ancient Greek converged so that in Modern Greek η, υ, ει, ηι, οι, and υι are all pronounced the same as ι.


Techniques for learning things

I'm pretty sure you will want a dictionary. Among other uses, you can make lists of categories of words. Don't try to memorize long lists of things, break them into manageable groups of five to seven. Break things into categories. each with a manageable number of things.

Colors, days of the week, time terms (now, later, today, tomorrow, etc) directions (near, far, here, there, to the left, to the right, etc), and so on.

A basic and grammar reference also makes sense. Dover sells a cheap but odd and outdated one.

Dover has reprinted a grammar from 1950. It has outdated phonetic marking from the era of katharevousa, a failed project to make modern Greeks speak a hybrid language resembling Classical or Ancient Greece. It shows the polytonic orthography, using five diacritics to indicate three types of pitch accent plus "rough" and "smooth" breathing for initial vowels. Amazon reviews from actual Greeks say "This isn't modern Greek" and "Not even my grandma uses this language anymore!"

If you search for greek grammar at Amazon, much of what you find will be either Classical Greek, the Attic Greek of 500–300 BCE, or New Testament Greek, the Koine Greek of the common people of 300 BCE to 350 CE. The Yale textbook A Manual of Modern Greek seems to have the right aim, but its reviews indicate that it resembles a 1970s military manual, with its pages filled with constant-width font.

Routledge has the right idea:

The Routledge Essential Grammar and Comprehensive Grammar seem to be the best references for actual modern Greek.


Masc. = Masculine gender
Fem. = Feminine gender
Neu. = Neuter gender
Nom. = Nominative, or Subjective case
The dog drinks the water.
Ο σκύλος πίνει το νερό.
Obj. = Objective, or Accusative case
The dog drinks the water.
Ο σκύλος πίνει το νερό.
Gen. = Genitive, or Possessive case, or indirect object
I see the dog's water. Or, literally: I see the water of the dog.
Βλάπω το νερό του σκύλου.
Or, Athena gives water to the dog.
Η Αθηνά δίνει νερό στον σκύλο.
subj. acc. gen.
Or, all pronouns, She gives them to them.
Αυτή τους τα δίνει.
subj. acc. gen.

As for general patterns of noun gender:

Most masculine nouns end –ος, –ης, –ας, or –έας.

Most feminine nouns end –η, –α, or –ος.

Most neuter nouns end –ο or –ι.

Definite Article, "the"

Singular Plural
Masc. Fem. Neu. Masc. Fem. Neu.
Nom. ό ή τό οί οί τά
Obj. τό(ν) τή(ν) τό τούς τίς τά
Gen. τού τής τού τών τών τών

The (ν) only needs to be used when the following word begins with a vowel or with a few specific consonants:
τό σκύλο / τόν άντρα
To err on the side of caution and formality, you can always use it.

Proper names take the definite article: Ο Αλέξανδρος, Η Αθήνα

Indefinite Article, "a" or "one"

Masc. Fem. Neu.
Nom. ένας μία / μιά ένα
Obj. ένα(ν) μία(ν) / μιά(ν) ένα
Gen. ενός μιάς / μίας ενός

Personal Pronouns

The Nominative 3rd Person pronouns have "he", "she", and "it" forms.


Singular Plural
1st Pers. εγώ εμείς
2nd Pers. (ε)σύ (ε)σείς
3rd Pers. M: αυτός
F: αυτή
N: αυτό
M: αυτοί
F: αυτές
N: αυτά


Singular Plural
1st Pers. μέ μάς
2nd Pers. σέ σάς
3rd Pers. M: τόν
F: τή(ν)
N: τό
M: τούς
F: τίς, τές
N: τά


Singular Plural
1st Pers. μου μας
2nd Pers. σου σας
3rd Pers. M: του
F: της
N: του
M: τους
F: τους
N: τους

ο σκύλος = the dog
αυτός ο σκύλος = this dog
αυτά τα σκυλιά these dogs

Use δικός / δική / δικό / for "my own" M / F / N singular, δικοί / δικές / δικά for M / F / N plural, and so on.

δικός μού = mine
δικός σού = yours
δικός τού / τής / τού = his / hers / its
δικός μάς = our
δικός σάς = yours
δικός τούς = theirs

Αυτό είναι το μικρό τους παιδί. = This is their small child. However,
Αυτό είναι το δικό τους μικρό παιδί. = This is their own small child.
Αυτά είναι τα δικά τους μικρά παιδιά. = These are their own small children.
Είμαι δικί τους. = I am theirs.
Είμαστε δικοί τους. = We are theirs.
Οι δικοί μας άντρες ... = Our own men ...
Τα δικά μας παιδά ... = Our own children ...
Η δική του σούπα ... = His own soup ...

Determinatives — This, That, These, Those, All

These decline like 3rd person pronouns, and can be used as pronouns as well as adjectives.

τούτος = very near the speaker, "this" or "these"
αυτός = non-specific distance
έκεινος = far from the speaker, "that" or "those"

όλος = all

Ο σκύλος τρώει = The dog eats.
Αυτός ο σκύλος τρώει = This dog eats.
Έκεινος ο σκύλος τρώει = That dog eats.

Αυτά τα σκύλιά τρώνε = These dogs eat.
Έκεινα τα σκύλιά τρώνε = Those dogs eat.
Όλα τα σκύλιά τρώνε = All the dogs eat.

Διαβάζουμε τα βιβλία = We read the books.
Διαβάζουμε αυτά τα βιβλία = We read these books.
Διαβάζουμε όλα τα βιβλία = We read all the books.

Αυτά τα παιδιά διαβάζουν έκεινα τα βιβλία. = These children read those books.

Direct and Indirect Objects, Forms and Order

Pronoun objects before the verb, noun objects after.

Αυτή η γυναίκα τους το δείχνει. This woman shows this to them.
Αυτή η γυναίκα αυτά τους τα δείχνει. This woman shows these to them.
Αυτή η γυναίκα του το δείχνει. This woman shows it to him.
Αυτοί οι άνδρες την της δείχνουν. These men show her to him.
Αυτές οι γυναίκες της το δείχνουν. These women show it to her.
Αυτή η γυναίκα του δείχνει αυτό το βιβλίο. This woman shows this book to him.
Αυτή η γυναίκα διαβάζει αυτό το βιβλίο σε αυτόν τον άντρα. This woman reads this book to that man.
Αυτές οι γυναίκες διαβάζουν αυτά τα βιβλία σε αυτούς τους άντρες. These women read these books to those men.


Verbs will be shown in tables like this, without the row and column labels:

Singular Plural
1st person I am We are
2nd person You are (informal) You are (formal)
3rd person He/she/it is They are

Be and Have

Be and have, είμαι and έχω, are irregular.

Present / Is Past / Was
είμαι είμαστε ήμουν(α) ήμασταν
είσαι είσαστε / είστε ήσουν(α) ήσασταν
είναι είναι ήταν(ε) ήταν(ε)
Present / Have Past / Had
έχω έχουμε είχα είχαμε
έχεις έχετε είχες είχατε
έχει έχουν(ε) είχε είχαν(ε)
Εγώ είμαι Εμείς είμαστε
Εσύ είσαι Εσείς είσαστε
Αυτός είναι
Αυτοί είναι
Εγώ έχω Εμείς έχουμε
Εσύ έχεις Εσείς έχετε
Αυτός έχει
Αυτοί έχουνε


καλημέρα = good morning
καλησπέρα = good evening
καληνύχτα = good night
αντίο = 'bye
τα λέμε = see you

με συγχωρείτε = excuse me
συγγνώμη = I'm sorry

εντάξει = OK
μπορεί = maybe
χάρηκα = nice to meet you
ορίστε = here you are

πώς είστε; = how are you?
είστε καλά; = are you well?

μένω ςτο / μένω ςτην = lives in
μένω κοντά = lives near
από το / από την = is from

μιλαώ λίγο αγγλικά = I speak a little English
μιλαώ καλά αγγλικά = I speak English well
μιλαώ αγγλικά πολύ καλά = I speak English very well

πώς σε λένε; = what's your name?
με λένε ... = my name is ...

θα ήθελα ... = I would like ...

Question Words

γιατί = why
πότε = when
πού / όπου = where
από που = from where
τι = what
ποιός / ποια / ποιο = who, or which one, or what
ποιανής / ποιανού / ποιανών / τίνος = whose (of who)
πώς = how
πόσο= how much
πόσα / πόσες = how many

ερώτηση = question
απάντηση = answer

εδώ = here
εκεί = there
χτες = yesterday
τώρα = now
αργότερα = later
σήμερα = today
αύριο = tomorrow
μεθαύριο = day after tomorrow

Some Words

ο άντρας = man
η γυναίκα = woman
το αγόρι = boy
το κορίτσι = girl
το παιδί = child

το βιβλίο = book
η εφημερίδα = newspaper

το φαγητό = food
το γεύμα = meal
το νερό = water
ο χυμός = juice
το σκαρί = wine
ο καφές = coffee
το μήλο = apple
το πορτοκάλι = orange
η φράουλα = strawberry
το φρούτο = fruit
το χορταρικό = vegetable
το αβγό = egg
το κοτόπουλο = chicken
κρέας = meat
το ψάρι = fish
το ψωμί = bread
το ρύζι = rice
ο πάλος = ice
το τυρί = cheese
το αγγούρι = cucumber
η ντομάτα = tomato
το κρεμμόδι = onion
η ελιά = olive
η ελαιόλαδο = olive

η βάρκα = boat
το φέριμποτ = ferry
το πλοίο = ship
το αυτοκίνητο = automobile
το λεωφορείο = bus

το ζώο = animal
ο σκύλος = dog
η γάτα = cat
το κουτάβι = puppy
το γατάκι = kitten
ο λύκος = wolf
η αλειπού = fox
το ποντίκι = mouse
το φηλαστικό = mammal
η πάπια = duck
ο αετός = eagle
το κοτό = chicken
ο γλάρος = gull
το πουλί = bird
το ψάρι = fish
ο κάβουρας = crab
το χταπόδι = octopus
η αράχνη = spider
το μυρμήγκι = ant
η πεταλούδα = butterfly
το έντομο = insect

τα ρούχα = clothes
το πουκάμισο = shirt
η φούστα = skirt
το καπέλο = hat
τα καπούτσες = shoes
οι κάλτσες = socks
το παντελόνι = pants
το παλτό = coat
το φόρεμα = dress
το κοστούμι = suit
η στολή = uniform
τα εσώρουχα = underwear
το πορτοφόλι = wallet
η μάσκα = mask
το μαντίλι = scarf
η ζώνη = belt

ο καιρός = the weather
ο ήλιος = the sun
έχει ήλιο = it's sunny
η ζέστη = the heat
κάνει ζέστη = it's hot
το κρύο = the cold
ο αέρας = the wind
έχει αέρα = it is windy
βρέχει = it is raining
χιονίζει = it is snowing
έχει ομίχλη = it is foggy
έχει συννεφιά = it is cloudy


τρώω = eat
πίνω = drink
διαβάζω = read, study
μιλώ = speak
λέω = say
τραγουδώ = sing

βλέπω = see
κοιτάζι = look at
ακούω = hear
δείχνω = show, point to
αγγίζω = touch

βρίσκω = find
βάζω = put
δίνω = give
παίρνω = take, receive
φέρνω = bring
αφήνω = leave
φορώ = wear

πηγαίνω = go, take (also πάω)
φεύγω = depart
φθάνω = arrive
περπατώ = walk
τρέχω = run
πέφτω = fall
κολυμπάω = swim
χορεύω = dance

δουλεύω = work
γράφω = write
σχεδιάζω = draw, design
φτιάχνω = make
κάνω = make
χρησιμοποιώ = use
βοηθάω = help
μαγειρεύω = cook
καθαρίζω = clean
παίζω = play
νικάω = win

ζω = live
υπάρχω = exist
μπορώ = can, be able to
απαγορεύω = forbid
ξέρω = know
αρέσω = like (cause to like)
αγαπώ, = love

θέλω = want
αγοράζω = buy
πληρώνω = pay
κοστίζω = cost

Like is very weird.
That man likes my clothes.
Τα ρούχα μου αρέσουν σε εκείνον τον άντρα.
Literally: The clothes of-me cause-to-like in that-the-man.

Noun Declension

Most masculine nouns end –ος, –ης, –ας, or –έας.

Most feminine nouns end –η, –α, or –ος.

Most neuter nouns end –ο or –ι.

Masculine nouns ending –ος

See έμπορος and σκύλος merchant and dog.

Singular Plural
Nom. έμπορος σκύλος έμποροι σκύλοι
Obj. έμπορο σκύλο εμπόρους σκύλους
Gen. εμπόρου σκύλου εμπόρων σκύλων

Masculine nouns ending –ας and –ης

See άντρας and ναύτης, man and sailor.

Singular Plural
Nom. άντρας ναύτης άντρες ναύτες
Obj. άντρα ναύτη άντρες ναύτες
Gen. άντρα ναύτη αντρών ναυτών

Feminine nouns ending –α and –η

See μητέρα and κόρη, mother and daughter.

Singular Plural
Nom. μητέρα κόρη μητέρες κόρες
Obj. μητέρα κόρη μητέρες κόρες
Gen. μητέρας κόρης μητέρων κορών

Neuter nouns ending –ο and –ι.

See πλοίο and νησί, ship and island.

Singular Plural
Nom. πλοιό νησί πλοιά νησιά
Obj. πλοιό νησί πλοιά νησιά
Gen. πλοιού νησιού πλοιών νησιών

Neuter nouns ending –ος

See έθνος and έδαφος, nation and ground. This is a less common ending for neuter nouns.

Singular Plural
Nom. έθνος έδαφος έθνη έδαφη
Obj. έθνος έδαφος έθνη έδαφη
Gen. έθνους έδαφους έθνών έδαφών

Nouns that add a syllable

See ψαράς and καφές, fisherman and coffee. These retain the final vowel of the singular, and a –δ– (or –τ– for neuters) is inserted before the plural ending.

Singular Plural
Nom. ψαράς καφές ψαράδες καφέδες
Obj. ψαρά καφέ ψαράδες καφέδες
Gen. ψαρά καφέ ψαράδων καφέδων

Then there are less common patterns, and nouns with irregular declensions. See a detailed grammar reference for details on those.


Adjectives decline, agreeing in case, number, and gender. Nominative singular male is the dictionary form. Most end –ος.

The general pattern is that adjectives decline the same way as the nouns. For example, όμορφος or beautiful:

Singular Plural
Masc. Fem. Neu. Masc. Fem. Neu.
Nom. όμορφος όμορφη όμορφο όμορφοι όμορφες όμορφα
Obj. όμορφο όμορφη όμορφο όμορφους όμορφες όμορφα
Gen. όμορφου όμορφης όμορφου όμορφων όμορφων όμορφων

Adjectives with a vowel before the ending, like νέος or new, use –α in the feminine singular:

Singular Plural
Masc. Fem. Neu. Masc. Fem. Neu.
Nom. νέος νέα νέο νέοι νέες νέο
Obj. νέο νέα νέο νέους νέες νέα
Gen. νέου νέας νέου νέοων νέεων νέαων

Some that end –κός or –χός use –ια for the feminine singular, although it seems that you can also use the usual –η.

τα χρώματα = the colors
πολύχρωμος = multicolored
ανοιχτός = light
σκούρος = dark
βαθύς = dark, deep
λευκός = white
άσπρος = white
γκρίζος = grey
μαύρος = black
ασπρόμαυρος = white and black
καφέ = brown
κόκκινος = red
ροζ = pink
πορτοκαλής = orange
κίτρινος = yellow
πράςινος = green
μπλε = dark blue
γαλάζιος = light blue
βιολετί = violet
μοβ = purple

0 = μηδέν
1 = ένας
2 = δύο
3 = τρία
4 = τέσσερα
5 = πέντε
6 = έξι
7 = εφτά
8 = οκτώ
9 = εννέα
10 = δέκα
11 = έντεκα
12 = δώδεκα
13 = δεκατρείς
14 = δεκατέσσερα
15 = δεκαρέντε
16 = δεκαέξι
17 = δεκαεπτά
18 = δεκαοκτώ
19 = δεκαεννέα

1,111 = χίλια εκατό έντεκα
2,222 = δύο χιλιάδες διακόσια είκοσι δύο
3,333 = τρεις χιλιάδες τριακόσιες τριάντα τρεις
4,444 = τέσσερις χιλιάδες τετρακόσιες σαράντα τέσσερις
5,555 = πέντε χιλιάδες πεντακόσιες πενήντα πέντε
6,666 = έξι χιλιάδες εξακόσιες εξήντα έξι
7,777 = επτά χιλιάδες επτακόσιες εβδομήντα επτά
8,888 = οκτώ χιλιάδες οκτακόσιες ογδόντα οκτώ
9,999 = εννιά χιλιάδες εννιακόσιες ενενήντα εννέα
1,000,000 = εκατομμύριο

half = μίσα
infinity = άπειρο
none = κανένα

first = πρώτος
second = δεύτερος
third = τρίτος
fourth = τέταρτος
fifth = πέμπτος
last = τελευταίος


Regular Verb Conjugation

A#lmost all modern Greek verbs belong to one of two regular conjugation patterns, depending on where the stress falls in the "dictionary form" of the first person singular.

First conjugation verbs' stress is not in the ending, as in πιάνω or "I catch", unstressed –ω

Second conjugation verbs' stress is in the ending, as in αγαπώ or "I love", or ωφελώ or "I benefit". or δροσίζω or "I refresh", stressed –ώ or –ίζω.

First Conjugation

πιάνω, "I catch."

Present Past
πιάνω πιάνουμε
πιάνεις πιάνετε
πιάνει πιάνουν

Second Conjugation

There are two forms of the second conjugation. In one, the third person singular ends in –ά or –άεί. In the other, it ends in –εί.

αγαπώ, "I love."

Present Past
αγαπώ αγαπούμε
αγαπάς αγαπάτε
αγαπά αγαπούν

ωφελώ, "I benefit."

Present Past
ωφελώ ωφελούμε
ωφελείς ωφελείτε
ωφελεί ωφελούν

δροσίζω, "I refresh."

Present Past
δροσίζω δροσίζουμε
δροσίζεις δροσίζετε
δροσίζει δροσίζουν


Prepositions generally take the objective case. It seems that you could get by pretty well with just ix.

από = from, of
σε = to, at, in, on
προς = toward
με = with, by
χωρίς = without
για = for, about, concerning

Note that σε can merge with τον, την, το, τους, τις, τα, forming στον, στην, στο, στους, στις, στα.

Η Αθηνά δίνει νερό στον σκύλο.
Athena gives water to the dog.

Πίνω κρασί με το τυρί μου.
I drink wine with my cheese.

Αυτό το πλοίο πηγαίνει από την Αθήνα προς τη Νάξο.
This ship goes from Athens toward Naxos.

Other prepositions include:
κοντά = near
Είμαι μέσα. = I am inside.
Είμαι έξω = I am outside.
Ο σκύλος είναι ανάμεσά σε μας. = The dog is between or among us.
Είσαι δίπλα μου = You are next to me.
Είναι άντρες, σαν εμάς. = They are men like us.
κίτρινο όπως ένα λεμόνι = yellow like a lemon
εξαιτίας σου = because of you.
λόγω = because of
Όπως θες. = As you want.
πάνω = on top of
κάτω από = under
πίσω από = behind
πριν από = before
μετά από = after
και μετά = and then
κατά = against, opposed to
εναντίον = against, opposed to
αντί για = instead of
εκτός από = except for
εν τω μεταξύ = meanwhile

Too Much Detail

Here are some things that grammar books describe, but don't seem to be immediately necessary.

Personal Pronouns

The Objective and Genitive cases have long and short forms, long for emphasis.


Singular Plural
1st Pers. εγώ εμείς
2nd Pers. (ε)σύ (ε)σείς
3rd Pers. M: αυτός, εκείνος
F: αυτή, εκείνη
N: αυτό, εκείνο
M: αυτοί, εκείνοι
F: αυτές, εκείνες
N: αυτά, εκείνα


Singular Plural
1st Pers. εμένα μέ εμάς μάς
2nd Pers. εσένα σέ εσάς σάς
3rd Pers. M: αυτόν
F: αυτή(ν)
N: αυτό
M: αυτούς
F: αυτές
N: αυτά
τίς, τές


Singular Plural
1st Pers. εμένα μου εμάς μας
2nd Pers. εσένα σου εσάς σας
3rd Pers. M: αυτου
F: αυτης
N: αυτου
M: αυτων
F: αυτων
N: αυτων

Katharevousa (or καθαρεύουσα)

The Colonel's Coup in 1967 was accompanied by the typical authoritarian demand to return things to an idealized superior "before time". Part of this was the demand for using a more formal language, called καθαρεύουσα or katharevousa. Should the official language of the Greek nation be the language the people spoke, or should it be a cultivated imitation of ancient Greek?

A language purity movement had begun in the late nineteenth century, aiming to wipe out the linguistic influence of the Byzantine Empire and the following Ottoman Empire. Language fanatics wanted to have everyone in Greece speak the prestige Attic dialect of literary classical Greek of 500–300 BCE.

The Koine Greek that the people spoke in about 300 BCE to 350 CE was the common people's language. The New Testament was written in Koine, it was the official language of the Byzantine Empire until it fell in 1453, and it survives as the liturgical language of the Greek Orthodox church. But that was too modern and casual for the katharevousa advocates.

Katharevousa was archaic, with syntactical, morphological, phonological, and lexical features of Ancient Greek. It was an artificial hybrid of a language that had never been spoken by anyone. This meant that it was only partly intelligible to a Greek person without a higher education.

By the late 1800s, it had gotten to where an educated Greek citizen could usually figure out what written Katharevousa meant, with substantial effort, but they couldn't write it. Literacy was suffering. The attempt to impose it as an official language cut people off from government, public life, and literature. The Wikipedia page on the Greek language question says, in a note:

The names of everyday objects were particularly resistant to "purification". Necktie remained γραβάτα (Italian cravatta) and coffee stayed καφές (Turkish kahve). The "purified" alternatives λαιμοδέτης "neck-tie" and the much-ridiculed νηφοκοκκόζυμον "sober-berry-brew" never did win popular support.

Then in April 1967 a group of right-wing military officers seized power in a coup d'état. The regime of "The Colonels" as it was known imposed a strongly authoritarian government. Part of this was a link between Katharevousa and the government itself. Demotic or Δημοτική, the common Greek language of the people, was banned from education. Demotic Greek was criticized as a jargon or slang that didn't even have a grammar, and the language was accused of being connected to communism and treason.

When The Colonels' regime collapsed in July 1974, that was the end of Katharevousa. Article 2 of Law 309 — still written in Katharevousa as all laws were then — decreed that Modern Greek, the Demotic spoken by the people of Greece, should be the only language used in education at all levels. Standard Modern Greek became the official language of administration in 1977, and over the next ten years the whole legal system was converted and rewritten. In 1982 a presidential decree imposed the monotonic written accent system on all education. It uses only the tonos or mark for stress, and the diaresis to indicate separated vowel sounds (as the same mark does in English and French, as in naïve, coöperate, and Noël). The pitch accents and the marks for "rough" and "smooth" breathing for vowels disappeared, as they only indicated how words had been pronounced over two millenia earlier.