αι as in “aisle”
ει as in “eight”
οι as in “oil”
υι as in “quick”
αυ as in “cow”
ευ as in “feud”
ου as in “soup”
Some of these diphthongs are considered to be short diphthongs. These do not require as much time to “shape” or “define” the sound:
αι, οι, υι and αυ
Other diphthongs are considered to be long diphthongs. These need more time to construct and properly define the sound:
ει, ευ and ου
Just as it is important to learn how to pronounce the letters correctly, it is also important to pronounce the words correctly. But in order to pronounce a Greek word correctly it is helpful to break it down into its syllables. This is called “syllabification,” and there are two ways you can learn it.
The first method is to recognize that Greek words syllabify in basically the same manner as English words do. Therefore, if you “go with your feelings,” you will syllabify Greek words almost automatically. Practice reading 1 John chapter 1.
The second way is to learn some basic syllabification rules. It is important that you master the process of syllabification in order to pronounce the words consistently, thus making it much easier to memorize them.
- There is one vowel (or diphthong) per syllable.
ἀ κη κό α μεν (from ἀκούω, I hear, I listen; 6x out of 191 occurrences). See John 4:42, Acts 6:11, Acts 6:14, 1 John 1:1, 1 John 1:3, 1:5.
μαρ τυ ροῦ μεν (from μαρτυρέω, I witness, I testify; 4x out of 76 occurrences). See John 3:11, 1 John 1:2, 4:14, 3 John 1:12.
Therefore, there are as many syllables as there are vowels/diphthongs.
- A single consonant by itself (not a consonant cluster — a consonant cluster is two or more consonants in a row) goes with the vowel that follows it.
ἑ ω ρά κα μεν (from ὁράω, I see, 5 x out of 684 occurrences). See John 3:11, 20:25, 1 John 1:1, 1:2, 1:3.
ἐ θε α σά με θα (from θεάομαι, I behold, I look upon, 2x out of 23 occurrences). See John 1:14, 1 John 1:1.
If the consonant is the final letter in the word, it will go with the preceding vowel.
- Two consecutive vowels that do not form a diphthong are divided.
ἐ θε α σά με θα (from θεάομαι, I behold, I look upon, 2x out of 23 occurrences).
- A consonant cluster that cannot be pronounced together is divided, and the first consonant goes with the preceding vowel. [One way to check whether a consonant cluster can be pronounced together is to see whether those consonants ever begin a word. For example, you know that the cluster στcan be pronounced together because there is a word σταυρόω (to crucify, 46 occurrences). Although the lexicon may not show all the possible clusters, it will show you many of them.]
ἔμ προ σθεν (preposition/adverb: in front, before the face, 56 occurrences).
See Matthew 5:16 (prep), “let your light shine before men”.
Luke 19:4 (adv), “he ran on ahead and climbed”.
ἀρ χῆ (noun, beginning, 56 occurrences). See John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word”.
ἄγ γελος (noun, angel, messenger, 176 occurrences). See Acts 12:8, “And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.””.
- A consonant cluster that can be pronounced together goes with the following vowel.
Χρι στός (noun, Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ, 538 occurrences) See Matt. 1:16, “who is called the Messiah.”
γρα φή (noun, a writing, passage of scripture, the scriptures, 51 occurrences). See Mark 15:28 “And the scripture was fulfilled, which says”.
This includes a consonant cluster formed with μ or ν.
ἔ θνε σιν (from ἔθνος, ους, τό, a race, people, the Gentiles, 163 occurrences). See Matt. 6:32, “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all”.
πνεῦ μα (wind, breath, spirit, 383 occurrences). See Matt. 3:16, “and he saw the Spirit of God”.
- Double consonants are divided. [A double consonant is when the same consonant occurs twice in a row.]
ἀ παγ γέλ λο μεν (from ἀπαγγέλλω, to report, bring a report, announce, 47 occurrences). See 1 John 1:2, “and testify and proclaim to you”.
παρ ρη σί α (confidence (bold resolve), leaving a witness that something deserves to be remembered (taken seriously), 31 Occurrences). See Mark 8:32, “the matter plainly. And Peter”.
- Compound words are divided where joined. [Compound words are words made up of two distinct words.]