Movable nu

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In Ancient Greek grammar, movable nu or movable N (Ancient Greek: νῦ ἐφελκυστικόν nû ephelkystikón, literally "nu dragged onto" or "attracted to") is a letter nu (written ν; the Greek equivalent of the letter n) placed on the end of some grammatical forms in Attic or Ionic Greek. It is used to avoid two vowels in a row (hiatus) and to create a long syllable in poetic meter.

Grammatical forms[edit]

Movable nu may appear at the end of certain forms of verbs, nouns, and adjectives. In grammatical paradigms, it is usually written with a parenthesis to indicate that it is optional.

third person plural present and future
λέγουσι(ν)
τιθέασι(ν)
"they say"
"they place"
present
λέξουσι(ν) "they will say" future
third person singular perfect and past
τέθνηκε(ν) "he has died", "is dead" perfect
ἔλεγε(ν) "he was saying" imperfect
εἶπε(ν) "he said" aorist
ἐτεθνήκει(ν) "he had died", "was dead" pluperfect
third person singular present
(athematic verbs)
τίθησι(ν) "he places"
ἐστί(ν) "it is"
third declension dative plural
Ἕλλησι(ν) "to Greeks"
πᾶσι(ν) "to all"

Usage[edit]

Movable nu is used before words starting in a vowel to prevent hiatus.

  • πᾶσιν ἔλεγεν ἐκεῖνα "he said those things to everyone"

It is omitted before consonants.

  • πᾶσι λέγουσι ταῦτα "they say these things to everyone"

It is often used at the end of clauses or verses.

Sources[edit]

Herbert Weir Smyth, A Greek Grammar, par. 134.

See also[edit]