Ancient Greek verbs

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Ancient Greek verbs have four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and optative), three voices (active, middle and passive), as well as three persons (first, second and third) and three numbers (singular, dual and plural). Verbs are conjugated in four main combinations of tense and aspect (present, future, perfect, and aorist), with a full complement of moods for each of these main "tenses", except for the following restrictions:

  • There is no future subjunctive or imperative.
  • There are separate passive-voice forms (distinct from the middle) only in the future and aorist.

In addition, for each of the four "tenses", there exist, in each voice, an infinitive and participles. There is also an imperfect indicative that can be constructed from the present using a prefix (the "augment") and the secondary endings. A pluperfect and a future perfect indicative also exist, built on the perfect stem, but these are relatively rare, especially the future perfect. The distinction of the "tenses" in moods other than the indicative is predominantly one of aspect rather than time. The Ancient Greek verbal system preserves nearly all the complexities of Proto-Indo-European (PIE).

A distinction is traditionally made between the so-called athematic verbs, with endings affixed directly to the root (also called mi-verbs) and the thematic class of verbs which present a "thematic" vowel /o/ or /e/ before the ending. All athematic roots end in a vowel except for /es-/ "be" and /hes-/ "sit". The endings are classified into primary (those used in the present, future, perfect and rare future perfect of the indicative, as well as in the subjunctive) and secondary (used in the aorist, imperfect, and pluperfect of the indicative, as well as in the optative). Ancient Greek also preserves the PIE middle voice and adds a passive voice, with separate forms only in the future and aorist (elsewhere, the middle forms are used).


The Ancient Greek verbal system has seven tense-aspect forms, traditionally called "tenses". The temporal distinctions only appear in the indicative.[1] Four of these forms (in bold) are found in other moods, where they distinguish aspect only, or, in the case of the future, express relative tense.

future future perfect
present perfect
aorist imperfect pluperfect
  • Present (Greek ἐνεστώς enestṓs "standing within") describes an action which is happening at the time of speaking or regularly:
ἀνὴρ θύει βοῦν.
anḕr thýei boûn.
A man is sacrificing an ox.
  • Imperfect (Greek παρατατικός paratatikós, from παρατείνω parateínō "prolong") describes an action which used to happen in the past:
ἀνὴρ ἔθυε βοῦν.
anḕr éthye boûn.
A man used to sacrifice an ox.
  • Future (Greek μέλλων méllōn "about to be") describes an action which will happen in the future:
ἀνὴρ θύσει βοῦν.
anḕr thýsei boûn.
A man will sacrifice an ox.
  • Aorist (Greek ἀόριστος aóristos "unbounded" or "indefinite") describes an action "pure and simple."[2]
ἀνὴρ ἔθυσε βοῦν.
anḕr éthyse boûn.
A man sacrificed an ox.
  • Perfect (Greek παρακείμενος parakeímenos "lying nearby") describes a present state resulting from a finished action:
ἀνὴρ τέθυκε βοῦν.
anḕr téthyke boûn.
A man has sacrificed an ox.
  • Pluperfect (Greek ὑπερσυντέλικος hypersyntélikos "more than completed") describes a past state resulting from a (farther in the past) finished action:
ἀνὴρ ἐτεθύκει βοῦν.
anḕr etethýkei boûn.
A man had sacrificed an ox.
  • Future Perfect (Greek συντελεσμένος μέλλων syntelesménos méllōn "about to be completed") describes a future state that will result from a finished action:
ἀνὴρ τεθυκὼς ἔσται βοῦν.
anḕr tethykṑs éstai boûn.
A man will have sacrificed an ox.


There are four moods (ἐγκλίσεις enklíseis "bendings" or "tippings") and two non-finite verb forms.

  • Indicative (Greek ὁριστική horistikḗ "bounded"):
ἀνὴρ θύει βοῦν.
anḕr thýei boûn.
A man is sacrificing an ox.
  • Subjunctive (Greek ὑποτακτική hypotaktikḗ "arranged underneath"):
πέμπουσιν ἄνδρα, ἵνα θύσῃ βοῦν.
pémpousin ándra, hína thýsēi boûn.
They are sending a man in order for him to sacrifice an ox.
  • Optative (Greek: εὐκτική euktikḗ, from εὐκτός euktós "wished for"):
ἔπεμψαν ἄνδρα, ἵνα θύσαι βοῦν.
épempsan ándra, hína thýsai boûn.
They sent a man in order for him to sacrifice an ox.
εἴθε ἀνὴρ θύοι βοῦν.
eíthe anḕr thýoi boûn.
I wish a man would sacrifice an ox.
ἔλεγον ὅτι ἀνὴρ οὐ θύοι βοῦν.
élegon hóti anḕr ou thýoi boûn.
They said that a man doesn't sacrifice an ox.
εἰ βούλοιτο, θύοι ἂν βοῦν.
ei boúloito, thýoi àn boûn.
If he wanted, he would sacrifice an ox.
  • Imperative (Greek: προστακτική prostatikḗ, from προστάσσω prostássō "command"):
ἄνερ, θῦσον βοῦν.
áner, thŷson boûn.
Man, sacrifice an ox.
  • Infinitive (Greek: ἀπαρέμφατος aparémphatos "not indicated"):
βούλομαι ἄνδρα θῦσαι βοῦν.
boúlomai ándra thŷsai boûn.
I want a man to sacrifice an ox.
νομίζω ἄνδρα θῦσαι βοῦν.
nomízō ándra thŷsai boûn.
I think that a man sacrificed an ox.
  • Participle (Greek: μετοχή metokhḗ "a sharing"):
οἶδα ἄνδρα θύοντα βοῦν.
oîda ándra thýonta boûn.
I know that a man is sacrificing an ox.


The Ancient Greek grammar has three voices. The middle and the passive voice are the same except in the future and aorists.

  • Active voice, declares that the subject of the verb is acting and the action is received by another.
ἀνὴρ θύει βοῦν (A man is sacrificing an ox).
anḕr thýei boûn.
ἄνερ, θῦσον βοῦν (Man, sacrifice an ox).
áner, thŷson boûn.
  • Middle voice (or "reflexive voice") often declares that the subject of the verb is acting and the action is received by itself.
ἀνὴρ τιμᾶται (A man is honouring himself).
anḕr timâtai.
ἀνὴρ ἐτιμήσατο (A man honoured himself).
anḕr etimḗsato.

In later Koine Greek grammar the trend to greater use of reflexive pronouns means that middle voice becomes more used for other meanings.

  • Passive voice, declares that the subject of the verb is receiving an action acted by another.
ἀνὴρ τιμᾶται ὑπ' ἀνδρός (A man is honoured by a man).
anḕr timâtai hyp' andrós.
In this tense the verb is same with the verb of the middle voice.
ἀνὴρ ἐτιμήθη ὑπ' ἀνδρός (A man was honoured by a man).
anḕr etimḗthē hyp' andrós.
In this tense the verb is different from the verb of the middle voice (aorist).

This situation is complicated somewhat by the facts that some middle verbs have active meanings, and that some verbs take different voices in different tenses.

Principal parts[edit]

Main article: Principal parts

Verbs have six principal parts: present (I), future (II), aorist (III), perfect (IV), perfect middle (V) and aorist passive (VI), each listed in its first-person singular form:

  • Part I forms the entire present system, as well as the imperfect.
  • Part II forms the future tense in the active and middle voices.
  • Part III forms the aorist in the active and middle voices.
  • Part IV forms the perfect and pluperfect in the active voice, and the (exceedingly rare) future perfect, active.
  • Part V forms the perfect and pluperfect in the middle voice, and the (rare) future perfect, middle.
  • Part VI forms the aorist and future in the passive voice.

One principal part can sometimes be predicted from another, but not with any certainty. For some classes of verbs, however, all principal parts can be predicted given the first one. This mostly includes contracted verbs (present stem ending in α /a/, ε /e/, ο /o/) and verbs ending in ευ /eu/ and ιζ /izd/. There are also certain other regularities; for example, the stem in part IV often occurs in parts V and VI as well.

Thus, for the verb "παιδεύω" paideúō (I teach), the principle parts would be listed as: παιδεύω, παιδεύσω, ἐπαίδευσα, πεπαίδευκα, πεπαίδευμαι, ἐπαιδεύθην (paideúō, paideúsō, epaídeusa, pepaídeuka, pepaídeumai, epaideúthēn).

Present tense[edit]

Main article: Present tense

The thematic present stem is formed in various ways:

  • With no suffix. (That is, the thematic endings, beginning with a thematic /o/ or /e/ vowel, are added directly to the verb stem.)
  • With a suffix /j/, which transforms the final consonant in various complex ways (/pj/, /phj/, /bj/ -> πτ /pt/; /tj/, /thj/, /kj/, /khj/ -> ττ /tt/ (Attic), σσ /ss/ (Ionic); /gj/, /dj/ -> ζ /zd/; /lj/ -> λλ /ll/; /mj/ -> ιμ /jm/; /nj/ -> ιν /jn/; /rj/ -> ιρ /jr/). Because stems in γ /g/, κ /k/ and χ /kh/ tend to become indistinguishable in other tenses (likewise for δ /d/, τ /t/, and θ /th/), the ττ /tt/ and ζ /zd/ presents were easily interchanged, with the tendency for all dental stems to move into the ζ /zd/ class and all velar stems into the ττ /tt/ class.
  • With a suffix -σκ- /-sk-/.
  • With a suffix and/or infix -ν- /-n-/.

Contracted verbs[edit]

An additional, extremely important class is that of contracted verbs, where the stem itself ends in a vowel, and the vowel contracts with the initial (thematic) vowel of the endings. There are three varieties, depending on whether the stem ends with α /a/, ε /e/ or ο /o/, and the details of contraction are extremely complex. The earliest contract verbs arose from loss of intervocalic σ /s/ or /j/, when the latter (the present stem suffix /j/) was added to noun stems ending in a vowel; but soon, these verbs were formed directly from noun stems (so-called denominative verbs). Many later verbs were derived by analogy from various other kinds of nouns (compare the development of the denominative -āre, -ēre, and -īre classes in Latin, with -āre eventually becoming dominant regardless of the noun declension on which the verb was based).

Future tense[edit]

Main article: Future tense

The future stem is normally formed from the verb stem (minus any present suffix) with /s/ added and a preceding short vowel lengthened. Verb stems in μ /m/, ν /n/, λ /l/ and ρ /r/, however, as well as most stems in ιζ izd, usually add ε /e/ instead (deleting the ζ zd in the case of these verbs), and form contracted futures, conjugated like contracted presents. (Note: Verb stems in α /a/, ε /e/ and ο /o/, which form contracted presents, do not have contracted futures; rather, they have futures ending in -ης /ēs/, -ης /ēs/, and -ως /ōs/, respectively. One verb, however, καλέω (καλῶ) kaleō (kalô) "I call", forms a future based on its root /kal/. This will be a contracted future; hence, the present and future of this verb are both contracted and both nearly identical.)


The aorist stem is formed in three basic ways, with three corresponding sets of endings:

  • First or weak aorists add -σ- /s/ onto the verb stem (with a preceding short vowel lengthened, as for the future). The first aorist endings mostly begin with a thematic α /a/, so alternatively the stem can be said to end with -σα- /sa/. (Note that the /s/ is absorbed following an μ /m/, ν /n/, λ /l/ or ρ /r/, with compensatory lengthening of the preceding vowel. This is called a crypto-sigmatic aorist, as the σ s is "hidden".) Following a π /p/ or κ /k/ (pi or kappa) the sigma combines with the preceding character to form ψ psi and ξ xi respectively. Following a ζ /z/ (dzeta/zdeta) the sigma (σ) replaces the /z/ character entirely as /dzs/ or /zds/ (according to many schools of pronunciation) is too difficult to pronounce.
  • Second or strong aorists are formed by removing any present suffix or infix, and reducing the root vowel (to the zero-grade of Indo-European ablaut) if possible (mostly ei -> i). Some second aorists are formed by suppletion, i.e., the use of a completely different stem from the present form. Second aorists add the same endings as for the imperfect (in the indicative) and the present (all other moods, plus infinitives and participles); hence, the second aorist stem can never be the same as the present stem.
  • Root or athematic aorists. The stem assumes a form ending in a long vowel, and athematic endings are added directly onto it.

The aorist indicative (but no other form) also has an augment added onto the beginning.

Occasionally, two different aorists exist for a single verb, with different meanings: A first (or second) aorist with a transitive meaning, and a root aorist with an intransitive meaning. This was the origin of the aorist passive, which takes active athematic endings.

The aorist passive comes in two varieties, first and second. The first aorist adds -θη- -thē- onto the verb stem, while the second adds -η- -ē-. Active athematic endings are added onto this.


The perfect involves reduplication of the beginning of the stem (see below).

The perfect active stem (principal part IV) comes in two varieties:

  • First perfect, which usually adds -κ- -k- (sometimes -ηκ- -ēk- or -εκ- -ek-). A preceding dental is lost and a preceding short vowel sometimes lengthened. The k-perfect is not added directly onto labial-final or velar-final stems; instead, the aspirated perfect is used, with a final labial becoming φ ph and a final velar χ kh.
  • Second perfect, which adds no suffix, but may modify the root vowel (into the o-grade of Indo-European ablaut).

The endings are the same in both cases.

The perfect middle stem (principal part V) is formed by direct addition of middle endings onto the (reduplicated) verb stem, with a preceding short vowel sometimes lengthened.

  • Occasionally, two different perfect actives exist for a single verb, with different meanings, analogously to aorists: A first perfect with a transitive meaning, and a second perfect aorist with an intransitive meaning. From πράττω (prā́ttō) "I do, I fare": πέπραχα (péprākha) "I have done", πέπραγα (péprāga) "I have fared". From φαίνω (phaínō) "I show": πέφαγκα (péphanka) "I have shown", πέφηνα (péphēna) "I have appeared".
  • Sometimes the intransitive form of a perfect has a present meaning. From ὄλλυμι (óllūmi) "I destroy, I lose": ὀλώλεκα (olṓleka) "I have destroyed, I have lost", ὄλωλα (ólōla) "I am ruined". From πείθω (peíthō) "I persuade": πέπεικα (pépeika) "I have persuaded", πέποιθα (pépoitha) "I trust".
  • Sometimes only one perfect exists,with a present, intransitive meaning. From ἵστημι (hístēmi) "I set, I cause to stand": ἕστηκα (héstēka) "I am standing". From ῥήγνυμι (rhḗgnūmi) "I break": ἔρρωγα (érrhōga) "I am broken". From θνῄσκω (thnḗiskō) "I die": τέθνηκα (téthnēka) "I am dead". From μιμνῄσκω (mimnḗiskō) "I remind": μέμνημαι (mémnēmai) (middle) "I remember". From ἐγείρω (egeírō) "I arouse": ἐγρήγορα (egrḗgora) "I am awake". From κτάομαι (ktáomai) (middle) "I acquire": κέκτημαι (kéktēmai) (middle) "I possess".

Deponents, semi-deponents[edit]

Some verbs, called deponent verbs, have a middle form but active meaning. Most such verbs have no active forms at all. There are two types:

  • Middle deponents have middle forms in all stems. These will have principal parts I, II, III and V only (sometimes also part VI, with passive meaning).
  • Passive deponents (less common) have middle forms in most stems, but passive form in the aorist. These will have principal parts I, II, V and VI only. (Most such verbs still have a middle future, not a passive future.)

Some verbs have active forms in some stems, middle or passive in others, with no middle or passive meaning. These are called semi-deponents and have many variations:

  • Most common are active verbs with middle future stems.
  • Some verbs are active verbs but with a middle perfect stem [δοκέω (dokéō) "seem, think"; εἴργω (eírgō) "imprison, prevent"; ἐλέγχω (elénkhō) "examine, confute"; θάπτω (tháptō) "bury"; σκεδάννυμι (skedánnȳmi) "scatter"; σφάλλω (sphállō) "trip up"; τιτρώσκω (titrṓskō) "wound"].
  • Some verbs are active verbs but with middle future and perfect stems [e.g., δάκνω (dáknō) "bite"].
  • Some verbs are middle verbs but with an active perfect stem [e.g., γίγνομαι (gígnomai) "become"].
  • Some verbs are middle verbs but with active aorist and perfect stems [e.g., ἁλίσκομαι (halískomai) "be captured"].
  • Other combinations exist as well.

Sample paradigms[edit]

Verbs in vowel stems[edit]

  • Completely regular ευ (eu) and αυ (au) verbs: παιδεύω (paidéuō), παιδεύσω (paideúsō), ἐπαίδευσα (epaídeusa), πεπαίδευκα (pepaídeuka), πεπαίδευμαι (pepaídeumai), ἐπαιδεύθην (epaideúthēn) "educate".
Likewise are conjugated: πορεύω (poreuō) and ἐκπορεύω (ekporeuō) "travel", κυριεύω (kȳrieúō) and κατακυριεύω (katakȳrieúō) "dominate", καταπαύω (katapaúō) "take rest", φυτεύω (phȳteuō) "plant", περιπατεύω (peripateúō) "take a walk".
  • The standard paradigmatic verb: λύω (lȳ́ō), λύσω (lȳ́sō), ἔλυσα (élȳsa), λέλυκα (lélyka), λέλυμαι (lélymai), ἐλύθην (elýthēn) "free, release; (middle) ransom". (Note variable vowel length. In Homeric Greek, all parts have a short υ.)
Likewise are conjugated: θύω (thȳ́ō) "sacrifice".
  • Verbs in υ (y/ȳ) with some peculiarities: δύω (dȳ́ō), δύσω (dȳ́sō), ἔδυσα (édȳsa), ἔδυν (édȳn), δέδυκα(dédyka), δέδυμαι (dédymai), ἐδύθην (edýthēn) "wear" (Athematic second aorist, otherwise like the previous).

Likewise are conjugated: ἐνδύω endȳ́ō "don".

  • A regular contracted verb in ε (e): ποιέω (poiéō) [ποιῶ (poiố)], ποιήσω (poiḗsō), ἐποίησα (epoíēsa), πεποίηκα (pepoíēka), πεποίημαι (pepoíēmai), ἐποιήθην (epoiḗthēn) "make, do".

Likewise are conjugated: εὐλογέω (eulogéō) "bless", ἐμφυσέω (emphȳséō) "inhale", οἰκοδομέω (oikodoméō) "build", προσκολλέω (proskolléō) "stick", κατανοέω (katanoéō) "contemplate", διανοέω (dianoéō) "brood", φοβέω (phobéō) "fear", τηρέω (tēréō) "hurt".

  • Contracted verb in ε (e) which preserves short ε in most forms: καλέω (kaléō) [καλῶ (kalṓ)], καλέσω (kalésō), ἐκάλεσα (ekálesa), κεκάλεκα (kekáleka), κεκάλεμαι (kekálemai), ἐκαλέθην ekaléthēn "call (by name)".
  • Contracted verb in εσ / ασ es / as with σ s elided, but reappearing in some forms: τελέω, τελέσω, ἐτέλεσα, τετέλεκα, τετέλεσμαι, ἐτελέσθην (teléō, telésō, etélesa, tetéleka, tetélesmai, etelésthēn) "finish".

Likewise conjugated συντελέω synteléō - "end up", πλαύω plaúō - "mould",

  • A regular contracted verb in α a: νικάω (nikáō) [νικῶ (nikṓ)], νικήσω (nikḗsō), ἐνίκησα (eníkēsa), νενίκηκα (neníkēka), νενίκημαι (neníkēmai), ἐνικήθην (enikḗthēn) "win". (Note how α /a/ is lengthened to η /ē/.)

Likewise are conjugated: ἀπατάω apatáō - "deceive", λυπάω lypáō - "suffer", ἁμαρτάω hamartáō - "mistake", "sin", βοάω boáō - "shout", ζάω zdáō - "live"; deponents: κτάομαι ktáomai - "purchase",

  • A regular contracted verb in ο o: δηλόω, δηλώσω, έδἠλωσα, δεδήλωκα, δεδήλομαι, ἐδηλώθην (dēlóō (delô), dēlṓsō, edḗlōsa, dedḗlōka, dedḗlōmai, edēlṓthēn) "show".

Likewise are conjugated πληρόω, αναπληρόω plēróō, anaplēróō - "fill up", κυκλόω kyklóō - "turn around", ὑπνόω hypnóō - "sleep",

  • A regular verb in ιζ izd: νομίζω, νομιέω (νομιῶ), ἐνόμισα, νενόμικα, νενόμισμαι, ἐνομισθήν (nomízdō, nomiéō (nomiṓ), enómisa, nenómika, nenómismai, enomísthēn) "consider, think, believe". (Note the normal contracted future in these types of verbs.)

Likewise are conjugated: ποτίζω potízdō - "irrigate", διαχορίζω diakhorízdō - "separate", ἐνοτίζω enotízdō - listen, ἀφορίζω aphorízdō - "divide", κατοικίζω katoikízdō - "settle",

  • A regular verb in αζ azd: θαυμάζω, θαυμάσω, ἐθαύμασα, τεθαύμακα, τεθαύμασμαι, ἐθαυμάσθην (thaumázdō, thaumásō, ethaúmasa, tethaúmaka, tethaúmasmai, ethaumásthēn) "marvel at".

Likewise are conjugated: ἐσυχάζω ēsykházdō - "be still",

  • Verb with stem in ϝ digamma, which disappeared in all forms, thus rendering an irregular verb in ou: ἀκούω, ακούσω, ἤκουσα, ἀκήκοα, ἠκούσθην (akoúō, akoúsō, ḗkousa, akḗkoa, ēkoústhēn) "hear" (Perfect with "Attic" reduplication, hiatus between ο o and α a as a vestige of ϝ digamma.

Verbs in consonant stems, no ablaut[edit]

  • Velar-stem: lēgō, lēksō, elēksa, lelēkha, lelēgmai, elēkhthēn "cease (+ gen.)". (Note regular use of the aspirated perfect.)

Likewise are conjugated: brekhō - "wet", deponents dekhomai - "get",

  • Velar-stem: arkhō, arksō, ērksa, ērkha, ērgmai, ērkhthēn "rule". (Note regular use of augment for reduplication in perfect due to initial vowel.)
  • Velar-stem: agō, aksomai, ēksa, ēgagon, agēokha, ēgmai, ēkhthēn "lead". (Middle future, second aorist with "Attic" reduplication, irregular second perfect).

Likewise are conjugated: synagomai - "gather", eksagō - "lead out";

  • Velar-stem, with present /j/ suffix: tattō, taksō, etaksa, tetakha, tetagmai, etakhthēn "put, place" (Note regular aspirated first perfect).
  • Labial-stem: graphō, grapsō, egrapsa, gegrapha, gegrammai, egraphēn "write". (Second aorist passive.)
  • Labial-stem: strephō, strepsō, estrepsa, estrepha, estremmai, estrephthēn "turn".

Likewise are conjugated: apostrephō - "return",

  • Labial-stem, with present /j/ suffix: blaptō, blapsō, eblapsa, beblapha, beblammai, eblaphthēn/eblabēn "harm". (Both first and second aorist passive with same meaning.)

Likewise are conjugated: haptō - "touch", rhaptō - "pluck", kryptō - "hide",

  • Dental-stem: peithō, peisō, epeisa, pepeika, pepeismai, epeisthēn "persuade; (middle) obey (+dat.)". (This verb also has a poetic second perfect pepoitha meaning "trust")
  • Dental-stem: ereidō, ereisō, ēreisa, --, erēreismai, ēreisthēn "(cause to) lean, prop; press hard". (Semi-deponent, with middle perfect; Attic reduplication.)
  • Sonorant-stem, with present /j/ suffix: aggellō, aggeleō (aggelô), ēggeila, ēggelka, ēggelmai, ēggelthēn "announce". (Regular contracted future, as in all sonorant-stem verbs. Compensatory lengthening in the aorist, caused by the lost /s/, with a -> ē, e -> ei, i -> ī, o -> ou, u -> ū.)

Likewise are conjugated: anaggellō - "indicate",

  • Verb in ainō: sēmainō, sēmaneō (sēmanô), esēmēna, --, sesēmasmai, esēmanthēn "show, point out; signify, indicate". (Semi-deponent, with middle perfect.)

Likewise are conjugated: khainō - "open",

  • Verb in ainō: phainō, phaneō (phanô), ephēna, pephagka, pephasmai, ephanēn "show", (second passive aorist).
  • Verb in ainō: kraino, kraneō (kranô), ekrāna, --, kekrammai, ekranthēn "accomplish". (Semi-deponent, with middle perfect, but with slightly different middle perfect from previous verbs. Note that ā never changes to ē after r, i, e.)
  • Verb in ūnō: aiskhūnō, aiskhuneō (aiskhunô), ēiskhūna, --, --, ēiskhunthēn "dishonor". (No perfect.)

Likewise are conjugated: plethūnō - "multiply",

  • Present /an/ suffix: blastanō, blastēsomai, eblastēsa, beblastēka, beblastēmai, eblastēthēn "sprout". (Middle future. Root blast with suffix ē in some forms.)

Likewise are conjugated: auksanō - "grow",

  • Present /an/ suffix with some peculiarities: aisthanomai, aisthēsomai, ēisthomēn, --, ēisthēmai, -- "perceive". (Deponent. Second aorist. Root aisth with suffix ē in some forms.)
  • Present /isk/ suffix: euriskō, eurēsomai, ēuron, ēurēka, ēurēmai, ēurēthēn "find" (Second aorist, suffix e in some forms).
  • Present /isk/ suffix: haliskomai, halōsomai, heālōn, heālōka, --, -- "be captured". (Semi-deponent, middle with active aorist and perfect. Root aorist. Irregular augment, both syllabic and quantitative – transfer of /h/ to beginning is normal. Suffix ō in some forms.)
  • Reduplicated present, with /sk/ suffix: gignōskō, gnōsomai, egnōn, egnōka, egnōsmai, egnōsthēn "know". (Semi-deponent with middle future. Root aorist. Irregular reduplication with augment. Suffix /s/ in parts V and VI.)

Verbs with ablaut[edit]

  • Labial-stem: leipō, leipsō, elipon, leloipa, leleimmai, eleiphthēn "leave". (Second aorist. Ablaut leip/lip/loip.)

Likewise are conjugated: kataleipō,

  • Labial-stem: trephō, threpsō, ethrepsa, tetropha, tethrammai, etraphēn, etrephthēn "rear, bring up, nourish". (Second aorist passive. t/th alternation due to dissimilation of aspirates (Grassmann's law). Ablaut t(h)reph/t(h)roph/t(h)raph.)
  • Labial stem: tiktō, teksō, eteka, tetoka, -- - "bring forth" (Irregularly reduplicated present, irregularly asigmatic first aorist. Ablaut tek/tok/tk (while /tk/ affected by metathesis)).
  • Velar-stem: ekhō, heksō/skhēsō, eskhon, eskhēka, -eskhēmai, -- "have, hold". (Second aorist. Perfect middle occurs only in compounds. h/nothing alternation at beginning of stem due to dissimilation of aspirates (Grassmann's law). Ablaut (h)ekh (from PIE *segh)/skh. Suffix ē in some forms.)

Likewise are conjugated: prosekhō - "regard".

  • Dental-stem: petomai / poteomai, ptēsomai, eptomēn - "fly". (Deponent, middle future, ē suffix in some forms. Ablaut pet/pt - same as in "pīptō" - "fall" see below)
  • Sonorant-stem, with present /j/ suffix :speirō, spereō (sperô), espeira, esparka, esparmai, esparēn "sow". (Second aorist passive. Ablaut sper/spar (originally spr, with vocalic r) in perfect, perfect middle and aorist passive.)

Likewise are conjugated: stellō - "send", eksapostellō - "send out",

  • Sonorant-stem, with present /j/ suffix: kteinō, ktenô, ekteina, ektanon, ektona - "kill" (Second aorist. Ablaut kten/kton).

Likewise are conjugated: apokteinō - "kill",

  • Sonorant stem, with present /j/ suffix: teinō, tenô, eteina, tetaka, tetamai, etathēn "pull" (Elision of /n/ in some forms. Ablaut ten/tan).

Likewise are conjugated: ekteinō - "extend",

  • Sonorant-stem, with present /j/ suffix: tellō, teleō (telô), eteila, tetelka, tetalmai, etelthēn "spring" (Ablaut tel/tal in middle passive).

Likewise are conjugated: anatellō - "spring up", eksanatellō, entellō - "instruct",

  • Sonorant-stem, with present /j/ suffix: ballō, baleō (balô), ebalon, beblēka, beblēmai, eblēthēn "throw, hit". (Second aorist. Ablaut bal/blē.)

Likewise are conjugated: ekballō - "cast out",

  • Present /n/ suffix: daknō, dēksomai, edakon, --, dedēgmai, edēkhthēn "bite". (Semi-deponent with middle future and perfect. Second aorist. Ablaut dak/dēk.)
  • Present /nj/ suffix: bainō, bēsomai, ebēn, bebēka, --, -- "go". (Root aorist. Ablaut ba/bē.)
  • Prefixed verb, present /nj/ suffix: apobainō, apobēsomai, apebēn, apobebēka, --, -- "go away, result". (Prefix precedes augment and reduplication. Final vowel of prefix elided before initial vowel.). Likewise anabainō - "go out",
  • Present /an/ suffix, nasal infix: lambanō, lēpsomai, elabon, eilēpha, eilēmmai, elēphthēn "take". (Semi-deponent with middle future. Second aorist. Ablaut lab/lēb. Irregular reduplication.)

Likewise are conjugated: syllambanō - "conceive",

  • Present /an/ suffix, nasal infix: punthanomai, peusomai, eputhomēn, --, pepusmai, -- "ascertain". (Deponent. Second aorist. Ablaut puth/peuth.)
  • Reduplicated present: gignomai, genēsomai, egenomēn, gegona, gegenēmai, -- "become". (Semi-deponent, middle with active perfect. Second aorist and perfect. Ablaut gen/gon/gn. Suffix ē in some forms.)
  • Reduplicated present: pīptō, pesoumai, epeson, peptōka, --, -- "fall". (Semi-deponent with middle future. Second aorist. Ablaut pet/pt/ptō. Irregular long vowel in present reduplication. Irregular occurrence of contracted future. Irregular suffix s in future and aorist.)

Likewise are conjugated: sympiptō - "fall down",

  • Present /sk/ suffix: paskhō, peisomai, epathon, pepontha, --, -- "suffer". (Semi-deponent with middle future. Second aorist and perfect. Ablaut penth/ponth/path (originally pnth, with vocalic n).) Irregular assimilation of aspiration into present /sk/ suffix.)
  • Present /isk/ suffix: apothnēiskō, apothanoumai, apethanon, tethnēka, --, -- "die". (Semi-deponent with middle future. Second aorist. Ablaut than (originally then, with vocalic n)/thnē. No prefix in perfect; perfect means "be dead". Irregular occurrence of contracted future.)

Athematic verbs[edit]

These verbs have reduplication in the present, ablaut between short and long forms, a separate set of endings, and certain other irregularities that vary from verb to verb.

  • didōmi (δίδωμι), dōsō, edōka, dedōka, dedomai, edothēn "give".
  • hīēmi (ἵημι), -hēsō, -hēka, -heika, -heimai, -heithēn "let go, send forth".
  • histēmi (ἵστημι), stēsō, estēsa (trans.) or estēn (intr.), hestēka (intr.), hestamai, estathēn "make stand; (middle or intr.) stand".
  • Prefixed verb: aphistēmi (ἀφίστημι), apostēsō, apestēsa (trans.) or apestēn (intr.), aphestēka (intr.), aphístamai, apestathēn "cause to revolt; (middle or intr.) revolt". Some (epístamai instead of ephístamai, "to know well") retain dialectical features that reflect their topical origins.

Likewise are conjugated: anistēmi - surge,

  • tithēmi, thēsō, ethēka, (ethemen), tethēka - "put, place", (present and second aorist athematic, second aorist first singular wanting).

Likewise are conjugated: prostithēmi - "conntinue", apotithēmi - "carry on",

  • Present with suffix /nū/: deiknūmi, deiksō, edeiksa, -- "show" (Present athematic, the other forms decline like thematic).
  • Present with suffix /nū/ with some peculiarities: anoignūmi, anoiksō, ēneōiksa, aneōgōn, --, aneōikhthēn "open" (Second aorist, double augment, suffix /ō/ in some forms).

Likewise are conjugated: dianoignūmi - "open up",

Suppletive verbs[edit]

These verbs all have complex irregularities, ablaut, second aorist and/or perfect, unexpected reduplication and/or augment, etc. They usually represent compilations of semantically identical or similar stems, various formations of which have become obsolete, the extant formations coming together like a puzzle to fill in a morphologically quirky but functionally complete system. These verbs are few and, if they are to be learnt, the most practical approach is to simply memorise them:

  • erkhomai, eîmi/eleusomai, ēlthon, elēlutha, --, -- "go, come".

Likewise are conjugated: dierkhomai - "get out",

  • legō, eraō (erô)/leksō, eipon/eleksa, eirēka, eirēmai/lelegmai, elekhthēn/errhēthēn "say, speak".
  • horaō, opsomai, eidon, heorāka/heōrāka, heōrāmai/ōmmai, ōphthēn "see".

Likewise are conjugated: eporaō - "regard",

  • aireō, airēsō, ēra, eilon, -- "rise".

Likewise are conjugated: diaireō - divide,

  • pherō, oisō, ēnegka/ēnegkon, enēnokha, enēnegmai, ēnekhthēn "carry".

Likewise are conjugated epipherō - "cause to float",prospherō - bring before,

  • esthiō, edomai, ephagon, edēdoka, edēdesmai, ēdesthēn "eat".
  • pōleō, apodōsomai, apedomēn, peprāka, peprāmai, eprāthēn "sell".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Based on table in Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn. Greek: An Intensive Course. Second revised edition 1992. p. 41.
  2. ^ Frank Beetham, Learning Greek with Plato, Bristol Phoenix Press, 2007, p. 362.