Ancient Greek verbs

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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).

In the indicative mood there are seven tenses: present, imperfect, future, aorist (the equivalent of past simple), perfect, pluperfect, and future perfect. (The last two, especially the future perfect, are rarely used). In the subjunctive and imperative mood, however, there are only three tenses (present, aorist, and perfect). The optative mood, infinitives and participles are found in four tenses (present, aorist, perfect, and future) and all three voices. The distinction of the "tenses" in moods other than the indicative is predominantly one of aspect rather than time.

The different persons of a Greek verb are shown by changing the verb-endings; for example λύω (lúō) "I free", λύεις (lúeis) "you free", λύει (lúei) "he or she frees", etc. There are three persons in the singular ("I", "you (singular)", "he, she, it"), and three in the plural ("we", "you (plural)", "they"). In addition there are endings for the 2nd and 3rd persons dual ("you two", "they both"), but these are only very rarely used.

A distinction is traditionally made between the so-called athematic verbs (also called mi-verbs), with endings affixed directly to the root, and the thematic class of verbs which present a "thematic" vowel /o/ or /e/ before the ending. The endings are classified into primary (those used in the present, future, perfect and 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).

To make the three past tenses of the indicative mood an "augment" (the vowel ε- (e-)) is prefixed to the verb stem, e.g. ἔ-λυσα (é-lusa) "I freed", ἔ-λυον (é-luon) "I was freeing". This augment is found only in the indicative, not in the other moods or in the infinitive or participle. To make the three perfect tenses the first consonant is reduplicated (λέλυκα (lé-luka) "I have freed", γέγραφα (gé-grapha) "I have written"), or in some cases an augment is used in lieu of reduplication (e.g. ηὕρηκα (hēúrēka) "I have found"). Unlike the past-tense augment, this reduplication or augment is retained in all the moods of the perfect tense as well as in the perfect infinitive and participle.

The Ancient Greek verbal system preserves nearly all the complexities of Proto-Indo-European (PIE). 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).

Thematic and athematic verbs[edit]

Further information: Ancient Greek grammar (tables)

Ancient Greek verbs can be divided into two groups, the thematic (in which a thematic vowel /e/ or /o/ is added before the ending, e.g. λύ-ο-μεν (lú-o-men) "we free"), and the athematic (in which the endings are attached directly to the stem, e.g. ἐσ-μέν (es-mén) "we are".[1] Thematic verbs are much more numerous.

Thematic verbs[edit]

Active verbs[edit]

Thematic verbs, in the 1st person singular of the present tense active, end in (). These are very numerous, for example, λέγω (légō) "I say", γράφω (gráphō) "I write", πέμπω (pémpō) "I send", etc. The endings of these tend to be regular:

  • λέγω, λέγεις, λέγει, (λέγετον, λέγετον,) λέγομεν, λέγετε, λέγουσι(ν)
légō, légeis, légei, (légeton, légeton,) légomen, légete, légousi(n
I say, you say, he/she/it says, (you two say, they both say,) we say, you (pl.) say, they say

The forms in brackets are the dual number, used for two people, and which exists only in the 2nd and 3rd person; it is rather rare, but still used sometimes by authors such as Aristophanes and Plato:

  • Ὅμηρός τε καὶ Ἡσίοδος ταὐτὰ λέγετον.[2]
Hómērós te kaì Hēsíodos tautà légeton.
Homer and Hesiod both say the same things.

The present infinitive active of thematic verbs is -ειν (-ein), e.g. λέγειν (légein) "to say".

Middle verbs[edit]

Thematic verbs are also found in the middle voice, with the ending -ομαι (-omai) e.g. ἀποκρίνομαι (apokrínomai) "I answer", γίγνομαι (gígnomai) "I become". The endings of the present tense go as follows:

  • -ομαι, -ει/-ῃ, -εται, (-εσθον, -εσθον), -ομεθα, -εσθε, -ονται
-omai, -ei/-ēi, -etai, (-esthon, -esthon), -ometha, -esthe, -ontai
I, you (singular), he/she/it, (you two, the two of them), we, you (plural), they

The middle or passive present infinitive is -εσθαι (-esthai), e.g. ἀποκρίνεσθαι (apokrínesthai) "to answer".

Contracted verbs[edit]

A special class of thematic verbs are the contracted verbs. In the dictionary these are entered as ending -άω (-áō), -έω (-éō) or -όω (-óō), for example ὁράω (horáō) "I see", ποιέω (poiéō) "I do", δηλόω (dēlóō) "I show"; but in most cases when they are found in a text the vowel a, e, o contracts with the ending to make a single vowel. Thus the present tense of ὁράω (horáō) "I see" goes as follows:

  • ὁρῶ, ὁρᾷς, ὁρᾷ, (ὁρᾶτον, ὁρᾶτον,) ὁρῶμεν, ὁρᾶτε, ὁρῶσι(ν)
horô, horāîs, horāî, (horâton, horâton,) horômen, horâte, horôsi(n)
I see, you see, he/she/it sees, (you both see, they both see,) we see, you (pl.) see, they see

While the present tense of ποιέω (poiéō) "I do" is as follows:

  • ποιῶ, ποιεῖς, ποιεῖ, (ποιεῖτον, ποιεῖτον,) ποιοῦμεν, ποιεῖτε, ποιοῦσι(ν)
poiô, poieîs, poieî, (poieîton, poieîton,) poioûmen, poieîte, poioûsi(n)
I do, you do, he/she/it does, (you both do, they both do,) we do, you (plural) do, they do

And the present tense of δηλόω (dēlóō) "I show" is as follows:

  • δηλῶ, δηλοῖς, δηλοῖ, (δηλοῦτον, δηλοῦτον,) δηλοῦμεν, δηλοῦτε, δηλοῦσι(ν)
dēlô, dēloîs, dēloî, (dēloûton, dēloûton,) dēloûmen, dēloûte, dēloûsi(n)
I show, you show, he/she/it shows, (you both show, they both show,) we show, you (plural) show, they show

The present infinitive active of the three types of contracted verbs is ὁρᾶν (horân) "to see", ποιεῖν (poieîn), "to do", δηλοῦν (dēloûn) "to show".

Athematic verbs[edit]


Athematic verbs have -μι (-mi) in the 1st person singular of the present tense, e.g. εἰμί (eimí) "I am", φημί (phēmí) "I say", δίδωμι (dídōmi) "I give", ἵστημι (hístēmi) "I stand (transitive)". In the middle voice they end in -μαι, e.g. δύναμαι (dúnamai) "I am able". The present tense of εἶμι (eîmi) "I (will) go" is generally used with future meaning in the classical period.[3]

These verbs present many irregularities in conjugation. For example, the present tense of εἰμί (eimí) "I am" goes as follows:

  • εἰμί, εἶ, ἐστί(ν), (ἐστόν, ἐστόν,) ἐσμέν, ἐστέ, εἰσί(ν)
eimí, eî, estí(n), (estón, estón,) esmén, esté, eisí(n)
I am, you are, he/she/it is, (you both are, they both are), we are, you (plural) are, they are.

The present tense of the verb εἶμι (eîmi) "I (will) go" is as follows:

  • εἶμι, εἶ, εἶσι(ν), (ἴτον, ἴτον,) ἴμεν, ἴτε, ἴασι(ν)
eîmi, eî, eîsi(n), (íton, íton,) ímen, íte, íasi(n)
I will go, you will go, he/she/it will go, (you both will go, they both will go), we will go, you (plural) will go, they will go.

Whereas the present tense of δίδωμι (dídōmi) "I give" goes as follows:

  • δίδωμι, δίδως, δίδωσι(ν), δίδομεν, δίδοτε, διδόᾱσι(ν)
dídōmi, dídōs, dídōsi(n), dídomen, dídote, didóāsi(n)
I give, you give, he/she/it gives, we give, you (plural) give, they give

The dual of this verb, theoretically δίδοτον (dídoton), is not found.[4]

The active infinitive of athematic verbs ends in -ναι (-nai), e.g. εἶναι (eînai) "to be", ἰέναι (iénai) "to go", διδόναι (didónai) "to give".


Athematic verbs are also found in the middle voice, e.g. ἵσταμαι (hístamai) "I stand" or δύναμαι (dúnamai) "I am able", with endings as follows:

  • -μαι, -σαι, -ται, (-σθον, -σθον), -μεθα, -σθε, -νται
-mai, -sai, -tai, (-sthon, -sthon), -metha, -sthe, -ntai
I, you (singular), he/she/it, (you two, the two of them), we, you (plural), they

The infinitive is -σθαι (-sthai).

The verb οἶδα (oîda)[edit]

The verb οἶδα (oîda) "I know", is irregular. Its endings are those of an athematic perfect tense, and go as follows:[5]

  • οἶδα, οἶσθα, οἶδε(ν), (ἴστον, ἴστον,) ἴσμεν, ἴστε, ἴσᾱσι(ν)
oîda, oîstha, oîde(n), (íston, íston,) ísmen, íste, ísāsi(n)
I know, you know, he/she/it knows, (you both know, they both know), we know, you (plural) know, they know

The infinitive of οἶδα (oîda) is εἰδέναι (eidénai) "to know".


The tense system[edit]

The Ancient Greek verbal system has seven tense-aspect forms, traditionally called "tenses" (χρόνοι, khrónoi, singular χρόνος, khrónos). The temporal distinctions only appear in the indicative mood as shown on the table below:[6]

future future perfect
present[7] perfect
imperfect pluperfect

In the subjunctive and imperative moods, however, only three tenses are used,[8] and they distinguish aspect only, not time:

aorist present perfect

The optative mood likewise uses these three tenses, but there is also a future optative, used mainly to report indirectly what would be a future indicative in direct speech.[9]

Ancient Greek has no perfect or past perfect progressive. Thus, the meaning "he has been doing" is typically expressed with the present tense, and "he had been doing (earlier)" is expressed with the imperfect tense:[10]

πολλά γε ἔτη ἤδη εἰμὶ ἐν τῇ τέχνῃ.[11]
pollá ge étē ḗdē eimì en tēî tékhnēi.
I have been (lit. I am) in the business for many years now.
τὸ πλοῖον ἧκεν ἐν ᾧ ἐπῑ́νομεν.[12]
tò ploîon hêken en hōî epī́nomen.
The boat arrived in which we had (earlier) been drinking.

Formation of the tenses[edit]

For further information on the endings, see Ancient Greek grammar (tables).

Principal parts of verbs[edit]

Dictionaries of Ancient Greek usually give six principal parts for any verb. For example, for the verb παιδεύω (paideúō) "I teach, train" the six parts are as follows:

  • παιδεύω, παιδεύσω, ἐπαίδευσα, πεπαίδευκα, πεπαίδευμαι, ἐπαιδεύθην
paideúō, paideúsō, epaídeusa, pepaídeuka, pepaídeumai, epaideúthēn
I teach, I will teach, I taught, I have taught, I have been taught, I was taught

The principal parts are these:

  • The present tense: παιδεύω (paideúō) "I teach"
Endings: -ω -εις -ει (-ετον -ετον) -ομεν -ετε -ουσι(ν)
  • The future tense: παιδεύσω (paideúsō) "I will teach"
Endings: -σω -σεις -σει (-σετον -σετον) -σομεν -σετε -σουσι(ν)
  • The aorist tense: ἐπαίδευσα (epaídeusa) "I taught"
Endings: -σα -σας -σε(ν) (-σατον -σατην) -σαμεν -σατε -σαν
  • The perfect tense: πεπαίδευκα (pepaídeuka) "I have taught"
Endings: -κα -κας -κε(ν) (-κατον -κατον) -καμεν -κατε -κᾱσι(ν)
  • The perfect tense middle or passive: πεπαίδευμαι (pepaídeumai) "I have been taught"
Endings: -μαι -σαι -ται (-σθον -σθον) -μεθα -σθε -νται
  • The aorist passive tense: ἐπαιδεύθην (epaideúthēn) "I was taught"
Endings: -θην -θης -θη (-θητον -θητην) -θημεν -θητε -θησαν

Other tenses[edit]

Other tenses can be formed on the basis of these. For example, the imperfect tense ἐπαίδευον (epaídeuon) "I was teaching" is based on the present stem with the addition of the prefix ἔ- (é-) (see below), and the pluperfect ἐπεπαιδεύκη (epepaideúkē) "I had taught" on the perfect stem:

  • The imperfect tense: ἐπαίδευον (epaídeuon) "I was teaching", "I used to teach"
Endings: -ον -ες -ε(ν) (-ετον -ετην) -ομεν -ετε -ον
  • The pluperfect tense: ἐπεπαιδεύκη (epepaideúkē) "I had taught"
Endings: -κη (-κειν) -ης (-κεις) -κει(ν) ( – ) -κεμεν -κετε -κεσαν

Not all verbs have a future tense made with -σ- (-s-). Some – particularly those whose stem ends in λ, μ, ν, ρ (l, m, n, r) such as ἀγγέλλω (angéllō) "I announce" and μένω (menō) "I remain" – often have a contracted future, with endings like the verb ποιέω (poiéō).[13] These same verbs usually have an aorist without sigma:

  • Contracted future: ἀγγελῶ (angelô) "I will announce"
Endings: -ῶ -εῖς -εῖ (-εῖτον -εῖτον) -οῦμεν -εῖτε -οῦσι(ν)
  • Aorist without sigma: ἤγγειλα (ḗngeila) "I announced"
Endings: -α -ας -ε(ν) (-ατον -ατην) -αμεν -ατε -αν

Another tense commonly found in many verbs is the so called "strong aorist" or "2nd aorist", which has the same endings as the imperfect. However, it differs from the imperfect in that the stem of the verb is different:

  • Present: φεύγω (pheúgō) "I flee"
Endings: -ω -εις -ει (-ετον -ετον) -ομεν -ετε -ουσι(ν)
  • Imperfect: φευγον (épheugon) "I was fleeing"
Endings: -ον -ες -ε(ν) (-ετον -ετην) -ομεν -ετε -ον
  • Strong aorist: φυγον (éphugon) "I fled"
Endings: -ον -ες -ε(ν) (-ετον -ετην) -ομεν -ετε -ον

Other strong aorists are ἦλθον (êlthon) "I came", ἔλαβον (élabon) "I took", εἶπον (eîpon) "I said", ἔφαγον (éphagon) "I ate"; and in the middle voice ἐγενόμην (egenómēn) "I became" and ἀφικόμην (aphikómēn) "I arrived".

Less regular principal parts[edit]

However, by no means all Ancient Greek verbs are so regular in their principal parts as παιδεύω (paideúō). For example, the verb λαμβάνω (lambánō) "I take" has the following parts:[14]

  • λαμβάνω, λήψομαι, ἔλαβον, εἴληφα, εἴλημμαι, ἐλήφθην
lambánō, lḗpsomai, élabon, eílēpha, eílēmmai, elḗphthēn
I take, I will take, I took, I have taken, I have been taken, I was taken

As can be seen, the stems used (λαμβάν-, λήπ-, λαβ-, λήφ-) (lambán-, lḗp-, lab-, lḗph-) etc. vary from tense to tense. The stem used in the present tense, (λαμβάνω) (lambánō) has an extra /m/ and /n/; in the other tenses the vowel varies between /a/ and /ē/; and the final consonant changes by assimilation from /b/ to /p/, /ph/, or /m/.

The verb (ἄγω) (ágō) "I lead" goes:

  • ἄγω, ἄξω, ἤγαγον, ἦχα, ἦγμαι, ἤχθην
ágō, áksō, ḗgagon, êkha, êgmai, ḗkhthēn
I lead, I will lead, I led, I have led, I have been led, I was led

Both of the above verbs have a "strong aorist" or "2nd aorist" ending in -ον (-on) rather than the usual -σα (-sa), and the perfect tense has an aspirated consonant φ, χ (ph, kh) before the ending instead of κ (k).

The tenses of δίδωμι (dídōmi) "I give" are as follows:

  • δίδωμι, δώσω, ἔδωκα, δέδωκα, δέδομαι, ἐδόθην
dídōmi, dṓsō, édōka, dédōka, dédomai, edóthēn
I give, I will give, I gave, I have given, I have been given (to someone), I was given (to someone)

The aorist of this verb is irregular, since it ends in κα (ka). However, this /k/ is found only in the singular, and disappears in the plural, e.g. 3rd pl. ἔδοσαν (édosan) "they gave". The verbs τίθημι (títhēmi) "I put" and ἵημι (híēmi) "I send" are similar, with aorists ἔθηκα (éthēka) 3rd pl. ἔθεσαν (éthesan) and ἧκα (hêka) 3rd pl. εἷσαν (heîsan) respectively.

However, ἵστημι (hístēmi) "I stand (something)" does not follow this pattern and has a different aorist:

  • ἵστημι, στήσω, ἔστησα (trans.)/ἔστην (intrans.), ἕστηκα (intrans.), ἕσταμαι, ἐστάθην
hístēmi, stḗsō, éstēsa (trans.)/éstēn (intrans.), héstēka (intrans.), héstamai, estáthēn
I stand (something), I will stand (something), I stood (something)/I stood, I have stood/am standing, I stand, I stood/was stood

Verbs using more than one stem[edit]

In some verbs the principal parts are even more irregular than this, and like the English verb "go, went, been/gone", use different verbs for making different tenses. For example, the verb φέρω (phérō) "I bring, I bear" has the following principal parts using the stems of three different verbs:

  • φέρω, οἴσω, ἤνεγκα/ἤνεγκον, ἐνήνοχα, ἐνήνεγμαι, ἠνέχθην
phérō, oísō, ḗnenka/ḗnenkon, enḗnokha, enḗnegmai, ēnékhthēn
I bring, I will bring, I brought, I have brought, I have been brought, I was brought

ὁράω (horáō) "I see" is another verb made from stems from three different roots, namely ὁρά (horá), ὀπ (op) and ἰδ (id) (the last of these, which was originally pronounced ϝιδ- (wid-), is related to the root of the Latin verb video):

  • ὁράω, ὄψομαι, εἶδον, ἑόρᾱκα/ἑώρᾱκα, ἑώρᾱμαι/ὦμμαι, ὤφθην
horáō, ópsomai, eîdon, heórāka/heṓrāka, heṓrāmai/ômmai, ṓphthēn
I see, I will see, I saw, I have seen, I have been seen, I was seen

ἔρχομαι (érkhomai) "I come" or "I go" is also irregular. This verb has only four principal parts, since there is no passive:

  • ἔρχομαι, ἐλεύσομαι/εἶμι, ἦλθον, ἐλήλυθα
érkhomai, eleúsomai/eîmi, êlthon, elḗlutha
I come/go, I will come/go, I came/went, I have come/gone

This verb is made more complex by the fact that in Attic Greek (that is, the dialect of most of the major classical authors), the present tense (apart from the indicative mood), imperfect tense, and future are usually replaced by parts of the irregular verb εἶμι (eîmi) "I (will) go":[15] The indicative of εἶμι (eîmi) is generally used with future significance in the classical period ("I will go") but the other parts such as the infinitive ἰέναι (iénai) "to go" are not future in meaning.

The past-tense augment[edit]

The three past tenses (imperfect, aorist, and pluperfect), in the classical period, are made by adding a prefix ἐ- (e-), called an "augment", on the beginning of the verb.[16] Thus from γράφω (gráphō) "I write" are made:

  • γραφον (égraphon) "I was writing"
  • γραψα (égrapsa) "I wrote"
  • γεγράφη (egegráphē) "I had written"

This past-tense augment is found only in the indicative mood, not in the subjunctive, infinitive, participle, or other parts of the verb.

When a verb starts with a vowel, the augment usually merges with the vowel to make a long vowel. Thus /e/ + /a/ > /ē/, /e/ + /e/ > /ē/ (sometimes /ei/), /e/ + /i/ > /ī/, /e/ + /o/ > /ō/ and so on:[17]

  • γον (êgon) "I was leading", from ἄγω (ágō) "I lead"
  • εἶχον (khon) "I had, I was holding", from ἐχω (ekhō) "I have, I hold"
  • κουν (ōíkoun) "I was living in", from οἰκέω (oikéō) "I live in"

When a verb starts with a prepositional prefix, the augment usually goes after the prefix (although there are some verbs where it goes before the prefix, or even in both places):

  • κατέβην (katébēn) "I went down", from καταβαίνω (katabaínō) "I go down"
  • ἀνέῳξα (anéōiksa)[18] or νοιξα (noiksa)[19] "I opened", from ἀνοίγνυμι (anoígnumi) "I open"[20]

In Homer, and occasionally in Herodotus, the augment is sometimes omitted.[21]

Perfect tenses[edit]

The perfect tense is formed by repeating the first consonant of the stem with the vowel ε (e). This is known as "reduplication":[22]

  • γέγραφα (grapha) "I have written", from γράφω (gráphō) "I write"
  • βέβίωκα (bíōka) "I have lived", from βιόω (bióō) "I pass my life"
  • δέδωκα (dōka) "I have given", from δίδωμι (dídōmi) "I give"

When the first consonant of the verb is aspirated (θ, φ, χ) (th, ph, kh), the reduplication is made with the equivalent unaspirated consonant (τ, π, κ) (t, p, k):[23]

  • τέθνηκα (thnēka) "I have died", from (ἀπο)θνῄσκω ((apo)thnēískō) "I die"
  • πέφευγα (pheuga) "I have fled", from φεύγω ((pheúgō) "I flee"

When the verb starts with a vowel, ζ, (z) or with a combination of consonants such as γν (gn) or στρ (str), instead of reduplication an augment is used:[24]

  • ηὑρηκα (hēúrēka) "I have found", from εὑρισκω (heuriskō) "I find"
  • ρηκα (hēírēka) "I have captured", from αἱρέω (hairéō) "I capture"

More complex kinds of reduplication are found in:

  • ἀκήκοα (akḗkoa) "I have heard", from ἀκούω (akoúō) "I hear"
  • ἐλήλυθα (elḗlutha) "I have come", from ἔρχομαι (érkhomai) "I come"

Unlike the past-tense augment, this reduplication or perfect-tense augment is found in every part of the perfect tense, including the infinitive and participles.

Meanings of the tenses[edit]

The meanings of the tenses are as follows:

The present tense[edit]

The present tense (Greek ἐνεστώς enestṓs "standing within") can be imperfective or perfective, and be translate "I do (now)", "I do (regularly)", "I am doing":[25]

τὸν ἄνδρα ὁρῶ.[26]
tòn ándra horô.
I see the man!
ἀεὶ ταὐτὰ λέγεις, ὦ Σώκρατες.[27]
aeì tautà légeis, ô Sṓkrates.
You are always saying the same things, Socrates!

Freqently the present tense is used in historical narrative, especially to describe exciting moments:

ἵετο ἐπ’ αὐτὸν καὶ τιτρώσκει.[28]
híeto ep’ autòn kaì titrṓskei.
He hurls himself at him and wounds him.

Imperfect tense[edit]

The imperfect tense (Greek παρατατικός paratatikós "for prolonging", from παρατείνω parateínō "prolong") is used in the indicative mood only. It often indicates a continuing situation in the past, rather than an event:[29]

ταῦτα πολὺν χρόνον οὕτως ἐγίγνετο[30]
taûta polùn khrónon hoútōs egígneto.
These things carried on like this for long time.

Sometimes "began doing" is a possible translation:[31]

συμβαλόντες τὰς ἀσπίδας ἐωθοῦντο, ἐμάχοντο, ἀπέκτεινον, ἀπέθνῃσκον.[32]
sumbalóntes tàs aspídas eōthoûnto, emákhonto, apékteinon, apéthnēiskon.
Throwing together their shields, they began shoving, fighting, killing, and dying.

However, although the imperfect usually describes a situation, it is often used in narrative where English would use a simple past, especially with verbs meaning "send", "go", "say", and "order":[33]

ἔς τὰς Ἀθήνας ἄγγελον ἔπεμπον.[34]
és tàs Athḗnas ángelon épempon.
They sent off a messenger to Athens.
ἐκέλευον συνδειπνεῖν ... ἐδειπνοῦμεν ... ἐκάθευδον.[35]
ekéleuon sundeipneîn ... edeipnoûmen ... ekátheudon.
I invited him to join me for dinner ... we sat down to dinner ... I went to sleep.

The distinction between imperfect and aorist here can be seen in terms of telicity.[36] The aorist ἐδειπνήσαμεν edeipnḗsamen would mean "we finished dinner" and would be a telic verb.

As noted above, the imperfect can also mean "had been doing":[37]

ἀπέστειλαν τὰς ναῦς ἅσπερ παρεσκευάζοντο.[38]
apésteilan tàs naûs hásper pareskeuázonto.
They sent off the ships which they had been preparing.
εἰσήγαγον ἰατρὸν ᾧ πολλὰ ἔτη ἐχρώμην.[39]
eisḗgagon iatròn hōî pollà étē ekhrṓmēn
I brought in a doctor that I had been using for many years.

Future tense[edit]

The future tense (Greek μέλλων méllōn "about to be") describes an event or a state of affairs that will happen in the future. For example, it can be something promised or predicted:

ἄξω ὑμᾶς εἰς τὴν Τρῳάδα. [40]
áksō humâs eis tḕn Trōiáda.
I will lead you to the Troad.

It can also be used after ὅπως hópōs for commands and prohibitions:[41]

ὅπως ταῦτα μηδεὶς ἀνθρώπων πεύσεται. [42]
hópōs taûta mēdeìs anthrṓpōn peúsetai.
Make sure that no one finds out about these things.

Aorist tense[edit]

Further information: Aorist (Ancient Greek)

The aorist tense (Greek ἀόριστος aóristos "unbounded" or "indefinite") describes a finished action in the past.

κατέβην χθὲς εἰς Πειραιᾶ.[43]
katébēn khthès eis Peiraiâ.
I went down yesterday to Peiraeus.

Often in narrative it is found mixed with present and imperfect tenses:[44]

ἧκεν ἐκείνη καὶ τὴν θύραν ἀνέῳξεν.[45]
hêken ekeínē kaì tḕn thúran anéōiksen.
She came back (imperfect) and opened (aorist) the door.
ἐφύλαττεν ἕως ἐξηῦρεν ὅ τι εἴη τὸ αἴτιον.[46]
ephúlatten héōs eksēûren hó ti eíē tò aítion.
She kept watch (imperfect) until she found out (aorist) what was the cause.

Often an aorist is equivalent to an English pluperfect tense, for example after ἐπεί epeí "when" or in relative clauses such as the following:[47]

ἐκέλευσέ με τὴν ἐπιστολὴν ἣν ἔγραψα δοῦναι.[48]
ekéleusé me tḕn epistolḕn hḕn égrapsa doûnai
He ordered me to hand over the letter which I had written.

Perfect tense[edit]

The perfect tense (Greek παρακείμενος parakeímenos "lying nearby"), much as the English perfect tense, often describes a recent event of which the present result is important:

ἀκηκόατε, ἑωράκατε· δικάζετε[49]
akēkóate, heōrákate· dikázete
You have heard and you have seen (the evidence); now make your decision.

It can also, like the English perfect, be used experientially, of something that has often or always happened in the past:

ὑμεῖς ἐμοῦ πολλάκις ἀκηκόατε λέγοντος[50]
humeîs emoû pollákis akēkóate légontos
You have often heard me speaking.

In some verbs the perfect tense can be translated by a present tense in English, e.g. μέμνημαι mémnēmai "I remember", ἕστηκα héstēka "I am standing"/"I stand", κέκτημαι kéktēmai "I possess", οἶδα oîda "I know":[51]

ἡ στήλη παρ’ ᾗ ἕστηκας χιλίας δραχμὰς κελεύει ὀφείλειν[52]
hē stḗlē par’ hēî héstēkas khilías drakhmàs keleúei opheílein
The inscribed stone beside which you are standing orders that you owe 1000 drachmas.

Pluperfect tense[edit]

The pluperfect tense (Greek ὑπερσυντέλικος hupersuntélikos "more than completed"), like the Imperfect, is used only in the indicative mood. It refers to a situation that existed due to events that had taken place at an earlier time:[53]

μάλα ἤχθοντο ὅτι οἱ Ἕλληνες ἐπεφεύγεσαν· ὃ οὔπω πρόσθεν ἐπεποιήκεσαν.[54]
mála ḗkhthonto hóti hoi Héllēnes epepheúgesan· hò oúpō prósthen epepoiḗkesan.
They were very annoyed that the Greeks had fled – something which they had never done before.

However, the pluperfect is much less frequently used in Greek than in English, since after conjunctions such as ἐπεί epeí "when", usually the aorist is used:[55]

ἐπεὶ δ’ ἐδείπνησαν, ἐξῆγε τὸ στράτευμα.[56]
epeì d’ edeípnēsan, eksêge tò stráteuma.
And when they had had dinner (aorist), he began leading out the army.

Future perfect tense[edit]

The future perfect tense (Greek συντελεσμένος μέλλων suntelesménos méllōn "about to be completed") is rarely used. In the active voice only two verbs (τεθνήξω tethnḗksō "I will be dead" and ἕστηξα héstēksa "I will be standing") have a separate form for the future perfect tense,[57] though a compound ("periphrastic") tense can be made with a perfect participle, e.g ἐγνωκὼς ἔσται egnōkṑs éstai (Demosthenes) "he is going to have realised"; but this is extremely rare. It is more common in the passive.[58] It describes a future state that will result from a finished action:

φίλος ἡμῖν οὐδεὶς λελείψεται.[59]
phílos hēmîn oudeìs leleípsetai.
No friend will be left for us.


There are four moods (ἐγκλίσεις enklíseis "bendings" or "leanings"):


(Greek ὁριστική horistikḗ "for defining", from ὁρίζω horízō "I define").

The indicative is the form of the verb used for ordinary statements of fact:

ἀπέκτεινε τὸν ἄνδρα.[60]
apékteine tòn ándra.
He killed the man.

To make the negative of the indicative, οὐ (ou) or, before a vowel, οὐκ (ouk) is added before the verb:

οὐκ ἐδύνατο καθεύδειν.[61]
ouk edúnato katheúdein.
He was not able to sleep.


(Greek ὑποτακτική hupotaktikḗ "for arranging underneath", from ὑποτάσσω hupotássō "I arrange underneath").

The subjunctive generally has the letters ω (ō) or η (ē) in the ending.

It is often used when the meaning is may, for example in purpose clauses, especially those referring to present or future time:[62]

λέγε, ἵνα ἀκούω[63]
lége, hína akoúō
Speak, so that I may hear.

The above example uses the present subjunctive, but the aorist subjunctive is equally correct, with a slightly different shade of meaning:

λέγε, ἵνα ἀκούσω[64]
lége, hína akoúsō
Speak, so that I may hear.

Another very common use of the subjunctive is in indefinite subordinate clauses following a conjunction such as ἐάν (ean) "if (it may be that)", ὅταν (hótan) "whenever", ὃς ἄν (hos an) "whoever", ἕως ἄν (héōs an) "until such time as" etc., referring to present or future time.[65] When used with the subjunctive, such conjunctions are always joined with the particle ἄν (an):

λέγε, ἕως ἂν οἴκαδε ὥρα ἀπιέναι[66]
lége, héōs àn oíkade hṓra ēî apiénai
Speak, until it is time to go home.

The subjunctive can also be used of something that it is suggested "should" happen, for example in exhortations, deliberative questions, and negative commands such as the following:[67]

ἄγε νυν, ΐωμεν[68]
áge nun, ḯōmen
Come now, let's go.
Should we speak (aorist) or should we remain silent (present)?
μὴ θαυμάσῃς.[70]
mḕ thaumásēis.
Don't be surprised.

The negative of the subjunctive, as in the above example, is μὴ ().


Further information: Optative (Ancient Greek)

(Greek: εὐκτική euktikḗ "for wishing", from εὔχομαι eúkhomai "I wish").

The optative mood can generally be recognised because it has the letters οι (oi), αι (ai) or ει (ei) in the ending.

One use of the optative mood is in conditional sentences referring to a hypothetical situation in the future. The particle ἄν (an) is added in the main clause to give the meaning "would":[71]

ἡδέως ἂν λάβοιμι, εἰ διδοίη[72]
hēdéōs àn láboimi, ei didoíē
I would gladly take, if he were to give.

However, the optative mood is not used in sentences referring to a hypothetical situation in the present or past; in such sentences the optative is replaced by the imperfect, aorist, or pluperfect indicative, with ἄν (an) in the main clause.[73]

The optative mood is also used in reported speech in past time:[74]

εἶπεν ὅτι θῦσαί τι βούλοιτο[75]
eîpen hóti thûsaí ti boúloito
He said that he wished to make a sacrifice.

Just as the subjunctive is used after a conjunction meaning "whenever", "until such time as" etc. referring to present or future time, so the optative can be used in similar clauses referring to repeated events in past time. However, in this case the particle ἄν (an) is not added to the conjunction:[76]

ἐθήρευεν, ὁπότε γυμνάσαι βούλοιτο ἑαυτόν.[77]
ethḗreuen, hopóte gumnásai boúloito heautón.
He used to hunt, whenever he wished to take exercise.

The optative can also be used for wishes:[78]

ὃ μὴ γένοιτο.[79]
hò mḕ génoito.
Which may it not happen!

The optative can also be used in purpose clauses in past time, and after verbs of fearing in past time:[80]

ἐκάλεσε γάρ τις αὐτὸν ὅπως ἴδοι τὰ ἱερά.[81]
ekálese gár tis autòn hópōs ídoi tà hierá.
Someone had summoned him so that he could see the sacrificial entrails.
ἔδεισαν οἱ Ἕλληνες αὐτὸν μὴ τύραννος γένοιτο.[82]
édeisan hoi Héllēnes autòn mḕ túrannos génoito.
The Greeks were afraid of him in case he might become a tyrant.

However, some authors, such as Herodotus and Thucydides, prefer to use the subjunctive in such clauses.[83]


(Greek: προστακτική prostaktikḗ "for commanding", from προστάσσω prostássō "I command").

The present imperative is used for general commands:[84]

τοὺς μὲν θεοὺς φοβοῦ, τοὺς δὲ γονεῖς τίμα.[85]
toùs mèn theoùs phoboû, toùs dè goneîs tíma.
Fear the gods, and honour your parents.

The aorist imperative is used when the speaker wishes something done at once:

δότε μοι ξίφος ὅπως τάχιστα.[86]
dóte moi ksíphos hópōs tákhista.
Give me a sword as quickly as possible!

It is also possible in Greek to have a 3rd person imperative, as in the following examples:

ἀπαγέτω τις αὐτὴν οἴκαδε.[87]
apagétō tis autḕn oíkade
Someone take her away home (at once).
θεοὶ ἡμῖν μάρτυρες ἔστων.[88]
theoì hēmîn mártures éstōn.
The gods be witnesses for us.

The imperative mood can also be used in the perfect tense, as the following example shows:

κέντρῳ τῷ Α, διαστήματι τῷ ΑΒ, γεγράφθω κύκλος.[89]
kéntrōi tōî A, diastḗmati tōî AB, gegráphthō kúklos
Let a circle have been drawn with centre A, radius AB.

Non-finite verb forms[edit]


(Greek: ἀπαρέμφατος aparémphatos "not indicated").

Forms of the infinitive (active)[edit]

The infinitive is found in all three voices, and in the present, aorist, future, and perfect tenses. The four infinitives of the active voice of the verb λύω (lúō) "I free" are as follows:

  • Present : λύειν (lúein) "to free" (in general)
  • Future : λύσειν (lúsein) "to be going to free"
  • Aorist : λῦσαι (lûsai) "to free" (at once)
  • Perfect : λελυκέναι (lelukénai) "to have freed"

Many commonly used verbs, instead of an aorist infinitive in -σαι (-sai), have one ending in -εῖν (-eîn) (with a circumflex accent) instead. This is called the "strong aorist" or "2nd aorist":

  • (Strong) aorist : λαβεῖν (labeîn) "to take"

Contracting verbs have a present infinitive ending in -ᾶν (-ân), -εῖν (-eîn) or -οῦν (-oûn):[90]

  • Present : ὁρᾶν (horân) "to see"
  • Present : ποιεῖν (poieîn) "to do"
  • Present : δηλοῦν (dēloûn) "to show"

Verbs ending in -μι (-mi), such as δίδωμι (dídōmi) "I give", have present and aorist infinitives which end in -ναι (-nai):[91]

  • Present : διδόναι (didónai) "to give" (in general)
  • Aorist : δοῦναι (doûnai) "to give" (now)

The irregular verb οἶδα (oîda) "I know" also has an infinitive ending in -ναι (-nai):[92]

  • Present : εἰδέναι (eidénai) "to know"


The infinitive is often used after verbs with meanings such as "he wanted", "he ordered", "he tried", "it is necessary", "he is able" etc. much as in English:[93]

ἐκέλευσεν αὐτοὺς ἀπελθεῖν.[94]
ekéleusen autoùs apeltheîn.
He ordered them to go aside (aorist).

It can also be used for indirect speech after certain verbs such as φημί (phēmí ) "I say" or νομίζω (nomízō) "I think".[95] The subject of the infinitive, if it is different from the subject of the main verb, is put in the accusative case. When the statement is negative, the word οὐ (ou) "not" goes in front of φημί (phēmí).

οὔ φασιν εἶναι ἄλλην ὁδόν.[96]
oú phasin eînai állēn hodón.
"They say there is no other way" (lit. "they do not say there to be another way")

In Greek an infinitive is also often used with the neuter definite article in various constructions. In this case it is similar in meaning to the English verbal noun in "-ing":[97]

ἐπέσχομεν τοῦ δακρύειν[98]
epéskhomen toû dakrúein.
We refrained from weeping.


Participles were given the name μετοχή metokhḗ "sharing" by Greek grammarians, because they share the characteristics of both adjectives and verbs. Like adjectives, they have gender, case, and number and agree with the nouns that they modify, and, like verbs, they have tense and voice.

Forms of the participle[edit]

Participles exist for all three voices in the present, aorist, future, and perfect tenses. The four participles (masculine, feminine, and neuter singular) of the active voice of the verb λύω (lúō) "I free" are as follows:

  • Present: λῡ́ων, λῡ́ουσα, λῦον (lū́ōn, lū́ousa, lûon) "(while) freeing"
  • Future: λῡ́σων, λῡ́σουσα, λῦσον (lū́sōn, lū́sousa, lûson) "going to free"
  • Aorist: λῡ́σᾱς, λῡ́σᾱσα, λῦσαν (lū́sās, lū́sāsa, lûsan) "after freeing"
  • Perfect: λελυκώς, λελυκυῖα, λελυκός (lelukṓs, lelukuîa, lelukós) "(in a state of) having freed"

Verbs which have a "strong aorist" or "second aorist", e.g. ἔλαβον (élabon) "I took" or ἦλθον (êlthon) "I came", have an aorist participle with the same endings as the present participle, except that the accent is on the ending instead of the verb:

  • Strong aorist : λαβών, λαβοῦσα, λαβόν (labṓn, laboûsa, labón) "after taking"

In the middle and passive the participles are as follows:

  • Present: λυόμενος, λυομένη, λυόμενον (luómenos, luoménē, luómenon) "(while) ransoming", "(while) being freed"
  • Future: λυσόμενος, λυσομένη, λυσόμενον (lusómenos, lusoménē, lusómenon) "going to ransom", "going to be freed"
  • Aorist middle: λυσάμενος, λυσαμένη, λυσάμενον (lusámenos, lusaménē, lusámenon) "after ransoming"
  • Aorist passive: λυθεἰς, λυθεῖσα, λυθέν (lutheis, lutheîsa, luthén) "after being freed"
  • Perfect: λελυμένος, λελυμένη, λελυμένον (leluménos, leluménē, leluménon) "(in a state of) having been freed"

Middle verbs such as ἀφικνέομαι (aphiknéomai) "I arrive" and φαίνομαι (phaínomai) "I appear" with strong aorists make their aorist participles as follows:

  • Strong aorist: ἀφικόμενος, ἀφικομένη, ἀφικόμενον (aphikómenos, aphikoménē, aphikómenon) "after arriving"
  • Strong aorist: φανεἰς, φανεῖσα, φανέν (phaneis, phaneîsa, phanén) "after appearing"

The frequently used irregular verbs εἰμί (eimí) "I am", εἶμι (eîmi) "I (will) go", and οἶδα (oîda) "I know" make their present participles as follows:

  • Present: ὤν, οὖσα, ὄν (ṓn, oûsa, ón) "(while) being"
  • Present: ἰών, ἰοῦσα, ἰόν (iṓn, ioûsa, ión) "(while) going"
  • Present: εἰδώς, εἰδυῖα, εἰδός (eidṓs, eiduîa, eidós) "knowing"

An example of usage[edit]

Participles are very frequently used in Greek. For example, in the following sentence from Plato's Phaedo there are six participles:

καὶ ὁ παῖς ἐξελθὼν καὶ συχνὸν χρόνον διατρίψας ἧκεν ἄγων τὸν μέλλοντα δώσειν τὸ φάρμακον, ἐν κύλικι φέροντα τετριμμένον.[99]
kaì ho paîs ekselthṑn kaì sukhnòn khrónon diatrípsas hêken ágōn tòn méllonta dṓsein tò phármakon, en kúliki phéronta tetrimménon.
And the boy, after going out and after spending a long time, came back leading the one intending to give the poison, (who was) carrying it already pounded in a cup.

This example is analysed in the paragraphs below.

Different tenses of the participle[edit]

An aorist participle, such as ἐξελθών (ekselthṓn) "after going out", usually refers to an action which preceded the time of the main verb:

ἐξελθὼν ἧκεν.
ekselthṑn hêken.
After going out he came back.

A present participle, such as ἄγων (ágōn ) "leading", is used to refer to an action which is taking place simultaneously with the main verb:

ἧκεν ἄγων τὸν (ἄνθρωπον).
hêken ágōn tòn (ánthrōpon).
He came back leading the man.

A perfect participle, such as τετριμμένον (tetrimménon) "pounded", generally refers to the state that something is in as a result of an earlier action, e.g. "fallen", "dead", "broken" etc., rather than to the action itself:

τὸ φάρμακον ἐν κύλικι φέροντα τετριμμένον.
tò phármakon en kúliki phéronta tetrimménon.
Carrying the poison already pounded in a cup.

A future participle refers to an action which is to take place after the time of the main verb, and is often used to indicate purpose:[100]

εἰς Ἀθήνας ἔπλευσε ταῦτα ἐξαγγελῶν[101]
eis Athḗnas épleuse taûta eksangelôn
He sailed to Athens to report (lit. going to report) these things.


Because it is an adjective as well as a verb, a participle has to agree in case, gender, and number with the noun it refers to.[102] Thus in the first example above:

  • ἐξελθών (ekselthṓn) "after going out", διατρίψας (diatrípsas) "after spending", and ἄγων (ágōn) "leading" are all masculine singular nominative, since they refer to the boy who is the subject of the verb ἧκεν (hêken) "came back";
  • μέλλοντα (méllonta ) "intending" and φέροντα (phéronta) "carrying" are both masculine singular accusative, since they refer to the man who is the object of the participle ἄγων (ἄγων) "leading";
  • τετριμμένον (tetrimménon) "pounded" is neuter singular accusative, since it describes the poison φάρμακον (phármakon) which is the object of the participle φέροντα (phéronta) "carrying".

Circumstantial participle[edit]

A participle frequently describes the circumstances in which another action took place. Often it is translated with "-ing", e.g. ἄγων (ágōn) "leading" in the example above.

In some sentences it can be translated with a clause beginning "when" or "since":

κατιδὼν τὴν μάχην ... ἐβοήθει[103]
katidṑn tḕn mákhēn ... eboḗthei
When he saw the battle he went to help.

Another frequent use is in a construction known as the "genitive absolute", when the participle and its subject are placed in the genitive case. This construction is used when the participle refers to someone or something who is not the subject, object, or indirect object of the main verb:[104]

ἐνίκησαν Λακεδαιμόνιοι ἡγουμένου Ἀγησανδρίδου[105]
eníkēsan Lakedaimónioi hēgouménou Agēsandrídou
The Spartans won, with Agesandridas leading them.

But if the verb is an impersonal one, it is put in the accusative, e.g. ἔξον (éxon) "it being possible".[106]

Participle with the article[edit]

Sometimes a participle is used with the article, in which case it can often be translated with "who":

τὸν μέλλοντα δώσειν τὸ φάρμακον.
tòn méllonta dṓsein tò phármakon.
The (man who was) going to give the poison.

Supplementary participle[edit]

As well as being used in sentences such as the above, the participle can be used following verbs with meanings such as "I know", "I notice", "I happen (to be)", "I hear (that)" and so on. This use is known as the "supplementary" participle.[107]

ἤκουσε Κῦρον ἐν Κιλικίᾳ ὄντα.[108]
ḗkouse Kûron en Kilikíāi ónta.
He heard that Cyrus was in Cilicia (lit. he heard Cyrus being in Cilicia).
ἔτυχε καὶ ὁ Ἀλκιβιάδης παρών.[109]
étukhe kaì ho Alkibiádēs parṓn.
Alcibiades also happened to be present (lit. chanced being present).


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

Active voice[edit]

An active voice verb is any verb which has the endings of the -ω or -μι verbs described above. It can be intransitive, transitive or reflexive (but intransitive is most common):

εἰς Ἀθήνας ἔπλευσε.[110]
eis Athḗnas épleuse.
He sailed to Athens.
ἐφύλαττον τὰ τείχη.[111]
ephúlatton tà teíkhē
They were guarding the walls.
αὐτὸς αὑτὸν διέφθειρεν.[112]
autòs hautòn diéphtheiren.
He killed himself.

Middle voice[edit]

In addition to the active endings ( and -μι -mi) described above, many verbs also have a set of endings in -ομαι (-omai) or -μαι (-mai) which can be either passive or non-passive in meaning. When the meaning of such a verb is not passive, it is known as a "middle voice" verb.

Middle voice verbs are usually intransitive, but can also be transitive. Often the middle endings make a transitive verb intransitive:

  • παύομαι (paúomai) "I stop (intransitive)"
  • ἵσταμαι (hístamai) "I stand (intransitive)"

Sometimes there is a reflexive meaning or an idea of doing something for one's own benefit:[113]

  • λοῦμαι (loûmai) "I wash myself"
  • αἱρέομαι (hairéomai) "I take for myself, I choose"
  • μεταπέμπομαι (metapémpomai) "I send for someone"

Sometimes there can be a reciprocal meaning:[114]

  • σπονδὰς ποιεῖσθαι (spondàs poieîsthai ) "to make a treaty"

Quite a number of verbs which are active in the present tense become middle in the future tense, e.g.:[115]

  • λήψομαι (lḗpsomai) "I will take"
  • ἀκούσομαι (akoúsomai) "I will hear"
  • ἔσομαι (ésomai) "I will be".

Deponent verbs[edit]

A number of common verbs ending in -ομαι (-omai) or -μαι (-mai ) have no active-voice counterpart. These are known as "deponent" verbs.

Deponent middle verbs include verbs such as the following:

  • ἀφικνέομαι (aphiknéomai ) "I arrive"
  • ἀποκρίνομαι (apokrínomai) "I answer"
  • γίγνομαι (gígnomai) "I become"
  • δέχομαι (dékhomai) "I receive"
  • ἔρχομαι (érkhomai ) "I come"
  • μάχομαι (mákhomai) "I fight"
  • πυνθάνομαι (punthánomai ) "I find out"
  • ὑπισχνέομαι (hupiskhnéomai "I promise"

Some middle deponent verbs have a weak aorist tense formed with -σα- (-sa-), e.g. ἐδεξάμην (edeksámēn), but frequently they have a strong aorist middle such as ἀφικόμην (aphikómēn) "I arrived" or ἐγενόμην (egenómēn ) "I became".[116] (ἔρχομαι (érkhomai) "I come" is irregular in that it uses a strong aorist active ἦλθον (êlthon ) "I came" as its aorist tense.)

All the above, since they have an aorist in the middle voice, are known as middle deponents. There are also deponent passive verbs with aorists in -θη- (-thē-), such as the following:[117]

  • δύναμαι (dúnamai) "I am able"
  • βούλομαι (boúlomai) "I am minded to, I want"
  • οἴομαι (oíomai ) "I think"

Some examples of deponent verbs in use are the following:

τὰ δῶρα ἐδέξατο.[118]
tà dôra edéksato.
He received the gifts.
ἐγγὺς δὲ γενομένων τῶν Ἀθηναίων, ἐμάχοντο.[119]
engùs dè genoménōn tôn Athēnaíōn, emákhonto.
When the Athenians came near, the two sides began fighting.
οὐκέτι ἐδυνήθη πλείω εἰπεῖν[120]
oukéti edunḗthē pleíō eipeîn
He became unable to say any more.

Passive voice[edit]

Occasionally a verb ending in -ομαι (-omai) has a clear passive sense. If so, it is said to be in the passive voice:

ἡ πόλις ὑπὸ τῶν Λακεδαιμονίων ἤρχετο.[121]
hē pólis hupò tôn Lakedaimoníōn ḗrkheto.
The city was being ruled by the Spartans.
ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γέγραπται.[122]
en tōî nómōi gégraptai..
It is written in the law. (lit. it has been written)

Usually when used passively, -ομαι (-omai) verbs have an aorist tense containing -θη- (-thē-) in the ending:

ἐκεῖνοι κατ’ ἀξίαν ἐτιμήθησαν.[123]
ekeînoi kat’ aksían etimḗthēsan.
Those men were deservedly honoured.

Occasionally, an aorist passive can have an ending with -η- (-ē-). This is known as the 2nd aorist or strong aorist passive, and uses a different verb-stem from the present. In the example below, the stem is φθαρ- instead of the present stem φθειρ-:[124]

οἱ πολλοὶ ἐφθάρησαν.[125]
hoi polloì ephthárēsan.
The majority were killed.

Deponent middle verbs can also be made passive in some tenses. Thus αἱρέομαι (hairéomai) "I choose" has an aorist passive ᾑρέθην (hēiréthēn) "I was chosen":

στρατηγὸς ὑπ’ αὐτῶν ᾑρέθη.[126]
stratēgòs hup’ autôn hēiréthē.
He was chosen by them as general.

The endings with -θη- (-thē-) and -η- (-ē-) were originally intransitive actives rather than passives[127] and sometimes have an intransitive meaning even in Classical Greek. For example, ἐσώθην (esṓthē) (from σῴζω sōízō "I save") often means "I got back safely" rather than "I was saved":

οὐκ ἐσώθη ἡ ναῦς εἰς τὸν Πειραιᾶ.[128]
ouk esṓthē hē naûs eis tòn Peiraiâ.
The ship did not get back safely to Piraeus.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 602, 717. 
  2. ^ Plato, Ion 531a
  3. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 774. 
  4. ^ Perseus PhiloLogic search engine
  5. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 794. 
  6. ^ Based on table in Hardy Hansen and Gerald M. Quinn. Greek: An Intensive Course. Second revised edition 1992. p. 41.
  7. ^ For perfective present see Smyth, Herbert Weir (1920). "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. Cambridge: American Book Company. § 1853. 
  8. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 359. 
  9. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1863c, 2218, 2287, 2231, 2229a. 
  10. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1885, 1907. 
  11. ^ Plato, Prt. 317c
  12. ^ Antiphon, 5.29
  13. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 535. 
  14. ^ Perseus project "Logeion"
  15. ^ Liddell, Scott, & Jones Greek Lexicon
  16. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 428. ff
  17. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 435, 431. 
  18. ^ Aristophanes
  19. ^ Xenophon
  20. ^ Liddell & Scott Greek Lexicon
  21. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 438. 
  22. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 439. ff
  23. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 441. 
  24. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 442. 
  25. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1875. ff
  26. ^ Xenophon, An. 1.8.26
  27. ^ Plato, Gorg. 490e
  28. ^ Xenophon, An. 1.8.26
  29. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1889. ff
  30. ^ Lysias, 1.10
  31. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1892. 
  32. ^ Xenophon, Ages. 2.12
  33. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1891, 1908. 
  34. ^ Thucydides, 2.6.1
  35. ^ Lysias, 1.23
  36. ^ cf. Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1891. 
  37. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1892. 
  38. ^ Thucydides, 2.23.2
  39. ^ Demosthenes, 47.67
  40. ^ Xenophon, An. 5.6.23
  41. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1920. 
  42. ^ Lysias, 1.21
  43. ^ Plato, Resp. 327a
  44. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1908, 1927. 
  45. ^ Lysias, 1.14
  46. ^ Lysias, 1.15
  47. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1943. 
  48. ^ Xenophon, Cyr. 2.2.9
  49. ^ Lysias, 12.100
  50. ^ Plato, Ap. 31c
  51. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1946. 
  52. ^ Andocides, 1.116
  53. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1952. 
  54. ^ Xenophon, An. 5.4.18
  55. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1943. ; but cf. Xen. An. 5.4.18
  56. ^ Xenophon, Cyr. 4.2.9
  57. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 584. 
  58. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1955. ff
  59. ^ Xenophon, An. 2.4.5
  60. ^ Antiphon, 2.1
  61. ^ Xenophon, An. 3.1.11
  62. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2193. 
  63. ^ Plato, Ly. 211b
  64. ^ Plato, Phdr. 263e
  65. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1768, 2297, 2401. 
  66. ^ Plato, Ly. 211b
  67. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1797, 1805, 1841. 
  68. ^ Aristophanes, Pax 850
  69. ^ Euripides, Ion 758
  70. ^ Plato, Phdr. 238d
  71. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2329. 
  72. ^ Xenophon, Cyr.3.2.28
  73. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2303. 
  74. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2619. 
  75. ^ Xenophon, An. 7.2.14
  76. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2414. 
  77. ^ Xenophon, An. 1.2.7
  78. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1814. 
  79. ^ Demosthenes, 25.30 etc.
  80. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 2196, 2221. 
  81. ^ Xenophon, An. 2.1.9
  82. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 6.4.32
  83. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 2197, 2225. 
  84. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1864. 
  85. ^ Isocrates, 1.16
  86. ^ Aristophanes, Ves. 165
  87. ^ Plato, Phd. 60a
  88. ^ Xenophon, Cyr. 4.6.10
  89. ^ Euclid, 1.1
  90. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 385. 
  91. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 416. 
  92. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 794. 
  93. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1991, 1992. 
  94. ^ Thucydides, 6.58.1
  95. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 2016, 2017, 2018. 
  96. ^ Xenophon, An. 4.1.21
  97. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 2025, 2032. 
  98. ^ Plato, Phd. 117e
  99. ^ Plato, Phd. 117a
  100. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 2044, 2065. 
  101. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 1.1.9
  102. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2056. 
  103. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 1.1.4
  104. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2070. 
  105. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 1.1.2
  106. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2076. 
  107. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 2088. ff
  108. ^ Xenophon, An. 1.4.5
  109. ^ Thucydides, 5.76.3
  110. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 1.1.8
  111. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 4.4.14
  112. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 7.4.19
  113. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1719, 1721. 
  114. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1722, 1726. 
  115. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1728. 
  116. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 810. 
  117. ^ Smyth. "Part II: Inflection". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 811, 812. 
  118. ^ Xenophon, Hell. 7.1.38
  119. ^ Xenophon, An. 6.6.5
  120. ^ Xenophon, Cyr. 5.4.31
  121. ^ Lysias, 26.2
  122. ^ Isaeus, 6.63
  123. ^ Aeschines, 3.118
  124. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. § 1739. 
  125. ^ Thucydides, 2.99.5
  126. ^ Lysias, 12.65
  127. ^ Smyth. "Part IV: Syntax". A Greek grammar for colleges. §§ 1739, 1740. 
  128. ^ Demosthenes, 56.41