Archives For Greek

Ted Turner is a billionaire, famous for inventing Captain Planet, and perhaps less notably, CNN.

When he was young he decided to study the Classics at university. His father, Billboard mogul, was less than impressed and wrote him this letter, now featured on Letters of Note.

Here are some highlights.

I am appalled, even horrified, that you have adopted Classics as a major. As a matter of fact, I almost puked on the way home today. I suppose that I am old-fashioned enough to believe that the purpose of an education is to enable one to develop a community of interest with his fellow men, to learn to know them, and to learn how to get along with them. In order to do this, of course, he must learn what motivates them, and how to impel them to be pleased with his objectives and desires.

Ted Sr thinks the Classics are interesting, but largely useless.

I am a practical man, and for the life of me I cannot possibly understand why you should wish to speak Greek. With whom will you communicate in Greek? I have read, in recent years, the deliberations of Plato and Aristotle, and was interested to learn that the old bastards had minds which worked very similarly to the way our minds work today. I was amazed that they had so much time for deliberating and thinking, and was interested in the kind of civilization that would permit such useless deliberation. Then I got to thinking that it wasn’t so amazing—after all they thought like we did because my Hereford cows today are very similar to those ten or twenty generations ago…

…I suppose everybody has to be a snob of some sort, and I suppose you will feel that you are distinguishing yourself from the herd by becoming a Classical snob. I can see you drifting into a bar, belting down a few, turning around to the guy on the stool next to you—a contemporary billboard baron form Podunk, Iowa—and saying, “Well, what do you think about old Leonidas?” Your friend, the billboard baron, will turn to you and say, “Leonidas who?” You will turn to him and say, “Why Leonidas, the prominent Greek of the Twelfth Century.” He will, in turn, say to you, “Well, who in the hell was he?” You will say, “Oh, you don’t know about Leonidas?” and dismiss him, and not discuss anything else with him the rest of the evening. He will feel that he is a clodhopper from Podunk, Iowa. I suppose this will make you both happy, and as a result of it, you will wind up buying his billboard plant…

…”It isn’t really important what I think. It’s important what you wish to do with your life. I just wish I could feel that the influence of those oddball professors and the ivory towers were developing you into the kind of a man we can both be proud of. I am quite sure that we both will be pleased and delighted when I introduce you to some friend of mine and say, “This is my son. He speaks Greek.”"

The bold bit pretty much sums up my thinking regarding the study of Greek. Though it turns out that Ted Jr was probably right. History favours the brave.

One of the great things about being a Bible college student is Bible college jokes make sense. Apologies to all my non Bible College readers for this one…

My friend Canadian Mitch sent me this. He has a photo blog, you should check it out.

Also. If you are a college student (particularly a first year at QTC) starting to stress about exams – check out my college resources page, I posted heaps of exam prep stuff last year.

When it comes to the Greek Language (at QTC at least) David Allen Black wrote the book. Literally. We use his introduction to Biblical Greek as our textbook. So I enjoyed this post of things your Greek teacher won’t tell you. If you haven’t got a Greek teacher then they’re still interesting. Sort of.

I think there’s some sort of double negative going on here. The list is a mix of Greek fallacies, and truths that you might not have heard. Anyway.

Here’s one of my favourite things from Greek (and Hebrew) this year.

“Greek words do not have one meaning. Yet how many times do we hear in a sermon, “The word in the Greek means…”? Most Greek words are polysemous, that is, they have many possible meanings, only one of which is its semantic contribution to any passage in which it occurs. (In case you were wondering: Reading all of the meanings of a Greek word into any particular passage in which it occurs is called “illegitimate totality transfer” by linguists.)”

Online Greek Bible

Nathan Campbell —  July 29, 2010

Who needs fancy (and expensive) bible software when you can google “Greek New Testament” and come up with an absolutely gold site like greekbible.com in the first page of results. It parses every word with a hover and click.

Brilliant.

It does require an internet connection though…

Step one: Download Paradigmatic – a great resource for college students by a college student (now former college student).

I’ve only grabbed it today, but it comes highly recommended by people in the know.

Sam Freney, the whizz in question, has also produced a Greek lexicon for the iPhone available here, or via iTunes.

Two truly terrific resources. Grab them today. They’re probably worth getting a Mac for (if you’ve been trying to justify a purchase).

Nouns of the Third Declension

Greek nouns, like the verbs, have a stem, a connecting vowel and an ending. The ending indicates case (and declension).

Third declension nouns have no stem vowel. They just whack the ending onto the noun’s root. The stem is easies to identify by removing the “ος” from the genitive. Third declension genitives receive an ος in every singular genitive and an ων in every plural genitive (regardless of gender).

Nominatives mostly either have just an ς or nothing, datives always end in ι (singular) or σι(ν) (plural), and accusative plurals always end in ς (either ας or ες).

Third declension nouns are categorised on the basis of whether the stem ends with a consonant or a vowel. Consonantal stems are split into categories based on the last phoneme of the stem.

The gender of third declension nouns is not readily apparent – in order to spot them in the wild we need to learn the nominative and genitive singular versions, and the article, as always, will be our greatest ally in figuring out what the noun is doing.

Because there is no stem vowel the dative plural σι(ν) often comes across letters that σ hates. So:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + σι(ν) = ψι(ν)
  • ψ, π, β, φ + σι(ν)  = ξι(ν)
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + σι(ν)  = σι(ν)

If the stem ends in αντ, εντ, or  οντ in the dative case the ντ drops out and the leftover vowel lengthens.

eg: αντ + σι(ν) = ασι(ν)

εντ + σι(ν) = εισι(ν)

Adjectives, pronouns and numerals of the First and Third Declension

πας (meaning all) has a sibilant stem, so it follows δοξα, the stem of the third declension is παντ (from παντος).

πας has four uses:

  1. In the predicate it means “all”
  2. In the attributive it means “whole”
  3. With a noun without an article it means “every”
  4. When it stands by itself it’s substantive.

πας can have many different meanings (sometimes full or pure).

εις, ουδεις, and μηδεις

εις (“heis” not eis (which is into)) is the nominative masculine form of one. μια is the feminine nominative, while εν (“hen”, not en (which is in)) is the neuter.

The declension of εις, ουδεις, and μηνδεις is as follows

  • N: εις
  • G: ενος
  • D: ενι
  • A: ενα
  • N: μια
  • G: μιας
  • D: μιᾳ
  • A: μιαν
  • N: εν
  • G: ενος
  • D: ενι
  • A: εν

εκαστος εισ means “each one” and occurs commonly.

Greek double negatives don’t cancel each other out. So ουδεις and μηνδεις (no-one, no-thing) can reinforce a negative .

ουδεις is used in the indicative mood. μηνδεις in the others.

πολυς, μεγας and αληθης

  • πολυς = much, many
  • μεγας = great
  • αληθης = true, and is declined using third declension end.

Comparison of Adjectives

Adjectives in Greek have three degrees – positive (normal) (beautiful, hard, good), comparitive (harder, more beautiful, better), and superlative (hardest, most beautiful, best).

Comparative adjectives take the forms: -τερος, -τατα, -τατον

Superlative adjectives take the forms: -τατος, -τατη, -τατον

So:

δικαιος (positive), δικαιοτερος (comparitive), δικαιοτατος (superlative)

There are a bunch of irregular comparatives:

  • αγαθος (good) -> κρεισσων (better)
  • κακοσ (bad) -> χειρων (worse)
  • μεγας (great) -> μειζων (greater)
  • πολυς (much) -> πλειων (more)

Adjectives may be used to express a comparison. This happens in two ways:

  1. By placing the noun (or pronoun) to be compared in the genitive. This is called the genitive of comparison.
  2. By using the particle η (than) and nouns in the same case.

The comparative form is often used with a superlative function “but the greatest of these” or the elative sense “very great”…

Now. If only I understood all of this regurgitated garbage…

Perfect Middle, and Passive Indicative

The perfect middle and passive indicative takes the same suffix as the present middle and passive, with a reduplicated first syllable and no connecting vowel.

  • First person singular = λελυμαι
  • Second person singular = λελυσαι
  • Third person singular = λελυται
  • First person plural = λελυμεθα
  • Second person plural = λελυσθε
  • Third person plural = λελυνται

The perfect middle and passive deals with a present state resulting from a completed action (O <à>). As a middle λελυμαι is “I have released myself” or “I have released for myself,” or “I myself have released”… these translations are approximate and sometimes for the sake of English clarity the simple past is chosen – “so Christ died (aorist) and was raised (perfect passive)” – but the “raised” – like Archimede’s Eureka – places the impact on the current risen state.

The Future Middle Indicative

The future middle indicative takes the same suffix, with the future time morpheme (σ), and a connecting vowel, added to the stem.

It also, like the present middle, has an irregularity in the second person singular. This can be explained. With the suffix and future morpheme in place this would be λυσεσαι, it would seem that in order to be less complicated the second σ drops out, and the ε and α combine into an η and the ι drops into the subscript position.

So, the future middle looks a little something like this:

  • First person singular = λυσομαι
  • Second person singular = λυσῃ
  • Third person singular = λυσεται
  • First person plural = λυσομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυσεσθε
  • Third person plural = λυσονται

The middle voice can be translated as: I will loose myself, I will loose for myself, I myself will loose…

The Future Indicative of ειμι

ειμι in future form takes the same endings as λυσομαι (except for a rogue ε). It uses ε as its stem.

  • First person singular = εσομαι
  • Second person singular = εσῃ
  • Third person singular = εσται
  • First person plural = εσομεθα
  • Second person plural = εσεσθε
  • Third person plural = εσονται

Adverbs

Adverbs qualify verbs (and adjectives, and other adverbs).

In Greek, adverbs are formed by substituting ς for an ν at the end of the genitive plural (eg καλων (good) becomes καλως (well)).

Most adverbs just need to be learned as vocab…

μεν and δε

The conjunctions μεν and δε are used to contrast two ideas – μεν means “on the one hand” while δε means “on the other hand.” In translation this often works best as “…, but…” – dropping the μεν and expressing the contrast with a conjunction.

In the plural the μεν…δε construct translates as “some… others…

Imperfect Middle and Passive

The past middle suffixes used for the imperfect middle and passive, the aorist middle, and the plu-perfect middle and passive.

The Imperfect Middle and Passive is formed by attaching the augment (past time morpheme ε), a connecting vowel, and the secondary middle suffixes (past, middle suffix)…

For λυω the Imperfect Middle Passive looks like this:

  • First person singular = ελυομην
  • Second person singular = ελυσο
  • Third person singular = ελυετο
  • First person plural = ελυομεθα
  • Second person plural = ελυεσθε
  • Third person plural = ελυοντο

ελυομεν translates in the imperfect middle to: “I was releasing myself,” “I was releasing for myself,” “I myself was releasing.” In the imperfect passive it’s “I was being released.”

In the second person singular the form ελυου comes from ελυεσο – the σ drops out and the vowels contract.

Again, which voice you use is determined by context.

First Aorist Middle

The First Aorist Middle is conjugated as:

  • First person singular = ελυσαμην
  • Second person singular = ελυσω
  • Third person singular = ελυσατο
  • First person plural = ελυσαμεθα
  • Second person plural = ελυσασθε
  • Third person plural = ελυσαντο

Instead of a connecting vowel it features the aoristic aspect morpheme.

The second person singular is irregular for the same reason as the Imperfect middle/passive – the σ of the suffix drops out, and the vowels contract.

Because the aorist tense deals with a completed action the middle aorist translates as “I released myself” or “I released for myself” or “I myself released”

Second Aorist Middle Indicative

The second aorist in middle indicative does pretty much the same as the second aorist active indicative. It drops a vowel form the stem.

The Pluperfect Middle and Passive Indicative

The pluperfect middle and passive feature reduplication of the consonant, the past time morpheme, the secondary middle suffixes (with no connecting vowel).

So:

  • First person singular = ελελυμην
  • Second person singular = ελελυσο
  • Third person singular = ελελυτο
  • First person plural = ελελυμεθα
  • Second person plural = ελελυσθε
  • Third person plural = ελελυντο

It can be translated as: “I had released myself,” “I had released for myself,” “I myself had released,” as a passive it should be translated “I had been released.”

Aorist Passive Indicative

The first aorist passive indicative is obtained by adding the augment, the passive morpheme (θε or θη), and the secondary active endings.

  • First person singular = ελυθην
  • Second person singular = ελυθης
  • Third person singular = ελυθη
  • First person plural = ελυθημεν
  • Second person plural = ελυθτε
  • Third person plural = ελυθησαν

The first person singular aorist passive is translated “I was released.”

Second Aorist Passive Passive Indicative

Loses the θ from the morpheme. Keeps the same suffixes as the first aorist passive indicative.

Future Passive Indicative

Obtained by adding the passive morpheme, then the future time morpheme, and removing the final ν, and adding the primary middle endings

So:

  • First person singular = λυθησομαι
  • Second person singular = λυθηςῃ
  • Third person singular = λυθησεται
  • First person plural = λυθησομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυθσεσθε
  • Third person plural = ελυθησονται

The first person singular translates “I will be released.”

Second Future Passive Indicative forms, like the second aorist, lose the θ from the morpheme.

Irregular Passive Forms

Chucking a θε (or θη) into a word causes trouble if the stem ends in a consonant. Mainly if the consonant is one of those ones that doesn’t really play nice with others.

This time the changes can be summarised as:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + θ = χθ
  • ψ, π, β, φ + θ = φθ
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + θ = σθ

Examples are:

  • αγω in the aorist is ηχθην and in the future passive is αχησομαι.
  • βαπτιζω in the aorist is εβαπτισθην and in the future passive is βαπτισθησομαι.
  • πειθω in the aorist is επεισθην and in the future passive is πεισθησομαι.

Demonstrative Pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns are like pointing at something. If there is a table in the room and I want to draw attention to it – I’d say “this table.” If, however, the table is outside the room I’d say “that table”… we all know the difference between this and that instinctively – but I hadn’t really analysed this instinct before in terms of proximity…

This in Greek is αυτος. At least in the masculine nominative singular. There are a couple of grounds for confusion in the below declensions because I’m not typing accents… αυτη is both the feminine nominative singular demonstrative pronoun this (woman – if used substantively) and the feminine nominative singular personal pronoun – the only difference is in the accenting.

Masculine

Singular

  • N: ουτος
  • G: τουτου
  • D: τουτῳ
  • A: τουτον

Plural

  • N: ουτοι
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουτοις
  • A: τουτους

Feminine

Singular

  • N: αυτη
  • G: ταυτης
  • D: ταυτῃ
  • A: ταυτην

Plural

  • N: αυται
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουταις
  • A: τουτας

Neuter

Singular

  • N: τουτο
  • G: τουτου
  • D: τουτῳ
  • A: τουτο

Plural

  • N: ταυτα
  • G: τουτων
  • D: τουτοις
  • A: ταυτα

The nominative singular and plural masculine and feminine all being with rough breathing.

For more remote objects the demonstrative pronoun is εκεινος (that). Its declension is identical to αυτος.

Masculine

Singular

  • N: εκεινος
  • G: εκεινου
  • D: εκεινῳ
  • A: εκεινον

Plural

  • N: εκεινοι
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκεινοις
  • A: εκεινους

Feminine

Singular

  • N: εκεινη
  • G: εκεινης
  • D: εκεινῃ
  • A: εκεινην

Plural

  • N: εκειναι
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκειναις
  • A: εκεινας

Neuter

Singular

  • N: εκεινο
  • G: εκεινου
  • D: εκεινῳ
  • A: εκεινο

Plural

  • N: εκεινα
  • G: εκεινων
  • D: εκεινοις
  • A: εκεινα

Uses of the Demonstrative

There are three main uses of the demonstrative:

  1. To modify a noun. In this instance the pronoun agrees with the noun in gender, number, and case. The noun in this instance is always definite, and the pronoun sits in the predicate position. The syntax is therefore: pronoun + article + noun. λεγω τουτοις τοις ανθροποις is “I speak to these men.”
  2. Substantive Use – they carry their own noun based on case. So αυτος is “this man” or “this person” when there is no other noun to work with… eg ουτος βλασφημει = This man is blaspheming. If the noun is not definite (ie doesn’t have an article) the demonstrative does not modify the noun. So ουτος κλεπτης εστιν και λῃστης is “that man is a thief and a robber” not “that thief and a robber”
  3. Can function as personal pronouns if they immediately follow a proper noun – in which case they are translated he, she, or they.

Present Middle and Passive Indicative

All our verbs up until now have been active indicative – the subject has been doing the action. Greek has a middle voice – where the subject acts for its own interest, and a passive voice, where the subject receives the action of the verb.

So the passive of “I release” is “I am being released,” or “I am released.”

The forms of the passive and the middle are identical. And only context determines which one is used.

The forms of the present middle and passive indicative are:

  • First person singular = λυομαι
  • Second person singular = λυῃ
  • Third person singular = λυεται
  • First person plural = λυομεθα
  • Second person plural = λυεσθε
  • Third person plural = λυονται

The Middle Voice

The middle voice can be translated as “I am releasing myself,” or “I am releasing for myself,” or “I myself am releasing.

The middle has three uses:

  1. The reflexive middle – refers the result of the verb directly to the subject “Judas hanged himself” in the Greek does not have the word “himself.”
  2. The intensive middle – emphasises the agent’s role in the action – “he himself secured eternal redemption” – once again, the “himself” comes from the verb.
  3. The reciprocal middle – is the use of a plural subject engaged in an interchange of action. I don’t really get this one, but apparently it’s as rare as hen’s teeth.

Deponent Verbs

Deponent verbs are verbs that have middle or passive forms but that have lost their active form. The middle/passive verb has taken the active verb’s place, eg ερχομαι means “I go,” it is middle in form but active in meaning.

Deponent verbs tend to involve:

  1. Reciprocity – Describe situations that require two parties (eg I redeem, Ι welcome).
  2. Reflexivity – The verbal idea turns back on the subject (eg I imitate, I put on, I abstain).
  3. Self-involvement – Describe processes that only the subject can experience (eg I ponder, I consider, I go)

In some verbs the active form has one meaning and the deponent another – αρχω means “I rule” but αρχομαι means “I begin” – these are rare.

A lot of deponent verbs form compound verbs with prepositions.

Agency

A verb in the passive voice will often come with an agent – the person or thing producing the action.

  1. The direct agent (the agent by whom the action is performed) is expressed by υπο and a genitive noun.
  2. The intermediate agent (through whom the action is performed) is expressed by δια and the genitive
  3. Impersonal agency (an action being performed by or through a non-person) – is expressed by the dative case (sometimes with εν).
  4. The divine passive occurs when no agent is expressed to avoid naming God directly (eg “they will be comforted [by God]”)

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • εκεινος = (ekeinos) that
  • ουτος = (houtos) this
  • αμνος = (amnos) Lamb = An l-amnos is a little lamb
  • αρτος = (artos) bread = Good bread is art
  • διαβολος (diabolos) devil = El Diablos is the Spanish devil
  • εχθρος = (exthros) enemy =
  • ηλιος = (helios) sun = there used to be a heliocentric view of the world, the idea that the earth
  • θρονος = (thronos) throne = I sit my bottomos on the thronos
  • καιρος = (kairos) time = I’ve got nothing
  • καρπος = (karpos) fruit = karpos are not fish, but fruit
  • λαος = (laos) people = The people of laos are friendly people
  • ναος = (naos) temple = Jews say “temple” we say “naos”
  • ουρανος = (ouranos) heaven = Uranus is in the heavens.
  • οφθαλμος = (ophthalmos) eye = When my eyes aren’t working I go to see the ophthalmologist.
  • Πετρος = (Petros) Peter: The apostle.
  • σταυρος = (stauros) cross = The southern cross is four stars that make a stauros.
  • τοπος = (topos) place = If you win first place you’re on topos the world.
  • τυφλος = (tuphlos) blindman = If something pokes out your eyes it’s a tuph-los and you’ll be a blindman
  • φιλος = (filos) friend = Philos
  • φοβος = (phobos) = phobia.
  • χρονος = (chronos) time = Time passes chronoslogically.
  • βιβλιον = (biblion) books = Bibliographies are lists of books
  • δαιμονιον = (daimonion) demon = sounds like what it is
  • ιματιον = (Imation) cloak/garment = I wear my cloak Imation the latest fashions
  • μυστηριον = (musterion) mystery = It’s a musterion to me.
  • παιδιον = (paidion) child = You don’t paidion children very much to work
  • πλοιον = (ploion) boat = Pirates make their ploys on a boat.
  • σαββατον = (sabbaton) Sabbath = It sounds like what it is
  • σημειον = (semeion) sign = Apparently semantics is meant to remind you of signs…
  • αρχω = (arxo) I rule (takes a genitive) = Noah ruled the arxo
  • υπαρχω = (uparxo) I am, I exist = I have nothing…

Deponent Verbs (I can’t think of hooks for these yet)

  • δεχομαι = I welcome
  • λυτροομαι = I redeem
  • χαριζομαι = I forgive
  • ιαομαι = I heal
  • μαχομαι = I fight
  • ψευδομαι = I lie
  • ασπαζομαι = I greet
  • αποκρινομαι = I answer (takes the dative)
  • τυφλοομαι = I am conceited
  • επενδουμαι = I put on
  • μιμεομαι = I imitate
  • εκρατευομαι = I abstain
  • ερχομαι = I go
  • διαλογιζομαι = I ponder
  • ηγεομαι = I consider
  • οργιζομαι = I am angry
  • βουλομαι = I wish
  • λογιζομαι = I consider
  • αρχομαι = I begin
  • γινομαι = I become (takes a complement)
  • εκπορευομαι = I come out, I go out
  • εργαζομαι = I work
  • ευαγγελιζομαι = I preach the gospel
  • πορευομαι = I come
  • προσευχομαι = I pray
  • ερχομαι = I come

Perfect Verbs

The perfect tense is exegetically significant. It comes in three forms – the perfect, the pluperfect and the future perfect. The perfect verb deals with a completed action, but makes some comment on its continued effect.

The Perfect Active Indicative

The Perfect Active Indicative tense gets a new morpheme – the perfective aspect morpheme. It’s a κα. It also gets a new augment – involving the reduplication of the stem’s consonant, and an ε. The perfect form of λυω (I release) is as follows:

  • First Person Singular: λελυκα
  • Second Person Singular: λελυκας
  • Third Person Singular: λελυκε(ν)
  • First Person Plural: λελυκαμεν
  • Second Person Plural: λελυκατε
  • Third Person Plural: λελυκασι(ν)

You’ll notice that the endings are similar to the secondary suffix (except in the third person plural), and that the first person singular’s form means the third person has to take an ε instead of an α.

The three steps to get to the perfect are:

  1. Add the κα
  2. Reduplicate the consonant with an ε
  3. Attach the secondary suffix

Because the Greek language hates you there are three tricks with reduplication. Two of these stem from the “double letters” – the ones we would transliterate into English with two English letters.

  1. The aspirated consontants – θ (th), φ (ph), and χ (ch), lose their aspiration in reduplication, so become τ, π and κ respectively.
  2. The “double consonants” ψ (ps), ζ (dz), ξ (ks), or any stem that begins with two consonants (except consonant + λ or ρ eg γραφω) just get an ε and no consonantal reduplication. They keep the κα to distinguish them from other past time verbs.
  3. If the stem begins with a vowel then the standard vowel mash up happens – without consonantal duplication. ετοιμαζω becomes ητοιμακα.

The letters τ, δ, and θ don’t play well with κα so they disappear before the perfective morpheme.

Second Perfects

There are also second perfects, which seem to have been invented to aid pronunciation but make learning Greek difficult. In second perfects the κα becomes α. They are the same as first perfects except for the missing κ.

The words with second perfect forms are:

  • γραφω = γεγραπφα, γεγραηας etc = I have written, you have written…
  • ακουω = εκηκοα = I have heard
  • πειθω = πεποιθα = I have trusted in
  • πεμπω = πεπομφα = I have sent
  • πασχω = πεπονθα = I have suffered

The Significance of the Perfect

The perfect tense refers to the state that results from a completed action. The temporal focus is more on the present than the past.

The difference between:

Acts 2:2

“A sound filled the whole house” (Aorist)

And:

Acts 5:28

“You have filled Jerusalem with your teaching” (perfect)

When Archimedes ran around shouting ευρηκα it was the perfect tense – referring to the ongoing effect his discovery would have, and not the aorist ευρον.

The choice of the perfect over another tense is often the result of the subjective choice of the author (not necessarily the objective facts).

The Pluperfect

The “pluperfect” is the same as the past tense of the perfect. Instead of “I have released” it reads “I had released” – it has a past time morpheme added to the front of the consonantal duplication. And gets a κει instead of a κα…

  • First Person Singular: ελελυκειν
  • Second Person Singular: ελελυκεις
  • Third Person Singular: ελελυκει(ν)
  • First Person Plural: ελελυκειμεν
  • Second Person Plural: ελελυκειτε
  • Third Person Plural: ελελυκεισα(ν)

The pluperfect is rarely used in the New Testament, and the future perfect is even rarer. So rarely that it’s not dealt with in the textbook.

It emphasises the completion of the action.

Greek Verbs in ASCII art

O = completed action, a whole. A closed circle.
-> = ongoing action or state of being.
<> = emphasis

  • Present = either -> or O
  • Future = either -> or O
  • Imperfect Past = ->
  • Aorist = O
  • Pluperfect (past perfect) = <O>->
  • Perfect = O<->>
  • Future Perfect= <>O->

The verb οιδα

οιδα means “I know,” so does γινωσκω. It only has perfect and pluperfect forms, but they only have present and past meanings. For the purposes of translating they get treated as imperfect (past) and present.

Present Active Indicative

  • First person singular: οιδα
  • Second person singular: οιδας
  • Third person singular: οιδε(ν)
  • First person plural: οιδαμεν
  • Second person plural: οιδατε
  • Third person plural: οιδασιν

Imperfect Active Indicative

  • First person singular: ηδειν
  • Second person singular: ηδεις
  • Third person singular: ηδει
  • First person plural: ηδειμεν
  • Second person plural: ηδειτε
  • Third person plural: ηδεισαν

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • οιδα = (oida) I know = Oida hell should I know?

Perfect Indicative

  • ημαρτηκα = I have sinned
  • βεβληκα = I have thrown
  • εγνωκα = I have known
  • ητοιμακα = I have prepared
  • ευρηκα = I have found
  • εσχηκα = I have had
  • τεθεραπευκα = I have healed
  • ειρηκα = I have said
  • λελυκα = I have released
  • μεμαθηκα = I have learned
  • εωρακα = I have seen
  • πεπιστευκα = I have believed
  • σεσωκα = I have saved

2nd Perfect

  • ακηκοα = I have heard
  • γεγραφα = I have written
  • πεπονθα = I have suffered
  • πεποιθα = I have trusted in
  • πεπομφα = I have sent
  • πεφευγα = I have fled

Extra conjunction

  • οτι = (hoti) that, because = that stove is hoti, because it is on

Some unboring posts in the pipeline people. I promise.

Personal Pronouns

To recap some English grammar – a pronoun is a noun that stands in the place of a noun. Like “it” or “this.” A personal pronoun is a noun that stands in the place of a person.

The first person singular pronoun in English is “I,” in Greek it’s “εγω.” Fitting really.

Because we’re dealing with nouns we’re looking at the same four major cases (in fact, there are no vocatives in the first person, because you don’t talk to yourself in Greek land. That would be crazy.

So the first person pronouns look like this:

Singular

  • N εγω = I
  • G εμου or μου = my
  • D εμοι or μοι = to me
  • A εμε or με = me

Plural

  • N ημεις = we
  • G εμων = ours
  • D ημιν = to us
  • A ημας = us

εμου, εμοι and εμε are used to emphasise the pronoun.

The second person pronouns like this:

Singular

  • N συ = you
  • G σου or an accented σου = of you
  • D σοι or an accented σοι = to you
  • A σε or an accented σε = you

Plural

  • N υμεις = you
  • G υμνω = of you
  • D υμιν = to you
  • A υμας = you

The accented forms of the pronouns are used for emphasis. Accents are too hard to type consistently, so you’ll just have to imagine them all over the place here, and elsewhere.

A tip for differentiating the second person plural nominative and the first person plural nominative is to remember that “u” is the first letter of the second person, and the last letter of the English equivalent (you) while “e” is the first letter of the first person, and the last letter of the English equivalent (we). There has to be an easier way to express that…

And the third person like this (it has masculine, neuter and feminine versions, eg. he, she, and it):

Masculine

Singular

  • N αυτος = He
  • G αυτου = of him
  • D αυτῳ = to him
  • A αυτον = him

Plural

  • N αυτοι
  • G αυτων
  • D αυτοις
  • A αυτους

Feminine

Singular

  • N αυτη = she
  • G αυτης = of her
  • D αυτῃ= to her
  • A αυτην = her

Plural

  • N αυται
  • G αυτων
  • D αυταις
  • A αυτας

Neuter

Singular

  • N αυτο = it
  • G αυτου = of it
  • D αυτῳ = to it
  • A αυτο = it

Plural

  • N αυτα
  • G αυτων
  • D αυτοις
  • A αυτα

There are no vocatives in the third person, and the declension, across the genders, is exactly the same as αγαθος (the adjective), except for the neuter nominative and accusative, which follow the declension of the definite article instead.

Characteristics of Pronouns

  1. Pronouns are used instead of nouns to avoid repetition.
  2. The noun the pronoun replaces is called the antecedent, the pronoun agrees with the antecedent in gender and number, but case will obviously vary based on the role the pronoun plays in the sentence – if the antecedent is the accusative and the pronoun is dative (eg. I see the Lord and believe in Him) then the case ending has to change to show that.
  3. Because verbs already have a built in pronoun based on the person-number suffix a pronoun is only used with a verb for the sake of emphasis. εγω λυω translates the same as λυω but the “I” is more emphatic when the pronoun is used.
  4. Personal pronouns in the genetive indicate possession. ο λογοσ μου translates to “my word” (literally “the word of me”).
  5. The emphatic version of pronouns (eg εμου) are normally used after prepositions eg απ εμου = from me, is more likely than απο μου.

Special Uses of αυτος

αυτος has two special uses.

  1. When used with the article (in the attributive position) it translates as “same” this is called the adjectival αυτος eg ο αυτος αποστολος is “the same apostle”
  2. When used without the article, in the predicate position, it translates as “self” eg “himself” – this use is called the intensive αυτος eg ο αποστολοσ αυτος is “the apostle himself.” The intensive can also be used with other pronouns to intensify the pronoun – so αυτος εγω λεγω is “I myself say” – this also works with the verb’s internal subject. So αυτος λεγω is also “I myself say”…

Verbs in the past tense (part one)

We’ve covered present and future tense already, where we learned that to futurify a verb you add an s after the stem (eg λυω=present, λυσω = future) Greek likes indicating changes with new letters. It’s much the same in past tense, though there are three past tense varieties to be mindful of. These are:

  1. The Imperfect = Ongoing action, occurring in the past (eg I was releasing)
  2. The Aorist = Completed action, with no comment on ramifications (eg I released)
  3. The Pluperfect = more complicated version of the imperfect, involves both a past action and the ramifications, but focuses on the action (I had released. We’ll deal with this one later.

These “secondary” (ie past) tenses receive a past time morpheme (called the augment) which usually appears as an ε, but there are rules about what happens when the ε meets other vowels. It can’t coexist.

They also get secondary suffixes (bits on the end of the word) that can vary slightly but are mostly:

  • First Person Singular: -ν
  • Second Person Singular: -ς
  • Third Person Singular: none (though sometimes an ν)
  • First Person Plural: -μεν
  • Second Person Plural: -τε
  • Third Person Plural: -ν or σαν

The Imperfect

The imperfect is formed by:

  1. Adding the past time morpheme to the stem
  2. Chucking a vowel on the end of the stem (an ο or ε)
  3. Adding the secondary suffixes

So:

  • First Person Singular: ελυον  (I was releasing)
  • Second Person Singular: ελυες  (you were releasing)
  • Third Person Singular: ελυε(ν) (he was releasing)
  • First Person Plural: ελυομεν (we were releasing)
  • Second Person Plural: ελυετε (you(se) were releasing)
  • Third Person Plural: ελυον  (they were releasing)

The imperfect has four main uses:

  1. The progressive imperfect – deals with continuous actions in the past (I kept releasing).
  2. The customary imperfect – deals with habitual action in the past (I used to release).
  3. The conative imperfect – deals with actions attempted in the past (I tried to release).
  4. The inceptive imperfect – deals with the initiation of an action in the past (I began to release).

These uses are determined by context.

The Imperfect form of ειμι (I am)

  • First Person Singular: ημην  (I was)
  • Second Person Singular: ης  (you were)
  • Third Person Singular: ην (he was)
  • First Person Plural: ημεν (we were)
  • Second Person Plural: ητε (you(se) were)
  • Third Person Plural: ησαν (they were)

The Aorist

Aorists have a nice little “aspect morpheme” that makes spotting them in the wild a little easier. They get a σα that sticks on the stem. So to build an aorist verb you:

  1. Add the past time morpheme to the front of the stem
  2. Add the “σα” to the stem.
  3. Add the secondary suffixes.

So:

  • First Person Singular: ελυσα  (I released)
  • Second Person Singular: ελυσας  (you released)
  • Third Person Singular: ελυσε(ν) (he released)
  • First Person Plural: ελυσαμεν (we released)
  • Second Person Plural: ελυσατε (you(se) released)
  • Third Person Plural: ελυσαν  (they released)

You’ll notice that in most cases the σα just takes the place of the connecting vowel from the Imperfect. Except in the first person and third person singular. The first person singular is called the “aorist active principal part” and because it breaks the rules, the third person has to as well. Otherwise it would be the same. So it gets an ε.

The aorist plays three roles:

  1. The constative aorist – views an action in its totality. It is holistic.
  2. The ingressive aorist – views an action, tough completed, with an emphasis on its beginning.
  3. The effective aorist – views the action with an emphasis on its conclusion.

The aorist is more common in the New Testament than the imperfect, so when an imperfect crops up we should ask “why is this imperfect and not aoristic?”

More amalgamation (this time in the aorist tense)

Remember that σ doesn’t play nice with other verbs (from when we were making future tense verbs). This crops up again when you bang a σα onto a stem that ends with a letter that σ doesn’t like.

To recap:

  • ξ, κ, γ, χ + σ = ξ
  • ψ, π, β, φ + σ = ψ
  • ζ, τ, δ, θ + σ = σ

Some examples to watch out for:

  • κηρυσσω (I preach) – the stem is actually κηρυκ, so in the future tense it’s κηρυξω, while in the aorist it’s εκηρυξα.
  • βλεπω (I see) is βλεψω (I will see) in the future tense, and εβλεψα (I saw) in the aorist
  • πειθω (I trust in) Is πεισω (I will trust in) in the future and επεισα in the aorist (I trusted in).

The Complexities of the Augment

The ε is a bit like σ. It doesn’t play well with other letters. These rules obviously come about because of the pronunciation difficulties that would be presented if they didn’t… so εα is harder to say than η. When the augment comes across a stem that starts with a short vowel (ε, ο and sometimes α, ι, and υ) it lengthens to the corresponding long vowel (η, ω). For example, the imperfect form of ακουσω is ηκουν. If the verb already starts with a long vowel, or a dipthong, nothing changes. It has a zero morpheme augment. The pronunciation doesn’t change, but the suffix does. ειρηνευω (I make peace) becomes ειρηνευον (I was making peace).

Some verbs are special and take a double augment. These verbs start with a vowel and consonant, which are duplicated before the augment is added. So αγω (I lead) becomes αγαγ, and then the augment changes it to ηγαγ, and with the suffix ηγαγον (I was leading)

Second Aorists

This is one of those subsets of Greek that is designed to infuriate first years. Second Aorists look almost identical to the imperfect. They don’t take a σα, they just drop a cowel from within the stem. The best way to come to grips with this unusual change is to remember that English does it too. eg. I stink, I stank, I stunk.

ελειπον (I was leaving) becomes ελιπον.

Some other verbs are just confusing. λεγω means “I speak,” but ειπον means I spoke. This happened when two verbs that meant the same thing had other forms that fell out of use. An English example is “I go” and “I went” – one is the past tense of the other, but they have very different origins.

Here are some Second Aorist examples:

  • αμαρτανω (I sin) becomes ημαρτον (I sinned)
  • ευρισκω (I find) becomes ευρον (I found)
  • λαμβανω (I take) becomes ελαβον (I took)
  • πασχω (I suffer) becomes επαθον (I suffered)
  • φευγω (I flee) becomes εφυγον (I fled)

The stem of γινωσκω is γνο which is lengthened to γνω and in the second aorist becomes εγνων (I knew).

ειδον (I saw) is the second aorist of οραω (I see).

Second Aorist Vocab

  • ηγαγον = I led
  • ημαρτον = I sinned
  • εβαλον = I threw
  • εγνων = I knew
  • εφαγον = I ate
  • ευρον = I found
  • εσχον = I had
  • ελαβον = I took
  • ειπον = I said
  • ελιπον = I left
  • εμαθον = I suffered
  • ειδον = I saw
  • εφυγον = I fled
  • ηνεγκον = I bore

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αμαρτανω = I sin (I do αμαρτος)
  • βαλλω = I throw = I throw a ballo
  • εσθιω = I eat
  • ευρισκω = I find = “Eureka!”
  • λειπω = I leave = I leap over the barricade and get out of there
  • μανθανω = I learn = I need to learn manthano.
  • πασχω = I suffer = When I’m suffering I need an ice pasxo
  • φευγω = I flee = fugitives flee

These are just aorist versions of previously covered verbs:

  • ηκουσα = I heard
  • ημαρτησα = I sinned
  • εβαπισα = I baptised
  • εβλεψα = I saw
  • εγραψα = I wrote
  • εδιδαξα = I taught
  • εδοξασα = I glorified
  • ητοιμασα = I prepared
  • εθεραπευσα = I healed
  • εκηρυξα = I preached
  • ελυσα = I released
  • επεισα = I trusted in
  • επεμψα = I sent
  • επιστευσα = I believed
  • εσωσα = I saved
  • ενεγκα = I bore

Are you bored with this yet? Don’t worry. There are probably only five more of these posts to go, and then I’ll be on to Hebrew… Thanks for humouring me. Feel free to chime in if you have any suggested memory hooks, or if I’m in error. I know some of you read Greek…

Adjectives

Greek adjectives agree with their noun in gender, number and case. This means a feminine ending, plural, nominative adjective has to match up to a feminine ending, plural, nominative noun. They have endings just like the article.

Greek adjectives work in three different ways:

1. Attributively – describes the noun eg “The good man.” In this use the adjective either shares an article with the noun and comes between the article and the noun, or has its very own article and comes emphatically after the noun eg: “The Man, The good one” which you can simplify to “the good man.” In either use the article comes right before the adjective.

2. Predicatively – The adjective can be used to assert something about the noun – “The man is good” – it functions as a complement, or equals sign (like the verb “to be”). The predicate adjective comes either before the article or after the noun. So it literally reads “good the man” or “the man good,” there will not be an article before good, in both examples you supply an “is” to make the sentence read better. Most of the time in the New Testament, ειμι (or one of its conjugations) will be in the sentence too, as an extra clue.

3. Substantively – Sometimes the adjective will supply its own in built noun (based on the word ending) so “ο αγαθος” without a nominative noun will translate to “the good man” and “η αγαθη” will translate to “the good woman.”

Adjective endings don’t always completely match up – they don’t need to in order to agree in number, gender and case – because adjectives can be used with nouns from other declensions.

There’s a tricky adjectival use where the noun is not definite. In this case you have to use context to figure out if the adjective is being used attributively or predicatively.

More Prepositions

The first four prepositions (απο, εις, εν, εκ) only work with one noun case each.

  • απο + genitive = from
  • εις + accusative = into
  • εν + dative = in
  • εκ + genitive = out of

There are five more one case prepositions:

  • ανα + accusative = up
  • αντι + genitive = instead of, in place of
  • προ + genitive = before (prologue)
  • προσ + accusative = to, toward, with
  • συν + dative = with

There are six further prepositions that work with two noun cases each.

  • δια + Genitive =  through (frequently used with a passive verb as “by”)
  • δια + Accusative = because of
  • κατα + Genitive = against
  • κατα + Accusative = according to
  • μετα + Genitive = with
  • μετα + Accusative = after
  • περι + Genitive = about
  • περι + Accusative = around
  • υπερ + Genitive = for
  • υπερ + Accusative = above, over (hyperactive)
  • υπο + Genitive = by
  • υπο + Accusative = under (hypoactive)

And two more that have three cases:

  • επι + Genitive = upon
  • επι + Accusative = upon
  • επι + Dative = upon

The distinction between uses of επι has been lost.

  • παρα + Genitive = from
  • παρα + Accusative = beside
  • παρα + Dative = with

Prepositions before vowels and rough breathing…

Ancient Greeks obviously had troubles ending one word with a vowel and starting the next word with a vowel. So all of these prepositions except περι and προ drop their final vowel when preceding a word with a vowel. The vowel is replaced with a smooth breathing mark.

Compound Verbs

Sometimes the words get smashed together into compound verbs. If a vowel has dropped out this happens first. If a verb looks like it has a preposition mashed into it, it probably does.

Some translations are obvious eg. εκβαλλω is “out” plus “I throw” so it’s I throw out. Some have become idioms. αναγινωσκω means “I read” not “I know up”.

When a verb is in the past tense it gets an augment, a letter chucked on the front of the stem, when this happens to a compound verb, like εκβαλλω, the augment (normally an ε) goes in front of the stem. So εκβαλλω becomes εξεβαλλω. When a compound verb is used in the New Testament it is often supported by the preposition also being used with the noun.

Compound Verbs Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αναγινωσκω = (anaginosko) I read = I read my vocab again and again so I’ll know it.
  • ανοιγω = (anoigo) I open = I open the door, an-I-go out.
  • αποθνησκω = (apothnesko) I die = If I catch apothnesko, I’ll die
  • εκβαλλω = I throw out/I cast out

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγαθος = (agathos) good = Agatha Christie novels are good.
  • αγαπητος = (agapetos) beloved = love + to
  • αλλος = (allos) other = Allos the others
  • δυνατος = (dunatos) powerful, possible = Powerful Scotsmen dunatos the caber.
  • εκαστος = (ekastos) each, every = I get sick at the Ekka every time I go.
  • εσχατος = (eschatos) last = Eschatology
  • καινος = (kainos) new = The principal brought a new kainos to school.
  • κακος = (kakos) bad = kakos sounds like a word for excrement.
  • καλος = (kalos) beautiful = Kalostomy bags are not beautiful
  • μονος = (monos) only = monobrow=only brow
  • πιστος = (pistos) faithful = If I were a superhero I would call my faithful sidekick “Pistos”
  • πρωος = (protos) first = prototype.
  • σοφος = (sophos) wise = Wise people are so sophosticated.
  • τριτος = (tritos) third = Triceratops have a third horn.
  • αγιος = (agios) holy = I drank the Holy Water and had to hold on for agios.
  • αξιος = (aksios) worthy = People who say aks instead of ask are not worthy.
  • δευτερος = (deuteros) second = Deuteronomy is the “second” statement of the law (nomos).
  • δικαιος = (dikaios) righteous = I’m just going to have to remember this one too…
  • ετερος = (heteros) other, different = I am a heterosexual.
  • ισχυρος =  (isxuros) strong = I’ve got nothing.
  • μακαριος = (makarios) blessing = It will be a blessing to eat Maccas again.
  • μικρος = (mikros) small = mikroscopic
  • νεκρος = (nekros) dead  = with a bit of unnecessary Japanese thrown in, the only good cat (neko) is a dead cat (nekros)
  • νεος = (neos) new = neo-orthodox
  • πονηρος = (poneros) evil = Dr Evil is so pon(d)erous.
  • αδυνατος = (adunatos) = I’m not a powerful Scotsman so a-dunatos the caber, it is impossible.
  • αιωνιος = (aionios) eternal = Eternity goes on for aeons.
  • ακαθαρτος = (akathartos) unclean = It is not cathartic for an OCD person to have unclean hands.
  • απιστος = (apistos) unfaithful = the unfaithful friend apistos in your pocket.

More Nouns

The First Declension (which textbooks tend to deal with second) has a nice rule that helps with the tables. Or a couple of rules.

Feminine Nouns of the First Declension

It splits nouns into categories based on the final letter of the root (which is the noun’s stem). If the root of a word ends with ε, ι, or ρ then the endings go:

  • N: α
  • G: ας
  • D: ᾳ
  • A: αν
  • V: α

If it ends with a sibilant (ζ, σ, ψ, or ξ) then the α becomes an η in the genitive and dative cases – so:

  • N: α
  • G ης
  • D: ῃ
  • A: αν
  • V: α.

If the root ends with anything else then it gets an η and the same pattern, so:

  • N: η
  • G: ης
  • D: ῃ
  • A: ην
  • V: η.

Masculine Nouns

The masculine nouns are different.

They either end with an α or an η and follow the feminine pattern (except in the genitive). But they add an ς to the end of the last So:

  • N: ης, ας
  • G: ου
  • D: ῃ, ᾳ
  • V: ην, αν

Plurals

All the first Declension nouns have the same plural endings.

  • N/V: αι
  • G: ων
  • D: αις
  • A: ας

Prepositions

Prepositions in Greek always come before the noun they describe.  Prepositions in Greek have a semantic range, and depending on the case of the noun they work with have different meanings.  Some prepositions only have one case though… These are:

  • απο: Genitive. From/of/away from
  • εις: Accusative. Into/to/for/in
  • εκ: Genitive. Out of/from/by
  • εν: Dative. In/within/by/with/among

When these prepositions are used with a noun of the same case they work together to form a prepositional phrase. So crowd in the dative case (“τῳ οχλῳ”) would normally be translated as “for the crowd”, when you chuck the preposition “εν” in front of “τῳ οχλῳ” it becomes “in the crowd”

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αληθεια = (aletheia) Truth = Aletheia will set you free
  • αμαρτια = (amartia) Sin = When children do bad things the other kids go “amar…tia”
  • βασιλεια = (basileia) Kingdom, reign = Basil Fawlty reigns over his kingdom
  • διακονια = (diakonia) Ministry, service =
  • εκκλησια = (ekklesia) Church = Ecclesiastes is an odd name because it doesn’t talk about church
  • εξουσια = (exsousia) authority/right = Obama is the president because he had the best exsousia.
  • επιθυμια = (epithumia) desire/lust = When you go to romantic lookouts in winter without jumpers you get epithumia (like hypothermia)
  • ημερα = (hemera) day = If you sit on the toilet for a day you’ll get hemera.
  • καρδια = (kardia) heart = Cardiac.
  • μαρτυρια = (marturia) testimony = You have to be maturia to give your testimony in a Baptist church
  • οικια = (oikia) house = Even the Greeks by homewares at Oikia.
  • παρρησια = (parresia) boldness = People from Paris are unfortunately not very bold, they are cheese eating surrender monkeys.
  • σοφια = (sophia) wisdom = You won’t get wise unless you get up off the sophia
  • σωτηρια = (soteria) salvation =
  • χαρα = (xara) joy = I’ve got that xara, xara, xara, down in my heart. Where?
  • ωρα = (hora) hour = Hours spent doing Greek vocab are horas of my life that I won’t get back
  • γλωσσα = (glossa) = I had to look up speaking in tongues in the Bible’s glossary.
  • δοξα = (doxa) glory = doxology. Again.
  • θαλασσα = (thallasa) sea = Trying to remember the sea with this hook is a thallasea
  • αγαπη = (agape) love = everyone knows this one.
  • αρχη = (arxe) beginning = Just after the beginning Noah went for a ride in the arxe
  • γη = (ge) earth = geology is the study of ge.
  • γραφη = (graphe) Scripture/writings = If you show me a graphe, I’ll take it as scripture.
  • διαθηκη = (diatheke) covenant = When my twoth ekes I make a covenant with my dentist.
  • διδαχη = (didaxe) teaching = didactic
  • δικαιοσυνη = (dikaiosune) righteousness = I’m just going to have to remember this one.
  • ειρηνη = (eirene) peace  = Apparently irenic means peaceful, that’s ironic when you think about Ireland, and Iran.
  • εντολη = (entole) commandment = When you drive on new roads you are commanded to pay the entole.
  • επιστολη = (epistole) epistle/letter = Easy.
  • ζωη = (zoe) life = I go to the zoo to see lots of life.
  • κεφαλη = (kephale) head = kephale, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes
  • ογρη = (Ogre) Anger = Shrek is angry.
  • παραβολη = (parabole) parable = Speaks for itself.
  • περιτομη = (peritome) circumcision = a cut around the perimeter.
  • προσευχη = (proseuxe) prayer = Daniel didn’t pray so he got proseuxeted.
  • συναγογη = (sunagoge) synagogue = Speaks for itself.
  • υπομονη = (upomone) endurance = When Lance Armstrong took upomone he got more endurance.
  • φωνη = (phone) sound = You’re making too much sound on that phone.
  • ψυχη =  (psuxe) soul/life = Greek psuxe the life out of you
  • ματητης = The disciples were mathletes.
  • προφητης = (prophetes) prophets = Umm. I don’t know.
  • στρατιωτης = (stratiotes) Soldier = Soldiers are told to do strategic things.
  • τελωνης = (telones) Tax collector = The tax collectors want to get their telones into you.
  • υποκριτης = (hupokrites) hypocrites = Again. What’s with the English words.
  • Μεσσιας = (Messias) Messiah
  • νεανιας = (neanias) young man = When I play soccer against a young I want to kick him in the neanias.
  • απο = (apo) from/away from = apostasy is going away from the faith.
  • εις = (eis) into = I throw my ace into the mix.
  • εκ = (ek) out of = get me the ‘eck out of ‘ere
  • εν = (en) in = Enter in.

Nouns

A noun has four roles or functions within a sentence, aka cases, (and a fifth rare type): the nominative, genitive, dative, accusative, and vocative. Each has a particular ending which represents the noun’s function in a sentence. They come in declensions (patterns) – each declension has a different set of endings. Nouns also indicate gender. A noun is masculine, feminine or neuter. Inanimate objects can be masculine or feminine.

If it is the subject of a sentence (the thing doing stuff) it’s nominative. If it is the object (the thing stuff gets done to) – it’s the accusative. If it in someway related to possession (eg if it is something from the nominative, or belonging to the nominative) it is genitive. If it is an indirect object it’s dative. For example in the sentence: “I give the ball to you”, I am the nominative, the ball is the accusative, and you are the dative, give is the verb.

The genitive can be used as the “ablatival genitive” which indicates the source of the thing (“I take the ball from the cupboard”), the dative can be used as a locative dative (in), the instrumental dative (by) and the dative of personal advantage (for). These uses are likely to come up in exam questions because they’ll trip you up if you’re not careful.

The declensions come in tables that you have to try to learn by rote. I hate learning by rote.

Nouns have stems too. They have case-number suffixes (like the verbs have person-number suffixes) that stick on the end to tell you what the word does in the sentence.

Neuter plural nouns are a bit like collective nouns in English. They take singular verbs.

Some nouns try to trick you by being cross-dressers or having special patterns (aka declensions). You can always tell what gender a noun is by the article (the) that comes before it. Greek has 24 words for “the”, or more correctly, four cases, with three genders and singular and plural options – there is some duplication across the grid (eg all the genitive plural articles are the same).

Complement

Sometimes a nominative cased verb will actually be playing the part of the accusative. This happens in a “complement” where you’re basically throwing an equal sign into the statement. You’ve just got to think of ειμι (I am) as an equals sign. It’ll come with a nominative noun, but you’ll need to supply the pronoun to complete the complement.

Conjunctions

Greek, like every other language known to man, has conjunctions. They bring two clauses together.

  • δε means “now” or “but” – it’s a strong statement, and it’s postpositive. It never starts a sentence. It tells you that something new has been introduced.
  • και means and, it used twice in a sentence it means “both…and”
  • αλλα is “but” it marks a stark contrast between sentences.

Word Order

Because nouns have cases and verbs have all sorts of bells and whistles syntax is of reduced importance in Greek. You can jumble up the order and the meaning will still be determined by the endings. Normal word order for English is “subject verb object”, normal word order for Greek is “verb subject object” – changing the word order is normally a marker of some sort of significant emphasis.

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγγελος* = (angelos) = angel or messenger = self explanatory
  • αγρος = agros = field = like agriculture
  • αδελφος = (adelphos) = brother = like Philadelphia (brotherly love)
  • αλλα = (alla) = but = But alla the other guys get to watch TV.
  • αμαρτωλος = Sinner = (amartolos) Sinner = Amart-all-sports is actually where the rebels go.
  • ανθρωπος = (anthropos) man/person = anthropology
  • δε = but = but de other guy hit me first
  • διακονος = (diakonos) deacon = self explanatory
  • δουλος = (doulos) servant/slave = If I had a servant/slave they would δουλος for me.
  • δωρον = (doron) gift = Doron look a gift horse in the mouth.
  • εργον = (ergon) work = people who work at εργον don’t do any.
  • ερεμος = (eremos) wilderness = If your GPS takes you to the wilderness it’s made an ερεμος
  • ευαγγελιον = (euangelion) good news = like evangelism.
  • θανατος = (thanatos) death = Then Athos got stabbed, and he died.
  • ιερον = (eyeron) temple = the temple got i-roned out by the Romans
  • λαμβανω = (Lambano) I take = I take a lamb-an-o-pen up the oven.
  • λεγω = (lego) I speak = I would like to speak like the people on the Leggo’s ad
  • λιθος = (lithos) stone  =  lithographs are carved in stone.
  • λογος = (logos) word = Your logo is your business in a word.
  • νομος = (nomos) law = If you’re autonomous, you’re a law unto yourself.
  • οδος = (hodos) road/way = Hit the hodos Jack, and don’t you come back
  • οικος = (oikos) house = I had to write about οικος in an essay so I have not trouble with this one…
  • οχλος = (oxlos) crowd = There are big crowds at the bull fights to see the ox loss.
  • τεκνον = (teknon) child = Looking after children is tekn’on a big responsibility
  • υιος** = (wi-os) son = Your son ui-sed all over the floor
  • φερω = (phero) to bear = Apparently Christopher means “bearer of Christ”…

*γγ together is pronounced as ng.

** ui as in suite – which I sort of render as “wee”

I threatened to do this a while ago. I’m testing the theory that blogging is my learning language. So trying to rewrite the chapters of our textbook, and lectures, in a way that makes sense to me. I plan to one day write a book “The Stupid Greek Rules that Exist Just to Confuse  Students”. It will make me millions.

If you’d like to join in the fun – how bout suggesting some rude memory hooks for my vocab. The ruder they are, the easier they are to remember.

Amalgamation in the Future Tense

This rule is one of the first hurdles thrown in for beginner Greek students. The future tense in Greek chucks an σ (s) in the middle of a word, after the stem (the stem of a verb stays the same in any form of that verb, an English equivalent is loved, loving, loves, (I) love – the stem is lov). The σ, called a future time morpheme, doesn’t play nice with some other letters. It’s a bit racialist. It won’t hang out with a π (p), β (b), φ (f or ph) – if you try to make them hang out they get in a twist and become a ψ (ps). The σ is pickier still. It also doesn’t like κ (k), γ (g), or χ(x). With these bad boys the σ becomes a ξ (xs). There are some letters the σ won’t even get tangled up with. They just disappear. These are the τ (t), δ (d), and θ (th).

There are 24 letters in the greek alphabet and the σ won’t play nice with nine of them. It also has its own “special” form when it falls at the end of a word (ς).

The person number suffix and the disappearing ν

There are two Greek letters that look like English letters but sound nothing like them (or three if you think ω looks like a w). The ν is actually an n, and the ρ is an r.

The future time morpheme isn’t the only thing you chuck on a stem. There’s also the person-number suffix. Each verb comes with a built in person. Just in case you’re too lazy to write a noun. So “λυω” which means “I release”, has a built in “I” – a first person number suffix (ω). This suffix changes depending on whether the verb is plural or singular, and whether it’s first, second, or third person. You also, for the purpose of pronunciation (probably) and confusing poor students (definitely), chuck a vowel on the stem before the suffix. I’ll put a / in these examples to demonstrate where the stem ends and the suffix begins.

So:

  • λυ/ω = first person, singular = I release
  • λυ/εις = second person, singular = you release
  • λυ/ει = third person, singular = he/she/it releases
  • λυ/ο/μεν = first person, plural = we release
  • λυ/ε/τε = second person, plural = you(se) release
  • λυ/ουσι(ν) = third person plural = they release

The ν on the end of the third person plural is a “movable ν” – it just disappears whenever it feels like it, or before any word that starts with a consonant. It’s like our indefinite article (“an” and “a”, though Greek does not have an indefinite article)

The built in noun works a little like this: νατηανοσ λυει translates “Nathan releases,” a sentence that just has the word λυει translates “he releases.” Or she, or it, depending on context. This becomes handy once you learn about nouns and their cases, because nouns can play different roles in a sentence and sometimes there’s a missing noun that you’ll find inside the verb (if the “nominative” case is missing).

Bonus basics

The way a verb functions can also be altered by the presence of a “negative” – in the indicative mood this will be either ου, ουκ (if the word comes before a word starting with a vowel), or ουχ (if the word comes before a vowel that has a rough breathing mark (a rough breathing mark makes a “h” sound so υπο with a rough breathing mark is pronounced “hupo”) so ουκ λυω is I do not release. ην is used in the non-indicative moods.
The question mark “;” changes the verb as well. So λυω; is “Do I release”…

Semantic Range

Greek words have a variety of meanings and can’t always be pinned down to a single English equivalent. It’s more helpful to think of them as describing concepts.

Vocab and Memory Hooks

  • αγω = (ago) I lead = Caesar was a leader from long αγω…
  • ακουω = (akou-o) I hear = This place as good ακουωstics
  • βαπτιζω = (Baptizo) I Baptise = speaks for itself…
  • βλεπω = (Blepo) I see = I see a βλεπω on the radar.
  • γραφω = (grapho) I write = I like to write in grids, like a γραφω
  • διδασκω = (didasko) I teach = Didactic
  • δοξαζω =  (doxazo) I glorify = Doxology
  • ετοιμαζω = (etoimazo) I prepare = When we have visitors I need to prepare by cleaning up m’ετοιμαζο (eh – toy – mess – oh). Or something.
  • εχω = (exo) I have = I have an εχωllent wife. If I make puns like this I may not any longer, then she’d be my εχο…
  • θεραπευω = (therapeu-o) I heal = Therapy
  • κηρυσσω = (Kerusso) I preach = Tom κηρυσσω preaches about Scientology.
  • λυω = (luo) I loose/release = Pilate released Barabbas in λυω Jesus
  • πειθω = (paytho*) I trust  = Never trust a Spaniard with a lisp, he will still your πειθωs.
  • πεμπω = (pempo) I send = Send him off with πεμπω and ceremony.
  • πιστευω =(pisteu-o) I believe = I would not believe it if you told me you πιστευω metres in the air.
  • σωζω = (sozo) I save = Pele shoots, but Jesus σωζω
  • ειμι = (amy*) I am = I’m me, I am.

ειμι and πειθω contain a dipthong – two vowels stuck together that make a single sound. The ει dipthong makes an “ay” sound. The other dipthongs make sounds like they do in English words, except for αυ (which makes an “ow” sound), the others make sound like the following: αι (aisle), οι (oil), υι (suite), , ευ (feud), and ου (soup)