The St. Eutychus Guide to First Year Greek – Part Four

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…


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.


When you’re done with the series, have you considered making it available as a downloadable PDF? I’m sure many would find it helpful to print as a reference.